Pollaxe - Plays

Pollaxe – 6th scholar

Folio 37 r. c

Translation

This play is from the scholar who is before me. I do as he said, and you will fall to the ground dead from the blow to the head which I gave you. And if this blow is not enough for you, I can give you another and can pull you to the ground by the visor. As it is drawn after me, I will do that to you without regret.

Interpretation

As the 5th scholar, you dropped your own weapon and snatched the pollaxe away from your opponent. This has left you standing chambered in posta coda longa, while your opponent stands uncomfortably in front of you looking like a target. You now have the pleasure of finishing them off with the most powerful strike in the entire book.

With no chance of running onto your opponents weapon, you can safely move in false time – that is, step through, grounding your front foot and then striking. This is generally a very unsafe method of attack in armed combat, due to the risk of impaling yourself on your opponents weapon. It is quite safe against an unarmed opponent. It will make your attack slightly faster, and more importantly, you will strike with a tremendous amount more power.

Step forward with your right foot. As the toes land, drive your right hip forward. From posta coda longa, your left elbow will be resting on your hip. Keep it there throughout the strike, pivoting the weapon around that point. Your weight sinks fully onto the front foot at the moment of impact, as shown.

Fiore tells us that your opponent will ‘fall to the ground dead.’ Unusually, this is something of an understatement. If your attack is delivered through an open face plate as depicted, the head will explode like a melon into so much pulp, with the hammer being buried in it. Even through a heavy helmet, such a massive strike will cause catastrophic damage, cracking open the skull and shattering the neck bones. If your opponent tries to block with their arms, you will smash straight through them. This blow is absolutely devastating.

Although Fiore never mentions it anywhere in Fior di Battaglia, there is actually a counter to such a situation, and it is worth being aware of. It is used in a highly asymmetric situation, which is possibly why it is not documented in his book. This counter works where an unarmed defender is being attacked with a fendente style cut.

The defender wants to close in, sliding their right foot across to the attackers. As the cut swings in, they need to reach out, grabbing the weapon just under the attackers hands, matching their grip. Without disrupting the cut at all, they then pivot on the right foot, arcing the left behind them to touch up against the attackers left foot. The aim is for the defender to meld into the attacker as much as possible with their hands, feet and hips.

At the end of the cut, the weapon will naturally move through posta dente di zenghiaro. This position locks firmly to your core on the inside line, and the inside line is now occupied by the defender. The movement will naturally strip the weapon from the attackers hands. The defender can now shift their feet to an appropriate angle and distance to deliver a counter attack with their newly acquired weapon.

In all the excitement of delivering the brutal finishing strike of the 6th scholar, be aware that a quick witted opponent may yet turn this situation against you.