Italy Meets the Philippines: Time and Motion from the Mediterranean to the Pacific

Instructor(s): Dori Coblentz , Mark Mikita

Timeslot(s): , , , ,

Primary Disciplines: Rapier, Rapier & Dagger, Sabre, Stick, Knife

Two sophisticated systems of time and counter-time will come together to explore the ideal moments to strike, disarm, and counter, and how to develop the skills to do so. Students will explore the concepts of opportunity and rhythm through the classical Italian school applied through rapier, rapier & dagger, and sabre, and through the lens of Cuentada the art of pre-emptive countering taught through Filipino Kali.

Italian Martial Arts Intensive

This track focuses on developing students’ abilities to recognize, seize, and generate opportunities to hit. Both days will begin with rapier (2 hours) and end with saber (1 hour). We will take a synthetic approach to the Italian fencing discourse, incorporating both lived and textual traditions. Italian rapier masters such as Fabris, Giganti, Capoferro, Alfieri, and Marcelli are largely in agreement about the most important aspect of fencing training – mastering the control of distance (motion) and tempo (time/timing). Later instructional authors treating saber such as Pecoraro and Pessina, Barbasetti, and Gaugler show the conceptual continuity of these fencing fundamentals, but provide valuable context as to tactical discontinuities as well.

Day 1

The first session focuses on recognizing and seizing opportunity. We will practice several strategies to improve the accuracy of participants’ observations and reaction time. To improve participants’ ability to both see an opening and be able to respond with the right technique executed at the right speed we will explore footwork patterns as well as visual and tactile cues. This session will incorporate a brief review and demonstration of Italian saber including cutting mechanics, distances, and the guard position prior to the saber portion of the class (saber beginners are welcome).

Day 2

The second session will build on the previous day’s work on recognizing and seizing opportunities, and it will introduce strategies for generating opportunities to hit as well. In both rapier and saber, students will study a variety of likely responses to common attacks. Students will then practice strategies to provoke and defeat offensive and counteroffensive responses. We will explore the use of probing actions and provocations across both weapons, comparing and contrasting their technical and tactical potential.

Equipment Requirements

Fencing Mask, Fencing Jacket, Throat protection (gorget), Gloves, Chest protector, Forearm protection (recommended – we will be doing some cuts to the forearm in saber), Athletic cup (recommended), Rapier, Saber (I will have a few of these available to borrow for those who contact me in advance. Both Olympic-style sabers and heavy sabers are acceptable).

A note on chest protectors: Many fencers prefer to train without chest protectors. For this session, I prefer that participants wear chest protectors. I will bring several loaners of different sizes and shapes. Chest protectors are important for both men and women both because you will be getting hit in the same few square inches of chest several hundred times over the course of this weekend and because this class incorporates actions with dynamic movement and sudden changes of direction, which increases the possibility of accidental hard hits.

Cuentada: The Art of Pre-Emptive Countering (Filipino Martial Arts Intensive)

Working with the single stick and empty hand, students will learn to shake off the limiting and, all too often, imprisoning chains of system and style. This workshop will be focused on gaining a real understanding of the essential principles upon which every system and style are based.

Topics include staying safe in training, developing the counter-offensive mindset, weapon handling, solid defensive structure, aggressively seizing and maintaining the offensive initiative, disarming, counter-disarming and counter-counter-disarming. If that all sounds very advanced, just remember that it’s all about making it work for real. If it’s not simple, none of it will.

With some adjustments for the presence of a sharp edge and/or point, everything in this workshop applies to swords.

Day 1: Foundational Work

Safety, safety, safety… then…

  • How to strike (including footwork)
  • How to parry
  • How to seize and control the opponent’s weapon
  • Disarming basics

Day 2: Making it Functional

Safety, safety, safety… then…

  • How to train without relying on set patterns
  • How to wake up and see
  • How to contend rather than cooperate and still stay safe
  • Countering EVERYTHING

Equipment Requirements

A single rattan stick (preferably 28 inches in length and devoid of any sort of cracks or damage that might cause a partner to be injured when the weapon is grabbed)