Archive for Aldo Nadi

Becoming a Duellist

Posted in Fencing, Fighters, History, Martial Arts, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2015 by chencenter

Duel Basil Rathbone Zorro

In his book, famous fencing master Aldo Nadi realistically describes the tension, obstacles and high-stake nature of the duel – one that he experienced first-hand in1924. Only 24 years old, but an undefeated champion in 3 weapons, Aldo remained confident and eager to prove himself against a live point.  Aldo squared off against Adolfo Cotronei, an Italian newspaper editor, over a story Contronei printed saying that Italian champion Candido Sassone beat French champion Lucien Gaudin 9-to-7.  Honor at stake, they met a secluded place   [read more at “The Duel”]

Aldo Nadi DuelHe writes:

In competition, the good fencer leisurely watches his opponent for a few seconds before starting the slightest motion. Here you are by no means allowed to do so because your adversary immediately puts into execution a plan evidently well thought out in advance: surprise the youngster at the very beginning; take advantage of his lack of dueling and bear upon his nerves and morale.”

THE NATURE OF THE DUEL

The Duellist movie Duel 2No film has picked up on the atmosphere and realism of the duel quite like Ridley Scott’s 1977 epic film, The Duellists. Choreographed by the famous William Hobbs (Excaliber, Willow, & The Count of Monte Cristo) it remains one of the best examples of sword-fighting – especially in this period, (Napoleonic era).

What you notice right away by viewing these fight scenes, is that the intention and awareness is focused on his opponent (remember, your life is on the line). Two, each fighter is hesitant on making a non-calculated action until there is a need to react to something – something that you possibly did not expect. And third, the fight scene is extremely short. Many duels started and finished in the time it took to read this paragraph.* Cutting with a sabre often produced gaping wounds, but it was the thrust (often w/ dueling sword, smallsword or rapier) that was fatal.

*Keep in mind that once the actual sword-fighting starts, depending on the skill, fighting area, luck, etc., duels could last anywhere from seconds to several minutes.  Most duels didn’t last more than 10 minutes.  But think of the amount of stamina that that would require! Needless-to-say, if you are serious about sword-fighting, be ready for anything.  

TECHNIQUES FOR DUELING

epee5It is of my opinion that if you can’t fight well against one person, you can’t and won’t perform well in a skirmish/battle. It is very important that you first learn your weapon (or weapon set) & build your skill. This includes Guard positions, techniques and movement tactics (learning first solo, then one-on-one and then (perhaps) multiple opponents).

>Bruce Lee once said, “One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs in simplicity.” This quote can easily be understood by the experienced martial artist – but is often hard for the beginner. Learn your techniques, various ways of movements…be a scientist of the martial sciences and put your skill and techniques to the test in competition.

What techniques serve you the best?

Which ones keep you safe or make you harder to hit/counter? Keep them.

Discard those techniques that put you in a bad position, are too flashy or complicated.

Find your personal “Go-To” techniques.

MINDSET

The mindset, especially in training and mock-dueling is essential. It must be centered around one thing – never allow a single touch. And if a touch is received, never allow a second. Always make it hard for your opponent to attack, find steady footing, or catch a breath. Use your environment, training and your intelligence in sword-fighting to be victorious. Victory favors the skillful!

FIGHTING FAIR

I tell my young students, “Imagine you stepped back in time… You encounter a villainous foe, and he corners you into a fight; a fight to the death!” In an act of self-preservation you grab firmly your weapon of choice and ready yourself for any oncoming attack.  In all matters of self-defense, I think it is fair to say “Anything goes.” This may include acquiring another weapon, kicking sand, or dirtying your point (in hopes that the doctor or director halts the bout, thus giving you a needed breather).  However, under normal circumstances and in hopes of winning honorably… I find it best to train using solid (go-to) techniques and spar using great sportsmanship.  Ultimately, if one had the liberty of choice (in dying), most would choose the honorable over the cowardly.  At least one would hope.

MICHAEL JOYCE

WSFENCING.INFO

I know there are many fencers and historians out there that might have some a different idea or opinion towards duels and/or what I have written.  If you would like to offer any comments, critiques, or possible revisions/errors, please let me know by leaving a comment and I will review and take them under heavy consideration.  Thank you!

Aldo Nadi: A View into the Origin of His Style

Posted in Fencing, Martial Arts, Styles, Swordsmanship, Weapons with tags , , , , , , , on December 23, 2013 by Combative Corner

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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