Baton

Baton – 4th scholar

Folio 8 v. d

Translation

Of the sixth remedy master of dagger who counters in this way with his dagger, I am a scholar. And for his honour I make this cover with a baton. And immediately I rise to my feet and make the plays of my master. This that I do with a baton, I could also do with a hood. The counter of my master is also my counter.

Interpretation

Without a doubt, the 4th scholar of baton is the chillest character in the entire Fior di Battaglia. Against a murderous ambush, he has not even bothered to uncross his legs, let alone get to his feet. He does concede though, that he will get up soon and finish his attacker off using his hat.

Underlying such a humorously quaint first glance is the desperate frenzy of someone fighting for their life. More than any other section, the baton plays are very much applied self defence. Although fighting in the lists provides the context for most of Fior di Battaglia, a great genuine risk to the lives of the target audience is assassination attempts. This is clearly one of them playing out in front of us.

The scholar is taken completely by surprise and uses literally anything within reach to jam the attack. An officers baton would be a reasonable object to have on hand, as would a hood. The idea is not to think of it so much as a weapon necessarily, but more as something to keep you alive long enough to get to your feet and gather your wits.

Surprise attacks like this often happen with lots of intent and little finesse. It is ugly, scrappy fighting and often finished in seconds. The cover of the 6th master of dagger is a fast, instinctive movement which can applied at a number of different angles to ward off the multiple frenzied stabs being directed at you. While doing this, get to your feet as quickly as possible.

Your attacker, having lost the advantage of surprise, will also likely lose most of their courage. Despite facing a dagger armed only with whatever you were able to snatch up in an instant, you now hold the initiative. Use it to pursue any advantage with extreme predjudice.

Baton

Baton – 3rd scholar

Folio 8 v. c

Translation

I have taken this play from the eighth remedy master of dagger, and even with this baton I can make my defence. And as I make the cover I stand and the play of my master I can do. And also with a hood or a piece of rope I can do this. The counter of my master is also mine.

Interpretation

The plays of the baton as a collective group all emphasise the self defence aspect of armizare. This is the application of the 8th master of dagger in a ‘street fight’ scenario.

As you sit minding your own business, the player leaps out of nowhere and starts driving home a barrage of sottano stabs with great intent and little technique. As poor as this sounds when written down, it is the basic pattern for a huge proportion of knife fights. Knife fighting is ugly, scrappy and usually over very quickly. If you are stabbed once, you will be stabbed a dozen times.

Despite the huge disadvantage of being taken by surprise, as the 3rd scholar you can still fight your way out of this. Grab your baton, your hood, a length of rope, or literally anything that comes to hand. Jam the attack with the best approximation of posta mezana porta di ferro that you can manage under the circumstances. This is a simple and instinctive defence which is a lot more effective than it sounds.

Leap to your feet as fast as possible, and immediately go on the attack using any opportunity which presents itself. Given your opponent was banking everything on a one hit win, they will probably be taken aback by the fact that you are on your feet and fighting. This will allow you to momentarily regain the advantage. Make the most of it.

Also be aware that your opponent will be trying to sweep your elbow aside, clearing the centreline for them to start stabbing again.

Baton

Baton, 2nd scholar

Folio 8 v. b

Translation

If you were well armoured in this play, as soon as you make your move, I would take a baton between your legs and leave you riding it like a horse. And you can hardly last long before I will turn you over.

Interpretation

Although not drawn as such, the text states that the player here is armoured. The context of this play is a little odd. The use of the short staff implies that this is not so much presented from the context of  a duel, but more as a self defence method against a surprise attack.

It is an interesting choice of defence from such a situation. This is a complex play to perform properly, and requires a degree of set up even to get the opportunity to try it.

The crux of this play is delivering a solid groin strike. Move the players hand to the right. Typically, this is done by sweeping aside an incoming attack, although you can also push it out of the way to give you the space to make an attack of your own.

However you set this up, you should be holding your short staff in the middle with your right hand. Lunge in deep with your right foot and place it directly underneath your opponent. Pivot your left foot behind you until you are at a 45 degree angle to the line of attack. Drop your weight as low as you can, but be sure not to lean forward while doing so. Your back needs to be upright. You drop down low by taking a deep, wide stance. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor. This will leave you perfectly placed to strike.

Lunging deep onto the inside line like this leaves you vulnerable to a counterattack by your opponent. Your entry here relies heavily on taking the initiative through good timing. Keep your left hand up by your face to provide cover against any response your opponent might take.

Aim your right elbow at the opponents groin and pivot the forearm around in a circle, across your body, past your knee and into your opponents groin.

The best response here, really, would be to use the base of your staff as a short, blunt dagger and drive it upwards into your opponents perineum. That would probably be enough to stop the fight regardless of what armour they were wearing, but of course, that is not what the play does.

To finish the play, you actually need to strike with the lower half of your forearm. Hold the baton in the same line as your arm. The reason you need to get in so close and strike so deep is that your hand needs to extend fully past the back of your opponents leg. Once there, roll your hand so the baton makes a crosspiece as shown. Your opponent will reflexively bend forward.

Pivot your hips clockwise, and raise your weight up. Use this motion to strike your left hand into your opponents throat. By opening up your thumb and top two fingers into a pincer, and closing your bottom two fingers as if making a fist, you will have transformed your hand into a claw with a spike in the middle of it.

Push the spike made by the knuckles of your third and fourth fingers into the hollow of your opponents throat. Use the pincer part of your hand to push between your opponents neck muscles and grab at their windpipe. It will feel like a corrugated pipe around 4 cm in diameter. The harder you squeeze it, the more it will pop out into your hand and onto the spike of your knuckles. It is exceedingly dangerous and unpleasant to be on the receiving end of such a grab.

There will be quite a lot of strain on your right hand and shoulder. They are briefly taking the entire weight of your opponent and you want to move quickly. Use the momentum generated by your grab to step right through your opponents space using your left foot. This will push them over backwards, leaving you both in the position shown in the drawing.

Baton

Baton, 1st scholar

Folio 8 v. a

Translation

See how with the baton I will hold you by the neck. And if I want to throw you to the ground, I will have little trouble in doing so. If I want to put you in the strong bind, you will go. And you will not have a counter to this.

Interpretation

Given the position of the two combatants, the scholar has clearly deflected the attack and is now making a counterstrike. A reasonable interpretation of having arrived here is from the defence of the Master of Sword vs Dagger.

As the scholar, make a pass. The hip movement will allow you to use your left hand to jam and control the opponents elbow and in the same movement, deliver a roverso fendente using the baton as a dagger. Aim the point behind the opponents neck and strike the side of the neck with the ulnar edge of the forearm.

This will cause a jarring effect in your opponent, giving you a moment to twist forward with the right hip and slide your left arm up. Grab onto the end of the baton. You have now encased the neck as shown.

Drop your weight down into Dagger Posta Mezza Porta di Ferro Dopia Incrosada. The closer you pull your hands into your own centre of gravity, the more the dagger pushes at the base of the opponents skull, increasing the pressure your wrists apply to the carotid arteries at the front of the neck. It will also cause your opponent to drop to their kees, levering the head back at an untenable angle.

This combined assault on both sides of the neck will probably break it, and at the very least will cause your opponent to rapidly lose consiousness. By then performing a tutta volta and dropping your left knee to the ground, you can easily throw your opponent on their back at your feet.