Yesterday we finished the second of our Bolognese swordsmanship beginner’s courses. We have traditionally been open to newcomers around the year (and still are), but we are aiming to shift to a model where beginner’s are introduced to the style and safe training through a course designed for this purpose. This will benefit not only the beginners, who will get a consistent introduction to the art where the next lesson is always built upon the previous, but also the other students as the regular classes can better focus on the needs of the more experienced people.
This second course was different from the first one. In designing the class plan for it I wanted to correct the problems of the previous one and try out a few new ideas. MAinly, I wanted there to be less material, more repetition and more of a feeling of accomplishment to the students. Previously the choreographies were longer, there were more cutting exercises, more unnecessary detail in the drills and so on. This time we focused a lot on free-form footwork, building a good base, general cutting practice basically only through the Meyer square which I borrowed from our longsword classes and then focusing on the variations of the simple combination of <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="
I am still not entirely satisfied with how the material worked, but one thing is clear: this time we had much less “trouble” learning all round, and basically the only hindrance in learning the students had was the lack of masks which called for a very careful training and some adjustments in a few drills to facilitate better safety. Learning control is a good thing, of course, but basically I would rather have students learn controlled practice against a mask from the beginning than completely pulling their blows. I see training without masks a more advanced skill in a way.
Learning to throw long, beautiful and effective mandritti and roversi, with good stepping and posture – keeping the left hand at the hip, extending with the steps whether it be a half or a full pass and recovering safely (usually with the said roverso) is an excellent beginning spot for training. This combination will teach not only attacking, but also defense and beating the opponent’s sword in order to attack. For there is no much difference between these mechanically. It will teach the mezza volta di mano, half-turn of the hand, which is the change from coda longa to porta di ferro or vice versa. When applied to a pair exercise it will teach some of the provocations beyond mere attack and defense. Namely the feint-strike combination as well as the ribattere, or beating the opponent’s blade.
I begin all the attacking and defending, feinting and provoking with a <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="
The things I’m not entirely satisfied with is how to most efficiently teach the way in which the <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="
But these are minor points. I am happy about the progress and the results I saw in the ten or so students who took the course. I wish they will stay for further training, as the Beginner’s course is, as name implies, only the beginning. In eight classes it is not even possible to properly cover the so-called alphabet of Bolognese fencing, much less all the tactical, technical and mechanical beauty found withing this art.
Now, off to Dijon!