Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 11th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 v. d

Translation

The scholar who is before me beat the sword of the player to the ground, and I complete his play in this way. Beating his sword to the ground, I forcefully put my right foot over his sword. I can break it, or bend it in such a way that he will no longer be able to use it. And this is not enough for me, for as soon as I place my foot on his sword, I use the false blade of my sword to strike with intent under his beard into his neck. And immediately I go back with a downward cut of my sword for the arms or the hands, as drawn.

Interpretation

This play is a variation on the 10th scholar of the 2nd master. From the crossing of the master play, beat your opponents sword to the ground as the 10th scholar describes, clearing a space for you to enter into your opponent.

Step through with your right foot, except here, place it on your opponents blade. Use the ball of your foot to ensure the blade is tipped slightly. Then with the sole of your foot safely on the flat of the blade, put your weight down, landing in posta dente di zenghiaro.

This will cause the sword to either bend, snap, be levered from your opponents grasp, or some combination of all of those things. The sudden leverage will also tend to tip your opponent forward slightly, exposing their head.

With a fast double cut action, strike up with the false blade into the neck, then down again onto the hands. This ostensibly easy movement is worth exploring in some detail.

Because your right foot is holding down your opponents sword, your own feet are pretty much stuck in place holding it there. You cannot effectively pivot on your right foot to change your angle, nor can you lunge forward without releasing your hold. As it happens, your distancing should be excellent, but just bear in mind you have a second or two of relative immobility.

As you start from posta dente di zenghiaro, your elbows should be lightly resting against your ribs, making a soft, yet firm, connection to your core. Do not move them throughout the cut.

Bend your knees, drop your weight down, and throw your left hip forward. Although the ball of your foot maintains your grounding, lift the heel off the ground to get some extra distance and power. The ball of your foot, your heel, your knee and your hip should all be aligned, pointing directly at your opponent. This will drive your hip forward around 30 cm and solidly ground your technique. Keep the elbows touching your ribs and bound to your core, acting like the pivot point of a pendulum. Keep the forearms and wrists relaxed, and allow the momentum to fling the blade upwards into your opponents neck. This is a very fast, very tight attack.

Even tipped forward as they are, you are going to have a small target. You are aiming to put the blade over their shoulder, but under the chin. Specifically, you want to hit the carotod artery just under the corner of the jaw. If this is unprotected, such a strike will cause your opponent to dramatically spray blood everywhere and be dead within a couple of seconds. Even if they have neck protection, such percussive force to such a vital area will be seriously compromising.

Your hips are now fully loaded to make the same movement in reverse. Pull your left hip back, and with the elbows still touching your body, use your forearms to throw the sword down, aiming for your opponents wrist, just at the base of the thumb.

This is a short cut. The distance from neck to wrist is only around 60 cm, so it is not like you are going to cut the hand off. Be sure to keep your forearms relaxed, and drive this second attack with the force of your hips. It will certainly be enough to cut deep into the bone and damage the arm beyond use.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 10th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 v. c

Translation

This is another defence that can be done against a thrust, namely, when attacked with a thrust as I told you in the Exchange of Thrusts which is two plays before me, step forward and pass off the line. Do the same thing in this play except that in the Exchange of Thrusts you thrust  with the arms low and with point of the sword high, as I said before. But this is called ‘Breaking the Thrust,’ in that the scholar goes with the arms high and gives a downward blow while stepping forward off the line, crossing the thrust in the middle of the sword and beating it to the ground. And immediately comes to the close.

Interpretation

Breaking the thrust is a fundamental concept to have to understand in Fiores work. Although the name suggests it is only practiced against thrusts, it can be equally applied against a strike or even an extended guard. You are using this to clear a path for yourself so as to enter from wide to narrow play.

In the master play, you have moved to posta frontale so as to cross your opponents sword in the middle. Continue this movement in a diagonal cut. Do this assertively, so as to live up to the name of the play. You are there to break the attack, throwing your opponents weapon down and to your left.

With the space cleared, step through with your right foot. This will add weight and strength to your delivery, as well as moving you to the range of narrow play. You should land in a slightly extended variant of posta dente di zenghiaro as shown in the picture.

Other examples of breaking the thrust, as well as clear examples of potential ways to follow on can be seen in the following plays.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 9th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Translation

This play comes from ‘exchange of thrusts’ which is before me. Immediately that the scholar who is before me does not put his thrust into the face or chest of the player, because perhaps it was that the player was armoured, the scholar should pass forward with the left foot and in this way he should take the players sword and he can then injure well with his own sword because the players sword is taken and he cannot escape.

Interpretation

The general theme of armizare as a broad rule is to rapidly close the gap from the point of contact to narrow play and finish the fight from there. This should ideally happen in two passes with the feet. The 9th scholar is a great example of the end point of this chain of events.

From wide play, you have first made contact with your opponent as the 2nd master of sword in two hands. At this point, you can still safely back out, but sensing an advantage, you have made the play of the 8th scholar of the 2nd master, stepping through your opponents defensive shell to deliver a thrust at them. The 9th scholar then takes a second step to grappling range so as to finish them off.

The play of the 8th scholar has failed to deliver a finishing blow, due to your opponents armour or clothing either deflecting or absorbing the damage. From the thrust, the point of your sword was high, but your elbows were anchored to your body and your hands held low. Keep your hands in this position as you step through and off to the side with your left foot. With your sword locked to your core like this, use the strength of your step to push the opponents blade, clearing a space for you to step into.

This will lever your opponents blade off to your left. Once the momentum of this move is assured, let go with your left hand and reach over the top. Grab your opponents sword hilt between their hands and twist it outward to emphasis this disruption, as shown in the picture.

If you need to, you can pivot on your left foot, arcing your right foot around behind you to an appropriate angle and distance. The further you pivot, the closer you will end up. As your right foot anchors onto the ground, use it to slide your sword between your left arm and your opponents blade into your opponent. The face, neck, or right armpit should all be appearing as likely targets. From there, you can make a repeat thrust or withdraw the sword completely to posta fenestra and start striking with either the blade or pommel.

Although this is a series of individual steps, it should all be performed as a single flowing movement from the moment of contact as the 2nd master through to the completion of the 9th scholar.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 8th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 v. a

Translation

This play is called ‘exchange of thrusts’ and you do it like this. When your opponent delivers a thrust, you quickly advance your front foot off the line and with the other, pass across also off the line, crossing the sword with your arms low and with the tip of your sword raised to the face or chest, as drawn.

Interpretation

Exchanging the thrust is a crucial play to understand in armizare. From a stance with your left foot forward against a thrust from your opponent, slide your front foot off the centreline and beat the thrust with a transition to posta frontale. This leaves you making the cover of the 2nd master of sword in two hands.

Sliding offline to either side will be effective, although each option will have slightly different qualities. If you slide your foot to the left, you widen your stance, putting your body firmly on the centreline of your opponents attack. You will need to have a strong and assertive beat to win the space, but will also have a slightly shorter, and so quicker, line to counter along. If you slide to the right, you move your body out of the way of the attack, and then redefine the centreline as you step through. This is safer and requires less force, but is also very slightly slower in delivering a counter. Fiore tells us that both feet step offline, suggesting that it is the second option that he prefers.

Regardless of which side you step to, catch your opponents blade with the flat of your own. As you lock into posta frontale, give your sword an axial spin, to flick your opponents blade to the side. Keep your hands low and the point up, so as to maintain a cover against your opponent. Step through with your right foot, driving the point into your opponents face, throat or chest, as shown.

Although there are a number of steps involved, in practice this plays out as a single smooth motion. Also bear in mind that although described as a parry and counter, you can transition into this, or any of the 2nd masters scholars, from any situation which finds you crossed at the middle of the blades when in wide play.

Sword in two hands - Wide play, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – 7th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 r. d

Translation

In this play, I fiercely kick you in the balls, and I do it to inflict pain and to make you lose your cover. This play wants to be done quickly to remove all doubt. The counter to this play must be done quickly, which is that the player has to take the right leg of the scholar with his left hand, and he can throw him to the ground.

Interpretation

Having made a posta frontale in the master play, the 7th scholar continues with the unexpected move of fiercely kicking their opponent in the groin. As Fiore alludes to in the opening sentence, even if you miss when making a groin kick, it is extremely distracting. Your opponents attention will be entirely drawn away from the sword.

It is interesting to notice that the scholar kicks with the toe rather than the instep of the foot. Either will work, but kicking with the toe gives a little more distance. Also notice that the kick is delivered with the foot that moves on the inside line. If the scholar in the above picture was to kick with the left foot, the kick would most likely skim harmlessly off the opponents thigh.

Delivering a kick like this is a four part process. First of all, you need to raise your knee to point at, or slightly above, your target. Keep your back straight, your elbows in, your shoulders down, and your head up. Keep the sole of your foot parallel to the floor. You will need to bend your supporting leg. Many people telegraph their kick by bobbing their head and sticking their elbows out. Dont be one of them.

Secondly, use the hip to flick the foot out. Keep the attacking knee still. If your are kicking with the toe, bend your toes back, and actually deliver with the ball of the foot. Even with the protection of footware, if you kick with the point of your toe, you will end up hurting yourself.

When kicking with the ball of the toe like this, other good targets include just above the pubic bone, and into the solar plexus. A well delivered kick to either of these targets will fold your opponent in half. If you kick with the instep of your foot, kick up into the groin. Be sure to get your distancing right, as if you connect with your toes, you will hyperextend your own ankle.

The third step is the reverse of the second. Without moving your knee, get your foot back as fast as possible. The return should be faster than the delivery. You will know you are doing it properly when you kick yourself in the arse with your heel. Your foot should still be parallel to the floor.

Lastly, put your foot down and attack with the sword. Where you put your foot and how you continue the attack depends entirely on the success or otherwise of your kick. Be sure to do it in a controlled and balanced manner.

If you deliver your kicks like this, they will be fast, tight, easily controlled, and capable of delivering a huge amount of power. For such a beginner level technique, few people kick well, and many telegraph their intent.

If you are on the recieving end of a front kick, reach your left hand out and catch their shin just below the knee. From there, you can do one of two things.

Easiest and fastest is to step through while sweeping your opponents leg across to your right. Use this in a similar way to the many examples of an elbow push. Given the more direct effect it has on your opponents balance, you will find it extremely effective at turning your opponent. Be sure to cover their sword as they turn. They will be left wide open to an attack.

More difficult and dangerous is to scoop your hand under your opponents calf muscle and throw it up and forward as you step through. Your opponent will fall on their back, probably with a torn hamstring. Stab them before they can recover.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 6th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 r. c

Translation

When someone strikes at your leg, pull the front foot back, or step backwards and deliver a downward cut to his head as drawn here. Although with a sword in two hands you should not strike to the knee or below as there is too much danger to the one who strikes, because whoever strikes to the leg has no cover. If one has fallen to the ground, then you may well attack the leg, but otherwise, do not do it standing sword against sword.

Interpretation

With a sword in two hands, you should not strike at the knee or below. Here, the 6th scholar of the 2nd master gives a clear demonstration as to why not. It all comes down to geometry.

Imagine a circle whose centre is at the shoulder and whose radius extends along the line of the arm and sword. The circumference of the circle is at the swords tip. Where the radius of the circle is horizontal, it will reach the opponents head. This is shown by the scholar. Where the radius of the circle reaches for the opponents legs, it will fall short, as you can see with the player.

In practice, this makes for quite a simple technique. A cut to the leg is a relatively large movement, and you should be able to see it coming. Do not bother trying to cover it, but simply slide your front foot back out of range. Try to keep your shoulders in more or less the same place. As you step out of the way of your opponents cut, make a cut of your own to their head.

Your strike will be strike a short snap driven by your arms rather than your hips. You should finish in Posta Longa. It is not a powerful cut, but instead relies on accuracy and a complete absence of cover from your opponent. Strike right into the centre of your opponents forehead.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 5th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 r. b

Translation

Before me was the Peasant Strike where I placed a thrust in his chest. And I could have struck a blow to his head or arms with a downward cut as I said before. Also if the player wants to counter this and wound me with an upward cut under the arms, I immediately advance my left foot and put my sword on his, and he cannot do anything to me.

Explanation

This play depicts the culmination of the Peasant Strike. Against an overly enthusiastic and under controlled fendente attack, as the 4th scholar, you have rolled under your opponents attack from right to left. You now finish them with a thrust to the chest as shown. You could just as well use a downward cut to the head or arms.

It is possible that your opponent will attempt a counter. In the picture, you can see your opponent, having finished the unsuccessful attack, recover to Mezana Dente di Zenghiaro, chambering themselves to deliver an upward cut or thrust.

If your opponent is fast enough here, you may be exposed to a double hit. If you feel this is the case, then instead of striking directly at your opponent, then cut down on top of their sword. This will jam their counter, and also leave you with a first move advantage to make an upward cut or thrust of your own.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 4th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 r. a

Translation

This play is called the ‘Peasant Strike’ and is made in this way. Wait in a short stance with the left foot forward for the peasant to strike with his sword. Immediately that the peasant strikes, advance the left foot to the left side. And with the right foot, traverse off the line, taking the blow in the middle of your sword. Allow the sword to slide to the ground and immediately respond with a blow to the head or arms, or with a thrust to the chest as drawn. Also this play is good with a sword against the pollaxe, or against heavy or light staff.

Explanation

The peasant in this play is your undertrained, over enthusiastic opponent. Caught up in the excitement of combat, they make an instinctive and powerful mandritto fendente cut from their right shoulder moving diagonally downward.

Draw your opponent in with a short stance if possible. As they make their cut, slide your left foot off to your left side and block the attack in the middle of the blade with a Posta Frontale as shown in the master play. Your stance will need to be quite wide at this stage.

Step through with your right foot, bringing it across the line of attack. You have effectively switched feet and stepped to the left. As you do so, use the crossing of the swords as a pivot point. Drop the point of your sword and raise your hands, as the drawing shows.

At the end of our move, you should be looking under your right arm at your opponent. The sensation is something like a Posta di Donna Soprano, except that the sword is over the front shoulder rather than properly chambered behind you. Your opponents sword will slide off to your right.

Make a second step to the left with your left foot. Where it lands will determine the distance of your counterattack. The further around you step, the closer you will end up to your opponent. As you land, your hips will be fully wound up.

Unwind your hips and use the motion to deliver a thrust or roverso fendente cut to your opponent. You will need to arc your right foot around behind you to a certain extent as you do so to provide stability and give the exact angle of attack that you want.

This play can be used as a generic defence against any weapon being used to make an overcommitted attack.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

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

Folio 25 v. d

Translation

The scholar before me learned this play from his master and mine. I do it here. To do it well takes little effort.

Explanation

The 3rd scholar of the 2nd master is one of the rare examples of kicks being used in armizare. In a quirk of Fiores writing style, the 2nd scholar gives the clearest description as to what the 3rd scholar does. The 2nd scholar states.

‘My master who is before me taught me that when the sword is crossed at the middle, I immediately advance forward and take his sword as shown to wound him with a cut or thrust. Also I can injure his leg in the way you see drawn here to hit him with my foot over the back of the leg or under the knee.’

Events begin with the 2nd master, where your swords were crossed in the middle. As both the 2nd and 3rd scholar, you then immobilise your opponents sword by grabbing the tip with your left hand and then using a single handed attack to either cut or thrust at your opponent. However, where the 2nd scholar simply steps through, the 3rd scholar makes the pass with a kick.

Fiore gives us two options. In both cases, you should strike with the sword first, and then the foot. Once you deliver your kick, you will be too close to use either the blade or point of the sword without stepping again. To ‘hit him with my foot over the back of the leg’ refers to a round kick with the instep of the foot. To hit ‘under the knee’ refers to a stamp, which is what is shown in the picture. Unfortunately, the picture is drawn showing very poor mechanics.

The two kicks are quite different to each other, and worth exploring in some depth.

To deliver a round kick, as you step, lift your knee to point to where you want your kick to land. In this case it is just a fraction below your opponents knee. Be sure to keep your weight low, and you head moving in a level plane. Control your arms and keep them still. Keep the sole of your foot parallel to the ground. Many beginners drop their toes, which will slow your attack and cause your balance to waver. Be sure to avoid it.

Once the line from your hip to your knee points at your opponents knee, pivot on the ball of your left foot, swinging your foot in an arc. The instep of your foot should contact with the inner side of your opponents knee, with your toes behind the leg at the back of the knee. Keep your knee in place and return your foot along the same arc. It moves faster coming back than going out. You should kick yourself in the arse with your heel. Only then do you place your foot on the gound.

Many people interpret the second kick as a knee stomp. While this would certainly be an effective attack, it is not what is either drawn or described. Fiore clearly tells us to attack below the knee. This makes it more of a push than a stomp.

As you step through, raise your knee high, pull your toes back and turn your foot inwards. Pivot on the ball of your left foot and flaring your right heel forward, place your foot firmly on the inside of your opponents shin. This is the moment shown in the picture. As you drop your weight forward, it will push your opponents leg out from under them.

You have already wounded your opponent with the sword. Whichever method you use to take out the leg, their knee will push out to the right, ripping the ligaments as it goes. They will fall straight down in a graceless heap.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 2nd scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 25 v. c

Translation

My master who is before me taught me that when the sword is crossed at the middle, I immediately advance forward and take his sword as shown to wound him with a cut or thrust. Also I can injure his leg in the way you see drawn here to hit him with my foot over the back of the leg or under the knee.

Explanation

The 2nd master of sword in two hands in in Posta Frontale with both hands crossed in the middle. As the 1st scholar, you cut down onto your opponents wrist and then step through to follow with a thrust.

When acting as the second scholar, your counter is conceptually the same. Having beaten your opponents sword offline, give a lateral twist as you enter Posta Frontale to flick your opponents sword that much further away.

Let go of your own sword with your left hand and grab at the point of your opponents sword. Be sure to grab it firmly. Your opponent will instinctively try to pull it away. You will only be cut if you allow the blade to slide through your grip.

Having momentarily immobilised your opponents weapon, you now have a clear line of attack. Make a single handed cut or thrust at your opponent. You will need to step through to get proper distance. Because your opponents weapon is jammed, you are safe to make your attack in false time. Step through first, and drop all your available body weight behind your attack. This will add a degree of power to what will otherwise be quite a weak attack. You are not starting from a mechanically strong position, so take the opportunity to add everything you can to it.

As you step through, Fiore suggests maximising your advantage by kicking your opponents knee. This is explored further by the 3rd scholar.