Swordplay from the Ground: Wrist, Elbow & Shoulder Cuts
Not only are there eight lines on which to cut, there are three places from which to cut, wrist, shoulder and elbow. For the Green Spur you are required to demonstrate all three types with the sword in one hand, and wrist and elbow cuts with the sword in two hands.
1. Wrist Cuts: The power for these cuts is generated almost entirely from the weight of the sword as it wheels through its arc. The shoulder and upper arm are fixed. When cutting to the inside of the body, only the hand and wrist move; on the outside it may be necessary to move your forearm and elbow very slightly. With the sword in two hands the pommel hand makes a circle around the sword hand. Wrist cuts should end high, with both the elbow and sword point at mid body or above.
2. Elbow Cuts: The pivot point of the sword arc is now the elbow, and the forearm appears to move like the spoke of a wheel on the steady drive shaft of your upper arm. Don’t make your elbow cuts too small — the sword point may travel behind you, but the elbow should stay in front of your body throughout the cut.
3. Shoulder Cuts: These are delivered with the sword in one hand (your head gets in the way if your try to deliver a two-handed shoulder cut). The entire sword arm swings in a single arc, as if the sword point is a ball on the end of a string, with your shoulder as the tether — though with more control. A shoulder cut should end with the sword point very low (larga guards), above your heard (guardia alta or posta di donna) or behind the body (eg, with the sword under your arm).
You should be able to demonstrate all eight cutting lines with each type of cut, though some will feel more awkward than others. Work on the proper timing of hand and foot, so that regardless of the type or line of the cut, the blow is delivered as your foot falls. It’s not necessary to demonstrate fancy cutting patterns. However, flowing between all three types of cut is excellent practice and will prepare you for more advanced drills.
This video demonstrates all three cuts, and a flow exercise for practising them:
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Next week: the four thrusts of the sword