Slow class last night, and the rain was atrocious. It’s always easier for people to stay home rather than face the drenching walk to class and back. And the physical toll is starting to wear on people as well. While the class feels light and enjoyable, it’s a real challenge, and takes days to recover. After a few weeks, it can take a real effort to drag yourself to make one more class. Those that made it to class last night were struggling a bit with even the easy exercises. But even tired and pushing themselves, they were all showing the improvements of putting in the hard work.

As I’ve said before, I like the small classes. It gives me a chance to get into more detail work, and occasionally break out the weird or extra fun stuff. Didn’t do that so much last night. Went back to basics, getting back into the rhythm of the 5×5 drills in preparation for upcoming student exams. For fencing, I got us started early to work through a series of drills building off of falling cuts on the centerline.

The main purpose of the drill was to develop skill at footwork with cutting. When throwing a vertical cut that doesn’t land, you usually have to deal with the parry or counter attack of the opponent. We worked on using a step to either the left or or to the right to add strength to our intentions.

If I want to move inside to the opponent, I would take a step with my right to open his inside line for a punta roverso. This aids us in clearing a better line for our thrust, giving us a little more impetus, and getting us out of the way of any follow-up attack our partner might have in mind.

If I want to move to the outside, I need to drop my blade below my opponent. With rapiers, you run the big risk of becoming foiled in the quillons and collecting a thrust on an exposed line. We use a step to the left to maintain our place on the arc and free our sword with an easy movement, neatly side-stepping a direct attack. As a follow-up, we are in the boars tooth guard and can do the neat little counter with the false edge of the blade against an attack, which sets us up nicely for a grapple and nice deep stab over our opponents sword.

Of course I also covered how to protect against the falling cut correctly, using a parry and step to safely cut the leg, and then a pivot and quick wrist cut on the diagonal to bring the blade back to presence. Fun drill, but oh so easy to rally nail someone in the knee with a very hard shot. Oops.

Split for sparring after that, a nice long extended session. Much fun. Might have some pictures to upload this weekend.