Apologies for missing yesterday’s post. I spent the morning working with my brother and his excellent landscaping crew, bombing very heavy trees up a difficult series of grades. We had a heavy duty dolly built just for carry root balls, but it still took six of us to drive the first of them up the hill. As David Wu said, it was like racing artillery pieces…grinding, heavy work and not without risk. My chest today looks like I had open heart surgery, except the surgeon stopped half way through.

Heading back into class was a real challenge for me after that. I put about five liters of water into me yesterday, and still woke up dehydrated today. My mental state in class was not at its finest. I managed to do the workout and two submission wrestling bouts, but that destroyed me. I used what little brain cells I had left to elect to skip the sparring portion of the night and just watch students. I think it was the right call.

For our rapier portion of class, we worked on our eight-step partner drill. It’s starting to click for everyone. Once we’ve got the basic drill down, it will provide an excellent proving ground for students to build technical refinement as well as improvisation. We found an interesting point last night about minor changes in angle between blades in direct contact that we will be working on quite a bit in future. Of course, the basis for all this work was our touching back into the Wolf Lord of Blades work.

Moving on to the next plate in his series, we return back to the basic engagement and exchange. We assume the entry of Quarta, being palm up and on the inside of our opponents line, and our opponent is in Terza, the handshake position. Our opponent is not happy to be in this position and disengages to lunge at us on a better line. A bit of a pattern starts here with the manual, where the right alternates our opponent between disengage and lunge, and something different. It’s an ABACADAE progression, for those of you who are musicians. This is an A attack.

This time we don’t just lunge back in response. The Wolf Lord of Blades has something else he wants to show us this time. Instead of lunging back in the quick and efficient manner, we elect instead to pass forward with our back leg. This has some advantages, as is illustrated in his plate. We are able to take a nice solid grip on our opponents sword hand with our left hand, while stabbing them in the face. This is a tricky thing to do, as your weighting has to be correct in order to fly the left leg forward without undue pause. In practice, I’ve found it essential to establish the roll to Seconda, palm down, early. The minute the opponent starts his disengage, you must establish and maintain your control of his foible and pass with great speed, focusing on seizing the hand more than landing the thrust. If you do that, the thrust should take care of itself.

This is an interesting attack, as a contrast here the Wolf Lord of Blades gives us a straight up Marozzo technique as the primary instead of the “Wise Man” response. Marozzo’s take on this action is a little different, as he initiates with a threat and offers an opening, and then completes the seizure as a deeper counter-counter attack. The Wolf Lord of Blades seems to prefer to begin with a tighter defense. Somewhat riskier, honestly.

But that may be just to illustrate his point, which is a bit of more interesting change. Here his clever response is quite clever, and very “new school.” He suggests that the smart fencer in Terza continue as in previously, only feinting his disengage though. At the same time, holding the body somewhat back. As we proceed to the pass and seizure, we are then open to to a new kind of counter: The inquartata, an offline pivot with the rear foot that voids the body from the line of the attack, and allows the blade to enter under the attack and counter. As we pass forward, our enemy spins aside, and we plant ourselves on their blade. Not fun for us, but very clever of our opponent.

The Wolf Lord of Blades seems to be building an interesting thesis here, within the context of the work of other masters. He supports some of their actions, but then shows us a flaw in the approach. At this point, our best conclusion is that he is teaching us not to attack into a superior position, no matter how clever or skilled we think we are, but to instead respond by drawing our opponent out of their strong and dominating position. We allow them their strength, and offer a tempting bait for them to capitalize their victory with, and then we spring our trap. In this, The Wolf Lord of Blades exactly follows the methods of Marozzo, but puts his own unique stamp on things.