Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dall'Agocchie study group: quick edit

After further consideration, I think it will be more beneficial to focus on the solo form, and the two other, shorter paired forms that Dall'Agocchie places at the end of his section on the unaccompanied sword. Lepido Ranieri, the young Italian noble with whom Dall'Agocchie is conversing, wants to know how someone who has never picked up a sword before would prepare himself for a duel in thirty days. Dall'Agocchie replies that he would train him in two guards - porta di ferro stretta and guardia d'alicorno - parrying always with the true edge, and striking via imbroccata. If he had more time, he would also instruct the student in the use of coda lunga stretta, which allows for a number of single tempo parry-counterattacks.

So rather than jump into the deep end of the pool right away, we'll begin by defeating attacks from all angles from the two guards mentioned above. Once we achieve proficiency in the two guards, we can proceed to working on what Dall'Agocchie calls the variation of the guards. After that, we will examine the provocations from all the guards, as well as the half sword plays, both true and false.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dall'Agocchie study group

After a rather long break from working through Dall'Agocchie's unaccompanied sword due to teaching commitments for the past semester, it is time to continue our exploration of his paired form. Although relatively short, lasting less than fifteen seconds when performed at average speed, I believe it contains all the tools necessary for understanding his entire system. Both fencers will go through all eight guards described by Dall'Agocchie at least once, and will perform all the cuts and thrusts, in addition to concluding with an entry.

Starting this Wednesday, from 6-7pm, we will be going over both the solo form - designed for learning the guards, footwork and movements of the sword - and the paired form, from the perspective of both the attacker and the defender. As we become more skilled at both parts, we can begin to improvise by mixing in other possible defenses, of which there are up to six, depending on the nature of the attack. My ultimate goal is to use these two forms to quickly and effectively teach the sword alone, and with dagger or cloak. More details and results to follow.

Destreza seminar recap

It would seem that school has been keeping me much busier than I could have possibly thought. I'm glad I only have to go through the PhD qualifying exams once. Only one more week, and then my life goes back to normal! Anyway, enough about me; last weekend (April 17th and 18th), AEMMA had the pleasure to host Maestro Ramon Martinez from the Martinez Academy in New York City for a seminar on the Spanish school of swordsmanship, also known as "La Verdadera Destreza." In the following paragraphs, I will give a brief description of the system, as well as some of the concepts and drills that we learned over the course of the two days.

The Spanish school of swordsmanship can be traced back to a 16th century lawyer named Don Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza, who wrote his fencing treatise De la FilosofĂ­a de las Armas y de su Destreza y la Aggression y Defensa Cristiana in 1569. It appears, however, that his work was actually a compendium of techniques and concepts that he had collected throughout his lifetime. His fencing method remained relatively unchanged for nearly three hundred years, and was adapted for use with a number of weapons, including the sidesword, rapier, and sabre, as well as with accompanying weapons (dagger, cloak, and buckler).

Maestro Martinez introduced us to some of the fundamental concepts of Destreza, which started with us going over the footwork of the system. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it bears a remarkable similarity to what we already do with Fiore, the only difference being the considerable focus on circular movement. One of the drills we did, for example, began with two fencers standing directly opposite each other. A's job was to walk clockwise around the circle, with the intention of getting to the outside of B; B's role is to maintain the diameter of the circle. We did a number of drills that involved similar actions (changing direction, stealing the lead, stealing the lead by changing direction, and so on), both with and without the sword.

Building on the previous drills, we then looked at the various blade engagements, or atajos. More so than in Italian rapier, attacks to all four quadrants (outside high and low, inside high and low) are all equally possible, and rely on taking the appropriate step: when making the atajo to the outside, you step to your left, and you step to your left when making the atajo to the inside. Since this is not something I can really describe, I'll need to post some video on how this is done. (Will be up soon, I promise!) Once we got a firm grasp of how the basic blade engagements work, we then went on to practice cambio, which is analogous to the Italian cavazione (both over and under the sword, depending on the position of the sword). I'll continue with my report tomorrow.