Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – Counter to the 7th master

Folio 17 r. b

Translation

This is the counter of the seventh remedy master who is before me, that I do with a push to his right elbow. Also I say that this counter is good for every narrow play of dagger, and of pollaxe, and the sword either in armour or unarmoured. And when I push the elbow, I quickly strike him in the shoulder.

Interpretation

Having made a fendente attack against your opponent, they have jammed your attack using a high posta mezza porta di ferro dopia incrosada as described by the 7th master of dagger. Your opponent has a number of different options to move onto from here. Most of them will involve moving their right hand further across their body to free it up for a counter strike, and all of them start with an exposed elbow.

Take advantage of this by reaching out with your left hand and placing it on your opponents right elbow as shown. Use this as a place marker while you step through with your left foot. As your foot anchors onto the ground, shove the elbow away, turning your opponent and leaving them open to a second attack either on their back or right side.

The elbow push is by far the most commonly depicted play in the Fior di Battaglia. If the many examples do not make the point, here Fiore tells us very explicitly that this cover works in all narrow plays with all weapons with any or no armour. It is the universal counter which is central to the style of armizare.

Other examples of the elbow push can be seen in the following plays.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 7th master

Folio 17 r. a

Translation

I am the seventh master that plays with the arms crossed, and this cover is better in armour than unarmoured. What I can do with this cover are the plays before me, namely the middle bind which is the third play of the first remedy master of dagger. Also I can turn you by pushing your right elbow with my left hand. And I can strike you in the head or the shoulders immediately. And this cover is better to bind than to do anything else, and is a very strong cover against the dagger.

Interpretation

The 7th master makes the cover of a high posta mezza porta di ferro dopia incrosada. This is a very strong cover, although the mechanics of the posta limit its reach. You are going to be very close to your opponent.

Due to the very short distance, such close range fighting moves extremely fast. Many people find it overwhelming. Although it comes with many dangers, if you are practiced at fighting in extreme close range, you can quickly gain and exploit any number of opportunities and advantages.

Having jammed the attack, keep pushing forward into your opponent. Let go of the dagger with the left hand. You are perfectly placed to grab your opponents wrist. This transitions you to the cover of the 1st master of dagger. From there, you can progress to any of the plays of the 1st masters scholars. The close range means you can easily bind your opponent. In particular, Fiore recommends the middle bind as shown by the 1st scholar of the 1st master. You can also use the high bind as shown by the 5th scholar of the 1st master.

Alternatively, you can slide your left hand down to your opponents right elbow and push through them. This will turn them, exposing their back and right side.

Your right hand is chambered to deliver a strike. With your right elbow pointing at your opponents face, you can pivot your forearm across the full range of fendente attacks. This gives you the ability to instantly strike through any gap which appears from the height of your opponents right elbow, all the way across the top of their body to their left elbow. Move quickly and take advantage of this.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 6th scholar of the 6th master

Folio 16 v. d

Translation

Although I am placed after the counter of the 6th play, I reasonably go before him, beacause I am his scholar and this play belongs to the 6th remedy master. And it is better to do this play in armour than unarmoured, but I will strike him in the hand because in that place he cannot be well armoured. Although if he was unarmoured, I would try to wound him in the face or chest, or in some other place that presented itself.

Interpretation

A detail I enjoy about this play is that the opening line explains a transcription error. This play is drawn in the wrong place, but given it it the last one drawn on a double sided page, it is easier just to acknowledge the mistake and keep going rather than start the whole thing again.

The play itself is beautifully simple. All of the plays of the 6th master explore defence from posta mezana porta di ferro. As your opponent delivers a fendente stab, simply turn your arms and deflect the incoming blade with the top of your left wrist. The point of your dagger will naturally stop below your opponents right wrist, and with the momentum of their attack, they will impale themselves on it.

Fiore tells us that this is especially good against an armoured opponent due to the inherent difficulty of armouring the wrist. Ever practical, he also tells us that if you see a better option, then do that instead. Although it is not shown in any play, the 8th master of dagger tells us that a similar defence can be made against a sottano attack.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – Counter to the 6th master

Folio 16 v. c

Translation

I do the counter to the sixth remedy master of dagger. Pushing your elbow, I will make your body turn and then I can strike you. Because with this push that I quickly do, I can do many defences of the narrow play. And more than anything, it is a counter to the holds of the narrow play.

Explanation

When your attack is defended by the cover of the 6th master, Fiores advice is to counter it with an elbow push. The action of the master and all the scholars are especially open to this kind of counter. At the moment of the master cover, your opponent will be extending their arms quite high to cover against the dagger. This leaves the arms disconnected from their core.

The strength of the 6th master is all vertical. You will not be able to force your way through the block. However, it has no lateral strength, so you can easily push it off to the side, as shown.

Maintain contact with the elbow using your left hand to push and keep your opponent off to the right. This will easily give you enough room to make a second strike over your left arm. This simple technique is the most commonly represented play in the Fior di Battaglia. You will also see examples of the elbow push in the following plays.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 5th scholar of the 6th master

Folio 16 v. b

Translation

Not abandoning the cover of the sixth master, I do this turn. Your right hand will lose the dagger, and you see that it is reversed. My dagger will hurt you now, and your dagger will be lost to you. Also I can turn with the left arm and put you in the lower bind so making things hard for you.

Explanation

Against a fendente stab, you defend yourself with the cover of the 6th master using Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro.

Keeping your right hand still, pivot your left hand with the point of your dagger in an arc across the front of and then above your opponents hand. At the end of the movement, drop the point a little and raise your right hand, pushing it in towards your opponent. This is all quite a soft movement with your hands rolling over in a set of circles in a motion similar to pedalling a bicycle.

The first roll with the left hand will turn your opponents dagger inward and so far around that it starts to point towards them. Unless they have uncommonly flexible wrists, it will strip the dagger from their hands at this point. The movement of the right hand completes the action. This is the point shown in the picture.

Let go of the dagger tip with your left hand. Extend your right hand straight forward and push your dagger into your opponents face, throat or chest.

Alternatively, as you let go of your dagger tip, lunge forward with your left foot. Make it land behind your opponents front foot. At the same time, slide your left hand through your opponents arm, under their armpit, and onto the back of their shoulder.

Pivot your right foot around behind you. Push your hips up against your opponent, and locking your left elbow against your own body, lever them down into a lower bind. Push your dagger through the side of their neck, or into their temple.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters, Uncategorized

Dagger – 4th scholar of the 6th master

Folio 16 v. a

Translation

From the cover of my master, I made this hold. Armoured and unarmoured I can strike you. And also I can put you in the upper bind of the first scholar of the fourth remedy master of dagger.

Explanation

This play is functionally identical to the 1st scholar of the 6th master, although there are some subtle differences. Primarily, where the 1st scholar steps in close, the 4th scholar delivers the counter attack from where the cover is made.

Against a fendente attack, make the cover of the 6th master. You will find yourself in a high Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro. As you make contact and cover the attack, raise your right hand slightly and roll your hands to the inside line.

Your left hand slides to the attackers dagger hand and grips the wrist. Fiore shows the grip with the thumb up. This works fine for this play, however, if you want to transition to an upper bind as suggested, it will work better if you slide your hand under the wrist and grab with the thumb down. In dong so, you would have made the cover of the 1st master.

As you grab the wrist, roll your right hand back to chamber on your ribs, and then stab straight forward into your opponents solar plexus.

The scholar also tells us you can transition into the soprano ligadura – the upper bind. To do this, you need to grab the opponents dagger hand with your thumb down as explained above. Either before or after stabbing your opponent, drop your dagger. Reach behind your opponents right hand, and grab the whole hand, inluding the dagger, just like the 1st scholar of the 4th master. Cut straight down behind your opponents spine, causing them to fall down and back.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 3rd scholar of the 6th master

Folio 16 r. d

Translation

I have not abandoned the cover of the sixth master of dagger. I have turned my left arm over your right. And moving my right foot with the left arm I have turned myself to the outside. You are half bound and you must admit, you quickly lost your dagger. And I make this play so quickly that I have no fear or doubts.

Exaplanation

You have defended yourself as the 6th master against a dagger strike. This play then continues on to perform the five things you should do against an opponent.

You must make the transition from the master play to the 3rd scholar as smoothly as possible. You are aiming to catch and redirect the energy of their attack rather than stop it altogether.

The instant you make contact as the master, drop your right hand slightly and lunge forward with your front foot behind and to the outside of your opponents right foot. This will drop your weight a little, redirecting the attack to the inside line.

Spin your right foot behind you in an arc. Drop your right hand down to your hip and spiral your left hand over your opponents wrist and then down as well. Push your hips into and just under your opponents. There is a lot going on here and it needs to happen in a single motion. You will need to practice this movement often to make it smooth. This is the crux of the play where you steal your opponents centre.

You should be left in the position depicted. You will be in a solid stance, leaning forward, but with a straight back. Your hands will be holding the dagger in the same grip as when they started, with the dagger itself resting comfortably in close to you centre of gravity. If you were to stand up straight without moving your legs from here, you would be in Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro.

Your opponents right arm will be pinned between your left arm and your body, with the blade of their dagger projecting harmlessly away from you. Your opponent will be twisted uncomfortable over, trying to regain their balance.

From here, you can let go of your own dagger with your right hand, and strip the dagger from your opponent. While doing this, you need to either walk forward or continue turning in a clockwise direction. Your opponent is not completely bound and will be trying to twist free. You need to keep as close as possible to them and push their hand up their spine to complete the lock.

With your newly acquired dagger, stab your opponent in the neck or right armpit.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters, Uncategorized

Dagger – 2nd scholar of the 6th master

Folio 16 r. c

Translation

This turn was made from the cover of the sixth master of dagger, and I have placed myself to quickly strike you. And even if you were armoured, I would care little, because I would push this dagger into your face, although here I have put it in the chest because you are not armoured, and do not know close plays.

Explanation

Block any overhead dagger attack using Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro. To continue as the 2nd scholar, you need to crowd right on top of your opponent. Your intended counter attack only has a very short range. In many ways, it can be considered an exchange of thrusts in miniature.

As soon as you complete the block shown in the master play, shuffle your back foot up. Much of the power of the block derives from the anchor of the back foot, so moving it will release the block to some extent.

As your back foot moves up, drop your right elbow to lock onto your right hip. Turn your hips clockwise. Keep the forearm facing forward. Roll the left hand over the top, so that your two hands define the vertical plane which is your right edge. This will turn your opponent slightly. Step your left foot forward so that it is behind your opponents front foot.

With an anticlockwise twist of your hips, transfer your weight onto your front foot and push into your opponent as shown in the picture. Use the twist to drive your dagger into your opponents centreline.

Aiming for the solar plexus will be the shortest and easiest attack, as your dagger tip should naturally roll there anyway. You may have to target your opponents face, throat or armpit, depending on their armour. Only do it if you must. The lower you strike, the faster and more powerful your attack will be.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 1st scholar of the 6th Master

Folio 16 r. b

Translation

I have made the cover of the sixth remedy master of dagger that comes before me. And immediately with this grip I can wound you. And I will take the dagger, because of the way I hold my left hand. Also I can put you into the middle bind, which is the third play of the first remedy master of dagger. Also there are other plays I can do without abandoning my dagger.

Explanation

As the 6th Master of Dagger, you have blocked an attack using Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro. To continue as the 1st scholar, move your right hand slightly up and forward, allowing your left hand to slide under your opponents right wrist. Roll your left hand over into a grab, so making the cover of the 1st Master. Bring your right hand around in a tight arc to rest in front of your centre of gravity, with the blade extending straight forward.

This is all done as a single smooth movement. From here you can make any of the plays of the 1st Master, including stepping forward to perform a middle bind.

Pull your left hand back to rest on your ribs. As you pull it back, firmly twist your hand over so it is palm up. This will twist your opponents dagger out of harms way to your left, probably causing them to drop it. The twist will also pull your opponent off balance and drive them onto your dagger blade.

As you pull back with your arm, turn your hips anticlockwise. Your own dagger is anchored to your right hip. There should be no need to extend it. It will naturally push straight through your opponents abdomen.

If your opponent is armoured, you will need to direct your dagger to a less protected target. An easily available place to look would be under the right armpit. Although the angles will change, the mechanics are exactly the same. Anchor your own blade to your body, and pull your opponent onto it.

Dagger - 6th and 7th Masters

Dagger – 6th Master

Folio 16 r. a

Translation

I am the 6th Master, and I say that this cover is fine in armour and without armour. And with this cover I can cover in every direction and enter in all binds and grips and finish with a strike, and my scholars who come after, all end up striking. And each of my scholars can do this cover, and they show the plays that continue from here.

Explanation

The 6th Master enters the play from Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro. Although shown defending against an overhead attack, by arcing your arms around in front of your body, you can see that the same defence will work in any direction. The attacking dagger is also kept at arms length, making it safe to do without armour.

The 6th Master has a lot in common with the Dagger 2nd Master. It is in many ways the same technique, but performed at a greater distance. Again, you are not so much blocking your opponents dagger as attacking their hand.

From Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro, keep your elbows at your hips, but raise your forearms. When your forearms line up with your opponents attack, drop your weight onto your front foot, keep your hips square, and drive both arms forward in a straight line. Keep the dagger horizontal.

The sooner you can strike, the better this will work. Ideally, you are aiming for the base of the hand. If you hit it hard enough, it will pop the hand open, causing your opponent to drop their weapon. Your priority, of course, is getting under the dagger tip, so in practice you may end up striking as low as the mid forearm.

You should end up in a very rectangular structure. The dagger, your shoulders and your hips should make a series of parallel lines facing perpendicular to the attack. It will have the sensation of momentarily pushing against a heavy load.

From here, you will be able to enter the plays of the scholars.