Version 0.2.1, published on 20 June 2012; minor update 26 June.
About this curriculum
This curriculum enumerates an essential list of concepts, techniques, and drills, drawn from Fioreâ€™s treatises, that will provide a challenging but achievable agenda for the Fiore evening group. A basic curriculum can be reasonably tackled over a two-year period, roughly the span of time that one would expect to achieve some degree of functional competency in an average martial art. I would expect a diligent student attending two classes a week to be pretty good at the end of two years.
What type of practitioners is the curriculum designed to produce?
- One who can fight empty-hand, with dagger and/or longsword, using techniques and tactics that are recognizable as sourced from Fioreâ€™s medieval fencing treatise.
Primary combat contexts include dueling (adversaries have identical weapons) and street self-defense (adversaries can have unmatched weapons). Sport sparring, in which there is a ruleset designed to determine the winner of a given match or tournament, is acknowledged as a productive training experience, but is not the main focus of the curriculum. We take a nod to battlefield scenarios in which multiple or single fighters might face off against multiple opponents. Armored or on horseback, weâ€™re not doing because we donâ€™t have the gear or the time.
What is the criteria for including a technique in this curriculum?
- The technique or concept is clearly referenced in the texts. Bonus points if, as with many of Fioreâ€™s material, the technique appears in multiple contexts (e.g., empty hand, dagger, sword)
The curriculum also includes the following, mostly located under the section entitled Martial Essentials.
- Essential information necessary to understanding how to participate in the group
- Basic athletic/martial foundations that are generally well understood by competent practitioners of any decent martial art, and are thus essential skill/knowledge for any incoming novice.
What are non-criteria?
- Not foundational and not clearly traceable to the texts (e.g., other WMA sources)
- Represent Fiorean intermediate / advanced techniques that can be reasonably figured out by a student with competency in the basic curriculum.
- Techniques specific to other martial arts, e.g. karate, boxing, sport fencing, jiu jitsu, etc.
Weâ€™re leaning heavily on Guy Windsorâ€™s basic dagger and sword curriculum for a number of reasons: his authority in the subject matter, his prolific publishing of instructional materials, and his accessibility. Of course there are several great instructors out there but for these reasons we are aligning with Mr. Windsor.
Basic training concepts
- Citizenship: Safety, attendance, contribution
- Fioreâ€™s four virtues and how they apply to the progression from novice to expert
- Contact guidelines: measured power and speed when landing blows. The danger of eye injury. No-contact zone around the unprotected face. Throwing. Joint locks. Empathy.
- The qualities of a good partner drill. Balanced effectiveness.
- How does a good feeder act. How to regard your training partner.
- Purpose of the multi-step drill; responsibilities of the partners.
- Half speed (stopping time).
- Respecting constraints in drills. Appropriate engagement of resistance within partner drills. Technique/framework over â€œwinningâ€.
Balance and power
- What is balance.
- Stance: weight distribution; stability; recoverability; mobility.
- Joints: balanced extension point. Strength vs. extension. The column of the body.
- What is power. Suppleness/pressure vs. stiff overpowering energy.
- The power line
- Self-monitoring balance (pausing; self-awareness and self-correction; purposefulness of footwork)
- Balance checks; recovery; disruption.
Tactics for balance disruption
- Safe falling
- Breaking the upper body balance
- Breaking the stance (foot sweeps, knee manipulations)
- Standing; finding the strong, balanced, and mobile stance.
- Volta stabile
- (In-place weight shift from front to rear leg and reverse)
- Acressare (front leg initiated shuffle)
- Lateral – to outside of front leg (accressara fora di strada)
- Shuffling forward
- Discressare (rear leg initiated / backwards shuffle)
- Balance transfers / transitions
- (Maintaining balance and forward pressure while transferring weight/balance from one leg to the other)
- â€œPass out of lineâ€ e.g. from left stance, pass with right foot to the right
- Accress lateral with oblique pass
- Above against resistive pressure
- Above against simple time limitation scenarios
- e.g. work lateral accressare against a guy with a stick
Basic throws, joint locks and breaks (need references)
- Basic arm bar
- Middle bind
- Low bind
- Leg pickups
- Basic throws
- Hand-foot timing
- Striking from outside
- Striking from inside
- Doubled hits
- Low stab
- Engagement of the free hand
First master fundamentals
- First master (Inside single arm cover)
- Basic catch, pummel, takeaways. Counters.
- Getty 1-2: basic catch and pummel, with hitting around as a counter play
- Getty 9: attacker counters by pushing or sweeping the arm out of the way, or hitting
- Getty 10/11: defender does over the shoulder arm bar; attacker counters arm bar with throw
- High strip when opponent is stiff. PD 13.
- First master flow drill
First master variants
- Middle bind, counter to middle bind. Getty 3-4
- A throw. Getty 7.
- Arm bar and counter. Getty 16-17.
Third master (outside covers)
- Dump with shoulder. Getty 1.
- Arm bar. Getty 3.
- Low bind. Getty 6.
Fifth master (grab and stab)
- Percussive arm break with offline step away from dag. Getty 1.
- Defense against grab and low stab. Getty 11.
Fourth master (two-handed catches)
- Two-handed catch with elbow control. Getty 1.
- Falling elbow break. PD2.
- Transitions to various arm locks (need reference)
All of the above incorporated into flow drills from agent / feeder standpoint.
- Safety issues and etiquette. Required gear. Reiteration of control and face protection zones.
- Holding the sword
- Basic guards
- Posta di donna destra/reverso (stable)
- Dente di zinghiaro (stable)
- Tutta porta di ferro (stable)
- Finestra (stable)
- Posta breve (stable)
- Posta longa (unstable)
- Posta frontale (unstable)
- Three angles of cuts
- Mechanics of the colpe: acceleration, timing (footwork), muscular engagement, positioning
- Transition from dagger striking
- Concept of transitions among guards
- Stable and unstable guards
- Utilizing the pell
- Visualizing a threat
- Varying distance, starting position, targeting to keep sharp
- Non-touch; touch; power hitting
- All three cuts, plus stabs from various angles; from the five essential guards
- Sword handling drill
- Hit into the crossing
- Follow with:
- Hit around
- Second hit with push-pull as in where your tip is crossed
- Butt strike (upward)
- Butt strike (lateral)
- Connecting body base changes with hitting
- All combinations, fluid
Hitting with footwork
- Sword handling drill with footwork
- Striking with a pass; to the air, to the pell, with a partner
- Thrusting with a pass; to the air, to the pell, with a partner
- Working against targets held by a mobile feeder
- Striking and thrusting with lateral accressare
- Striking with discressare; striking with pass backward
- Striking and thrusting with volta stabile
- Cutting form, through four basic guards
- Complete cutting form
- All above combinations, flowing with footwork
- Sword in one hand parry from the left, followed with fendente
- Frontale parry (crown guard) followed by fendente and pass out of line
- Sottano parry from the left, followed with fendente
- Hitting into the incrossada (fendente vs. fendente); the difference between the incrossada and â€œbanging swords togetherâ€. The distance play: attack / counterstrike / bind into counterstrike.
Essential partner drills
- Four crossings
- Sword in 1 hand. Variants: Getty 2, 1, 3-4, 5, 6
- First drill, in wide and close play
- Second drill, in wide and close play
- Beating the thrust
- Exchange of thrust
- Four corners variants of above (all of the above, with attacker coming in from four different guards, then defender defending from four different guards)
- Punta falsa; the reasonable counterplay