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.
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.
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.
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.
The scholar before me learned this play from his master and mine. I do it here. To do it well takes little effort.
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.
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.
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.
The play of my master I have done. I have made his cover and immediately I did as he said, in that I first wound the arms, and then I put the point in his chest.
In the preceding play, you crossed swords with your opponent in the middle of the blade. There, the master said to slide your sword down to attack your opponents hands or thrust to the chest. In this play, you demonstrate what the master described.
Moving into posta frontale during the master play should have deflected your opponents sword off the centreline. At the very last instant of this move, twist your sword along its lateral axis. In addition to knocking your opponents sword aside with the momentum of the beat, it will also add a slight flick, ensuring you have a clear opening.
Keeping your elbows locked to your hips, make a short downward cut. This is a relatively weak, but very fast action. It is driven entirely by the wrists and forarms. You are aiming for your opponents exposed left hand or forearm.
As you make contact, step through and slightly offline with your right foot. This will increase the target size. Extend your arms as shown. Maintain a downward pressure on the blade, as your technique transitions from a cut to a thrust. You will simultaneously cut into the wrist and push into the solar plexus.
I am also crossed in the wide play, but at the middle of the sword. And immediately that I am crossed, I slide my sword down onto the hands, and if I want to pass with my right foot off the line, I can put a thrust to the chest as drawn hereafter.
As the 2nd master, you are in Posta Frontale crossing swords with your opponent in the middle of the blade. Your hands are relatively safe and can be withdrawn by pulling them back to a more neutral position. You can even disengage competely by stepping with your front foot out of range.
For a safe and easy attack, cut straight down the line of your opponents blade as if cutting to Posta Mezzana Porta di Ferro. Strike your opponents left hand or forearm on the way through.
Alternatively, you can step through and offline to the right with your back foot. This will bring you within the range of narrow play, and give you a clear line to stab your opponent in the face or chest, as shown by the 1st scholar of the 2nd master.
I placed a thrust in your face like the master who is before me described. Also, I could have done this, drawn back my sword immediately when I was crossed on the right, switched the sword to the left side and delivered a downward cut for the head or arms, as the master who is before me said.
Having made the cover of the 1st Master, you will find youself in Posta Frontale with both swords crossed at the tip.
At the point of the 1st Master, both combatants are weak in the bind. As the 1st scholar, you can take the initiative by simply dropping the point of your sword and extending into Posta Longa. This should drive it cleanly into your opponents face.
Alternatively, as previously described, you can quickly lift your sword over the tip of your opponents sword and strike down onto your opponents right forearm.
Here begins the plays of sword in two hands in wide play. This master who is here crossing this player at the point of the sword says: “When I am crossed at the point of the sword, I immediately switch my sword to the other side and fiercely strike a downward cut to the head or arms. Also I can put a thrust in his face, as you see in the next picture.
The 1st Master of Sword in Two Hands defends against an attack with Posta Frontale at such a distance that both swords are crossing at the tip of the blade, as shown in the picture. In this position, we can see the major defining characteristics of wide play.
As a fairly broad definition of wide play, although each combatant can grab the weapon or possibly arm of their opponent, they are unable to effectively deliver a strike without making a step.
To more tightly define what is happening here, both swords lack any real leverage in this crossing, making both the Master and the player weak in the bind. Also, due to the distance of the combatants and the angles of the blades, neither directly threaten each other with the point.
It is interesting to note that in all other manuscripts of Fior di Battaglia, both combatants in this play are Masters. The equality of their structures means that the play goes to whoever has the presence of mind to take advantage of the circumstances first.
As the Master, due to the lack of pressure in the bind, you are free to disengage, quickly lifting your sword over the tip of your opponents sword. This leaves an open line to the outside, along which you can strike down onto your opponents right forearm.