I`m taking classes again. Sword classes. It`s good to be on the receiving end of lessons once more and I`m having a blast. And remember kids, any instructor who can`t see the value of being a student as well should be avoided at all costs. At the end of last class we had an open sparring session and even though I had more than a few great passes, two fights in particular stood out as being particularly excellent.
The first fight was quick but sweet. My opponent and I stood across from each other, saluted and took our guards. He took Maorzzo’s Porta di Ferro Stretta, stable, strong and aggressive. My guard was Coda Lunga e Stretta, defensive and dynamic. Porta di Ferro translates to Iron Gate and, as the name implies, his position provides a great deal of protection without the need to move to defend yourself. I almost launched into a series of feints designed to pull him out of that guard. Almost, but instead I waited. It was like I was for a moment inside his head. I saw where he would move and exactly how, if I waited, he would attempt to control my blade for the kill. I also saw that if were to turn my wrist and roll my blade just so, I would have him.
He came in, driving hard and strong on top of my blade. A good, decisive attack. I yielded to it as I rotated my wrist and flipped my blade to the other side of his. Thwack. The tip of my sword connected strongly with the side of his mask. A solid hit and a well executed plan. Damn it felt good.
The best fight of the night had to have been when I squared off against the instructor. Again I formed a plan. This time I took the offensive. He defended, I redoubled, he counter attacked, I defended and attacked again, attempting to strike for the open line he was far too quick to leave open. Each time I saw a clear path, he closed it off. For a few long seconds it seemed like we were both untouchable. Of course there’s no way that could last and in the end I didn’t even see the hit that got me.
One fight I won, one I lost. One fight was long, one was short. What these fight shared in common and what made them so satisfying was the fact that I had a plan. This is the essence of George Silver’s first governor, Judgement. Most historical manuals teach techniques based on the assumption that the person winning the fight is the defender. It’s important to remember that “defensive” does not mean “passive.” It’s like chess. Just because you can act defensively does not mean that you should be purely reactive. Have a plan based on likely attack angles and you’ll do well.