Saturday, June 19, 2010

Re-introduction to Dall'Agocchie

Once again, I find myself posting after a long absence. The pressures of school weighed heavily upon me throughout the month of May, and the two back-to-back vacations to the US and Vancouver made it somewhat difficult to put anything of worth up here. To be honest, I'm glad I didn't just post whatever came to mind, because I've been doing a lot of thinking over the past few weeks about fencing, and I've come to a rather unsurprising conclusion: although I love rapier immensely - it was my introduction to WMA, after all - I'm not up for teaching it. It'd be one thing if I was learning under someone whom I could see once a week and learn, but I've been going for nearly a year without receiving instruction of my own, and it's just not fun anymore; I'm not getting any better, and after my time spent in Vancouver, I'm not sure if rapier is really my calling. I still plan on fencing it as much as I can, but I've just lost the will, which is readily replaced by...

some good old-fashioned Bolognese swordsmanship. I just realized last night how many hundreds (or is it thousands?) of hours I have put into reading, translating and interpreting the various fencing treatises associated with the Bolognese tradition, that I can't picture myself dedicating myself to anything else. I love fencing sword in one hand, and I've been making tremendous progress since I arrived at AEMMA nearly two years ago. If I'm going to leave a mark at my school, I'd be extremely proud to share my knowledge of this, so it can be passed on to future students.

Anyway, enough sentimentality for one post. I taught my first class today as a sort of experiment: I need to present a research project for the rank of free scholar this year, and I want to use empirical data to back it up. What better way than to test my theories in the classroom? While not a rousing success because I forgot my very precise instructions for the schedule at home, I feel I made a lot of progress with the four students who showed up today, so much so that, with a few minor tweaks, I can train people quickly and efficiently.

We started with some basic footwork (increasing and decreasing steps, passing steps, and triangle steps), followed by an introduction to the low guards and the high guards. I may have been a bit pedantic today, but I really wanted to drive home the names of the guards, and how one ought to change among them. For the next twenty minutes or so, we went through the six basic cuts of the system (plus one!): the sgualimbri, the tondi, the falsi, and the tramazzone. Everyone caught on fairly quickly, and by the one-hour mark, only the occasional cut was thrown not under cover. Not too bad.

Next, we worked on the first three parts of the solo form, which is not only useful for teaching cuts in combination, but also how to move in all directions, and how to move from guard to guard. Once again, I was quite pleased with how everyone picked up the first part, so we'll review what we did this week next time, and then introduce the second set of actions.

After about fifteen minutes of the solo form, I thought it would be useful (and it definitely was!) to do the Guardia di Testa drill. (Yeah, I can't think of a better name...any suggestions?) For those of you who don't know what this entails, here it is:

1) Simplest version: A throws a mandritto to B, B parries in Guardia di Testa while stepping behind with the left foot.
2) Version 2.0: A throws a mandritto to B, B parries in Guardia di Testa while stepping behind with the left foot, and then counterattacks with a mandritto while stepping with the right foot.
3) Version 3.0: A throws a mandritto to B, B parries and counterattacks, A parries and counterattacks.
4) Version 4.0: Continuous.

Finally, I wanted to try out the duel in 30 days. First I had everyone practice doing the defense, which proved to be somewhat more difficult than I had imagined. Then, I had them defend against a mandritto, and counter with a riverso ridoppio-imbroccata combo. I didn't get to any of the other possibilities yet; with good planning, I can make it through all five defenses next class.