Taking a Long Hard Look at Guardia Alta or Yes, I Know My Feet Are Crossed

Based on my new understanding on how to read footwork, I’ve come to the realization that we’ve been doing Guardia di Sopra il Bracco wrong. But to understand why, we must first take a long, hard look at Guardia Alta.

Time and time again I’ve been told to never cross my feet. And I’ve always taken that as gospel. But after the Fiore seminar, which included a heavy focus on reading footwork diagrams and body structure, I now understand that is wrong.

Though it was a Fiore class, the primary example of crossed feet used comes from Marozzo. There is no ambiguity here, those feet are crossed. My previous inability to see that comes directly from the core precept of “feet are never crossed” and the blindness that entails.

image

image

There is also a camera angle going on here. Marozzo isn’t looking directly at you, he is looking a bit to the side. If he was looking at me, that buckler wouldn’t make any sense.

image

Lets add some lines to show the camera angle and something else is revealed.

image

image

Look at that, both feet are turned slightly outwards. You can play with the camera angle, making the red line steeper or shallower but you’ll never find a way to get both pointing in the same general direction. The left is turned to the left, the right to the right. And there is a reason for that. They didn’t draw the feet turned away from each other on a whim.

Consider: Stand in Guardia Alta with the feet close together and the right foot pointing directly forward. It is completely unbalanced and quite uncomfortable.

Turn your lead foot slightly to the left. Now it is comfortable, but the knees are locked. You can’t take a step without first rotating the right foot.

Turn your lead foot slightly to the right. It causes the knees to bend and pulls the whole body down. You are still upright, but with a lower center of gravity. And from this posture you can step backwards as easily as you can step forwards, which is important for Manciolino’s counter to the thrust.

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7 Responses to Taking a Long Hard Look at Guardia Alta or Yes, I Know My Feet Are Crossed

  1. This is an “old school” 5th position from ballet and dance.

  2. also who gave the class on Fiore footwork? sounds interesting!

    • Grauenwolf says:

      Brian Stokes of Schola San Marco. The guys loves Fiore so much that he regularly visits the original in the Getty and has a couple of PhDs in Fiore’s dialect verifying his personal translation.

  3. AH right, thanks, I’ll pop over to their website, not been there for a while.
    Best

  4. When you say crossed feet you don’t seem to mean what I mean when I say it. If you imagine a line from your centre of mass to your opponents centre of mass, which we can call the line of offence, crossing your feet would mean have your right foot on the left of the line and your left foot to the right of the line. I don’t see this in your description or in the image. Am I understanding your post correctly?

    • Grauenwolf says:

      The definition of “crossed legs” differs depending on who I ask. Some agree with you, others do not.

      That said, there are plays in Agrippa that do require crossed feet as per your definition.

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