Cutlass Drill Diagram

Image source:

Naval Cutlass Exercise – H C Angelo – 1813

This diagram of the use of the cutlass actually cuts across both
topics that I instruct (and blog about here): stage combat and
bartitsu. This main geometric shape shows the positions of our parries
and cuts, while the top band illlustrates proper posture and stance,
including the lunge. Bear in mind that this is not the “magic circle”
of Spanish rapier theory, but a simple memory aid for professional
naval officers.

Since it may not be obvious, here’s the interpretation of the central diagram:
Cuts happen on any line that passes through the centre.
From 5: horizontal cut from the outside
From 6: horizontal cut from the inside
From 7: vertical cut to the head
From 1 or 2: diagonal descending cuts (usually slashes in stage
combat). This corresponds to attack 1 from Escrima and other arts that
start from the most common attack patterns. This is also Fiore’s first
dagger defence.
From 3 or 4: diagonal rising cuts (usually slashes in stage combat)

The tricky part is the handle illustrations for the parries. Starting
from the bottom is easiest:
Parry 3: outside guard. In bartitsu, we’d follow this with an outside
moulinet and a cut from 3. In stage combat, we try to make this parry
vertical (on the line 3-1) because we won’t be parrying diagonal cuts.
Parry 4: inside guard. In bartitsu, we’d follow this with an inside
moulinet and a cut from 4. Same note as above for stage combat, we
follow the 4-2 line.

The guards at the top of the circle (point downwards) don’t follow the
traditional numbering.
The handle at number 1 is Parry 2, outside half-hanger.
The handle at number 2 is Parry 1, inside half-hanger. The tilted
handle at 2 labeled the “half-circle” is parry 8, as explained in the
lower portion of the image.

Some fun things to notice:
In the exercise at bottom-centre, the rising diagonal attack from 3 is
labeled as a “wrist” target, and the corresponding parry is the
“half-circle” or parry 8, as previously mentioned; whereas the attack
from 4, a rising diagonal slash from the other side does not have a
parry, but rather the command “shift” which can be interpreted as our
lunging avoidance from Basic stage combat.

St. George’s Guard is not numbered on the diagram (it is between 1 and
5 if the text is too small to read on your screen). Clearly, the tip
descends on a shallow slope, which is exactly our goal in Bartitsu’s
head parry because we want to keep the hand safe from a glancing glow.
For stage, we insist on Parry 5 being horizontal to eliminate that
glancing motion entirely.

To sum up, this diagram should not be anything revolutionary to my
stage combat or bartitsu students, but it is an interesting historical
corollary and may solidify some of the angles and concepts in your
mind. Plus, it has an awesome top-hat-wearing fencer.

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