Solo and Partner practice forms for rapier

Dredging up some old drills from the Nova Spada days…

Two solo forms, each consisting of eight movements.

The first form is mostly performed from the guard of Terza. It’s very simple. Good for beginners.

  1. Lunge
  2. Leg cut
  3. Lunge
  4. Face cut
  5. Lunge
  6. Lunge
  7. Lunge
  8. Lunge

Lunge, roverso cut, lunge, roverso cut, and four lunges to finish.

Second form is mostly performed from the guard of Quarta. It’s not quite as simple, and therefore a little more fun to perform. I’ll add a little more explanation. It’s easier performed than explained.

  1. Lunge
  2. Void (pull the right leg back)
  3. Seize (make a pass with the left leg, rolling the sword to seconda and stretch out the left hand to accompany the sword, just under the hilt.
  4. Drop (lift sword hand high while lunging, letting the tip drop low)
  5. Pass (Deep passing lunge with the left leg, sword to seconda)
  6. Press (like Seize, but lower, and place the hand on the sword)
  7. Scannatura (pass while spiralling the sword to seconda, with hand above sword)
  8. Passata sotto (Lunge and drop the body very low)

This is a much more athletic and entertaining exercise for students. You can make students earn this form as a reward for good performance, if you are into structured things like that.

Since these eight movements are fairly straightforward, you can usually teach them both to a class in a hour, tops. They make great practice drills, since they can be performed quickly and repetitiously. It’s convenient for teachers, as you can have the students repeat the forms over and over, giving you plenty of time to walk up and down the rows and give corrections on body mechanics. You can also make it challenging for students by having them try to perform it quickly, slowly, eyes closed, reverse order, off hand, extra long movements, extra short movements, etc.

The third drill, the partner drill, is really easy. Have two students face each other out of measure to start. No contact! One side is going to do form one, the other side is going to do form two, both sides moving only when the instructor counts.There. With some modifications (disengages for the first formers) you’ve just performed plates 7-14 of Capo Ferro’s book. Now armour everyone up and have them start performing the series slowly, in measure.

You can use this method for the rest of the book, and teach the whole damned manual in no time. And students can eventually perform all the techniques in sequence with no feedback from the teacher. This frees the teacher up from wasting time teaching material, and lets them concentrate on development of each individuals skill.

Bonus addition! It’s a trivial exercise to add in Capo Ferro’s “wise” plays. Form one gets replaced by this modified form:

counter-counters form

  1. Demi cavare, beat, lunge
  2. Cavare low, roverso and fendente
  3. Demi cavare, Inquartata
  4. Sotto and sopra cavare, mezzo dritto, lunge
  5. Cavare, lunge
  6. Cavare, void, roverso
  7. Cavare, lunge
  8. Pass back , scannatura

Enjoy!

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