Practice Log, 6/23   7 comments

There’s nothing that energizes me so much as the moment of epiphany, of rediscovering some shred of lost knowledge or some new pedagogical tool that can aid in the completeness or quickness of our reconstruction.

This is rare. Most of my progression involves learning that I’ve been doing something wrong – possibly for years, possibly a thing I thought I was doing right – and then I endeavor to fix it, usually via repetition, and sometimes by processes even longer and more laborious.

It can grate after awhile, and make one begin to think one has nothing to offer the art.


And then ten people show up for weekly practice – myself and Gawin, our three students, two new folks, and three more first-timers – and all the existential crises evaporate amid the glowing happiness of there are people who want to learn how to fight with swords and they are right here!

We did stick drills. We stood in guard. We did footwork. We did lunges. We even introduced the new folks to the basics of bladework. I did nothing but teach CF for three hours. It was glorious.

My enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the statistics: around WMH we typically retain 10-15% of new faces. But we’ve had a lot of success recently, and I wonder if the more structured approach to practice isn’t part of it. There is a certain legitimacy to scheduled drills (or, if you like: books and egg timers).

One of the new folks has limited mobility in her back (right) hip impeding the CF stuff – and she can’t put all her weight on her back leg. Since this is fundamental to Italian fencing I’m at a loss for a good work-around unless we look into LVD or Agrippa or something. Thoughts?


Sunday involved taking our new lunge instruction out for a spin. Still not sure how to completely avoid the word “step”, but leaving the step out (extending and straightening the left leg, without any movement of the feet) seems a good first step. It may also help to describe the tactical value of the lunge – not so much its reach, but its quickness.

Gawin and I also discussed some foundational tactics in the Italian system. You need a tempo to attack safely, and we covered a handful of basic effective responses to attacks out of tempo (parry; counterfind; and void).

This feels like a good lead-in to introducing the feint, but I still don’t feel like I have a solid grasp of its tactical use. The key I seemed to be missing earlier is that both Giganti and Fabris advocate feinting in contratempo, although Fabris also seems to think you can get away with feinting out of tempo if you do it right … I’ll need to do more reading and examine the plates.

I think we’ll start with a simple choice drill: Agente gains and extends; patiente either does nothing or makes a parry; agente responds by finishing with a lunge or a cavazione as appropriate. It’s sterile and artificial, but it’s a necessary building block, and it’s something we all need to work anyway. Maybe by the time we’re all doing that right, I’ll figure this out …

Posted June 24, 2014 by Ruairc in Journal

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