For purposes of my own thoughts, and to get a discussion for anyone interested, I’m going to start analyzing plays every so often on this blog. With Tom Leoni’s new translation of Marozzo’s sword and buckler material it is no wonder I’m starting off with that.
After the approach in Marozzo’s first Assault he has this play:
From Guardia Alta:
This is actually a lot to unpack, and an interesting choice for the first play that Marozzo teaches after stepping into measure. At this point the book instructs us to act as the Agent, that is initiating the action. In a very Bolognese way, Marozzo chooses to start with a provocation. Assuming that the patient took the bait we parry by cutting to the rim of our buckler, and end in CDLS, ready to thrust. For the purposes of this article we will assume that the agent follows up with either a stocatta or imbrocatta.
So what do we have to do to sell this action and be successful? Let's start off with the easy part, the blade work. You must present a reasonable threat to the patient. I like going over and some one past his buckler with my sword, or maybe even knocking it slightly. Done with structure and intent this can be very motivating the a defender. Immediately retract it over your left arm in preparation for the cut.
If the patient should attempt to parry with the blade disengage from him and prep for your parry. The small bit of measure gained from slipping the foot back aids in this. What you must not do is get stuck in a hard bind for this play to work, at that point you would have to move into some other action.
Now the hard part. The foot work. Passing in with the right foot is what sells this action. And you must sell the step. The slip is what gives you time and space to react, and keeps you safe, and it must be done instantly.
Breaking measure with an attack makes it difficult for the opponent to determine exactly where we are going to end at. We must pick a spot that presents us as a reasonable threat, but not so far that we lose our balance, or must sink down into the step. When we land it must be a soft landing. My initial thought was to land on the ball of the foot, to retract the foot quickly. The problem with this is that it isn’t the way that someone would attack you, it looks and screams fake.
IF YOU SINK INTO THE STEP FORWARD, YOU HAVE LOST YOUR TEMPO.
So while maintaining most of your weight on your left leg, step forward landing gently on the heel or flat footed then instantly pull it back to the left foot. This is way harder to do under pressure than it sounds. Or even just in practice.
The second step forward is explosive, or as M puts it “Boldly” Reclose that distance, for the parry.