I should warn you, dear reader, that this article reads in a different tone than what you may be used to. I am rattling a few cages, on purpose, and I am aware of the depth of debate that may arise from this. Perhaps you may not like this, but as it is in fencing, sometimes a provocation is what it takes to set things in motion. In this instance, hopefully towards a good outcome.
But before getting into the subject, I will elevate this post from the realms of mere ranting by teaching you Bolognese swordsmanship. All of it. In less than five hundred words.
While posting details on each part of the Assalto, here it is presented in its complete form. Done first with a proper two-handed sword and then with a side-sword, just for fun.
The fifth part of the Primo Assalto marks a mid-point in the form. It introduces the embellishment for the first time (which is only repeated in the tenth part) and by this time most of the actions introduced in the Primo Assalto are already shown. From the sixth on we see some of the earlier themes revisited, and find many new examples of how to use the sword cleverly presented by Marozzo within the steps of the form.
After tonight’s fencing lesson I had a brief discussion with a few students on what it really is that we practice — are we looking for the most efficient way to use a sword (and what kind of sword?), are we merely re-enacting (or interpreting, since we might not be far enough to be able to re-enact it) old fencing books or are we training for a competition? And what is the end-goal, how do we know whether we have progressed and how do we know where we still need to go?
These are things that I have to ponder often because of my role as an instructor. Not only what the answers are for me, but what answers am I trying to provide for those who come to the lessons. And trust me, I’ve gone through almost every imaginable worry, self-doubt and questioning myself. But before analyzing the subject further let me explain where I source energy for my personal struggles.