Sword vs Dagger – 1st scholar to the 1st Master

Folio 19 r. b


My master does this cover against a thrust and then immediately strikes to the face or chest. And with the dagger against the sword, you always need the narrow play. Here I am close and I can hurt you badly. Like it or not, you will suffer.


When facing a sword with a dagger, you are at a disadvantage in terms of both mass and distance. Although it is instinctive to try to stay out of reach, your only chance, as Fiore clearly says here, is to close to narrow play as quickly as possible.

As your opponent thrusts at you, move from the cover of the 1st Master to open your hips with a clockwise twist. Reach out a little and brush your dagger against the incoming sword. You do not need to push it aside, just control where it is.

Keep both your elbows in close to your body and step through with your left foot as fast as you can. The turn of your body as you do so will be enough to direct the sword blade past you. It will not miss by much, but as long as it misses, the distance does not matter. As your left foot lands, use your left hand to grab your opponents right wrist. At no stage of this move should either of your elbows be more than a hand span your hips. Extending your arms will only slow you down.

Having arrived at the position shown, you have now jammed your opponents sword. The best thing your opponent can do for themselves is let go of the sword with their left hand and use it to try and cover themselves. Their pinned arm will be closing off a lot of their movement, however, and you should be moving faster than them.

Raise your dagger, choose a target, and strike.

Sword vs Dagger – Counter to the 1st scholar of the 1st master

Floio 19 r. c


If the player who came before me knew such a defence, he would have put his left hand on the scholars guard, and in this way pushed his elbow turning it as shown. Then I would not need the counter to the master with the dagger in his guard.


You have just made a lower thrust against the master armed with a dagger. Your opponent has stepped offline, beating your thrust to your left. As they step through with their left foot, as shown by the 1st scholar, they are going to try to grab and control your right hand. Counter it like this.

Once your opponent has committed to their step. pivot your hips clockwise. Let go of your sword with your left hand and reach over your arm. Immediately before their hand reaches yours, drop your sword hand out of the way.

Catch the outside of your opponents left wrist with the back of your left hand. You are using timing and flow to catch this. It is not a forceful action. Step through with your left foot, rolling your hand up your opponents forearm, and causing them to twist away to your left. As your left foot anchors, shove your left hand out to full extension. Your opponent will be completely spun around with their back towards you. Pull your sword back, arriving in the position shown.

Your opponent will instinctively try to push back against you, in which case, stab them under the left armpit. A more experienced opponent will work with the momentum, make a complete turn to the right, and try to attack with a roverso strike. In this case, move your sword point to the right and ensure they run onto it.

This whole play is essentially another elbow push. What makes it stand out from the others is that you are pushing the left elbow, whereas all other examples push the right. These can be seen in

  • Dagger – Counter to 2nd master
  • Dagger – Counter to 6th master
  • Dagger – Counter to 7th master
  • Dagger – Counter to the 8th master
  • Sword vs Dagger – 2nd scholar of the 1st master
  • Sword in one hand – 6th scholar
  • Sword in one hand – 8th scholar
  • Sword in two hands – 14th scholar of the 2nd master
  • Sword in armour – 3rd scholar
  • Sword in armour – Counter to master

Sword vs Dagger – 2nd scholar of the 1st master

Folio 19 r. d


If the master who is in the guard position with the dagger is attacked with the sword by a blow to the head, he passes forward and makes his cover and turns his opponent by pushing on the elbow. And he immediately follows with a strike. Also he can bind the sword arm in the same way as the fourth play of the sword in one hand can do. And also from the third play of the first dagger master you will find that middle bind that is near the face by a hands span.


You are defending yourself against a fendente attack. The basic cover of the 1st master is the common pattern of stepping offline with the front foot, and then sweeping across the body as you step through with your back foot.

In this instance, you need to step forward with your right foot as well as across to the outside line. Holding the blade of the dagger against your forearm, cross the sword at the strong of the blade. This will make your cover much safer and give you far greater control over your opponents weapon.

Lifting your right elbow as high as shown here is mechanically weak and the arm is in danger of collapsing under the blow. Always keep your hand higher than your elbow. Ideally, the forearm should be held at a 45 degree. The attack should be directed to slide down the forearm to the right.

As you make the cover, reach forward to catch your opponents elbow. You will be at the position depicted.

Step through with your left foot. As you do so, push the elbow. This will leave you in a stable position, with a clear line to strike into your opponents neck or the right side of their ribs. Alternatively, you could reach over the sword arm, and stab then in the front.

Fiore also suggests that instead of pushing the elbow as you step through, you could slide your left hand under your opponents forearm and enter a middle bind. This will twist your opponent, leaving a clear line for you to strike down the centre to the face or chest. Examples of this counter can be seen being used by the 4th scholar of the sword in one hand, and the 1st scholar of the 1st master of dagger.

Sword vs Dagger – 2nd master

Folio 19 v. a


This is one finish of the dagger against the sword. The man with the dagger holds the collar of the man with the sword and says, ‘I will wound you with my dagger before you can draw your sword.’ And the one with the sword says ‘Strike, for I am prepared.’ And as that one with the dagger strikes, the one with the sword responds as shown in the next picture.


The 2nd master of sword vs dagger shows the set up rather than the action itself. Like all the plays in the sword vs dagger section, this has more of a ‘self defence’ feel to it as opposed to more formal combat. Here, you have been ambushed with a dagger while carrying your sword.

If you look at footage of real life dagger attacks, or have seen them first hand, you will notice that they often consist of the attacker catching their opponent by surprise and going into a frenzy of stabbing with little finesse and lots of intention. The basic idea is to be sure of a hit with the first strike and then follow up with as many as possible before the defender can recover from the pain and surprise. The fact that the masters sword is still sheathed clearly indicates this scenario.

The delightful conversation between the two combatants further emphasises the context. Your opponent is clearly looking for an unfair advantage through using both surprise and a weapon. However, as the master, even though you are relaxed and in a non combative frame of mind, your own weapon is still held in such a way that it can be instantly deployed. Most importantly, however, being relaxed is not the same as being unaware. You are still mentally prepared for the split second action which is required here.

Sword vs Dagger – Scholar of the 2nd master

Folio 19 v. b


When he raises his arm with the dagger in it, I immediately put the sheath of my sword on his dagger arm, so that there is no way he can trouble me. And immediately I draw my sword, and I can wound him before he can touch me with his dagger. Also I can take the dagger from his hand in the same way as the first dagger master. And also I could bind him in the middle bind from the third play of the first dagger master.


As the 2nd master of sword vs dagger, you were walking along minding your own business, carrying your sheathed sword by the hilt, and holding the scabbard with your left hand as it rested by your left shoulder. Suddenly and unexpectedly, you were grabbed by a reprobate intent on stabbing you. Although taken by surprise, you are nonetheless prepared, and respond as the scholar shows.

With the sheathed blade, use the sword as you would a short staff. Strike down into the crook of your opponents right elbow. Hit exactly where the elbow bends, and the arm will collapse, jamming the attack. Your sword will be aligned such that you can draw the blade back, loading it for your own counter attack, as shown in the drawing. Attack them as you chose. Using the sword as an oversized dagger and making a sottano stab into their solar plexus is the easiest option.

The scabbard acts as an extension of your hand. As your opponents arm collapses, the point of the dagger should slide down the inside line of the scabbard. This means you will have effectively made the cover of the 1st master of dagger. Fiore gives us several different options as to how to take advantage of this.

The percussive shock of being struck on the tendons like this tends to cause the hand to pop open. You opponent will momentarily have a loose grip on the dagger. Use the elbow as a pivot point and lift and turn your hand to the left. This applies leverage to the base of the dagger blade, stripping it from your opponents hand.

In order to jam the arm fully, you could also try pushing the scabbard while winding it in such a way that the tip goes over the back of the arm and anchors onto the chest. This would tie up the arm and keep your opponent at a distance, leaving them wide open to attack. Attempting this requires a large movement on your part which would be quite difficult to perform confidently in the high stress environment of fighting your way out of a murderous surprise attack.

Sword vs Dagger – 3rd master

Folio 19 v. c


This is another match of sword and dagger. The one that holds the sword with the tip of the sword on the ground as you see, says to the one with the dagger that holds him by the collar, ‘Come between with the dagger from your position, that when you try to strike with the dagger I will beat my sword over your arm. And in that moment, I will unsheathe my sword going back with the right foot behind, and so I will wound you with my sword before you strike me with your dagger.’


Like the 2nd master of sword vs dagger, the 3rd master is caught unawares in a grab and stab style ambush by a dagger weilding assailant. Although the sword tip is down rather than resting up by the shoulder, both the 2nd and 3rd masters hold the sword with the thumb by the crossguard, ready to draw.

With a minimum of body movement, roll your hands in a tight circle. The blade will move in a fast arc behind you, transitioning through the picture point of the 2nd master, and striking with a fendente cut intside your attackers, now presumably, raised and chambered right hand. Drive your left hip forward to maximise the impact.

You are aiming to strike into the crook of your opponents right elbow. This will casue the arm to collapse, and the hand to roll inward. The inward roll will throw the dagger tip inside the line of the scabbard, further tangling the attack. If you hit hard and accurately enough, the hand will pop open and the dagger will fall to the ground.

Having broken the attack, step back with your right foot as demonstrated by the scholar of the 2nd master. Leaving your left hand in place to jam up your opponents attacking hand, draw your sword as you step back.

You have an open target to thrust into. Make the best use of it, but also be aware that your frenzied and dying opponent can still potentially put in an after blow as long as you remain in narrow play.

Sword vs dagger – 4th master

Folio 19 v. d


This is a similar match to the one before, although it is not done in the same way as the one before it. This play starts in the same way as the one before us, but when the one with the dagger takes up his arm to strike, I will immediately raise my sword in under his dagger and put the tip of my scabbard in his face, returning my foot that is in front to the back. And I can strike him in the face as depicted after me.


The 4th master is another example of a ‘self defence’ type play. You are relaxed and holding your sheathed sword point down. Your left hand carries the sword by the scabbard. Your right hand rests thumb up on the handle. With no cause, a potential assassin grabs you by the collar, intent on delivering a fatal downward stab.

In your defence, you use the sheathed sword as a short staff. Step back with your right foot to give yourself as much space as you can. Raise your left hand straight up the centreline to shoulder height. Also keep your elbow in the centre. The angle of your forearm will determine the angle of your strike. As your right foot anchors onto the ground, lever your right hand down.

As the hands are held so close to each other, the sword blade will snap up in a very fast, tight arc. Aim to strike under the attacking wrist between the dagger bade and the forearm. This will jam the attack. On contact, push forward with your left hip and hands, driving the tip of the scabbard into your opponents face. This is explored further by the scholar of the 4th master.

Sword vs dagger – Scholar of the 4th master

Folio 20 r. a


This play is of the master that makes the match here before. By following his instructions, I am able to do it. You see well that your dagger does not make me any trouble.


This play illustrates the description given by the 4th master. While holding your sheathed sword with your left hand at the mouth of the scabbard and your right hand thumb up on the handle, you are defending against a surprise fendente attack.

Drop your right foot back to give yourself space and raise your right hand to your shoulder, using it as a pivot point. Push forward with your left hip and drive the left hand up. As your hands are so close together, the sword will move in a fast tight arc. Strike under the dagger at the base of the wrist. Adjust so as to align the blade with your opponents face and then lunge forward. Precisely aiming this will be difficult, but you are aiming to take out an eye. With no element of surprise, their weapon jammed, and their face injured, your opponent has now lost all the initiative. As much as you can keep pushing the scabbard tip into their face. Use the scabbard to keep the dagger tangled while you change your grip and draw your sword to posta fenestra. Finish your opponent off before they can recover.