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Monday, October 17, 2016

Lesson Plan for La Verdadera Destreza: Spanish Fencing Circle Use and Footwork

Hello again,

I am very happy to get another post up here.  In my last one on the Creation of a La Verdadera Destreza Fencing Circle I mentioned how I was going to use the circle I made to teach a class on footwork at Pennsic 45. I am very happy to report that the class went very well, even with multiple hurdles. No lesson plan ever survives first contact with the enemy and that was very true when they had to shut down my battlefield tent 15 min. into the class due to lightning.  I turned it into a walking lecture on the history of the Spanish circle on our way through the food court to a much smaller classroom.  Sadly due to the size of the new space I wasn't able to use my big canvas circle, but we were still able to cover all of the information and improvised while walking around a center tent pole.

It was a 2 hour class and I had a great group of folks taking it for various reasons. The participants included fencers for the obvious content, academics trying to understand the social context of the art, and heavy list / rattan fighters looking to apply these concepts to their own style of fighting.

Below are my internal class notes. I considered posting just the external material, but I thought that my personal notes would be more useful to understanding what I covered. The internal personal notes are in italics and are VERY extensive as I am a firm believer in being over prepared when teaching.  I typically want my external handouts to be a general outline and place for folks to take notes, not a book or essay for them to read while we talk and learn.  These notes on the blog are more comprehensive to allow you to see behind the curtain since you are just reading and not listening to it as well.

I also handed out a set of pictures of various Spanish fencing circle interpretations by the masters.  Instead of posting those here I updated my other post on The Spanish Circle Through the Years with the new circles I found, so anyone interested in those can click over there for a more comprehensive view.

Here you go:

La Verdadera Destreza: Spanish Fencing Circle Use and Footwork
Lord Doroga Voronin
Pennsic 45 / Aug. 10, 2016 / 3pm-5pm

  • Ask Questions as we go through the class
  • I will be covering concepts and strategy at the same time
  • Brief intro about me and why I got into this
  • The Spanish circle is not mysterious unless you consider balancing your checkbook a mystery
  • Format I am following today is on your handout.  
  • Spanish Masters suggested learning the theory first and then the skill or practice
  • I am going over the style of fencing, the footwork, the parts and use of the circle, LVD concepts and how they can be applied to other fencing and fighting styles
  • All of what I am going over needs to be practiced slowly and applied gradually to ingrain it as an instinct, then it can be made to move fast
  • Use your surroundings as you do not need a formal circle for training, basketball court layout, pieces of tape on the ground, etc.
  • It is a dance, 8th grade dance analogy on how at your first dance everyone looks and feels awkward

George Silver 1598 said:
"They stand as brave as they can with their bodies straight upright, narrow spaced, with their feet continually moving, as if they were in a dance, holding forth their arms and rapiers very straight against the face or bodes of their enemies"
  •  My knowledge is based off of both historical and modern master's analysis 
  • Carranza was father of the style, treatise written in 1569, published large scale in 1582
  • Lasted formally for almost 300 years with manuals being published up to the mid 1800’s 

La Verdadera Destreza (LVD)
    History and Masters
o   Jeronimo de Carranza,   Luis Pacheco de Narvaez,   Gerard Thibault d’Anvers
o   Luis de Viedma,   Franciso Antonio de Ettenhard,    Francisco Lorenz de Rada              

          How LVD differs from other fencing styles
o   Upright Stance & Sword Position
o   Circular Stepping and Distance                  
o   Concepts / Techniques (i.e. Atajo, 4 Generals, Defensive, Right angle, Movements of conclusion)

Types of Circles:

Historical Examples (see handout)
Size of fencer can influence size of circle, steps, and blade length

 Ettenhard talks about how Pacheco details exact distances 3 feet single step, double step 5 feet, but also talks about his own philosophy on setting fixed distances.
“I consider determining a fixed distance for the steps to perform the proposed actions as extremely difficult (and even impossible)… Only in one case could a fixed distance be obtained, and that would be if one of the combatants did not move from his spot…"
  • Ettenhard says to measure distance proportionally and if your opponent takes a long step you take a short one
  • Describe Thibault's measurements and the concept of the vara
  • The circle is a training tool not a battlefield.  It is imaginary, moves with the fencers, can be recreated or changed mid fight.  It can also be rotated to make a cylinder in front of you as a targeting tool

 Parts of the Circle:      
(Most Translations from Puck and Mary Dill Curtis)

  • Greater Circle              Círculo Mayor                  Large circle between the fencers
  • Diameter                      Diametro                          Line that separates the fencers on the greater circle
  • Lines of Infinity           Linea Infinita                   Parallel lines perpendicular to the diameter
  • Minor Circle                Círculo Menor                 The circles around each fencer

LVD Concepts of Distance:·         
           Measure of proportion                    Medio de proportión       
              Defensive location that defines the circle and where the fight begins
  • This is where you can recognize and react to your opponent’s movement
  • Where swords meet each other’s hilt
  • Just like the circle, it changes based on your opponents size, blade length, and stance
  • Some like Rada specify distances for this 8ft., 7-5, 3, etc.
  • Judge the distance by what is there and what is their POTENTIAL reach (DEMO)
  • DEMO of Measure of Proportion (possible drill)
  • Strategy of gaining distance and goals, Puck suggests
    • If you have a longer reach or blade, you want to violate their space, medio
    • If you have a shorter reach or blade, you want to keep them outside until you want to move
  • Puck says, “Walking the circle without a reason gives your opponent a tempo and an advantage” 
  • Always have a reason when you move in and out of the circle of death 

      Proportional measure                    Medio proporcional                      
             Middle distance (referenced by Alvaro Guerra de la Vega and Francisco Lorenz de Rada)
      Proportionate measure                  Medio proporcionado                   
              Offensive location or place of termination 

Types of Steps:
                     Forward                          Compás Accidental / Recto          
           Backward                       Compás Extraňo
           Lateral                            Compás Trepidante    
           Transverse (diagonal)     Compás Transversal 
           Curved                            Compás Curvo              
           Mixed (combination)      Compás Mixto  
           Spanish Gaining Step     (Puck Curtis)   Crosses to gain distance

  • Feet are equally balanced, no further than shoulder width apart 
  • Sword arm foot forward, line up heels
  • Which foot steps first?
    • GENERAL RULE of thumb is the one closer to where you are going
  • How far you should step? 
    • Varies depending on the Master you read and your size, no lunging in traditional LVD
  • GENERAL RULE, do not cross the feet on stepping, but there are times you do i.e. gaining step
  • Transverse Steps
    • Closes the distance more rapidly and aggressively than a curved 
    • Closest thing to a lunge, front foot points at opponent on the step
  • Transverse angle can vary, Viedma says step from A to B for both transverse and the curved
  • All Actions are a combination of movements, common Examples of mixed steps – back lateral, movement of conclusion
  • A step in the Spanish style starts and ends in the stance, always recover to exit and defend
  • Ettenhard says          
    • Forward is superior to back
    • Transverse defeats the forward
    • Transverse and curved defeats transverse and curved

Concepts and Reminders:
  •        Misconception:  the opponent is always in the center and you never get closer
    •          Truth: there are many circles and they are dynamic and changing
  •       Misconception:  Spanish fencing is only with a single sword   
    •          Truth: they use dagger, buckler, shield, cloak, etc ,      
      The circle is a training tool and is imaginary, moves with the fencers, can be changed mid fight
      The style of fencer you are facing (i.e. Italian, LVD, Destreza Vulgar/Comun) will change how you fence
Learn slow, drill slow, gradually increase the speed, learn the moves before you dance fast     
Remember to train to circle and attack in both directions (right and left) and with both hands
      Strategy and use can be applied to other styles of fighting

Drills and Final Questions
  • Drill setting measure with hands 
  • Mirror Drill - Forward, Back, Lateral, Transverse, Curve both ways, one leads, then swap

That is about it for the internal version of my lesson plan from the class that I taught this past summer.  Perhaps I will teach this again some day, but until then....

Thanks for reading.

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