Camillo Agrippa – Chapter 5, A Different Kind of Seconda

If you were like me, you were taught that second refers to the rotation of the hand. If the true edge is upwards you are in prima. If it is to the right, you are in seconda. But that’s not what Agrippa taught. Seconda refers to the height of the arm.

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Agrippa acknowledges that the term also refers to postures where the feet may be wide or medium and the arm may be pulled back, but this is what he prefers for seconda.

Purpose and Uses

Like prima, this guard cannot be attacked on the outside with the false edge. The opponent may attempt to attack on the inside with the true edge, but this forces his arm into a crescent shape and thus expose his chest, shoulder, and right knee.

This guard allows for quick attacks. Using careful timing, one can thrust in third or fourth using an increase of the right foot, then immediately recover back into second. Agrippa notes that this is effective even if you are smaller than your opponent.

Against Feints

If your opponent uses a “long or short feint” with point or edge, you simply attack while taking a step with only the right foot. Agrippa says that your attack will reach even if you don’t necessarily use the point.

If Your Arm is Attacked

If your arm is attacked from below, you respond by stepping backwards into fourth. This has several effects:

  • You evade the thrust by moving your arm to the opposite side of your body.
  • You lengthen the measure, and thus his tempo, by stepping back.
  • If he pursues, he’ll impale himself on your sword.

In order for this to work, you must take a narrow stance. If your feet are already spread wide apart, you won’t be able to quickly throw the left foot back.

Against the Dagger or Hand

If your opponent makes a passing step in order to beat your blade with his dagger or left hand, simply take a traverse step to his left. Move your right foot first, followed by the left so that you continue to threaten him while maintaining seconda.

Conclusion

With the right stance and walking steps to avoid the beat, these actions feel very Spanish to me. They also feel incredibly fast and natural, unlike the complicated postures of Fabris or the precise constraints of Capoferro.

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