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Earlier this week, Don Caleb contacted me to let me know he was in town and happy to do some training. I gathered together some people and we spent a couple of hours in the park on Tuesday evening.

I asked him to give me feedback on my interpretations of plates 8 & 10 of Capoferro. He asserted and I ultimately agreed with him that the riverso thrown with a turn of the hand was a riverso tondo and not a rising riverso as I had thought. This action is faster and can be more easily turned into a riverso squalembrato if the opponent performs a sbasso. This cut is the second play of plate 8 and the first play of plate 10.

After some free fencing Caleb corrected an error that I have fallen into. Before I explain Capoferro’s fundamental plays need to be explained, they are;

  1. gaining the blade and lunging
  2. attack by disengage in response
  3. counter-gaining and lunging in single tempo
  4. the alternative to play two of disengage by way of a feint and parry riposte in two tempos

The error that I was making with my fencing was following this pattern too rigidly. I was trying to make play three work when my opponents weren’t moving forward in the disengage. Play three only works in response to play two. Play two is a teaching play included to tell you what not to do and set up play three as the appropriate response to your opponent being a dummy, who uses play two.

…do not do as some masters do, who disengage, and do so in order to strike in
primo tempo, arriving with the point of their sword on the forte of the
enemy’s sword, not perceiving that they give the point to the enemy,
and most of the time they are offended… (trans, Swanger and Wilson).

Play one is also a teaching play; opponents rarely stand still when one has found their sword, although if you are in close enough measure it is exactly the right response.

I need to see it as a cycle where I force my opponent to enter narrow measure when I have the line. Like this:

  1. enter with play one
  2. if he disengages and lunges – play three
  3. if he disengages – play one
  4. if he gains the blade – play four

My students, Mat and Ben, were also there – Caleb corrected postural issues with their guards and taught them a handy drill to work on, gaining the blade/ controlling lines.

Drill – Gaining lines

At the edge of wide measure patient and agent attempt to gain the line and hold it for as long as possible using: disengages, parrys, and steps around one another – all without changing measure.


I am not doing enough training with others of my level or higher at this time. The next two weekends should improve this; Guy Windsor is coming to Australia.