Class Notes: Guardia Alta Drills

We had time after our Bolognese terminology class so we started working on Manciolino Unit 1 with the sword and buckler. I was acting teacher for this session. (I would say I was the fechtmeister, but that’s a silly claim to make in a Italian class.)

Stance

Remember the piece titled Don’t be Sloppy – Guardia Alta Edition? Well that wasn’t entirely accurate. While I still like the transverse quillons, there is at least one image from Marozzo that shows Alta with the true edge facing forward.

First Exercise

The first exercise we did was out of Manciolino. The sequence is pretty simple.

The agent steps forward and raises his arm into Alta. Don’t just assume Alta, pretend he just completed a rising cut or something to that effect. This was the patient can work on timing the first cut.

As soon as he reaches alta, the patient fencer cuts a squalembrato (diagonal, descending cut along the line of B) at the hand.

If the agent parries this cut, the patient should immediately throw a reverse squalembrato  (diagonal, descending cut from the left along the line of H) again at the hand.

If the agent parries this as well, then throw a montante. You may touch the buckler with the false edge of the sword when starting this action, but you are not required to. What’s important is that you make the rising cut “in the manner of a falso”. Don’t worry about true edge or false, vertical or diagonal, just concentrate on striking that hand.

As soon as the patient strike the hand, the drill is over.

This is an important point. While the patient is learning to offend the hand that was recklessly placed too high into the air at close range, the agent is learning to parry the same so he can escape the danger.

Modification 1

If you are in a club that doesn’t allow hand-strikes (e.g. the Adrian Empire) simply directly your attacks against the forearm.

Modification 2

If the montante seems hard or unnatural, then it will be tempting to use a different third cut. That’s fine. Practice the montante separately and reintroduce it later.

Second Exercise

The second exercise is free attacks. Start at a range where the agent can just barely reach using a fendente and a passing step.

The patient assumes Guardia Alta and the agent makes a single attack. The patient responds with buckler parry, adding a step if needed.

Reset, then allow the agent to attack a different line. Repeat until the patient can safely parry all of the primary cuts. Take special note any cuts that cannot be parried with the buckler from Alta.

The agent is learning to attack someone in alta, while the patient is learning to defend himself in the same.

Third Exercise

The second exercise is free attacks. Start at a range where the agent can just barely reach using a fendente and a passing step.

The patient assumes Guardia Alta and the agent makes a single attack. The patient responds with buckler parry, adding a step if needed.

If the parry was successful, the agent may make another attack. Repeat until the patient is struck.

Note: In our session we found this usually ends when the agent gets too close to the patient. Eventually the agent can reach over the buckler and offend the arm behind it using a descending falso.

Course Outline

I’ll try to update the course outline on the Scholars of Acala Facebook group later tonight, but I’ve got too more guards to write up.

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