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Wednesday (Destreza)

Submitted by Ludwig von Rege... on October 17, 2012 - 12:00am

Lesson 2 on Spanish rapier as taught by Matt.

Patrick's notes:

  • Stance: upright, narrow. Default position has sword extended parallel to the shoulder and ground, hand in third.
  • Attack: get dominance over the opponent's sword by crossing blades (pushing the point offline with your blade on top) with a small step forwards on the back foot.  This is called the "Atajo".
  • Lunge: a large step with front foot roughly in the direction your sword is pointing (i.e. around the opponent), landing so the foot and knee point at the opponent.  I think of this as a "circular lunge".  When stepping left this move is particularly odd due to the final orientation of the front knee.  If the Atajo was solid and the sword arm remains extended then the opponent's sword will be controlled throughout.  Your sword will hit them in the belly somewhat to the side, so your sword drops a long way (gravity lunge).
  • Counter 1: In response to an Atajo, push your own sword offline to regain blade dominance, then push your opponent's blade across to the other side, accompanied with a small step with the back foot.  You now have the position you would have if you had first made the Atajo.
  • Counter 2: In response to an Atajo and thrust, drop your point into a hanging guard and step away from the attack.

General thought: defending by pushing your own sword offline combined with a sideways step is familiar from Meyer, but while there the movement is usually on the back foot, here it is on the front if stepping right (assuming right-handed combatant).

Note on term "Atajo".  Translation given in Wikipedia page (Destreza) is "bind".  Google translate offers "shortcut" and "interception".

Addendum from Katherina Weyssin, on "atajo":

John Minsheu produced a Spanish-English dictionary in the late 16thC, revised and re-published in the early 17th. King's College, London has a searchable facsimile online as part of their Early Modern Spain site.

Minsheu defines atajo and a cluster of related words and phrases. The most interesting [emphasis mine] are:

  • Atájo, a cut, a slice, in a journey or voyage the cut or shortest way, a turnepike in a way: a weare in a river: a stile in a hedge, a gate. A flocke or hearde of cattle.
  • Atajár, to discover, to forrage or spoile, to cut off or stop of his purpose, to make short, to make a weare in a river.
  • Atajár camino, to stop the way. Also to goe the shortest way or cut.
  • Atajár enemígos, to cut off enemies by getting betweene them and their home.
  • Atajádo, m. cut off, shut off from his purpose.

It looks (to me) like the most likely meanings/concepts are those related to "shortcut" - taking the shortest path - or "stopping" - shutting your opponent out of his intended path, preventing him from following through with his purpose (i.e. closing the line?).

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