Notes Towards an Intro Class Strategy

A friend of mine is starting a Bolognese study group and thinking about lessons. I’ve been interested in starting my own Bolognese group for a while, but life has conspired to make that not work out yet. (But hopefully not too far in the future…) I’ve put a bit of thought into my introductory class strategy, and I thought I’d post it here. This has not been tested, so I expect that it will change quite a bit once I get things up and running. Use at your own risk (but tell me how it works out and what you needed to change, please!).


  • The class I’m leading will be focused on Dall’Agocchie’s single sword
  • The class will meet for two hours, once a week
  • While you often get a mix of experience, I’m assuming that the class is mostly (or entirely) made up of people with no HEMA experience, and probably little to no fencing or other martial arts experience


  • Everyone leaves the class healthier than they came in (HT to Guy Windsor)
  • The students understand the different parts of the sword (true and false edge, strong and weak of blade, blade is both a lever and a ramp, etc.)
  • The students can go through Dall’Agocchie’s Stepping in the Guards
  • The students have begun learning the Duel in One Month section
  • The students have begun learning to be good training partners

Basic Outline of Class:

  • Salute In
  • Warmups
  • Theory
  • Footwork drills (empty hand)
  • Stepping in the Guards
  • Drills from Duel in One Month
  • Freeplay
  • Salute Out

How much time you spend on each section of this would vary, and as the students learn more, a few things will naturally evolve from this:

  • The Theory section (always short and to the point to begin with) will shrink, and this will drop from class – the students should be able to read the text for themselves, and conversations will happen outside of classtime as needed. Less talk, more rock.
  • Start adding variations on the Stepping in the Guards, not just doing it strictly by the book (I’ll write a post on some of variations I use soon).
  • Add decisions to the Duel in One Month drills (so the student is initially learning to defend against a single attack in any given drill, but eventually has two or three or more possible attacks they might need to defend against in the drill).
  • Work on Duel in One Month drills starting with left foot forward – same defenses, but alter footwork appropriately (leverage things they already know as they starting learning to use the left-foot forward guards).

Given that the Duel in One Month has defenses against every incoming attack from two different guards, it will take a while to get students to the point that they are fully competent using this at speed. Dall’Agocchie’s own assessment is that he could teach this to someone in one month, but he thought they still probably wouldn’t be successful using it in a point of honor – it’s just not enough time to really get good at timing. I believe that he is also assuming daily, not weekly, lessons. But using this as a foundation means that the students will be able to have something they can use in bouts fairly quickly – and I believe that this would give them a fantastic foundation for learning the rest of Dall’Agocchie’s system, or any of the other related Bolognese systems.

Hope I get to try this out soon.

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