The noble weapon
I am the noble weapon called the dagger, that in the narrow play roams all over. Whoever knows my malice and my art will have a good understanding with any weapon. And to immediately end a cruel battle, there is not a man who can go against me. Who watches me in feats of arms will see covers and thrusts, wounds with grappling, and how to take the dagger away with breaks and binds. And against me, neither arms nor armour are worthy.
Dagger plays tend to be overshadowed by the sword with modern practitioners, but Fiore clearly states here that understanding dagger plays means you can understand the whole system of armizare. They form the basis of everything that comes after.
Fully a third of Fior di Battaglia is devoted to dagger plays. It is also worth noting that of the 77 dagger plays, only 25 of them begin with the master or scholar holding a weapon. It is essentially the application of abrizare against an armed opponent.
Due to the close range of dagger plays, they move extremely fast and rapidly transition into grappling. It is through training with the dagger that you master narrow play.
Lines of attack
With the fendente I can strike the head and the body from the elbow to the top of the head. And from the elbow down I have no liberty to strike without much danger, and I doubt I could make this strike.
From the reverse side I can strike from the elbow all the way to the temples of the head. And these are called middle blows. And those reverse blows cannot be done if you are making a cover against your enemy.
The right side can strike and then cover if it is necessary, and can strike from the elbow to the temples of the head, and more surely from the right side than from the left.
The dagger that goes through the middle towards the head can strike below the chest and no higher. And always with the left hand you should make your cover.
Downward strikes can be delivered anywhere across the upper part of the body. There are many soft targets here, such as behind the collar bones, the base of the neck, and the face to name a few. Making a downward strike to a lower part of the body will be angled ineffectively, lack power, and leave you exposed.
A reverse strike is delivered in a backhand fashion from your left to right. Again, it is difficult to make such an attack to anything lower than the elbow, and if you are covering yourself with your left hand, it will jam the possibility of a reverse strike.
You can strike through your own cover from the right, and deliver your attacks with a high degree of force and accuracy.
When holding the dagger in a ‘hammer grip’, you can strike down the centreline. From an abrizare posta such as Posta Longa or Posta Dente di Zenghiaro, you left hand will keep you well covered while you position your strike.