Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 17th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 30 r. d

Translation

From the grip made by the scholar before me, I can feel the sword has fallen to the ground. It is no lie to say that I can injure you greatly.

Interpretation

Having completed the play of the 16th scholar, keep moving so as to not lose any momentum. As your body weight moves forward, put all your weight onto your left foot. Pivot 180 degrees on the ball of your left foot.

As you do so, pull your right foot back, so that your feet are together. You will be facing the same direction as your opponent. Bend your knees and push your left hip under their right, so stealing their centre. With your left arm, try to catch your opponent as high up the forearms as possible, and lock your left elbow down against your ribs with your forearm across your belt.

You should be right underneath your opponent at this stage. Everything momentarily contracts down into your own core. You want to lift your opponents hips up and pull their elbows down into your centre, forcing them off balance. Do not bend over. Make sure you keep your back upright. As you drop your weight, your own sword hand will drop as well. Ensure the handle of your sword crosses the blade of your opponents sword just above the hilt.

This contraction is the crux of the two plays. You will need to practice it slowly, smoothly and often in order to be able to be able to do it at speed with confidence. It is in many ways mechanically the same as a throw, and relies on timing and flow more than strength.

Continuing on, drop your right foot behind you and keep pivoting on the balls of your feet. In total, you will have spun in almost a complete circle, and be facing roughly the same direction you started in. The whole thing has the sensation of spinning through your opponent like a whirlwind, and catching them up in your movement. As you pivot on your feet, scoop your hand down and then up again to posta de fenestra.

Your opponent will have their elbows pinned together and will be swept along as you spin past them. As their arms are locked shut, their hands will tend to pop open. The scoop of your sword will rip their sword from their grasp and fling it dramatically behind you somewhere. You should find yourself more or less as depicted.

Drop the tip of your sword to the pit of your opponents throat and push.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – 16th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 30 r c

Translation

This is the high sword disarm. Keeping hold of my sword I press forward, and with my left hand I shall clasp your arms in such a way that it is better to lose the sword. And I will give you grievous injuries. The scholar who comes after this play shows how the sword of the player is on the ground.

Interpretation

The 16th scholar is not a complete play in itself. It marks a transition point which you must pass through if you want to continue to the disarm of the 17th scholar.

From the master play, roll the handle of your sword in an arc under your opponents blade. As you do so, step through on the outside line with your left foot. Once you are on the outside line, release your grip with your left hand. Your sword should be in a horizontal plane extending behind you.

You could at this point, push with your left hand to finish as the 2nd scholar with a pommel srike. The two plays use the same opening move. Instead, you reach across both of your opponents arms. Do not lock them yet. This is the position shown.

At this stage, you are committed to continue as the 17th scholar. Although you must pass through this point, it is essential that you do not pause or break your flow in any way. The 16th and 17th scholars are completed together in a single smooth movement.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 12th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 v. a

Translation

I continue the play of the scholar who is before me. In this play I use his sword to cut his face, sending him to the ground. I will show you well that this art is true.

Interpretation

A technically difficult play to perform, it is unlikely that this would find regular use in anyones repertoire. Bearing that in mind however, if you can keep it tucked away to be used during a specific combination of opportunity and confidence, its unorthodox nature is likely to catch your opponent quite unawares.

The set up is from the master play, where you were both crossed in a moment of equilibrium. Your opponent has shifted back to a rear weighted stance while attempting to cover their right side. As the 11th scholar, you reached out, catching the tip of their blade with your left hand, while stabbing into their torso with your sword in the right hand. If you are continuing onto the 12th scholar, the stab is optional. You might not have time as you are moving to capture the flow of the moment, your opponent may be wearing body armour, or you may have stabbed and somehow missed.

Whether you stab or not, continue by stepping offline with your left foot and up quite close to your opponents right foot. Keep your knees bent and your weight low as you do so. With a slight natural curve to your arm, raise your left hand above your opponents head. Rather than actively pushing or pulling on the sword, at this stage, you are pivoting the sword around their hands.

Slide your right foot up, bringing your feet together. Your knees are still bent and your right wrist rests against your ribs. Despite the extension of your left hand, all your power is condensed into your core.

Step behind your opponent with your right foot. In a smooth flowing movement, drop your own sword and catch your opponents sword grip between their hands. Keep your left hand still, relative to your body. It will lift the sword over your opponents head and you will briefly transition through the point shown.

Flare your elbows slightly and bend your wrists. You want your shoulders, your arms and the sword to form a circle. As your right foot grounds itself, rotate your circle in a vertical plane, sliding the blade along the side of your opponents face. This will slice their face open from jaw to temple. The resulting pain and shock will cause them to let go of the sword.

Continue rotating your circle, letting your right arm slide past their neck. This will smoothly capture your opponents head in the hollow of your shoulder. At that point, drop your hands down. This tips the whole circle of shoulders arms and sword over and you finish off the circles rotation.

You should finish in a position rather like posta di crose bastardo, except that the right hand should finish just inside your right knee, and your right elbow will still be flared out in front of you, maintaining the all important circle. Your opponent will be lying in their back, bleeding profusely and trying to hold their face together.

You can see slight variations of this same basic throw in the following plays.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 11th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. d

Translation

If he covers the right side, take his sword in this way with your left hand and you can wound him with thrusts and cuts. And if you want, you can cut his face or neck with his sword in the way that is drawn. Also, when I have injured you well, I can abandon my own sword and take yours as the scholar after me shows.

Interpretation

Crossed in the middle of the swords as the 3rd master, your opponent is trying to switch sides, or possibly even disengage altogether. Dropping back with a volta stabile into a rear weighted stance, they use their sword to cover their right side. Before completing this move or properly chambering their weapon, you make your play.

Step though with your left foot. Move quickly so as to close the distance before your opponents structure achieves full stability. Grab the tip of their sword as you step through, and allow the point of your own sword to drop so that it points directly at them as shown.

From here, you are ideally placed to drive your point into their ribs, armpit or face. After your initial thrust hits home, you should have plenty of scope to deliver several more thrusts or cuts so as to finish the fight.

If you would like to continue, you could also shuffle up with your back foot and step behind your opponent with your left foot. Push your hand forward as you do so, causing your opponents blade to slice into their neck or face. As an expansion on this theme, you could also transition to the play of the 12th scholar.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 10th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. c

Translation

If he covers the left side, then take his left hand with your left hand, with all the pommel of his sword, and hang it before you and with thrusts and cuts, you can hurt him well.

Interpretation

A technically simple play, the 10th scholar has a lot in common with the many examples of elbow pushes which can be found thoughout the Fior di Battaglia. Mechanically very similar, it relies more on timing than anything else.

The set up for this play is the 3rd master of the sword in two hands, with both combatants in a moment of balance. You both have your right foot forward and the swords are crossed in the middle.

As your opponent rechambers their weapon to their left shoulder, step through with your left foot. Your foot wants to move at the same speed as their hand. Grab the base of their left hand as well as the pommel with your left hand, catching their momentum and overexaggerating their motion. Push up and forward as you step. Your right hand stays more or less in the same position in space and you step past it. Drop the point, keeping your arm tight against your body. You want a straight line from your hip, along the axis of the sword to your opponent. You will find yourself as pictured.

Your opponent is initially wide open to a sottano stab straight into the solar plexus. After that, they will be incapable of much further action. Be aware that to prevent them making one last counter strike before collapsing, the softness of the abdomen means you can pull the blade back out without it catching on any bony structures. Continue the attack while still jamming their weapon.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 9th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. b

Translation

From the play before, this one is done. As the scholar, I have seriously wounded the player by tying his arms with his sword well bound with my left arm. My sword hits his neck and puts him in this position. If I throw him to the ground, the play is complete.

Interpretation

As the 8th scholar, you have bound your opponent by the arms and struck them multiple times in the head with your sword pommel. In the unlikely event that they are still standing, you can use the play of the 9th scholar to throw them to the ground.

Step forward with your right foot, placing it between your opponents feet. Raise your left hand to your opponents chin and drop your sword blade into it. You should be left half swording your weapon, with the blade parallel to the ground and resting under your opponents chin.

Quickly step your left foot in an arc behind you, so that you spin past your opponents left shoulder. Your arms stay quite still relative to your own body, with the blade sliding around your opponents neck, arriving at the position shown.

In doing so, you will slice a complete circle around your opponents neck. Even if you are pressing on bare flesh while you do this, it is unlikely to do much more than superficial damage, but it will still be exceedingly uncomfortable for them.

Having arrived at the picture point, make a volta stabile without stopping. Lock your left hand against your shoulder and push forward with your right hand as you pivot on the balls of your feet. Your opponent will be thrown backwards by the blade pushing against their throat. They will trip over your right leg and land on their back with both cut and crush injuries to the neck from this play along with whatever you gave them previously.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – 8th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. a

Translation

The scholar who is before me completed the play and now I do what he described. Your arms have been bound in the middle bind. Your sword is imprisoned and it cannot help you. And with mine I can injure you. I can put my sword around your neck without a doubt. And I can do the play that comes after me straight away.

Interpretation

Coming from the master play, you have stepped through with your left foot. Moving on the inside line, you move past your opponents sword and wrap your left arm over both your oppponents arms. The text tells us this play follows the 7th scholar. You could also arrive at this point as a continuation of the 5th scholar.

Be sure to step in very close. As you wrap your opponents arms, chamber your sword for a pommel strike. You will be in the position shown.

Lock your left arm tight to your body to hold your opponents arms. You are perfectly placed to make a series of pommel strikes into your opponents face. These will work best if you think of the handle of your sword as the blade of a dagger which you are using to make a series of fendente strikes. You want the sword to move in a straight line forward and back along the line of the blade. If you swing it in arc, you will rapidly lose power and control of your strikes.

The 7th scholar tells us that you can strike until you are exhausted. In practice, you should be able to deliver between two and five good solid strikes until your momentum runs out and your opponent collapses. This should be more than enough to finish the fight, however, if you choose, you can still continue as the 9th scholar.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 7th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 28 v. d

Translation

When I am crossed, I come to the narrow play. I put the hilt of my sword between your hands and I raise both arms high with my sword. I will throw my left arm over both your hands, and I will wrap both arms with your sword under my left arm. And I will not stop striking you until I am tired. The play that follows me, that the scholar does, is my play and I want to do that next.

Explanation

When the swords are crossed at the middle as the 3rd master, with both combatants having their right foot forward, you are in a momnet of equalibrium. As the 7th scholar, you take the initiative by binding your opponents arms.

Using the flat of your blade, slide your sword down the length of your opponents blade until you hit their crossbars. Using the contact point of the crossbars and the blade as a pivot point, push your hands forward. You want the crossbar of your own sword to go between your opponents hands and underneath their hilt. As you do so, you will need to step through with your back foot. This is the moment shown in the picture.

Be sure to step in as deep as you can into your opponents space. Keeping your elbows in tight, drive your arms straight up. This will lift your opponents sword and hands. With your left hand, let go of your own sword and roll your hand over both your opponents arms. This is a movement from the inside to the outside, in a similar manner to a hooking block.

This will bind your opponents arms under your left arm. Your sword will be chambered to deliver the devastating flow on techniques of the 8th and 9th scholars.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 6th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 28 v. c

Translation

This is the grip that the scholar before me said that I can do. I can hurt you with no trouble. I keep hold of your sword hilt, and thrusts and cuts I will give you cheaply. And this play breaks every disarm of the sword and doing it quickly ruins the narrow play.

Explanation

The mechanics of this very interesting play have a lot in common with making a ligudura mezana (middle bind). The base movement is two consecutive hooking blocks. When making a ligadura mezana, you spiral your hand around your opponents arm. Here, you spiral it around their sword. The biggest difference between the two techniques is context.

As the scholar tells us, the action for this play starts with the previous play. As the 5th scholar, you have stepped through with your left foot and made a hooking block with your left hand. Continue the motion, rolling over the top of your opponents hands and trapping the blade under your armpit. You will need to move fast and smoothly, to prevent your opponent stepping back and sliding the length of the blade along either your inner arm or ribcage.

Using a second hooking block, roll your forearm under the blade and grab the crossbar of your opponents sword. You have now pinned their sword as shown. With no means to defend themselves, you opponent is open to any cuts or thrusts you choose to make.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – 5th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 28 v. b

Translation

When I am crossed, I pass with a cover and boldly sweep both your arms like this. And I put this thrust in your face. And if I advance my left foot, I can bind both your arms. Or else, in the next play that comes after me I grab you, that is, I bind you at the sword and hold the hilt.

Explanation

In this play, you find yourseld in the same position as the 3rd scholar of sword in one hand, although you arrive here by a different path.

From the master play, which leaves you both crossed in the middle with the right foot forward, step through with your left foot to close with your opponent. As you step, make a hooking block with your left hand. Move your forearm in a tight arc which sweeps across the front of your body, leading with the thumb. As you make contact with your opponents right wrist, your hand is ready to roll your hand over into a grab. Simultaneously raise your right hand into posta fenestra . This is the position shown.

Having arrived at this point, Fiore gives us three options.

Firstly, you can hold your arms reasonably still and pivot your hips anticlockwise. As you complete the grab on your opponents right hand, this will simultaneously pull their sword off to your left and drive the point of your own sword into their face.

Secondly, by making a quick shuffle step, moving your back foot then your front, you can step to the outside of your opponent. As you do so, spiral your left arm from the inside, over the top of your opponents elbow, and then lock your arm close to your body. It will feel like making the start of a middle bind in the way it slides over the arm. You will find yourself in a very similar situation as the 8th scholar of the 3rd master of sword in two hands, except that your sword point will be facing forward.

Thirdly, you can progress to the 6th scholar.