Dagger - 1st Master

Dagger – Counter to the 8th scholar of the 1st master

Folio 12 v. c


I do the counter of the play that came before me. You will not take my dagger because I will push you onto my dagger with my left hand, and with the cruel tip, I will hurt you for your trouble.


There is a delightful kind of humour about this counter, which is very appealing. It is fast, simple, and has a malicious punchline.

Against your fendente strike, your opponent has jammed the attack with a hooking block, as shown by the 1st master. As described by the 8th scholar, they are then reaching up to grab your dagger blade and twist it out of your hand.

Keeping your right hand as a fixed point in space, drop your hips, pushing forward with the left. If your left hand is relaxed, it will automatically pivot from the elbow, swinging forward and up. As it does so, grab your opponents wrist. With a sharp jab, drive their hand onto the dagger point.

This is by no means a finishing move. The exact effect will vary depending on your opponents pain threshold and level of intent. At an absolute minimum, their body will tense up in shock for a full second. Their hands will pop open, they will be momentarily frozen, and they will probably be swearing violently.

All of this adds up to the perfect opportunity to continue with the five things you must do to finish a fight. Be assertive in making the most of this.

Dagger - 2nd, 3rd and 4th Masters

Dagger – 3rd scholar of the 4th master

Folio 14 v, d


When I use the grip of my master, my left hand is under your left elbow. And I quickly put my right hand under your knee so that I can throw you on the ground. And there is no counter you can do to me.


This play works best when you are holding your ground but, nonetheless, are being overrun by an aggressively attacking opponent. In the moments before this play, they will be bearing down on top of you, and you are in a decidedly uncomfortable position.

Against what will appear to be a finishing strike, make the cover of the 4th master. Using a sword grip, jam your opponents forearm. In this, you are absorbing the shock of the attack, rather than manipulating the arm. Although your back, as always, should be straight, you will need to drop your weight as much as possible. You can quite feasibly bend your knees so much that the back knee brushes on the ground. Keep your weight on the balls of your toes.

Drop your right hand and slap it under your opponents thigh. This needs to be done very assertively. Contact the inside of your forearm against the back of their thigh, lifting their foot off the ground. Pull your right elbow back to your right hip, springing up with your legs as you do so. This is the moment shown.

Your opponent will twist and fall on their back to your left hand side. Finish them off before they can recover.

This technique, or a variation of it, can be seen in the following plays.

Dagger - 1st Master

Dagger – 8th scholar of the 1st master

Folio 12 v. b


I take the dagger out of your hand because I am well placed, and I will push the tip up next to your elbow. And you will lose it, and I will wound you with it straight away. Because I cannot bend the arm, I will do such a dagger disarm.


Against a fendente stab, you make the cover of the 1st master. Make a hooking block with your left hand. Scoop it under the attacking dagger, leading with the thumb. Roll the hand so it is palm up. Contact your opponents wrist with the ‘hook’ at the connection between the base of your own thumb and your wrist. As soon as you contact, roll the wrist over to grab your opponents forearm. This is a very smooth motion. There should be no clashing of the arms.

As you grab your opponents wrist with your left hand, grab the dagger blade with your right, as shown in the picture. Tuck your left elbow in and pull it back to your hip. As you pull with your left hand, push down and forward with your right.

This will cause the dagger to rotate in a vertical plane around a point midway along the blade, until it is stripped from the hand. Your opponent will be pulled forward off balance.

Use your right hand to make a hammerfist strike. Ideally, the dagger tip will be extending out the bottom of the fist. Hit them in the eyes or throat with it. The fact that they are falling forward will add greatly to the impact.

Your opponent will be hurt and momentarily stunned. Take the opportunity to get a better grip on your new dagger and set yourself up to complete the finishing combination of five things you must do.

Conceptually, this play is very similar to the following.

Dagger - 8th and 9th Masters

Dagger – 8th scholar of the 9th master

Folio 18 v. c


I make the cover of my master and immediately with my left hand took his in this way. And with my dagger, I stab him in his chest. And if my dagger was not sufficient, I would do the play that follows.


Against a sottano stab, grab your attackers wrist and forearm in a sword grip as shown by the 9th master. Keep your elbows close to your body, but still sufficiently extended that the blade has room to clear. Turn your hips slightly clockwise directing the attack off past your right hip.

At the end of that turn, let go with your right hand. Use the motion of your hips to carry your hand back. Smoothly draw your dagger, leaving it chambered by your right ribs.

If you were already holding your dagger at the start of the play, the deflection can also be made with a single hand. In that case, keep your dagger chambered through the deflection ready for the counterstrike.

Lock your left forearm across your hips, pinning your opponents dagger out of the way. Sink your weight onto your front foot and drive forward with your right hip, punching the dagger into your opponents chest. This is the moment shown in the picture.

If, for any reason, you cannot draw your dagger, transition this play into the next one, and finish as the 9th scholar.

Dagger - 5th Master

Dagger – Counter to the 5th master

Folio 15 v. d


So that his scholar cannot dislocate my arm, I pull it close and bend it. And the more I bend the arm it will be even better, because this is the counter to the remedy master of the narrow plays of the dagger.


The 5th master defends against a grab and stab style attack, often by striking or hyperextending the elbow.

The simple counter is to stand closer to your opponent so that the elbow is bent. The more you bend your elbow, the safer it will be from strikes and hyperextensions directed against it. When bending the elbow, be sure to keep it tucked in rather than sticking out to the side.

An outward sticking elbow creates a crank handle. If the player held your arm to their chest with their left hand and cranked your elbow up and over with their right, it would end in you being on the receiving end of a lower bind, as described by the 8th scholar of the 5th master, or a throw as shown by the 2nd scholar of the 3rd master.

Dagger - 2nd, 3rd and 4th Masters

Dagger –2nd scholar of the 4th master

Folio 14 v. c

  Folio 14 v. c


This is another high bind and is very strong. And I am sure to put you on the ground. And I can dislocate the arm or break it as I choose. To counter me, if you take you right hand with your left, your grip will be good and mine will fail.


The text for this play is not very specific, and the picture shows the arms impossibly knotted. I have interpreted this as a type of shihon nage.

Against an overhead strike, make the play of the fourth master with your hands in a sword grip. The right hand is by the wrist and the left is mid way down the forearm, thumbs towards the hand. Use this block to absorb the shock of the blow. You need to apply the bind as your opponent moves their hand back for a second strike.

This technique is very much a ‘sticky hands’ approach. From the moment of the master play, your hands remain in constant contact, sliding along your opponents arm rather than letting go and grabbing on.

Maintaining contact, roll your left hand over your right and grab the wrist so that your thumbs are against each other. Slide your right hand behind the forearm. Get your own forearm as far down into the crook of their elbow as you can.

Pull your right hand back, locking it against your body. Push forward and down with your left hand. It is not strictly necessary, but you can further increase your grip by rolling your right hand up beneath your left arm and grabbing onto your opponents wrist. This appears to be what Fiore is showing.

The hidden detail of this play is that you are making a first class lever. Your right forearm acts as the fulcrum. As you push the hand down, is raises the elbow and applies pain at the fulcrum point. This will cause your opponent to drop straight to their knees.

The counter is for the player to use their left hand to support their right, and pull their elbow down and back. This applies direct resistance to your leverage and rapidly becomes a contest of strength. Personally, if they tried this, I would kick them in the groin when all their attention was on the hand. You can see in the picture how open they are.

Dagger - 1st Master

Dagger – Counter to 7th scholar of the 1st master

Folio 12 v. a


Regarding the play that is before me, where you wanted to break my arm over your shoulder. For that play, I do this counter to you. With great force I will throw you to the ground. I will break you and kill you so that neither to me nor others will you ever more do this injury.


Against your overhead strike, you opponent has made the play of the 7th scholar of the 1st master. They have caught your right hand in a hooking block. Pivoting around, they are attempting to break your right elbow over their left shoulder. This action will twist your forearm over so that it is palm up. It is critical that you turn this back over.

If you try to pull away, you are lending more advantage to your opponent. Move your right foot forward, and drop as much weight onto it as you can. Punch your right hand forward through your opponents grip, twisting the hand as you go, so that it is palm down. This will achieve two things. It will unlock the elbow, allowing it to bend normally. It will also move the pivot point of your opponents lever from your elbow up to the relatively safe armpit.

You are now holding your opponent from behind, as well as pushing them slightly forward. Grab anything you can near their right hip, and clamp your right hand tight against their body. Keeping your back straight, drop into a deep squat. You are pulling your opponents weight to sit on your thighs and hips. With your left hand, scoop out your opponents back leg. This is the point shown in the picture.

Lift your left hand up. As their body is pulled forward and down, and their leg is pulled up and back, your opponent will momentarily and uncomfortably balance on one leg. Once they tip past that point, their front leg will slip out behind them.

At that moment, straighten your legs, throwing your opponent up as much as possible. Then let go of everything, dropping them horizontally in a body slam. They will be left lying face down at your feet and completely at your mercy.

Dagger - 2nd, 3rd and 4th Masters

Dagger – 1st scholar of the 4th master

Folio 12 v. b


This is a high bind that locks you up well. I will take your dagger and throw you on the ground.  Also I say I can dislocate your arm, but if you take your right hand with your left, you could counter me and I must let you loose.


Against an overhead stab, slide to the left slightly, so as to move off the centerline, and defend against your opponents attack as the 4th master. You use a sword grip to jam the forearm with your right hand by the wrist and your left in the middle of the forearm.

As they draw their hand back, you need to move with this momentum. With your left hand, ensure the arm folds back. Maintaining contact with the wrist, roll your right hand across the back of your left, to wrap your fingers over the top of your opponents hand. You will need to push your elbow forward to reach. This is the moment shown.

Let go with your left hand, and with your right cut straight down their spine. Your opponent will collapse backwards on the spot they were standing.

The counter to this move is that the player grabs their right hand with their left, and pulls it back toward the centerline. While doing this, they should keep their right shoulder low, and drive the right elbow up and around in a tight arc aimed at your face.

The twist will return all mechanical advantage to them, and tip you off balance, breaking your grip. The elbow will be extremely distracting at a minimum, and you will need to protect yourself against it. The two movements combined will leave your opponent fully chambered and perfectly placed to deliver a roverso strike to any available target on your right side or centerline.

You will see other variations of this throw in the following plays.

Dagger - 8th and 9th Masters

Dagger – 7th scholar of the 9th master

Folio 18 v. b


This scholar who is before me has made the beginning, and I finish the play by sending him to earth as has been described. This play is not part of my art, but I show it to share what others will do.


This play follows directly on from the 6th scholar. Whereas the 6th scholar stripped the dagger from the hand, here you finish the play by instead bending the knee to reach down and scoop up your opponents back foot. Give them a giant wedgie and then throw them off balance into a tangle of arms and legs.

It is interesting to notice Fiore distance himself from the 6th and 7th scholars by very clearly stating that this play is not part of armizare. This technique does appear in other manuals, suggesting it was well recognised. Fiore obviously learned it himself. Quite unlike Fiores own style, however, it is unnecessarily elaborate with a low chance of success in a high risk environment where your prime objective should be to finish things as quickly and thoroughly as possible. He shows us this play because it would be known about, would look good in a choreographed display, and the audience would expect a master to know it.

Dagger - 1st Master

Dagger – 7th scholar of the 1st master

Folio 12 r. d


Because of the good grip that I have made against you, I will not fail to break your arm over my left shoulder. And then, I will wound you with your own dagger, and this play will not fail me.


With your opponent attempting an overhead strike, you make the cover of the 1st master. Keeping your left hand open, with the palm up, strike to the inside of the wrist of your attackers right hand with the hook at the base of your thumb. Keep your elbow in and do not overextend your arm. The most dangerous part of this play is the potential to drive your hand against the tip of the incoming dagger. Take care to move under it.

The instant you make contact, roll your right hand over, grabbing the wrist. Keeping your forearm at 45 degrees and your hand at shoulder height, pull your elbow back into your core so that it rests gently against your ribs.

Keeping your left elbow still, move your hand in an anticlockwise circle in front of you. At the bottom of the circle reach across with your right hand. At this point, your left hand should be palm up, and your right, palm down. Grab onto your opponents forearm and start the upswing of the circle.

As the hands start to lift, pivot on your left foot and arc your right foot behind you. Turn 180 degrees and slide your left shoulder gently under your opponents elbow. Your opponents right hand should now be palm up and their elbow locked.

Up until this point, all your movements have been soft, circular and flowing. You now suddenly shift to linear movement. Brace your legs, straighten your back and keep your elbows in. While you push up with your shoulder, forcefully pull both your hands down to your right hip.

With a loud crack, your opponents elbow will be ripped apart. The dagger will fly from their hand as the picture demonstrates. You are free to leave it where t falls or pick it up and use it to finish off your opponent. Whatever you choose to do, your opponent will be in a world of pain, completely unable to prevent it.

A similar elbow break across the shoulder appears in the following.