At fencing practice (which I arrived at later than I would have liked), things were in a different place. It was very much a sparring night, with a more experienced fencer working with a few newbies in the corner. I ended up only fighting one person, but it was fun.
We got to talking afterward, about our feelings re: lack of training. One of my other friends wandered over during our conversation, one I was hoping to pick the brain of in regards to drills and training. He had led drills back when we were still doing them, and I thought he would have a better insight into what kind of drills were effective for fencing. I wasn’t wrong.
As we brainstormed, the main problem we ran into was that our fighting style had shifted since we had last been rigorous about drills and training. We used to practice a more French style (using lighter, faster blades with French grips), where speed and agility were the name of the game. Parries were fast, and so were the strikes. For the past year or so, however, we’ve shifted to a more Italian style (longer, heavier swords with a cross-hilted grip). This has been more based on power and angles, wedging the opponent’s sword out of the way rather than beating it. It is also a more committed style: rather than picking from range, it relies more on one strong attack to do the job.
This shift in style has not been easy for a lot of people. As such, my friend and I started trying to distill the basic tenets of the new Italian style into a series of drills, ones that could be repeated easily and make sense to a wide variety of people, especially those without previous martial arts experience.
I had fun brainstorming: it scratched my itch to analyze and codify, and I think we may have managed to streamline things quite well. One thing we noticed is that terminology could be confusing, especially if it shared words with techniques from the old style. I think we’re starting to get the rough outlines of a framework we can use. We outlined a few basic drills, as well as ways of describing the fundamental techniques. It’s not ready for prime time yet, of course, but we’ll be working on it some more Friday night (tonight, as of this writing; five days ago as of your reading. Wibbley-wobbly!). I’m bringing a notebook this time, so we can write things down.
I’m getting really excited about this. Anecdotal evidence points to other interested parties as well, so hopefully this can take off and be something really neat. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.