Video Lessons: Playing from Sword to Offhand, Guardia di Testa/Faccia, Longsword Mezzana Guards

The Vancouver International Swordplay Symposium has come to a close. The weekend featured tremendous classes in Italian Rapier, German Sword and Buckler, Italian Stick Fighting, German Wrestling and Messer, Iberian Rapier, Sidesword, and Montante, as well as Burgundian Pole Axe. With no amount of sadness we bid adieu to our friends from far and wide and with many aches and pains ease our way back into our usual training rhythm.

This week level 1 (Green) continues with rapier and offhand, level 2 (Blue) progresses into the use of the face and head guards of sword and buckler, and level 3 (Red) steps into the centreline resting longsword guards: middle iron gate and middle boar's tooth.


Green Cord (Level 1)

This week our focus is on stringering the sword of our opponent with both the sword, through finding, and with the offhand itself. The goal of stringere is to get your opponent to move in a way that you can easily defend and that makes your opponent vulnerable to counter-attack. A strong emphasis is given on using the rapier and offhand in union to fully protect one side of the body or the other both high and low.  I recommend Green Cord students also look at Blue Cord Offhand/Dagger class 4 for even more ideas on primary stringere with the offhand.

Offhand 5: Union of Hand and SwordOffhand 6: Stringere

Blue Cord (Level 2)

Guardia di Testa (the head guard) and Guardia di Faccia (the face guard) are positions that defend the upper parts of the body. In these lessons we look at how we can pass through and arrive in these positions to parry and deflect. We also look at how the defences change when we begin in a larga guard or stretta guard.

Sidesword Guards 5: Testa/Faccia StrettaSidesword Guards 6: Testa/Faccia Largo

Red Cord (Level 3)

In the realm of longsword guards we are exploring the deceptive and effective guard Porta di Ferro Mezzanna, the middle iron gate. This guard is able to do many of the actions of Porta di Ferro and Dente al Cinghiara and its simple defence is effective in armour and out. In the German systems this guard is often called Alber, "Fool". It appears to be vulnerable but hides a fast thrust and manner of deflecting oncoming blows. We are also looking at Dente al Cinghiara Mezzanna, the "Middle Board's Tooth", which presents and offering to the head and covers it convincingly with a counter-thrust.

Longsword Guards 5: Porta di Ferro MezzannaLongsword Guards 5-1: Countering Porta di Ferro Mezzanna
Longsword Guards 6: Dente al Cinghiara MezzannaLongsword Guards 6-1: Countering Dente al Cinghiara Mezzanna


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Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
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