The All or Nothing Passata Sotto in Fencing

The Passata Sotto is an “all or nothing” move that attempts to duck under an opponent’s blade and make a single fatal strike. The move is advanced and is considered risky due to the inherent nature of being in an unprotected position. Crouching on the floor leaves little ability to move out of a counter attack or defend ones back from a strike.

“The Passata Sotto (also called Cartoccio) may be applied in all cases against the final thrust of actions directed by means of one or more movements at the outer or high trunk line. Simultaneously with your opponent’s lunge, you duck quickly by putting the left foot as far back as possible and the flat of the left hand on the floor. At the same time, turn your fist to Second Position and direct your point at your adversary’s flank.(1)”

This tactic is quick and generally needs to be practiced over and over to create a lightning speed maneuver. The problem is that it is also an exhausting move to practice and can only be engaged in a few times an hour. As one practices their lunges and strikes they are also learning the skills to complete this type of move. Even in a bout it is possible to only use once for fear the opponent will adapt. 

The general movements:

-Swing left straight back while dropping down on the left leg.
-Simultaneously place left hand on the floor for balance.
-Strike to opponent’s body.

An alternative to this fencing tactic is simply to move into a crouched position on both legs (like duck walk). This will afford the opportunity to recover if you make a mistake but may not go down far enough to have clear enough strike to the opponent’s mid section. You may need to practice both for some time before getting the hang of it. It is naturally that the opponent towers over you.


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