Kult of Athena


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Student

Last Thursday night was one of the most difficult lessons so far in the training.

Having not learned forms and fighting since I was in my 4th grade karate class, learning the movements, and medieval Italian names for these movements, proved to be almost as painful as watching the Patriots choke in the playoffs (which also happened recently.)

My Instruttore, Charles Deily, a Math teacher by trade, was patient enough when giving instruction to myself and to Matt, the other student-swordsman (and only other person there).

"Go over the 12 poste, the 3 volte, and 6 elephant plays (slow motion sword sparring). I'll be over here working with Jarkko on Italian master moves because I'm awesome like that (it's true)."

I tried to remember in my head all that I had learned in my extensive 3 weeks of training (that's 3 lessons as we meet once a week), and translate what I thought it looked like to my oh so coordinated frame.

It was...interesting. As I went through the different poste (positions or poses) with the sword, I looked to Matt for encouragement, and honestly, for answers.

Sometimes you just feel like if you stare at your partner/classmate long enough, when you have little to no idea what you are doing, the answer will just come to you. It helped a little but more often than not it was:

"Charles, we need the 3rd poste low, 2nd poste middle..." and so on...

We eventually got the gist of them.


  • Tutta Porta di ferro (Full Iron Gate)

  • Coda Longa (Long Tail)

  • Dente di Zenghiaro (Boar's Tooth)

  • Porta di Ferro Mezzana (Half Iron Gate)


  • Posta Breve (Short Stance)

  • Posta Longa (Long Stance)

  • Posta Bicorno (Two Horns)

  • Posta Frontale (Front Guard)


  • Poste Di Donna (Lady's Pose)

  • Finestre (Window with Wrists Crossed)

  • Donna Soprana (High Lady's Guard)

  • Posta di Donna Sinestra (High Left Lady's Guard)

Then we practiced the volte (turns). These are the ways in which to turn very quickly to fight multiple enemies with the long sword. These were known to me:

  • Tuta Volte (full turn)

  • Mezza Volte (half turn)

  • Volte Stabile (swift power shift)

After that, we practiced the compass drills. These are a series of movements where you face all of the cardinal points (North, South, East, and West) using fancy sword-guy footwork. Then, in very Kevin Bacon fashion, you use more spinning foot movements to face the intermediate directions (Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Southeast).

At this point, my head was so crammed with movements and poste that I didn't even notice when we lined up for Elephant plays....

Each practice is 2.5 hours long. In that time, you get to hold a sword (righteous) and cram as much medieval Italian formations into your brain as possible. It is exciting, it is difficult, and it is worth it.

Once you learn all 296 plays, movements, poste, ect, you will be a Maestro and a bad ass with a broom handle. I look forward to the challenge.

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