Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 13th scholar

Folio 34 v. d


This is a strong and good grip that the scholar makes against the player. He puts his left foot behind the players left foot and the point of his sword in his face. Also he can throw him the ground by turning to the right.


Although the 13th scholar certainly can follow the master play, it by no means has to. Your opponent is making a direct thrust with a half sword grip. Rather than the typical armizare response of jamming or beating aside the attack, here, your defence relies on a sidestep, and simply not being where the attack is.

As your opponent makes their thrust, swing your left foot across to your right. Raise your sword to Posta di Fenestra and use your left hand to define your edge. You do not block the attack, but just ensure that it has been deflected offline and cannot follow you. As with all deflections, if it has missed by an inch, then it has missed, and it will only expend energy unnecessarily to push it away further.

Once confident you are clear of the attack, lunge in deep with your left foot. You want to get as far behind your opponent as possible. Using this movement, roll your left hand under your opponents left arm to grab onto their right forearm. This is the moment shown.

Pull your left elbow strongly back to your body, locking it against your core. This will jam your opponents arms and pull them off balance, causing them to fall onto you. As you do this, pivot your hips anticlockwise. This will naturally drive the point of your sword into your opponents face as they are being pulled onto it.

To set up the throw, ensure that your left leg is deeply bent with the knee over the toe. Your left thigh should be making contact with theirs at least. The further behind them you can get, the easier the throw will be. Pull your left hand, and by extension their right arm, right up to your rib cage. You are pulling your opponent into your space.

Empty that space by suddenly pivoting 180 degrees on the balls of your feet. Straighten your left leg as you do so, and bend you right instead, shifting your bodyweight from left to right. Your opponent will fall over your left thigh, landing on their right shoulder beneath you. Drop your left knee, pinning them to the ground. Let go with your left hand and use it to secure a half sword grip on your weapon. Stab down hard.

A slight variation on this technique can be seen in the following play.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 12th scholar

Folio 34 v. c


This scholar can not effectively injure the player so he wants to grapple in this way. That is, the scholar puts his sword inside the players right hand. Here you see the scholar enter with his sword to slide his left arm under the right arm of the player to throw him to the ground, or to put him in the lower bind, that is the strong key.


You cannot find an opening in your opponents armour, so using your sword as a cutting or stabbing weapon in this moment is a waste of time and effort. It still, however, makes an excellent tool.

Defend against your opponent using the master play. As your opponent pulls back with their left hand, follow their movement. There is a rocking like sensation as you absorb your opponents initial movement and then follow it back toward them.

At the end of your forward movement, slide the sword point between their right hand and hip, as shown in the picture. You are inserting the point, rather than making an attack. The mechanics will be better if you are closer than depicted, so as not to over extend your arms.

Fiore gives us two options to proceed. Which one you choose depends on your opponents reaction.

If they try to step back with their left foot, follow it with your right. Put the cross bars of your sword over their left shoulder. Anchor your left hand to your left hip and push with your right hip and hand. This will throw your opponent backwards to your left. At the very least, it will tear the sword from their grasp and leave them stumbling to catch their balance. Use all your speed to push home this advantage.

If your opponent pushes forward against you, make a shuffle step to bring your right foot closer and move your left foot next to your opponents right. Using the sword as a guiding rod, slide your left arm behind your opponents right shoulder. Pivot on your left foot, arcing your right foot behind you, so putting your opponent into the lower bind.

You will also see variants of the lower bind in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 11th scholar

Folio 34 v. b


I also say that when a scholar is in the narrow play and sees he can not injure the player with his sword, he should grapple with the sword in this way. That is, the scholar must throw his sword around the neck of the player and must put his foot behind the players left foot and throw him to the right onto the ground.


As a translation note, the last sentence of the transcript says ‘…lo suo pe’ dritto debia metter dredo lo pe’ stancho del zugadore…’ which really translates as ‘…put his right foot behind the players left foot…’ The picture clearly shows the left being used, and also trying to use your right foot to do this makes no sense. I have assumed that when Fiore wrote ‘right foot’, he was having a lapse of concentration. In translating this, I simply left the word out altogether.

The 11th scholar comes from the narrow play when you are in the bind with your opponent, each seeking an advantage. With your right hand raised, move your left foot back and forwards again in a quick arc. You are bringing it outside your opponents left foot and stepping in deep. As your foot lands, push in against your opponent. Drop your sword over your opponents head, with the left hand against their neck. Make sure that your elbows are flared out slightly. You want your arms, your shoulders and your weapon to make a circle. This will give you a lot of stability and flow. The picture shows this moment, and the circle of the arms can be clearly seen.

Put the weight onto your front foot, bending your left knee and straightening your right. Get your hips right up against your opponent, pushing them over.

Spin the circle of your arms up. Catch your opponents hand in the hollow of your left shoulder. You are actually aiming to throw them up and back. Maintaining your circle, tip it over and drop it down in a vertical plane. Your left hand should come to rest just inside your left knee, with your elbow flared out, pointing directly in front of you.

Your opponent will be thrown on their back to your right side. Although elsewhere performed on the left side, you can find slight variations of this same basic throw in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 10th scholar

Folio 34 v. a


This play is also from Posta Vera Croce in such a way. That is, that when the scholar is in that guard and one meets him, that as soon as he can reach the player, the scholar passes off the line and stabs him in the face, as you see it done here.


Conceptually, this play is very similar to the 1st scholar. Where the 1st scholar counters low, however, the 10th scholar counters high.

Once again, you begin by waiting in posta vera crose, inviting an attack from your opponent. For this play, they would most reasonably attack from, or at least transition through, posta serpentino lo soprano, attacking with an overhead thrust.

As described in the master play, slide your right foot across to open your hips. Transfer your weight from your left foot to your right, and drive your hips clockwise as you do so. This transition from a rear to a forward weighted stance gives a lot of power and momentum, allowing you to sweep your sword in a vertical plane across in front of you, clearing away the attack.

A lot of what happens next depends on how the blades cross. If you have crossed their blade close to the hilt, your opponents right hand will collapse slightly and they will turn very slightly clockwise. This allows you a path over their right hand.

Smoothly pivoting around the point where the blades cross, step through with your left foot and raise your right hand, reaching over your opponents weapon as shown. This should flow on from the master play in a single smooth, flowing movement. As your left foot grounds itself, use it to add weight and momentum to push your sword forward onto your opponents face.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 9th scholar

Folio 34 r. d


I also say that the scholar who is before me, who injured the player with the pommel of the sword in his face, could also do as I do. That is, advance with the right foot behind his left, and keep his sword on the players neck so as to throw him on the ground as I do.


This play is very similar to the 8th scholar, and indeed, you can easily finish your opponent with this play as a natural transition from either the 7th or 8th scholars

Having made the master cover, as your opponent recovers their sword, follow it by stepping through with your right foot. Use your sword to push your opponents weapon out of the way, clearing you a space to step into. Get in as close as possible. Ideally, you want the inside of your right thigh pressing against the outside of their left thigh. The closer you are, the easier the throw will be.

As your weight anchors onto your front foot, slide the handle of your sword onto the right side of your opponents neck. If they are half swording their own weapon, you can put your right arm under their elbow so that your forearm is pushing against their chest as shown. This will give you plenty to push against and you can be more confident of your throw. If they have boths hands on their sword handle, you will need to put your right arm over the top of their left, similar to the 8th scholar. Again, you want your forearm to rest against their chest as much as possible.

On a minor artistic detail, you might notice that the sword of the 9th scholar is drawn on the wrong side of the players blade. The position as shown is difficult to get into and requires a lot of cooperation. Your sword is supposed to be pushing your opponents out of the way.

Once in position, drop your weight down so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Pivot your hips clockwise and scoop your right hand around and down to your hip. Your opponent will fall over your thigh landing on their back to your right side.

You will see variations of this same throw in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 8th scholar

Folio r. c


As you can see, the scholar who came before me wounded the player in the face with the cross guard of his sword, and I can readily wound him with the pommel in his face as you see below.


This play can be used either as an alternative to, or a continuation of, the 7th scholar of sword in armour. You have already used the master play to cover your opponents attack and close the distance between you. Take a second step with your right foot to move in to very close range. Cover yourself with your sword as you step through, using it to jam your opponents movement. At this point, you can make the play of the 7th scholar if the opportunity is there. Whether you make that play or not, continue your movement so that the axis of your sword lines straight up at your opponents face, and your right elbow points over their shoulder as shown.

Keeping your elbow still, pivot your hips clockwise and swing your forearm up into your opponents face. It should feel a lot like making an upwardly angled roverso strike with a dagger.

This will cause a great deal of damage against an opponent with an open faced helmet. Even striking against a visor or bevor will, at the very least, disrupt your opponents balance and win you the initiative to make the next move. This play can smoothly transition to the 9th scholar to throw your opponent.

Sword in armour - Plays, Uncategorized

Sword in armour – 7th scholar

Folio 34 r. b


When I come to the guard in the narrow cover, if I cannot wound with a cut, I use the point. If I cannot injure with either of these, I will strike with the cross guards or pommel. This is done according to what I decide. And when I am in the narrow play, and the player believes I want to use the sword, I am going to grapple if it gives me the advantage. And if not, I am going to strike him in the face with the cross guards as I said before.


Having made the master cover, the scholar needs to flow on to another technique. When cutting and stabbing are not options, pommel striking and grapping come under consideration. In the end, the 7th scholar opts for a cross guard strike.

The master cover has swept your opponents sword off to your right side. The very close range and the mechanics of the play mean that it is safe to move in false time. Keep your left hand reasonably still in space and step your right foot past it. As your toes touch the ground, begin the strike with your right hand. It will feel something like you are punching your opponent in the forehead. Pivot the blade around the left hand and make contact as your weight sinks onto your front foot.

There is no need to try and drive this technique through your opponent. Stop the sword at vertical and then transition to something else. Eyes are particulalry vulnerable to stabbing attacks. At the very least, your opponent will be momentarily blinded, allowing you a free shot. In a perfect hit, it is possible to drive the cross guard straight through the eyeball and socket and into the brain, causing your opponent to collapse dead at your feet. Most likely is they will suffer a fractured eye socket and be unable to either see or continue fighting.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 6th scholar

Folio 34 r. a


This play is from the first master of Posta de Vera Croce and Posta Bastardo. That is, when the player thrusts at the scholar, who waits for him in this guard, the scholar immediately passes with cover off the line and thrusts to his face and advances with his left foot outside the players lead foot, as shown, so as to put him on the ground so that the tip of the sword advances beyond the neck.


Having made the master cover from either posta de vera crose or posta di crose bastardo, this play begins very similarly to the 1st scholar. Keeping the point of the sword high and the hilt low, step in deep with your left foot as you make your thrust. Although you certainly could drive the point into your opponents face from here, there may be circumstances at play making that unfeasable. So as the 6th scholar, you make use of another option.

Strike your opponent in the neck with your left wrist. You will be forced to use the radial edge of your wrist from posta de vera crose, and the ulnar edge from posta di crose bastardo. Make it a solid percussive strike. The sword blade should extend under your opponents jaw. If you extend your reach much past a 90 degree bend in the elbow, you will have overextended your structure, making it ineffective and weak. You need to be very close for this to work. Use your left thigh to lift and push the back of your opponents front thigh so as to disrupt their balance.

Having made this strike against the neck and thigh, you will be in the position shown. To complete the throw, exaggerate the movements you have begun. Drop your weight right down so that your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knees are flared out. This will push your opponents leg out from under them as well as making an obstacle for them to fall over. As you do so, keep your right hand locked to your body and pull your left hand around in an anticlockwise direction.

Your opponent will fall backwards over your thigh. Although the application and mechanics are slightly different, the general principle of this throw can be seen in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 5th scholar

Folio 33 v. d


In the lower bind, a strong key, I have held you in such a way that you cannot escape, no matter how strong you are. Trouble and death I can give you. I could write a letter that you could not see. You have no sword, no helmet, small honour and little to celebrate.


The 5th scholar of the sword in armour continues directly from the 4th scholar. The two plays essentially show the start and finish of the same technique.

From the master play, step through with your left foot and roll your opponents sword over to your right. You will land in the position shown by the 1st scholar. Release your left hand from your sword and lunge forward. Slide your hand over your opponents right forearm and then up behind their arm to the back of their shoulder as shown by the 4th scholar.

Pivot on the left foot and arc your right foot around 180 degrees. Use your hips to shove into your opponents space. It is important to be right on top of them. Lock your left elbow tight against your body and lever your opponent down as shown.

To hold your opponent in place long enough to write a letter explaining how bad they are, you will need to keep your hips pressed tight against their body. The closer you can move up to their armpit, the greater your mechanical advantage will be. Your opponents hand should be pressed against their spine, while you push down on their shoulder.

If you look at the master play, 1st scholar, 4th scholar and 5th scholar, they make a nice cartoon strip of entering into narrow play and applying a lower bind. Once achieved, you can stab, strike or hold your opponent as desired.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 4th scholar

Folio 33 v. c


When I saw that there was nothing the sword could do to you, I immediately took this grappling hold. I believe, see and feel that your armour is not worth anything now that I have you in the strong lower bind. In the next picture, I will show you.


Having made the crossing of the master play, your sword and left hand are pointing towards the centreline of your opponent, as shown by the drawing of the 1st scholar. Due to your opponents armour, however, you can see that continuing the attack with your sword will be inneffective.

Step in deep with your left foot. Extend your left hand under your opponents elbow, and reach behind their shoulder. Keep your own sword hand back at your hip out of the way to give the technique some space, as shown in the drawing.

Pivot on your left foot, arcing your right foot around behind you in a clockwise circle. Your left foot should end up level to or slightly behind your opponents right foot. Your hip should be pushing against theirs. Keep your left elbow locked against your hip and lever your opponents shoulder down into a ligadura sottano (lower bind).

There are numerous examples of the lower bind throughout the Fior di Battaglia. You will see it used in the following plays.