The following are partnered drills for the cloak and rapier. It is vital that the attacker providing the techniques you are working against makes the techniques properly. If a thrust finishes too soon or is not committed, it is not realistic and of no help. The attacker must work at a speed that tests the defender but the aim is not to score points or catch the defender out. However, the attacker must work you hard! Finally, if this is done too fast, then you will not be provided with the opportunity to teach your body how it must work.

Please note, this is all just practice; it is inevitable that you will be hit!

If, at any time, something does not work, slow down, repeat the action and see where you are going wrong. Do not just avoid the technique!

Exercise 1: with cloak alone (no rapier) against thrusts and lunges

Ensure you are wearing a mask and appropriate protection.

Stand with the back foot against the wall; you can more your front foot, body, arms, etc., but the rear foot is fixed.

Your partner is completely free to move!

Level 1

Have your partner thrust / lunge at you at half speed, at any target they wish. However, they must commit to the attack and not feint.

Practice defending against the thrust / lunge, using the cloak to parry and voiding where necessary. Any thrust / lunge hitting the cloak fist or arm count as a ‘fail’!

This exercise will work on using the minimum movement to parry.

Level 2

Once you are comfortable, your partner may feint once before making the final attack, still at half speed.

Level 3

Once you are comfortable, your partner may make feints, compound attacks, still at half speed.

Level 4 onwards

Repeat the above, but with increased speed. Remember, if you are being hit repeatedly, slow down. The key is repetition, not speed.

Exercise 2: with cloak alone (no rapier) against cuts

In this exercise, you will repeat the levels outlined in Exercise 1, but against cuts. The attacker must take care and not cut hard. Your aim is to learn to void cuts (or slips against cuts to the legs) and only parry head cuts when the attacker’s blade is close enough that you can move your front foot forward and block against the forte or hilt. Cuts to the body may be parried with the ‘drop’ of the cloak. Hits to the arm count as a ‘fail’.

You still have to keep your rear foot against a wall, and the attacker is still free to move!

Exercise 3: Cloak and rapier against thrusts and cuts

In this exercise you have your rapier with the cloak.

You will still stand with the back foot against the wall

The attacker is free to move and may use thrusts / lunges and cuts

Level 1

Repeat the levels outlined in Exercises 1 and 2. Ensure you use the cloak in support of the rapier, not to try and fight with the cloak alone. Cuts may be voided, parried as outlined in Exercise 2, or by using tutta coperta, where appropriate. Remember, the sword is best used to defend the inside, the cloak to the outside; thrusts / lunges can be parried by either. Keep the weapons together!

You may not counter!

Level 2

You may make a single counter. However, the attacker moves first, you may not attack them in anticipation!

Level 3

You may fight freely, but your rear foot remains fixed to the wall. Take care not to get carried away and go too fast.

Exercise 4: Free the foot… a little

Repeat all the exercises above, but your feet are free. However, you may not retreat more than three steps. Anything more counts as a fail. Make sure you use traverses, passes and girata: do not rely on retreats!

Most important note!

Have fun!

Rob Runacres