Don’t be Sloppy – Guardia Alta Edition

While researching for a class on Bolognese-Dardi terminology, I looked at this picture. I didn’t just see it, something about it caused me to actively look at it.


Notice how his blade is about 15 degrees from center. Now look at mine:


Pretty sloppy, isn’t it? For literally a decade I thought it was just laziness. But look at his quillions, they are traverse not forward. And his palm is turned forward so that the true edge is to the outside.

Look Good…

Marozzo isn’t just some random master at arms hired to teach peasant soldiers, he is a refined instructor of knights, noblemen, and the upper crust of merchant society. They come to him not just to learn how to use a sword, but how to look good doing so.

They don’t want to walk into a fight looking like they are already worn out. It is ok if a solider or an unrefined German rests his blade on his back, but not someone aspiring to the ideals of Italian society.

By rotating your wrist outwards you don’t make the sword as easier to hold. Your arm is going to tire out at about the same rate as it was before. But your opponent won’t see that. Due to the way the arm and wrist move, your sword won’t drop past roughly 30 degrees no matter how tired you get. Simply put, you’ll lower your arm before you lower your point.

And your cuts will be good.

A surprising outcome of my experimentation is that this actually makes my cuts stronger. Normally when I throw a Tondo (horizontal cut) to the head from Alta my blade drops below horizontal and then comes back up again. This arc costs me time and power with no apparent gain.

Using this refined stance, the arc in my bladework is gone. The blade drops from vertical to horizontal, or slightly above horizontal, and then follows a flat, direct path to the target. To me the tondo now seems to be slightly faster and a lot cleaner.

My Squalembrato and Ridoppio also seem to be cleaner and faster. Even the Fendente is faster, as it is easier to rotate my quillions back into line than to pick my sword up off my shoulder.

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3 Responses to Don’t be Sloppy – Guardia Alta Edition

  1. Jeff Sauber says:

    What I find interesting about this stance is that the leading edge of the sword is aligned to the side of the body and shoulder. As the cut is made, the sword moves as part of the natural rotation of the upper body. Seems it cannot help but be stronger.

  2. Pingback: Class Notes: Guardia Alta Drills | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

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