Sunday, November 21, 2010

Capoferro review: 20 November

I have come a very long way as an instructor since October 2008, when I first began teaching at AEMMA. While I knew a fair amount then (not nearly as much as I do now, obviously), I wasn't particularly good at delivering what I knew effectively. In the past few months, however, I've noticed a tremendous spike in my ability to transmit what I know from rapier and sidesword. Everyone who has taken classes with me since June has "gained a few extra levels" much faster than I anticipated, and I'd like to think I'm doing something right. The reason I bring this up at all is because we covered nearly all of the drills yesterday in just under two hours, and I know we can make even more effective use of our time when everyone knows the drills.

Since everyone was more or less a beginner yesterday, we started with the absolute basics (vita thrust, lunge, passata), and gradually worked our way through more and more complicated drills, from the cavazione-opposition drill to the cavazione di tempo drill, all the way to incorporating the scanso della vita. Yeah, I know. For those of you who are reading this is a review, here it is:

1) Warm-ups: 15 vita thrusts, 12 lunges, 10 passate. Then we move on to the measure drill, tessitura (striking during my opponent's motion), and the simple cavazione-opposition drills.
2) The basic approaching drills (attacker "wins"):
a) attacker approaches and strikes via cavazione (defender opposes)
b) " and strikes via opposition (defender performs cavazioni).
3) The intermediate approaching drills (defender wins via interruption):
a) attacker approaches and defender counter-steps in the same time, as the attacker goes to cover himself (either in place or by stepping back) the defender strikes.
b) attacker approaches and defender counter-steps back in the same time, as the attacker gives chase, the defender strikes as soon as the attacker steps into measure.
4) The upper intermediate approaching drills (defender wins by waiting):
a) attacker approaches (defender opposes), and as the attacker thrusts via cavazione, defender counters with an opposition.
b) attacker approaches (defenders performs cavazioni), and as the attacker thrusts via cavazione, defender yields to the pressure, either with a scanso della vita (on the inside) or with a passing step in prima (on the outside).

There are more drills that can be added, but these are the absolute basics. We'll go over these some more over the coming weeks.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dall'Agocchie review: 17 November

This last study group session was somewhat atypical, in that we divided into two pairs, each working on different drills. With the impending influx of new students on Sunday, this will be the norm:

1) We'll spend the first part of the session all working together on the basics (solo form, changing directions drills, basic defenses)
2) The next part will be split according to level (provocations only for the less experienced, provocations and their counters for those further along)
3) The final part will be dedicated to application, that is to say, practicing provocations against a semi-resisting partner (for non-scholars) - otherwise known as "slow work" - or loose-play (for scholars and above).

Regarding this weekend's workshop, we'll be covering the entire section on the use of the sword in one hand as described in Dall'Agocchie's 1572 treatise. Those wishing to join the study group will learn all they need in the four hours, and those already in the group will get a good re-introduction to the material. The cost is $30, and we'll be going from 1-5 this Sunday.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Back on track!

Now that my free scholler challenge is over and done with, I can get back to posting here regularly. The 31st of October marked the return of Capoferro to the curriculum, as I gave a four hour introduction to Italian rapier to a group of six students. We covered an enormous amount of material in that time, and I think that I can make some serious progress with this group. This time around, I really want to emphasize that we are fighting with rapiers, and not rapier fencing. I think this requires a bit of explanation...

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last two years about the rapier, and I strongly believe that the sum of the Art is not to be contained within the works of Capoferro, Fabris, Giganti, etc. Rather, these masters described a number of basic actions or plays that are the building blocks of fighting with a rapier, but not the sum. It's not as if the day Fabris published his treatise on fencing everyone forgot how to cut, grapple or fight "dirty", so to speak. My goal, then, is to train everyone to exploit the strengths of the weapon, and make use of everything we learn from Fiore's texts when things are less than ideal, i.e. when the tip and edge are no longer of use.

As for the Dall'Agocchie study group, we are still working hard on Wednesday nights. Over the course of the past few months, we've really made some serious progress in simplifying the system, so much so that a curriculum is not far off in the future. We've worked out all of the defenses, the provocations and their counters, as well as the stretto plays and their counters. All that remains is the paired form, and then the entire first section of his treatise is complete. This next Sunday, I'll be doing an introduction/recap of the system from 1-5, during which we'll be going over everything. With any luck, we can then bring in some new blood to the study group, and have multiple mini-groups working.

Finally, my plan for the new year is to start working on the sword and dagger section from Dall'Agocchie. As it stands, there are three of us who can really work through this right now, and I plan on doing the same thing I had done with single sword: breakdown and perform every defense, learn the provocations and their counters, and go through the paired form. That should take a few months, and then we'll move on to sword and cloak, and then two swords. Things should prove to be exciting in the next couple months. I'll be posting notes from both study groups on Thursdays and Saturdays.