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Last night was the third week of Stormhold’s new rapier training in Carlton. With four attendees including myself the hall is close to the point of covering costs. The night went very well – it seemed very productive, I got to take part in the exercises the majority of the time and we all got to work up a sweat.

We started with pyramid stepping, and my explanation how to form the stance using this exercise. Then the translate and turn to stretch the groin followed by footwork: working on the pass, simple steps, and the lunge.

The key thought that I wanted to get across was that the footwork should work with the body weight – one should step from loaded leg to unloaded leg and that the weight should move in only one direction. In the Capoferro context this means that if you have your stance correct you should attack with a step of the forward foot most of the time and only pass if your weight is forward or your opponent is too far away from your lunge.

The next step was to practice lunging into the resistance of a partner – this is a great exercise to develop awareness of a ground path in the guard and the requirement for the rear leg to strongly drive the body forward in the lunge. This was well received as it helped to justify the specifics of the stance.

Lunging with partner resistance

  1. A. in guard of third or fourth without a sword.
  2. P. holds the sword hand of A. in a stable position and puts pressure along the line of the imaginary sword.
  3. A. lunges forward through the resistance of P. without sacrificing their balance.
  4. P. continues to provide constant pressure and if A. feels unstable attempts to push into the instability to show A. the error.
  5. A. recovers stably back to guard under this pressure again without sacrificing their balance.
  6. P. can take away the pressure completely at any time they believe that A. will lose their balance.

Working on the lunge sword in hand, we focused on correct form of the rear hand – it should be pronated if the sword is in second and supinated if the sword is in fourth. I encouraged the students to practice this left and right handed as it is more interesting for me and should help avoid unbalanced musculo-skeletal development.

We then worked through the mechanics of gaining the blade. The three main points I like to focus on are thus: the sword should point to one shoulder, their should be more of your blade past the point of contact than there is theirs, and the true edge should be slightly turned towards the opponents sword.

I then explained the three measures and they’re relationship with gaining the sword – in brief gaining the sword makes it safe to move into measure. Capoferro also explains that this need only be done if O. has their blade at an angle pointing towards either shoulder; if their blade is pointed straight towards you, you need only make a favourable weak/strong blade relationship to attack.

Then we put on kit and practiced: gaining the blade, attack by disengage, counter attack in time, and the disengage parry riposte. This was taught as a pyramid each technique building on the last and each iteration of practice of the current technique including all of the preceding techniques in order. This is important because without the intent of the previous technique the one who would be struck starts to change their action to avoid being struck.

I teach the attack by disengage in two ways: the first is mechanically; A. finds the sword P. disengages and lunges in one motion striking A. the second is as it would be done in combat; A. begins to find the sword and in that moment P. disengages and strikes A. The second method is safer because the agent has committed their blade to the side the patients blade has started on.

The next drill was gaining lines, using only the disengage and the elements of gaining the blade; I omitted footwork as Capoferro disdains fencers moving around one another and because steps would complicate the drill unnecessarily. The take home skill I am trying to teach here is to fight weakness with strength and strength with weakness and feeling in the blade of how much to use.

We ended the evening with bouting using only those techniques taught that night and changing partners periodically. It helps that all of the attendees had some fencing experience and therefore had the discipline to stick to the taught material most of the time. Overall a very satisfying night of teaching.

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