Second Giganti IV: Cuts to the sword (Giganti on melee)

Between the sections on defense against cuts and the use of passing steps in a fight, Giganti pauses to include a “preface<sic> to the reader on the nature of cuts”.  It’s three pages, with no plates, but does set forth two pieces of advice.

The first is that cuts are not good contratempo responses to cuts.  Unlike a contratempo thrust against a cut or thrust, they don’t permit you to close the line in the same tempo.  So unless you’ve closed the line some other means (by dagger or void, as he teaches), you have to defend with your first cut and then counter with your second.

Which leads to his second piece of advice, which occupies the bulk of the chapter: How to use cuts to parry thrusts.

Astute readers will remember from the first book that this is a terrible idea.  So when do you do it?  When your opponent is better armored than you, or when they outnumber you.  As with the cuts to the head, we’re essentially considering the “bolder” opponent, in this case because he either has armor or has a friend.  We are not considering the equal opponent.  Do not attempt to parry thrusts with a cut if you are fighting an equal opponent.

Against both examples of bolder opponents, the approach is the same: descending mandritto “so it almost wounds your enemy’s neck” while stepping back, followed by a descending roverscio, which again almost wounds your enemy’s neck, while stepping back, and repeat. Cut and withdraw, cut and withdraw, “in the form of a cross”.  The cut almost to the neck serves as a feint to check the opponent in his attack, while the cut itself continues down to “knock his sword to the ground”.  “Continue like a wheel” forming this figure eight in the air, never letting them establish control long enough to attack, and withdrawing, until they do something wrong: Drop a sword, step into the cut to the neck and thereby become wounded, or other.  Giganti suggests the successful wound will come from the roverscio. If it comes on the mandritto, you’ve wounded instead of defending, so you both die.  Better to pull your mandritto a little short of the neck to guarantee your safety, then deliver a roverscio to an exposed leg or face if your opponent has not got his defense back.

Giganti suggests this could be successful against up to four opponents, so long as they don’t fan-out but instead attack in unison.  Look for me in a doorway at Pennsic yelling “HMA” and whirling my C&T blade like the guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

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