My teaching method is inspired by the School of Maestro Livio Di Rosa of the Circolo Scherma Mestre. His method, with its evolutions, developed in the years seventies and eighties, of the last century, and had been handed down by Maestro Di Rosa to Maestro Rocco Lamastra, then from Maestro Lamastra to Maestro Michele Venturini and, finally, from Maestro Venturini to me.
Actually, even though Maestro Di Rosa was originally from Livorno, his method is widely used throughout north-eastern Italy and, in particular, in the Veneto region and in the Venetian province where there are Masters, still in business, that were pupils and/or colleagues of Maestro Di Rosa himself.
To name but a few who have reached high levels in our profession:
(All of the above mentioned are, also, Olympic medalists).
What was Maestro Livio Di Rosa’s fencing based on ?
First of all he was a sharp observer.
The actions he taught his pupils did not come from the treatises and essays on fencing but from his own observations.
If something went well and worked, he taught it.
He taught to be on guard, and even to walk, differently.
The ‘invitation’ had to be with the tip out so as to force the opponent to widen his movement to look for the blade;
the fist was turned with the nails down, as opposed to other Schools that wanted the fist turned upwards. This made it possible to give greater strenght to the action of the thumb and made it easier to change the direction of the blows of the blade of a foil with anatomical grip.
Tip’s right-of-way was set aside : why give away the blade to the opponent ?
It was the time when the light-machine changed also the way of referee calls.
The angled touches and those on the side, which previously had little or no use, were now in vogue because the device signaled them.
The footwork got faster and the referees began to rely on that to see the start of the attacks.
Regarding the position of the blade one became more free and Maestro Di Rosa taught to widen the feints instead of tightening them : the opponents were forced to follow them, to widen their game, and were no longer able to parry.
He taught walking by first raising the heel, instead of the toe, of the foot positioned in front.
Gone were the days of broad, static guards with the weight shifted back. On the piste foilists fencers began to fly … and exploiting the movement in a different way, like, for example, to attack on the opponent’s advance. Therefore the majority of the touches, and the most beautiful and appreciated ones, were those performed on an attack interrupted due to bad timing, but followed by a good defense and response.
To fence you must be able to provoke and ‘steal’ time, not to suffer it. Whoever knows best how to prepare for this … let’s call it ‘theft” … has a better chance of escaping arrest.
According to Di Rosa, the most important part of his method was the setting. It isn’t easy, however, to do like him : “From day one, children should never be told the things to do. They should not be given the solution to the problem. They have to learn to perceive the situation, to behave accordingly and to verify the accuracy of their behavior”.
Di Rosa supported his pupils in their best attitudes and, by observing them, he continued to learn.
About Fabio Dal Zotto he once said : “he does wonderful things and do you know the funny thing about this ? Nobody taught him to do them, not even me”.
Even if I have not been, directly, one of his students, I can say that much of the fencing I teach comes from Livio Di Rosa and his innovative ideas; I try to carry on that method and those ideas that we could define as “Di Rosa philosofy”.
It is not possible for an athlete to do, equally, what another one does and I always observe children fencing, looking for new inputs and inspiration that will allow us to grow, evolve and build together.