Myles Cupp wrote:Why is the buckler held up in front of the face like that? The text doesn't seem to give any indication as to why that would be. My understanding of generic buckler fencing is to keep it more out from the body than not. I'd like to have the formal definition of the guard look like the pictures but I can't see a martial reason to have the buckler so close to the body, even if it is directly shielding the face.
It took me awhile to figure this out, so I understand why you're puzzled. while we don't have anything explicit in the text, I think that two things explain the withdrawn buckler-arm. First, I think that the arm is drawn a little more withdrawn than it should be. However, the second reason is key and it takes a little bit of explanation:
First, you have two plates that demonstrate guards which have a special relationship (actually, if the top plate was the left-foot-forward of that guard, Coda Lunga Alta, it would be even better to illustrate my point, but it doesn't matter that much). Anyway, Coda Lunga guards are ending positions of Riversi while Porta di Ferro guards (including the Cinghiara Porta di Ferro versions) are all ending positions of Mandritti.* Now consider what happens when you cut a Riverso: your hips and shoulders turn such that your body is square or even somewhat profiled behind your left side. Conversely, when you cut a Mandritto, your hips and shoulders turn so that your body is profiled behind your right side. You can see this in the two figures--take a close look at the hip and shoulder positions of each plate and compare them. It is important to understand that in the Bolognese system, the body position is sometimes more important that the sword position. In any case, the most important difference between Coda Lunga Stretta
and Porta di Ferro Stretta is not
the hand position, it is the body position--specifically, the turn of the body. Also, looking further at the plates, note how the right foot is turned out for Coda Lunga Stretta
and then consider that it is the end of a Riverso which would tend to turn your right foot outward--passing forward with your right foot to cut a Riverso is sort of passing with the "wrong" foot (we use the term discordant stepping
in our school). The converse to that your be passing forward with your left foot while cutting a Mandritto--i.e. and ending up in Cinghiara Porta di Ferro.
Anyway, since the Coda Lunga guards are formed with your body square or your left side forward, you can easily keep your buckler-arm extended. However, since the Porta di Ferro guards are formed with your body profiled with your right side forward, you must bend your buckler-arm somewhat or you'll pull your body out of profile.
Anyway, I have an article about the Porta di Ferro guards and the Coda Lunga guards: Forming and Understanding the Guards of Coda Lunga Stretta and Porta di Ferro Stretta
which should help and give some more explanation.
In terms of cutting, I use a pedagogical device wherein I break down the preparation for a cut into six types which I describe here: A Simple Explanation of the Six Preparations of the Cut
. Note that while these are never explicitly named in any of the texts, the are implicitly described in various techniques. As I said, this is a pedagogical device; another instructor could easily come up with his own methodology.
Finally, when practicing the cuts, it is important to remember that unless the cut is a Tramazzone, it should not be delivered just from the wrist. The turning of the hips and body is a very important piece of the mechanics--try to make the turn of your hips drive your cut.
*Note that information about which guards are the end position of which cuts (and thrusts) is given explicitly by Dall'Agocchie and also by Viggiani.
Hope that helps.