Abrazare Drills


I’ve been working alot on the abrazare material lately.  Not having any actual wrestling or Judo background, nay not any grappling background whatsoever, it’s been a challenge for me.

That said, it’s also been a path to discovery.  While a Judoka could likely tear me apart in seconds, it’s useful to remember Fiore’s Art is a means to an end – not wrestling for its own sake, but rather as a way to get to a dominant position to hit the opponent with something hard and/or pointy.  In that light, I’m fairly comfortable with what we’ve been developing.

One problem with Fiore’s abrazare, with his whole Art in fact, is it leaves alot for granted.  No mention is made of how to enter, from which holds, what throws are being deployed, etc.  It shows a buncch of counters and some guards that conceptualise the various body positions and arm configurations.  This is good, since using the principles outlined in the manuscript, we can do anything.  It’s also alot of work trying to reconstruct something of worth.  I’ll give the German systems that much, it’s pretty much “martial arts for dummies.”  Put this foot here, that arm there…  Wish I had that luxury.  Hats off to our German friends for their thoroughness!

How then, do we reconstruct a system?  Well, we look at the plays and try to see what holds and takedowns are implied in the plays.  Note I said takedowns.  Since this is a unified martial art, and trying to throw someone is harness is likely a bad idea, then we use takedowns.  The difference?  Takedowns take you down to the ground, throws send you flying through the air.

So, looking at the plays, and without getting into a huge discussion of where I got all this from, I found several key, core takedowns.  Some of them are universal in their application across different martial arts.  Others not so much.  All of them utilise basic mechanical principles and fundamental teachings of Fiore’s manuscript.  I have classified them according to the relative body position vis-a-vis your opponent (heretofore called the “companion”).

Using this, we get: a rear leg takedown (a la gambarola) or tripping, an inside takedown (leading leg inside the Companion’s leading leg), an outside takedown (leading leg outside the Companion’s leading leg), a reverse takedown (both Companion and Player facing in the same direction, leg behind the Companion), a hip throw or cross-buttock throw/takedown and a shoulder takedown.  Add to these the four ligadura: upper, lower, middle and armbar takedowns and we have a core system for training apprentices and for building upon.  These are the building blocks for our core curriculum.

Add to these methods for breaking grips, holds derived from the poste (neck and elbow/wrist, over/under arm, double neck, double collar, etc.) and methods for entering from out of measure (strikes, pulling, pushing) and from within measure or from the grips (breaking structure, using the poste and ligadura to gain an entry) and the all-important admonition to exploit the movement of the Companion and not try to throw a well-planted, sationary individual, and we have a system.  It’s taken some time for me to get here, but I’m finally happy with what we’ve got.

At least until somebody shows me something cooler.

Here are a few drills to play with.  Video should be forthcoming.

Set Play Flow Drills

The following drills form part of the syllabus core, and demonstrate principles and techniques typical of Fiore’s system. If practised in the proper manner, they teach technique, balance, and fluidity as well as techniques and counters. These drills should be practised in discreet steps – first perform step 1 several times (we recommend 5), then do step 2 several times, then step 3, etc.

Abrazare drill #1

  1. The Player steps in to perform gambarola (rear leg takedown) from out of measure or from a hold (dente di zenghiar).
  2. The Companion steps back, checks arm and applies 1st-2nd master of abrazare, applying an arm bar takedown (counter to posta longa using dente di zenghiar to porta di ferro).
  3. The Player collapses measure to save his arm, moving in for a body hold and an outside takedown (counter to dente di zenghiar using posta frontale).
  4. The Companion applies the fourth play of abrazare – neck crank/spine lock/belt lock (using a combination of porta di ferro and posta longa in the extension of the arm).

From step 4 above, the Player could use an elbow push against the neck crank, step through and go for a gambarola again, resetting the action to step #1.

Abrazare Drill #2

  1. The Player steps in to apply gambarola from out of measure or from a hold. (dente di zenghiar)
  2. The Companion counters the gambarola with a gambarola of his own (following the advice given in the play).
  3. The Player reverses his grip, repositioning his feet (almost as if the first gambarola were a feint), picks up the Companion’s left leg and reverses the throw, deploying posta longa along the Companion’s throat/chest (third play of abrazare.)
  4. Companion applies remedy master of abrazare to the outstretched arm, gaining an arm bar takedown (dente di zenghiar counter to posta longa).

If we want to take this drill further, from step #4, we find ourselves in position for step #3 of drill #1, and can continue our play from this point, extending the exercise.