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Last Saturday was the first class of the first beginners course at the School of Historical Fencing. The course goes for 8 weeks and is intended to get a student completely unfamiliar with Fiore’s art or HEMA in general up to the point where they can understand the fundamental principles of longsword and dagger combat in Fiore and to an extent direct their own learning into the book.

The class started with a quick briefing on the school culture, the event next friday and safety. I try to emphasise the importance of being self-driven and maintaining your own health through the activities of the class e.g. if you shouldn’t do certain actions due to injury don’t do them.

I taught the salute (feet together sword by side, step forward with right foot into porta di ferro mezana, step back raising sword cross to face tip up, and lower sword to side) and we began the class.

Warmup
Usual joint mobility exercises, squats, pushups, starfish, and falling practice from bottom on the floor position.

Movement
striking with dagger and introduction to four unarmed posta (Posta Longa, Denti di Cingiara, Posta Frontale, Porta di Ferro)

Introduced four steps (passare, tornare, acressare, discressare). Then we played the stick game.

Dagger
Introduced striking in four lines with reference to the diagram in the book (mandritto, riverso, fendente, sottano). This was done 2 lines at a time in a pair drill: patient calls the name of the strike and the agent delivers that strike.

Longsword
Introduced two cuts and two thrusts against a partner (mandritto fendente, riverso fendente, low punta from both sides), sneaking in four guards with the longsword at the same time (Posta di Donna Destra, Posta di Donna Sinestra, Tutta Porta di Ferro, Denti di Cingiaro).

Then up the hall practicing mandritto fendente and a thrust from Denti di Cingiaro, and the equivalent from the other side before putting it together into the first part of cutting drill.

Finally I demonstrated the different strikes with both sword and dagger and the students called out the names of the strikes. We finished with a salute and I answered some questions.

Review
This class could be called the four things class, four guards, four steps, four attacks were taught. The main teaching technique I used was testing (I am reading Make it Stick: the science of successful learning at the moment).

Next week, I will introduce some defences and the body mechanics they rely on.

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