This exercise takes the above basic one step further by deploying a known guard, the posta longa in order to take the opponent down. The student will learn the importance of timing and footwork in order to successfully deploy this ward and throw.
❖ attack from above ^ ward to the outside begin with the porta di ferro stance (left leg forward), re-direct attacking arm to the outside with the left hand (in this case, actually grip the wrist with thumb downwards) and push the attacking arm upwards and towards the rear
step forward with the right foot (passing step) and position the foot behind the attacker's right leg and simply deploy the long guard and take down the opponent over your right leg (The illustration on the bottom right of the previous page is an extract from Fiore dei Liberi's "Flos Duellatorum", 1410.
3) dagger attack + ward, disarm and strike
♦♦♦ attack from above 4 forearm grip the attack is met with a grip to the forearm, the agent will release the dagger
❖ attack from above ^ grip wrist and elbow, arm bent upward at elbow and disarm the attack is met with a grip to the agent's forearm with the patient agent's left hand (thumb downward) and is immediately forced back and upwards. At the same time, the patient agent will grasp the agent's elbow from underneath and left the elbow with the right hand while the left hand is now forcing the agent's upper forearm back and downwards. This will cause the agent to loose balance, or provide the opportunity to manually disarm the agent.
3.0 Longsword (spada longa) Techniques
A critical component of fight skills is footwork. A pair of notable masters explicitly documented their thoughts surrounding this aspect of the fight. George Silver stated:
"Of running and standing safe in rapier fight, the runner has the advantage."
"If two valiant men fight being both cunning in running, & that they both use the same at one instant, their course is doubled, the place is won of both sides, and one or both of them will commonly be slain or sore hurt. And if one of them shall run, and the other standfast upon the imbrocata11 or stocata12, or however, the place will be at one instant won of one side, and gained of the other, and one or both of them will be hurt or slain. If both shall press hard upon the guard, he that first thrusts home in true place, hurts the other, & if both thrust together, they are both hurt. Yet some advantage the runner has, because he is an uncertain mark, and in his motion. The other is a certain mark, and in dead motion, And by reason of this many times the unskillful man takes advantage he knows not how, against him that lies watching upon his ward or stocata guard." George Silver, 1599
Di Grassi's words are also important. He stated:
"As concerning the motion of the feet, from which grow great occasions as well of offense as Defense, I say and have seen by diverse examples that as by the knowledge of their orderly and discreet motion, as well in the Lists as in common frays, there has been obtained honorable victory, so their busy and unruly motion have been occasion of shameful hurts and spoils. And because I cannot lay down a certain measure of motion, considering the difference between man and man, some being of great and some of little stature: for to some it is commodious to make his pace the length of an arm, and to other some half the length or more. Therefore I advertise every man in all his wards to frame a reasonable pace, in such sort that if he would step forward to strike, he lengthen or increase one foot, and if he would defend himself, he withdraw as much, without peril of falling "
11 a thrust with the hand pronated (knuckles forward, palm outward) passing over the opponent's hand and downward
1 a thrust with the hand supinated (knuckles down, palm inward) rising from underneath the opponent's ward
"It is to be known that the feet move either straightly, either circularly: If straightly, then either forwards or backwards: but when they move directly forwards, they frame either a half or a whole pace. By whole pace is understood, when the foot is carried from behind forwards, keeping steadfast the forefoot. And this pace is sometimes made straight, sometimes crooked. By straight is meant when it is done in a straight line, but this does seldom happen. By crooked or slope pace is understood, when the hindfoot is brought also forwards, but yet a thwart or crossing: and as it goes forwards, it carries the body with it, out of the straight line, where the blow is given. In this unit, the student will focus almost entirely on developing good footwork and will be introduced to additional individual-oriented sword handling drills." Giacomo Di Grassi, 1594
1) Basic Footwork & Stance
The student must understand that good footwork is fundamental for both offensive and defensive maneuvers. In other words, from well placed and firm footwork will spring all offensive strikes, lunges, as well as thrusts and defensive evasion and redirection. The following describe the fundamental principles of footwork the student must consider.
1. Proper and stable stance, foot placement
The illustration on the left depicts the stance that the student assumes. The stance on the far left illustrates the most appropriate foot placement for longsword. The ability to move in any direction is represented by the arrow. One can move in any A I \ ! direction with equal ability, agility and speed. The
/ i ^__^ / feet are approximately shoulder width apart (the i / \ / stance assumes right-handedness). The width of
\ ▼ / \ / the feet will vary depending upon the physical
\ / \ / attributes of the individual. The stance is
\ / \ / relatively relaxed with the individual standing
" erect and the weight is centred across the feet.
Balance is critical, especially when one is wearing armour which can increase the weight by up to 60 lbs. The trailing foot is roughly 450 turned out with the heel approximately positioned on the body's centre (as depicted by the vertical dotted line). The right foot is forward, with toes oriented towards the opponent. The foot is to the right of the body's centre line as illustrated. Knees are slightly bent with the shoulders approximately 600 square with respect to the opponent. This will provide greater freedom and opportunity to attack and parry, despite presenting a larger "target" to the opponent. The stance of the right in the above figure depicts the typical stance of a modern fencer. The primary motion is much more linear and is focused on forward and backward movement. It is included for comparison purposes only.
2. Passing (pass) step
Executing the forward pass is the most innate of human movements, i.e. the walk. The
trailing foot moves ahead of the forward foot in conjunction with shifting weight and balance. A similar action occurs with the reverse pass or retreat, however, the lead foot which is moving backward will do so in a slight circular motion towards the rear.
The illustration on the left depicts the starting stance and the resulting stance after a forward pass. The trailing foot, which was the leading foot now assumes a 450 angle outwards, and the leading foot now is oriented towards the opponent. The pass, although natural phenomena, is conducted by shifting the weight forward to the leading foot such that the weight of the body is now centred on the leading foot, more specifically, the ball of the leading foot. The trailing foot lifts up and is brought forward passing the leading foot. Once the trailing foot, which is now the leading foot, the weight centre now shifts to a normal distribution between leading and trailing feet.
3. Gathered step
The gathered step is used primarily for the adjustment of range in an engagement while
o o maintaining the foot orientation or stance. This form of step provides the opportunity to adjust range and to remain in an optimum stance with which to deliver a strong strike supported by a passing step with the right foot moving forward from the rear to the front. At all times, while gathering forward or reverse, to keep the body erect, knees slightly bent and centred. Do not lean to far forward or reverse.
The illustration on the left depicts one of two schools of thought with respect to gathered steps. The first is known as the "commited gathered"'. In order to execute this gathered step, one would shift the weight towards to the rear foot. The forward gather is executed by taking the leading foot, moving forward and then placing it down heel first followed by a shift of the weight forward. This will take the weight away from the trailing foot which can now be brought forward the same distance. The illustration depicts the starting stance at the bottom, the transitional stance in the middle ellipse followed by the final stance in above.
The reverse gathered is executed in a similar manner except the trailing foot is first to move towards the rear followed by the leading foot. Weight distribution is the reverse of the forward gathered. One should not drag the trailing foot or lift it too high
because this would introduce impact on the balance and provide an offensive opportunity for the opponent.
The second school of thought is commonly known as the "non-committed gathered"'. The observation with this form of step is that while armoured, adjustment of range and the shifting of weight forward results in greater effort should one decide to "cancel" the forward gather by shifting the greater weight from the leading foot backwards to return the leading foot to the normal stance. Therefore, observation and application of this form of gathered step indicates far greater ability to either completely execute the forward/reverse gathered step or to cancel the gathered step. Cancellation of a gathered step is due to some movement or intent of the opponent resulting in one changing his/her mind with respect to adjusting range. Therefore, as illustrated on the left, a forward non-commited gather is executed by lifting the trailing foot and moving it forward to just behind the leading foot. At this point, the weight is equally distributed across both feet. It is at this point, that the individual can easily commit to completely executing the forward gather by moving the leading foot forward to assume the normal stance, or simply return the leading foot back to its starting position. Very little effort is required, and the shifting of weight becomes minimal, which is very beneficial during armoured engagements.
4. Traverse (slope step)
A traverse (pronounced "trah"
"ver" - "say") is essentially a side step, whether lateral or angled. It is executed to re-position one off-line from the opponent resulting in a pair of individuals moving in a circular motion around each other, each seeking opportunities to attack. In general, the traverse is executed on the pass, which is the dominant form of footwork with the longsword.
The execution of the traverse, using the illustration on the \ left, is a pass done by moving the trailing foot forward \ and to the left. The weight again is shifted slightly ! forward to the leading foot. Once the trailing foot is / planted, the weight shifts again slightly to the now new leading foot and move the right foot forward to assume the leading foot position again. The movement is typically initiated with the trailing foot so as to conceal 1 the intent from the opponent. Assuming a similar starting stance as illustrated, and the traverse is towards the right, in this case, the leading foot would initiate the execution, followed by bringing up the trailing foot. This is a gathered traverse.
2) Footwork drills pass & traverse drills - with and without sword: This exercise is executed by the student to familiarize oneself with the integration of a pass with a traverse. The purpose of training with and without the sword is that a weapon introduces a new variable to the student's thoughts while executing the variations of footwork. The travese exercised will be both to the right and to the left.
ii. gathered & traverse drills - with and without sword: This exercise integrates the gathered with the traverse steps.
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