Dori and I taught a rapier and dagger class this weekend on Sebastian Heußler’s and dagger. The actual text is pretty extensive and we only looked at the first couple of plays. I find the text interesting in particular for two reasons: First, Heußler’s text is an early commentary on Capoferro and Fabris from a German perspective which is a really interesting thing to have. Second, the opening section of the rapier and dagger section presents a three-hit sequence – the fencer attacks, recovers, counterattacks, recovers, and then counterattacks again. I find this useful from a teaching perspective both, because stringing together sequences like this presents a challenge for the student, but also because it teaches the student to not assume that their first (or second) hit actually stopped, or even hit the opponent.
The first sequence that he teaches shows three hits and relies on counterattacks with the sword and not dagger parries. The second sequence shows only two hits, but uses a dagger parry for the second one. For the purposes of my class, I combined these into a three-hit sequence that hits, first with a thrust in fourth, then with a dagger parry and counterattack, and finally with a counterattack with the sword.
First, Heußler describes the guard position to start in:
Figure C represents the starting position for this drill. The body is profiled, the hand is in third position, and the dagger is held back near the body.
Next, the fencer makes an attack in fourth to the opponent’s chest as shown below by figure D, again, keeping the dagger held back.
After hitting, the fencer recover’s back into a guard of fourth, closing off the inside line as shown by figure C below:
After recovering, the opponent attacks with a disengagement. Respond to this by parrying with your dagger over right arm, while turning your hand to third and hitting over your opponent’s arm on the outside:
Once your hit, recover back and engage your opponent’s sword again, but this time on the outside line in third. When your opponent attacks with a disengagement, counterattack with a thrust in fourth (keeping your dagger back) in order to hit for a third time.
For our class, we taught each of these actions separately so that students could learn them in isolation first, and then try them together as part of a sequence.