The guard is a position of the arm and of the sword extended in a straight line in the middle of the offendable parts, with the body well accommodated in its ordinary pace in order to hold the enemy at a distance, from any offense, and in order to offend him in case he approaches to endanger you. — Ridolfo CapoFerro
Lesson 69 – Stringing lots of simple attacks together
Rather than a completely sequential lesson, where each action is more or less independent of the previous one (though still following a progression). This lesson consists of three distinct sections (close distance, lunging distance, and out of distance). Each section begins with a single action and progressively adds more options. As each new possibility is included, the previous actions are all still a possibility. After each attack, the student recovers back to an engagement in third or fourth depending on where the instructor’s blade is. Once the lesson gets going, most sequences will result in 3-4 hits, and then start over from the beginning.
Starting from close distance (no lunges):
Instructor invites in fourth. The student hits with a straight thrust to the outside high line and recovers to an engagement in fourth (we are opposite handed)
After the student’s recovery and engagement, the instructor frees his blade with a disengagement (but does not attack) and the student attacks with a straight thrust to the inside high line and recovers to an engagement in third.
The instructor frees his blade again, prompting another attack to the high line.
Instead of freeing the blade, the instructor pushes against the blade attempting to gain control of it. The student attacks with a disengagement, then recovers back to an engagement.
If the instructor extends slightly into the student’s engagement, the student responds by attacking with a glide.
Continue the entire sequence with mobility
Once all options are in play, it might go like this:
Instructor invites in fourth, student makes a straight thrust to the inside high line, recovers to an engagement in fourth. Instructor frees his blade and the student makes a straight thrust to the inside high line and recovers in third. The instructor then attempts to gain dominance over the student’s blade, prompting a disengagement and recover to an engagement in fourth. Finally, the instructor extends slightly into the engagement and the student hits with a glide.
Once the student is warmed up, the instructor steps back and builds up to the entire sequence again, but with the following additions:
When the instructor disengages, it can be done with or without an attack. If it is without an attack, the student attacks with a straight thrust as before (with a lunge). If the disengagement is an attack, the student makes a straight thrust, but without a lunge (since the instructor is closing distance). In this case the action becomes a counterattack by time thrust though the mechanics are still essentially the same.
For the glide, the instructor can either extends slightly against the invitation, prompting an attack as before, or the instructor can deliberately attack into the close line, in which case the students simply extends and hits. (in this case, the instructor is simulating a serious error)
Once all options have been explored, the instructor again increases the distance and adds the following options:
Instead of the instructor starting the initial action with an invitation. The instructor places his blade in line (either fully, or only half extended) and the student steps forward with an engagement in fourth* and must choose the correct attack based on the instructor’s response. If the instructor does not react immediately, the student attacks with a glide. The instructor can also disengage as before prompting a straight thrust or a time thrust, or press against the blade, prompting a disengagement.
As the student steps forward to make the engagement, the instructor frees his blade and steps back. The student steps forward with a counter-disengagement and makes the engagement again. The other options follow as before.
As the student steps forward to make the engagement, the instructor steps back, but does not move his blade. The student steps forward while maintaining the engagement and continues the action as before, only attacking when the instructor has stopped moving backwards.
After this, we either go into the rest of the lesson, or end depending on how much time is available.
*In modern terms, stepping forwards with an engagement like this is called a blade seizure. The coordination of the arm and body so that the arm and hand lead the action is critical. If the instructor senses the student’s body moving first, he can attack into the blade seizure and likely hit. Likewise, if the student does breaks their wrist and lets the tip of their sword lag behind in the action, they will be vulnerable to a forced glide.