Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 14th scholar – Narrow play

Folio 30 r. a

Translation

If I am crossed in narrow play, I immediately do this hold because neither with sword disarm nor bind can he retaliate. Also I can injure him with thrusts and cuts without any danger to myself.

Interpretation

This is a fun and interesting way to jam your opponents weapon. Although the application is very different, there are similar principles at play here as you see in the 1st scholar of the 3rd master.

The set up for this play requires quite a strong beat at the master play which precedes it. From the crossing of the swords, you want to hit your opponents sword hard enough that it angles off to your left. You are going to exaggerate this movement.

With your left hand, make a hooking block under your opponents right wrist. This is a technique Fiore frequently uses, most notably throughout the plays of the 1st master of dagger. Lead with your left thumb under handle of your opponents sword and onto the inside of their forearm.

Immediately you make contact, roll your wrist over and grab onto the forearm. Step through with your left foot as you do so, and pull the elbow in close, locking it to your core. The turn of the wrist, coupled with the leverage of your forearm will force your opponents blade right over, as the picture shows.

While all the action is focused on the left hand, bring your right hand back to lock against your ribs. Your right hip is chambered for an attack. The sword blade effectively extends directly from your core. Use your wrist to target the point. As your left hand pulls back, your right hip pushes forward, driving the blade through your opponent.

A slight variation of this play can be seen in the following

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 2nd counter to the 13th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 v. d

Translation

I am also a counter to the scholar who wants to do the dagger play, that is, the play which is two plays before me. If I slice his neck a little he rises up. And then I can throw him to the ground quickly if I want to.

Interpretation

This very interesting play begins in the same manner as the 1st counter to the 13th scholar, but transitions into this mid way through. From the crossing of the 3rd master, your opponent has made the play of the 13th scholar. With their left hand, they have scooped up, making a hooking block under your sword handle and over your right forearm, and then stepped into you, intent on making a middle bind. As described by the 1st counter, as they move their hand into position, lunge your right foot deep to their outside. Place your right hand behind their left shoulder. Make sure your hips are as close as possible to your opponent. Keep your weight low. Cover with your left hand as you move in. Grab the sword with your left hand, pivot on the balls of your feet and go to lever your opponent down as described by the 1st counter.

For some reason, the bind does not work. Usually this is some combination of you either not being close enough, or your timing being slightly off. Regardless of the cause, your opponent is recovering, and trying to push back against your hand. Rather than turning this into a force on force struggle, simply go with their momentum and exaggerate it.

Pivot back to face your original direction again, and as you do so, slide the blade under the corner of their left jaw. This will encourage them to move up and back even further. This is the point shown in the picture.

Drop your right hand and raise your left, sweeping your blade across in front of you. Although the context is completely different, the movement is essentially the same as shown by the master of sword in armour.  You are sweeping the blade from posta vera croce to posta breve la serpentina.

Your opponent will fall backwards over your right leg in a tangled heap with a cut to their neck and a seriously torn shoulder. You will need to step though with your left foot to maintain your own stability and not become twisted up. The bind means they will pull  heavily on your right arm as they fall. Take care not to be pulled down on top of them.

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 – 1st counter to the 13th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 v. c

Translation

I am the counter, and I do the counter to the scholar before me. He wants to make a dagger play, that is, the second play after the first remedy master. If you remain on your feet with your sword, I will not believe it.

Interpretation

From the play of the 3rd master, your opponent has cut their left hand up between your right forearm and the sword handle, as shown by the 13th scholar. They are attempting to put you into a middle bind. Fiore says this is a dagger play, which it is, but the best example of this bind using swords is the 4th scholar of sword in one hand.

Lunge forward and to the side with your right foot to the outside of your opponent. Place your right hand and the sword against the back of your opponents shoulder. As you do this, pivot 180 degrees on the balls of your feet and pull your left foot towards you a little. Make sure that your hips are pushed up next to your opponent. Lean your weight forward onto your left foot. Their left hand will be twisted behind their back in a lower bind.

Grab your sword with your left hand. Push against the back of your opponents left shoulder with your right hand. Use your left hand to add power and leverage, bending your opponent over and tightly binding their arm, as the picture shows.

Keep pushing down with your left hand to ensure your opponent remains head down and immobile. You can easily control the level of pain inflicted by raising or lowering your right elbow.

Fiore often uses the lower bind. You can see other examples and variants of this lock in the following plays.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 13th scholar of the 3rd master – narrow play

Folio 29 v. b

Translation

This play is taken from the play of the dagger. That is, the first dagger remedy master puts his left hand under the dagger to strip the dagger from the hand. In the same way, this scholar puts his left hand under the right hand of the player to take the sword from his hand. Or, he can put it in the middle bind as shown two plays after the first dagger remedy master previously mentioned. And that bind is done by this scholar.

Interpretation

Although presented as a large number of individual plays, armizare is more realistically seen as a collection of principles which can be applied with different weapons and under slightly different circumstances. This is an excellent example of the cross referenced nature of armizare. Fiore makes it very plain that you are applying a dagger play in the context of a double handed sword.

From the crossing of the 3rd master, push your left hip forward and let go of the sword with your left hand. Keep your fingers together, but extended, and your thumb tucked in. With your hand in a vertical plane, tip your fingers down slightly, ensuring a straight line from the mid knuckle of your thumb, along the back of the hand, and down the forearm.

Use the pivot of your hips to slice your left hand up and forward. Step through with your left foot as you do so. Your hand should slide through the gap between your opponents right hand and the sword handle. Keep your fingers together and your thumbs tucked in , or they will catch, tangle, and potentially break on something on the way through. Contact your opponent with the top of your wrist. To find the target, your hand needs to move in a straight line, inserting itself in place.

Use the twist and step to bring your right hand up to posta di fenestra. This is the moment pictured.

One way to continue is to roll the fingers of your left hand up and over your opponents forearm. Grab the wrist and pull your elbow back to your core, rolling your hand in an anticlockwise spiral as you bring it in. Turn your hips back as you do so. With your forearm levering on the sword hilt, the blade will tip to the outside line, while also pulling your opponent off balance.

You already have your sword pointed directly at your opponents face. This will give a clear path to push it into them as they fall forward.

A second way to continue is to roll the fingers of your left hand over your opponents forearm and , while maintaining contact, slide it past the crook of your opponents elbow. You will need to move in very close for this to work. While you might do it in a single lunge, it is easier to make a shuffle step to close in from the picture point of the 13th scholar. Although Fiore cites this as being the play of the 1st scholar of the 1st master of dagger, due to the weapons involved, a better indicator of what this look like is the 4th scholar of sword in one hand.

Lock your left hand around your opponents upper arm, just above the elbow. Pull your elbow back to your core to rest against your body. At the same time, wove your hand in an anticlockwise circle until it rests in front of you at shoulder height.

This will lock your opponent up, twisting them off balance and causing them to drop their sword. There will be ample opportunity for you to stab or strike at will.

The initial play can also seen in the following

The continuation onto the bind can be seen  in the following

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.