Scholars of Alcala Class Notes – May 11, 2016

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Guardia d’Intrare – Entering Guard

This is a problematic term because we want to use it in too many different ways. In dall’Agocchie, it is merely Guardia di Faccia with the true edge turned outwards (right side for right-handers) instead of inwards.

In Marozzo, the long edge is turned downwards as can be seen in this illustration:


At some point we as a club also got the idea that Guardia d’Intrare is equivalent to Left Steer (a.k.a. Left Ochs). I cannot find any supporting evidence for this, which is frustrating because we would like an Italian term for that posture. For lack of a better term, let’s call it Left Alicorno.

Porta di Ferro – Iron Gate

For those of us who study both dall’Agocchie and Manciolino, it is important to note that they are using two different Porta di Ferro. In Manciolino, the sword is centered above the right knee, which dall’Agocchie has it to the inside just as if it were Cingiara Porta di Ferro.

I suspect the difference is the buckler, as the sword doesn’t need to protect the left side when the buckler is extended.

Note that the pommel should be angled such enough that the pommel is pointing just past the side. If the pommel is pointing towards the body, it will guide the opponent’s sword into one’s own flank. Conversely, if the pommel is too wide then it will leave more of the center exposed and make it take longer to reposition when protecting the right.


Last week we looked at the basic Mandritto. This week we looked at the Riverso. To recap,

  1. Starting in Coda Lunga e Stretta (left-foot forward)
  2. Rotate the hand into Alicorno, keeping the arm extended and the point towards the opponent.
  3. Drop the point into Guardia di Testa
  4. Loop it around into Alta
  5. While passing forward, cut diagonally through Guardia di Faccia/d’Intrare
  6. End in Porta di Ferro Stretta

For the Riverso,

  1. Starting in Porta di Ferro Stretta with the right foot forward and the blade diagonally across the body, point towards the opponent.
  2. Rotate the hand into our Left Alicorno, keeping the arm extended and the point towards the opponent.
  3. Let the point fall to the right
  4. Loop it around into Alta
  5. While passing forward, cut diagonally through Guardia di Faccia/d’Intrare
  6. End back in Coda Lunga e Stretta

As you can see, this gives us a simple flow drill for practicing the two basic cuts.

Note: if you are having difficulty imagining step 3 of the Riverso, it will look something like Hutton’s Parry of High Octave, though not quite so exaggerated.



Parry with Falso Drito

This is a good exercise because it stresses the need for a limber wrist.

Now I want to advise you that when you’re in motion to hit the enemy’s blow with a falso dritto and want to wound with a mandritto, that you should immediately turn your wrist downwards and your body behind your right side. By doing this you’ll hit the enemy’s sword almost with your true edge. And in the same tempo you’ll turn a dritto tramazzone, so that you’ll be more secure, because you’ll distance the enemy’s sword further from you, and also come to parry and strike almost in one tempo. Moreover, your sword will always be in your adversary’s presence. But you need to have a limber body and a very fast wrist, because otherwise it will do you no good.
— dall’Agocchie

For this drill, the agent will be performing our basic mandritto against a patient waiting in Coda Lunga with the right foot forward. Practice the parry as a strong, snapping motion first.

Once you have the basic parry down, add in the footwork. In this case you will compass the left foot behind and towards the right such that the body rotates away from the parried blow for extra protection.

Next is the down-turning of the wrist. This happens after the parry, not during, but can overlap with the compass step. It is hard to explain, so until we have a video you’ll just have to ask in class.

Then complete the Tramazzone as a Mandritto to the head or arm, ending in Porta di Ferro. Step as necessary with the right foot.

Parry with Guardia di Testa

This is a repeat from last week. I noticed that if your cut after the parry is aimed for the arm, it is much more likely to land than if you aim for the head. The latter, is simply more easily defended with either a high Coda Lunga or Hutton’s Parry of High Octave.

Other Terminology

Girata – Turn

When your rear foot passes behind and beyond your front foot, you have performed a Girata. If the rear merely goes behind, but not past, the front then it is a compass.

In Bolognese fencing we do not use the Girata. From our perspective, that is exclusively a 17th century rapier technique.  (Though to be honest, Agrippa uses it against the Bolognese in the mid-16th century.)



Today we wrapped up our look at Meyer’s Sample Device.


Today we looked at two ways the opponent can flee the bind that arises from the second Zwerch (Thwart): Umbschlagen and Wechseln.

Umbschlagen – Striking Around

This is usually translated as “striking around”. However, according the to Collins dictionary it should be translated as “to turn over”, “to turn up”, or “to fold or turn back”. Google Translate includes those and adds to “double back”, “turn down”, or “veer round”. So it seems to me that this is when you back out of the bind to strike another opening.

It is called striking around with the sword when, having bound from your right against his left, you go back out of that bind and strike around or flick to the other side.
— Joachim Meyer

Wechseln – Changing

Translated as “changing”, this is when you go under your opponent’s sword. Essentially it is a form of disengage, and as such you have to be very careful about the timing lest you leave yourself open for a thrust.

Changing demands an experienced combatant, for he who changes inexpertly and not at the right time only delays himself and makes himself open without cause. But for him who is experienced in combat and knows how to use changing, it is an artful work, and appropriate to execute against those who only work toward the sword and not toward the body.

Now changing is diverse: changing in the Onset from one side to another, changing before the Onset from one guard to another, also in the Onset to change through against the cut. Thus in the Onset deliver a straight Wrath or High Cut from your right at your opponent’s left side. If he cuts at your sword and not at your body, then in the cut, let your point slip through underneath with crossed hands; step and cut long in to the other upper opening. But be careful that he does not catch you or plant his weapon upon you by chasing.

Likewise in the Onset come into the Longpoint and extend it long in front of you. If he cuts against your sword and intends to strike it out or wind, then let your point sink through underneath, and work at his other side. If he slips after it and intends to parry, then change through again, either until you have an opening or else until you come upon a suitable work with which you can cut.
— Joachim Meyer

Schneiden – Slicing

This is also one of the true core techniques in the handwork; for when your opponent rushes upon you with quick and swift devices, you can stop and hinder him with no other technique better than with the slice, which you should hold in stock for yourself among all techniques as a particular gem to discover. Now you must execute the slice thus: After you have caught your opponent’s sword with the bind, you shall remain there to feel whether he intends to withdraw from the bind or strike around. As soon as he strikes around, then pursue him with the long edge on his arm; push him back from you with your forte or shield, let your weapon fly, and cut to the nearest opening before he can recover.
— Joachim Meyer

Hendtrucken – Pressing Hands

Pressing hands strongly resembles the slices on the arm, concerning which I have spoken above, since it is always executed as with the High and Low Slice.

For example, if an opponent overruns you with cloddish blows, then go under his stroke with the Crown, or else a high parrying, or go under him with hanging, and catch his sword on the flat of your blade. And when you come under his sword, then if he goes back up from your weapon with his stroke, see that you pursue him with your forte, and fall on him with your shield from below in front of his fists, so that you get them with the forte of your blade. Push him up away from you with your shield, and cut long toward the opening.
— Joachim Meyer


Leaving the Bind in the Example Device

Perform the example device thru the patient’s second Zwerch, which the agent shall parry.

At this point, the agent may respond with one of two actions:

  1. Umbschlagen: Fold back your blade just far enough to power a strike to the right of the patient’s head.
  2. Wechseln: Let your point fall to your right, slipping it below the patient’s point. Cut immediately to the left of the patient’s head, stepping as necessary to clear his point.

The Wechseln is much easier to perform when the patient’s Zwerch is shallow, as a steeply angled Zwerch requires the agent’s sword to move further to clear the point.

The timing of the Wechseln is tight; once you begin you may not hesitate without exposing yourself to a thrust or blind cut.

Slicing in the Example Device

Regardless of how the agent leaves the bind, the patient should respond by dropping the blade on his opponent’s arms before he can power his blow. Immediately slice the arms by pushing forward, continuing onto the pressing of the hands once the hilt meets his hilt or arm.

Hendtrucken against Kron

This is a variation of the technique described by Meyer.

  1. The agent begins in any high guard, the agent in any low guard.
  2. The agent shall throw an Oberhau (vertical high cut) that the patient will parry with Kron.
  3. As soon as the blades clash, the agent shall step forward, pushing the arms diagonally up against the opponent’s hands or hilt.
  4. Complete the technique with a pommel strike to the face.

The angle of the push is important. If you push straight forward, you won’t move your opponent at all unless he is significantly smaller or already unbalanced. If you push straight up, you just expose your own face for a pommel strike. By pushing at a roughly 45-degree angle, you can unbalance a larger opponent while opening them up for the pommel strike.

As you perform the push or Hendtrucken, keep good wrist alignment with your own pommel pointed more or less at your own belly. It is important that you resist the urge to prematurely present your pommel. When the pommel goes forward, you lose your wrist structure and your arms will be easy to collapse. (This isn’t a concern after the push, as your opponent is busy trying to regain his balance.)

Hendtrucken in the Example Device

In the textbook version of the example device, you follow the Hendtrucken with a short-edged, cross-armed strike to the top of the head. But this assumes that your opponent stumbles backwards.

If your opponent stands firm and too close to cut, then we should deviate from the device and instead use a pommel strike to the face.

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