Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Syllabus Day revelations

Last Saturday saw some intrepid Turkunians braving the cold and heading to the Helsinki salle to brush up on our syllabus material. From start to finish the day was full of revelations for me. The whole giocco largo/stretto thing has been around for a bit now and it was really great to have a solid frame of reference for how the swords cross. Guy showed the crossing as positions, two in largo, two in stretto. What makes them differ is whether the points are in line and whether there is pressure on the blade.

Let us assume that my training partner has attacked with a fendente mandritto and I rebattere from tutta porta di ferro to frontale. The swords will make contact somewhere in between.

Position 1: (largo) I successfully beat the incoming sword to my inside. The point is no threat. I lay my sword across the attacker's hands, stepping sideways to my outside, before thrusting to the chest. I could also strike a fendente roverso to the head. The counter is to yield, pommel strike and enter.

Position 2: (stretto) I successfully beat the incoming sword to my inside but not as far as in position 1, i.e. it is closer to the central line. The opponent can put some pressure on my blade, their point holds more threat as it is closer to my head. I control the other's blade by grabbing near their point with my offhand, and cutting/thrusting one-handed to their head, while stepping in. The counter is to yield pommel strike and enter.

Position 3: (stretto) The swords are crossed close to the middle line and the other's point is close to me, with pressure on my blade. I cannot leave the bind as the opponent could simply press their attack or angulate the point to my head or chest. If I try to grab the other's sword I will lose stability and they press their attack, so I bind over, step in and grab the other's pommel, disarming and thrusting. Surprise, surprise, the counter is to pommel strike and enter ! :-)

Position 4: (largo) I fail to rebattere successfully and my sword is bound over to my outside. From here the attacker will step to his outside and strike to my head with a fendente roverso or as described in position 1. The attacker's point is not a threat and in seeking to bind on my sword, the attacker's blade is not directed towards me. I yield to the pressure, pommel strike and enter.

Neat! I now have a zip code of tactical choices depending on where the cross happens. Obviously these 4 positions are points along a continuum, but they are concrete and easy to remember.

There was loads more fun stuff which made me realise I need to get to train in Helsinki more. Perhaps for a lot of people this was basic basic but I loved it! I'm quite envious of the Helsinki folks. They have direct access to this material. It's no wonder we're quite behind in Turku. Unfortunately, there is no training today as the school where we normally have classes is using the space. Bugger! Can't wait 'til Thursday though!

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