Spadone – Lesson 4

A Discussion About Safety

You’ll notice this has taken more than a week after the lesson was given for me to actually post the lesson notes. A large part of this is I’ve been feeling very reluctant to do so after I found out one of the students ended up with concussion following the class, and a couple others have complained about headaches. Naturally this has left me quite despondent, and very very very annoyed. I don’t teach this sort of stuff so that people can be injured.

This class is the first time we actually start doing partner drills, where we actually make contact with the sword. For the classes at Stocatta we’ve been using wooden dowels and modified shinai as spadone simulators. Instructions for how to make a spadone simulator out of a shinai can be found on the Stocatta website. Regardless of whether it was stick or shinai, the blows were coming in very hard it seems.

The spadone is a massive power weapon, with a brutal lever action to amplify the power. As a consequence, training with this stuff needs to be done carefully and with good technique, not muscle and strength. When working with a partner in these drills the idea is to deliver the blow safely with controlled technique, not with force sufficient to hammer them into the ground. Also, forget about speed as that will come in time of it’s own accord. Trying to do everything quickly leads to mistakes in the drills and injury to yourself or your partner. The key to doing this safely is a light grip that allows you much better feedback on the impact strength. The other side of this is you need to communicate with your training partner, providing feedback on their blow strength, or asking about how your blows felt. Get this right with the lighter simulators and when it comes to using steel weapons you’ll find it much easier to manage, and ultimately much safer. We’re looking to harness the momentum of the weapon to deliver our cuts, not get a power lifting workout muscling the damn sword through the drills.

For the love of swordsmanship, keep it safe, respect the weapon and more importantly respect your partner.


  1. 8 cuts drill (see Spadone – Lesson 2)
  2. Pass and turn drill (see Spadone – Lesson 2)
  3. Thrust, Cut and recover to Hanging Guard
    (see Spadone – Lesson 3)

Cut and Recover to Hanging Guard Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill, both in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto without moving the feet.
  3. Defender parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  4. Attacker parries with Right Hanging Guard, and ripostes with mandritto.
  5. Repeat 5 times each.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Forwards and repeat the sequence throwing riverso with recovery to Left Hanging Guard.

Serpentines as Parry Riposte Partner Drill

  1. Paired drill, both starting in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker steps in throwing mandritto to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, and then ripostes with riverso to the head. This action makes the tip of the sword travel in an S-shape, and hence is called a serpentine.
  4. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  5. Repeat the sequence for riverso, rising mandritto and rising riverso with each blow being countered by serpentine parry riposte. Note the rising cut riposte is to the lower body.

Thrust Feint and Circular Cut Partner Drill

  1. Partner drill both starting in Right Guard, Point Forward.
  2. Attacker leans forward extending imbrocatta.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard.
  4. Attacker eludes the parry by dropping the tip and turning a circular mandritto to the head on a right step.
  5. Repeat 5 times then swap roles.
  6. Repeat sequence from Left Guard throwing imbrocatta and riverso.

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