Prese-ing business

I know, I suck at puns. It comes from too much exposure, resulting in an almost complete inoculation. I am totally okay with that. So…wound up getting all excited talking about Marozzo’s dagger work online last night. I still get excited about Marozzo’s work. Thirty years of martial arts training and I still think it’s the best I’ve ever come across.

But it’s far from intuitive. It takes knowledge, training, and guts to pull of some of his moves. The image above comes from the sixth in his series of Preses, his self-defense section. I was aware of that image for years before I started to actually pay attention to it. At first glance I completely dismissed it. There is always a tendency to gloss over some of the things you see in old manuals…you just think “it’s the modern day, we know better about some things.” It’s especially easy when you see an action like that. It looks hokey and stupid, like some of the worst of the cheese-ball self-defense stuff from the seventies.

It wasn’t until I started to re-examine all of Marozzo’s sword work, and starting attaching more importance to his footwork directions, that I started to see the real value in the Preses section. I started to teach the material as an introduction to the old master. It’s fantastic stuff and does a wonderful job of teaching the value of decisive aggressive footwork. It’s an aspect of the martial game that is frequently overlooked these days.

We like to do things with our hands, and we like to have people see us do things with our hands. It’s more rewarding to train flashy…or effective…hand actions. Training the deep step seems both boring and counterproductive, but it’s essential to understanding how to pull of a move like VI. It’s also why training in wrestling is essential. Knowing how to level change and drive allows you to better understand and perform the art. A hand-minded fighter will see VI as a weak trick, a foot-minded fighter can see the value of using the dagger like a wedge for entry. Box, Wrestle, Fence…you have to train all three equally.

I have some video of me and two students doing some of this material spontaneously during a demo years ago. It’s terrible video, and we are just screwballing around, doing freeplay because we didn’t rehearse anything. It’s not a good video, but you can see how we execute some of the moves…even before we had the proper understanding of how the system works. I’ll try to upload it for tomorrow.

By the way, you can find the material in English here, at the Wiktenauer.


  1. Hugh Wallace aka kage110

    Good points. The training I do with my group (a thoroughly modern, free-flowing, intuitive version of RMA) stresses footwork above all else. We do weapon and empty hand work and it is so interesting to see the way people change their movement when you give them something to hold onto. Give them a knife or stick and suddenly their feet become anchored to the ground and all their movement becomes focussed on what they are holding in their hand. Though I have to say that footwork without weapons can often be no more than ‘dancing’ (ie. purposeless movement).

    • Oh yeah. Good points all.
      I’ve found wrestling, especially Sumo, is the best drill for getting overall mobility going with students. And actually teaching dance footwork helps bring them back to purposeful movement. …As long as you keep the intensity of the bouts up high enough, anyway!

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