Over the last two years members of the School of the Sword have presented a series of workshops on the use of the sword with a companion weapon in the left hand. The training notes for these workshops were published under the title "Two's Company".
Each workshop focused on the basic principles and actions of one companion weapon and the aim was to show the link between the use of the single sword and the use of two weapons. In each case the weapons are not used "independently", rather most actions use both weapons together, with the companion weapon strengthening and supporting the actions of the sword.
The notes were originally written for students who had studied single sword and were "adding in" the companion weapon. This is the order that the rapier masters teach the weapons. In theory, once the student has studied the single sword and learnt all the various actions and principles, it should not be too hard to add in the companion weapon which will make the defences more secure. In practice, however, some students find it quite hard to adapt to having a weapon in the left hand after years of fighting single sword. The workshops were written to try to bridge this perceived gap.
Conversely, Marozzo's Opera Nova is written with the companion weapons taught first, whilst the single sword is not taught until chapter 95. This may be a feature of the differences between rapier and sidesword. When fighting single sword, the sword must do all the work in both attack and defence. This may be harder with the sidesword than the rapier, as the sidesword has less inherent hand protection. In this case it therefore makes sense to start with the additional protection of a companion weapon whilst the basic actions are mastered.
As we now teach a progression from sidesword to rapier, we follow the second model in our training. (See training page) Also, we have found recently that students who practice with both hands from day one are more able to adapt to new weapon forms as they progress in their training. Therefore, at some point in the future, there will be a reverse of Two's Company showing the progression from companion weapons to single sword.
Over the last two years we have refined some of the actions discussed in the earlier workshops and some of the photos will be redone soon as the postures are a little stiff. However, the notes still illustrate the basic principles and are reproduced here as they were taught at the time.
The parts of Two's Company are as follows:
An introduction to the use of the dagger in Italian rapier according to Francesco Alfieri.
An introduction to the use of the cloak in Italian rapier play.
Don’t Lose Your Head! An introduction to the use of single sword and sword and buckler, according to the work of Achille Marozzo.
An introduction to the play of two swords, one in each hand, according to the work of Achille Marozzo
Part V: (not yet released)
Sword and rotella (round shield)
We hope you find them useful
(c) The School of the Sword 2009 : The School of the Sword is a Western Martial Arts school providing lessons in sword fighting and Historical European martial arts in Berkshire/Surrey UK