Applying the Assaults

Practicing and memorizing assaults are an essential part of learning the Bolognese tradition of fencing. But rote memorization can be tedious and easily forgotten. (I say this as someone who has forgotten both his Marozzo and Manciolino assaults.)

So lets make them more interesting. For this experiment we used Giovanni dall’Agocchie’s First Assalto.

Place your opponent in a stretta guard a couple spaces away from you. Perform the first step, which involves two cuts and a step into coda lunga stretta. Your first cut may him him or his sword, but either way the second should land a wound.

Try a few variations. Allow your partner to parry the first strike. Then allow him to throw the first strike, so that the cut from the sheath is a parry.

Once you are comfortable with that take a step back. This time your first two cuts will be in the air. That’s ok, it unsettles your opponent and makes it harder to predict where your blade will be when you take the second step into measure. That second step of course including two cuts that end in cinghiale porta di ferro.

Again, play with both a defensive and an aggressive opponent. He should be fixed in some attempts, and moving about with his feed in others.

Once you are comfortable with that, take another step back. Now you need to make three steps to close the measure. But with each step you are still throwing cuts that both protect you and confound your enemy.

While doing this constant motion is essential. Flow from each cut to the next, never pausing in a guard. As long as you keep moving you have the imitative, which is to say you are fighting in the vor. But if you pause, even for a moment, you lose the initiative and give your opponent a tempo to work in.

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