Drill of N Things

The Drill of 5 Things has been expanded a wee bit of late so I figured I’d share it, in lieu of actually updating/modernizing/organizing the drills pages on this site.

As with the drill of N things, this is stolen from Walter Triplette. It’s the first lesson he runs students through.

There are some parts that I’m not completely satisfied with and need to develop further to better teach this to others. Also there are a few more attacks and counters to be added in (and the cues dictating which counter to use in a particular situation).  So, thoughts, feedback, etc. completely welcome.


Triplette’s full lesson works every basic attack and counter-attack in fencing.  Follow his instructions in so far as they apply: allow the student to settle in guard, keep measure steady, make actions big.  As the student progresses, make the cues smaller, require faster action, etc.  If you’re not sure if something he says applies, ask (there is a lot of foil-particular stuff — parry-ripostes instead of contratempo extensions, parrying six or whatever it is instead of the Italian hand positions).

This is an Italian Rapier modification of the drills put forth in this video. The basic process is to work the four parts of each iteration separately, then mixed together. Repeat with the next iteration, then mix the two, and so on. Add footwork, but as Walter points out, let the student set guard before the cue is given.  The cues I use are either stepping to measure with blade in position, or starting at measure and raising the sword into a position.

First iteration: Gained/Not-gained

Without any action from you, you and your opponent’s blades can be in one of two relations:
In parity, or they have gained yours.

Things 1 and 2: If you are in parity, gain their blade and perform a lunge.  Inside and Outside.

Things 3 and 4: If they attempt to gain yours, cavazione in the tempo of their gain (ending with their blade gained while lunging).  Inside and Outside.

Second iteration: Contratempo attacks

Things 5 and 6: If you are in parity, gain their blade. If they perform a disengage (no measure change), turn your hand and lunge. Inside and outside.

Things 7 and 8: If you are in parity, gain their blade. If they perform a disengage and close measure, perform a contracavazione. Inside and outside.

Third iteration: Feints against invitations

“If your opponent pretends to give you an opening, pretend to take it.” -Walter’s Rules

Things 9-12: They present an opening, you extend aggressively (everything but the footwork in a lunge).  If they parry, cavazione.  If they don’t, continue into the lunge with the line closed.  Inside/Outside.

Fourth iteration: They attack you without gaining your blade.

Thing 13: They attack low (to the leg), extend sword at their arm or face while voiding foot

Thing 14 and 15: They attack inside or outside, contratempo lunge while closing the line.

Thing 16: They attack high (their hand above your shoulder), contratempo prima lunge offline (away from their sword)

3 comments to Drill of N Things

  • Gawin

    You may also note that this drill progression seems to mirror the ordering of plays in Giganti’s manual, being:

    1) Lunge
    2&3) Gain: inside & outside (Things 1 & 2)
    4&5) Cavazione: inside & outside (Things 3 & 4)
    6&7) Contracavazione: inside & outside (Things 7 & 8)
    8&9) Feints and invitations inside & outside (Things 9 – 12)

    11) Thrust to the face to counter a cut to the leg (Thing 13)
    12) Defense against a cut (Thing 16)

    This is mostly off the top of my head and I don’t have my copy of Giganti in front of me, so I’m relying on some scans that aren’t in English and what I suspect is an old version of Mediema’s translation where the plates seem to be referenced in the section before it is appropriate, but that might simply be a formatting issue.

    • Wistric

      Working off Leoni’s translation:

      Plates 4&5 line up with Things 5 and 6 (attacking in tempo of cavazione). There’s a paragraph after plate 5 that discusses the correct way to perform a cavazione, which lines up with #3 and 4.

      In plate 9 he adds in passing attacks after the feint, which would be a good next iteration to work in. That one drives off the ricavazione (and an initial cavazione that goes intentionally wide to draw a big parry).

      Plate 11 is further development of feints. Plate 14 (at least in Leoni) is the counter to the leg thrust.
      The sword and dagger plates are where the contratempo thrusts show up, because Giganti assumes your opponent isn’t stupid enough to attack without trying to gain your blade.

      And then there’s adding in the inquartata…

      Yep, Giganti knew teaching.

      • Gawin

        Yeah, pulled out my copy of the book this morning to double check and was going to come note those changes.

        I also misread your Thing 16 and was thinking that it was the counter to a cut (Plate 12), but it doesn’t seem to be. An added “Thing” that covers this plate might be useful.

Leave a Reply to Wistric Cancel reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>