Aldo Nadi: A View into the Origin of His Style

Aldo Nadi Lunge FencingA quote from Chapter 4 of “The Living Sword.”
“…It was here, in this very period, that a new outlook began to form in my mind insofar as fencing and training were concerned. To begin with, I refused to work every day. With my weight constantly under 130 pounds, I simply had not enough physical power to do so, while Nedo, about one inch shorter than I, was heavier and far better and more harmoniously built. I reminded myself of a breadstick, but I instinctively knew that my long and thin muscles were as wiry as steel and that I could always depend upon them – provided I did not abuse them. I felt now sufficiently mature to assume responsibility towards my own future, and my rebellious decision to work less and only when I felt so disposed proved to be the first step in the right direction.

I started revising the system which had actually created me, discarding all that I thought superfluous.

To the ultimate end of a fully dramatic interpretation of both my character and nervous assets, I felt that I had to produce a highly personal style and pattern of combat which would have little in common with that of my brother, the unquestionably established champion.

In training with him, I soon realized that it was only by following such a line of individualistic conception and execution that I could thrust some grains of sand into the perfect mechanism that confronted me. I succeeded, to my surprise, in creating uncertainties and difficulties. Knowing Nedo’s value, this encouraged me a great deal. Knowing, moreover, his terrifying power of defense, I simply threw overboard the composed attack (or tried to, since to do what I wanted was anything but easy), basing my fencing, instead, upon the offensive defense of the counterattack and contretemps, as well as upon the third and fourth intention. Indeed, the second intention was seldom successful against a champion like my brother.

Aldo_and_nedo_nadiMy system of defense was not nearly as clock-like as that of Nedo. However, more varied and simpler, it proved to be, in time, at least as efficient as his and certainly more baffling. Its very flexibility, in contrast to his comparative rigidity, was its most valuable asset.

As for my offensive movements, my limited physical resistance compelled me to use sparingly even the all-out simple attack. However, its use being commanded by the inescapable theory of variation, such forced restriction actually brought to me the revelation of its tremendous efficiency.

My style was anything but fixed.

Above all, I tried to rely to the maximum upon exploitation of all my opponents’ mistakes – a fundamental line of thought never abandoned since.

Indirectly this led me to evolve a continuously changing pattern of combat, the various forms and expressions of which appeared to my adversaries as so many different methods. For this reason, I was told – later – that I was rather difficult to read, and more difficult still to be fully understood. I seldom gave the slightest clue to what I was after…”

Aldo Nadi, written 1955

The Living Sword, published 1995

Laureate Pr; 1st edition (April 1995)

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