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.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 4th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 28 v. a

Translation

From the play before me, and as the scholar said, I put my sword at your neck, and I can easily cut your throat because I feel you do not have a protective collar.

Explanation

Following on from a pommel strike as either the 2nd scholar or the 3rd scholar of narrow play, you now enter this devastating finishing move.

You begin this play on the outside line of your opponent, with their sword safely out of the way to your right. Your own right hand is perfectly placed in front of their face. Keep it as a stable point for a moment and move everything around that.

Turn your wrist, spinning your sword in a horizontal arc around your opponents neck. As you do so, step past your opponent with your right foot. Step with your front foot turned toward your opponent as you do so. Quickly follow with your left foot in a light, fast movement.

Raise your left hand up to your left shoulder. As your left foot lands, your sword should slap with the flat of the blade into your hand. You will be facing the complete opposite direction from where you started. This is the moment depicted in the drawing.

Step back with your right foot, and as you do so, pull your right hand back to your right shoulder. This will pull your opponent backwards off balance and stretch their neck out. Your sword blade should go under their chin, with the flat of the blade just balancing on the corner of their jaw. Their head should be cradled under your chin.

Pivot 180 degrees on the balls of your feet, to end facing the same direction you were facing originally. Your right foot should be forward. As you pivot, roll your wrists down and pull both hands back as tight to your shoulders as you can.

The edge of the blade will roll onto the left carotid artery. Although your arms are locking the head in place, it is the turn of the hips which does all the damage. You are effectively throwing your opponent in a backward twist by the head using a sharp object to grab them. This will sever all the way to the neck bone with dramatic results.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

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

Folio 28 r. d

Translation

This is another pommel strike. And if you are quick, you will doubtless find the face uncovered. This can be done armoured and unarmoured. I have proven that four teeth will be knocked out of the mouth with such a play. And the sword can be wrapped around his neck if you want, as you will be shown in the play after this by the next scholar.

Explanation

In the master play, both combatants have their right foot forward with the blades crossed in the middle. Similar to the 2nd scholar, lunge through with your left foot. At the same time, roll the handle of your sword in an arc under your opponents blade. Use the crossing point of the blades as the centre of the arc. This will provide you with cover as you cross to your opponents outside and enter the narrow play.

When the axis of your sword lines up with your opponents face, drive it forward, aiming just under the base of the nose. This strike works best if you visualise the sword handle as a dagger blade, and strike much as you would with a dagger. The power comes from the right hand, and your left only provides direction.

Fiores comment that four teeth will be knocked out is a very interesting detail. It is a very specific number, especially when coupled with the claim that he has proven this. We know from the books introduction that Fiore fought and won five formal duels. His statement here might imply that this was the play which finished one of them.

With both hands in position, and your momentum already moving to the outside of your opponent, wrapping your sword around their neck is a nice smooth way to continue from here.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 2nd scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 28 r. c

Translation

This is another play that comes from the crossing of my master. And from that crossing I can make this play and the others which follow me here. That is, I can take the player in this way and strike him in the face with the pommel of my sword. Also, I can strike him with a downward cut to the head before he can cover himself.

Explanation

In the play of the 3rd master, both swords were crossed at the mid point of the blade.

Drop your weight down low and step through with the left foot. As you do so, raise your hands to head height. Duck under you opponents blade while turning your own sword so that the handle faces your opponent and the blade extends over your shoulder. Keep the point of the bind stationary, and be sure that everything rotates around that point. This will allow you to safely roll under your opponents blade to the other side.

Keeping your elbow in close to your body, sweep your left hand across to grab your opponents right wrist. You do not need to push their hand. Just ensure that it stays out of the way.

Align your sword to your target. Use the handle of your sword as a heavy dagger, and make a fendente strike straight forward at the base of their nose. If you allow the sword to move off its alignment and swing in an arc, it will dramatically lose speed and power. Take care in all the excitement not to slide the blade of your sword across your own shoulder.

Your opponent will be left either with a savagely broken nose, spitting out a number of teeth, or both. Cut them down at your leisure.