Last week in class, I gave an individual lesson based on the cutover (coupé). A cutover is a disengagement over the opponent’s blade, where you lift your blade and draw it back just enough to clear the opponent’s blade before extending to thrust. Done correctly, the entire action occurs in a single, continuous movement. Cutovers are relatively rare in rapier fencing (though Giganti does have a few examples), both, because the movement is much larger than a normal disengagement, as well as that drawing the blade backwards can be a good tempo for an opponent to attack. Nevertheless, they can be quite useful.
The other reason that I wanted to focus on cutovers in this lesson was because Bondi di Mazo’s “Thrust below” reminded me a lot of the cutover to the low line that I was taught in foil. The cutover to the low line is one of the larger actions in Italian foil and is executed against an engagement in fourth. The weapon is drawn back, and in a circular movement, not unlike an ascending circular cut, the blade is brought back in line for a hit to the opponent’s flank below the arm. di Mazo describes an action where you feint an imbrocatta to your opponent’s face, and as he lifts his guard to pary, you make a thrust in second via a downward cutting angle, ending with your hand in first. Looking back over this, there may be less of a connection than I’d thought – it may be a stretch to interpret the thrust as an action where you pull your weapon back for a wide circular movement, though it does end with a thrust very similar to what is shown in the text. Anyway, here’s the lesson that I taught: