I was happy to return after a week’s absence. When I arrived, Haley had the beginners working on a nice drill setting up an attack followed by a triangle step to retreat. For the 8pm set, we worked on a section of the syllabus form that performs a variant of drill 1. I had been playing with this footwork combination during solo practice and had added a couple retreating motions and footwork to create a cycle drill, so you could end up in the same guard and position where you started.
- Wait in tutta porta di ferro.
- Parry to frontale.
- Cut across the arms with a mandritto fendente, with a passo fora di strada (offline step with right leg)
- Pass forward thrusting to the chest in bicorno
- Yield to the left turning the sword around to a mandritto fendente while drawing back the left leg, ending in dente di cingharo
- Draw the sword up to fenestra sinestra and thrust
- Turn the sword around the middle of the blade and cut reverso while withdrawing the right left
- End in tutta porta di ferro (starting position)
We did 20 reps of the combination solo and then paused so that each of the seven people assembled could perform their drill in front of their classmates and get feedback.
We then did 20 more reps. Some of the coaching comments included
- Working for fluidity while hitting each canonical guard position
- Clean footwork, no stutter steps or foot crossing
- Good grip transitions
- Edge alignment of the cuts which you can monitor for yourself by checking the visibility of the flat (it should not be visible) as you make your cuts
- Economy of motion between guards
- Using the extension and withdrawal of the arms combined with footwork to power the cuts
We then worked on applications; my fantasied additions (steps 5+6 particularly) needed some modifications as the sword more typically is displaced to the right when parries.
- The opponent withdraws after the failed fendente and you follow with the thrust, using bicorno to stabilize the thrust against his winding
Application 2 (attacker’s counter):
- Working the pommel strike, cut across the arms, and then takedown from the back while breaking the opponent’s balance from below
Coaching tips for first drill:
- A good feeder will force the parry by utilizing footwork that closes the line – don’t invite a counterstrike by allowing space for the defender to pass and counterstrike
- Aggressively throwing the fendente and then instantly abandoning it as it is parried, allowing the pommel strike to happen
- Defender must throw the counterstrike against the arms even if anticipating the partner’s cover and parry response
- When covering prior to the pommel strike, watch your hands
A couple of the beginners were present providing a good opportunity to review drill execution and identify coaching opportunities.