Grappling – 12th scholar

Folio 8 r. c

Translation

If you take hold with both your arms under your opponents, then you can put both hands in his face as you see that I do, and especially if he has an uncovered face. Also you can transition to the third play of grappling.

Interpretation

Against a low grab, your opponent has countered with a grab to your head. Their intention is to step back with the left foot, and throw you down by twisting the neck. This will cause you to roll across your right shoulder onto your back at their side.

Your response to this is to shuffle your right foot up, pinning their left foot to the floor. At the same time, reach up with both your hands outside your opponents grip, as shown in the picture.

Cup each hand slightly, so as to brace the fingers against each other, and push into your opponents eyes. Reach down with your thumbs, and lock them under the jawbone. This will give you a solid point to lever from so as to push your fingers further in. Their attempted throw will be completely disrupted. The more you push, the further back they will lean to get away.

Follow up on your advantage by stepping through with your left foot and dropping your elbows to your hips, locking them to your core. Keep rolling your hands over as you do so. Your opponent will be rolled back on themselves, falling on their back at your feet.

As an alternative follow through from the picture point where your opponents head is tipping back, slide in deeper with your right foot. Use your right hand to push across their face, turning their head to your left. Drop your left hand to scoop their left knee and make the throw of the 2nd scholar.

Horseback grappling – 4th scholar

Folio 45 v. d

Translation

This is a play of taking the reins of the horse from the hands of the player as you see drawn here. The scholar, when he closes with another horseman, rides to the right side and throws his right arm over the horse’s neck, takes the reins on the players left side with his overturned hand, and lifts the reins over the horses head. This play is safer in armour than unarmoured.

Interpretation

Here, you are not trying to injure your opponent, but capture their horse and lead them away. This is more for a melee situation where you will have a group of friends nearby, ready to subdue the rider. The horses will need to be moving slowly relative to each other for this to work.

As you approach each other, reach over the head of your opponents horse. As much as possible, keep your elbow in so as not to overstretch and unbalance yourself. You will need to lift the reins reasonably high so as to clear the horses head. The whole movement will need to be done smoothly and quickly so as to snatch the reins from your opponents grasp.

Turning your horse to the left, move off at speed as soon as the reins are clear. As you lead your opponent away, you do not want them to catch up to you. If they do, you will be at risk of them using the 1st scholar of horseback grappling against you. As you have one hand controlling your own horse, and the other controlling your opponents horse, you are in a potentially vulnerable position. For this reason, the play is safer to do when wearing armour.

Grappling – Counter to the 12th scholar

Folio 8 r. d

Translation

I am the counter of the fourteenth play, and any other that puts his hands on my face while grappling. I take my thumbs and I put them in his eyes if I find them uncovered. And if his face is covered, I take the elbow and grip or lock it immediately.

Interpretation

The text here draws attention to Fiores less than great naming conventions. He says this is the counter to the fourteenth play, by which he means the fourteenth not counting the master play. In other play counts throughout the book, he does include the master play, although not always. Regardless of what he calls it, he is clearly referring to the play immediately preceding this one. In a more standardised naming convention, this is the counter to the 12th scholar.

The scenario is that as the player to the 12th scholar, your opponent has gone for a low grab. You have countered this by grabbing at your opponents head with the intention of twisting them to the ground. As a response, your opponent is pushing back into your face, aiming to lever your head straight backwards, pushing you over.

Your hands are already almost in place to make the counter. Slide them around your opponents head slightly. Use the two bottom fingers of each hand to hook under the corner of the jaw. Your thumbs will naturally fall into your opponents eye sockets, and the corner of the jaw makes for a solid fulcrum to lever off.

Ideally, you are aiming to push your thumbs into the gap between the top of the eyeball and the socket. Get them right in to the knuckle. This will break the delicate bone on the floor of the socket, pushing the eyeball through, if not gouging it out completely. It is an unpleasant sensation for both parties. Although still very much alive, your opponent will be completely incapable of fighting, or doing very much at all. Regardless of someones strength, their eyes are extremely sensitive and vulnerable.

If your opponent is wearing a helmet, then making an eye gouge is impossible. Transition through the counter to the 4th scholar instead, and continue on with the 2nd scholar of the 3rd master of dagger.

You do this by pushing up on your opponents right elbow using your left hand. With your right hand, grab their left. Put your thumb on the back of the hand, and wrap your fingers over the ulnar edge. Twist the wrist and crank the elbow over, locking it. Pivot clockwise on your left foot, with your right foot arcing around behind you 180 degrees. This will free you from your opponents grip and allow you to spin them to the ground with the elbow lock.

Grappling – Posta Porta di Ferro (Iron Gate Guard)

Folio 6 r. c

Translation

In Porta di Ferro (Iron Gate) I wait for you without moving, to earn all the grips within my power. The play of grappling is my art. And spear, pollaxe, sword and dagger are a great part. Porta di Ferro is full of malice. I always give those who come against me trouble and pain. And to those that thought to gain from me, with my strong holds I will make you go to the ground.

Interpretation

Posta Porta di Ferro is one of armizares major guard positions. It appears not only in the Grappling section, but also in Dagger and Sword in two hands, as well as a variant form in the Spear section.

The Sword in two hands section tells us that Posta Porta di Ferro is ‘Pulsativa’ – a pulsing or beating stance. By keeping this stance relaxed, you are able to suddenly spring out at great speed. Despite appearing to leave you wide open, there is a lot of versatility in Porta di Ferro.

Keep your elbows in and rest your forearms lightly on your hips. The key to this posta is relaxing. Any tension in your fingers, wrists, arms or shoulders will slow you down and negate the potential benefits this posta can provide. The sword section tells us that this stance gives ‘great defence and does it without tiring.’ It is the relaxation in your arms which allows this to happen.

From this position you can grab, jam or sweep anything below the solar plexus by scarcely moving your arms at all. It is all driven by pivoting the hips. Because there is no tension in your arms, you can also make high covers with deceptive speed, especially if you drop your weight as you do so.

Grappling – Posta Frontale (Forehead Guard)

Foli 6 r. d

Translation

Posta Frontale (Forehead Guard) will gain the holds. When I am in this guard I will hurt you. But I will move from this guard and I wil move to Port di Ferro. Then I will make you feel like you are in hell. The locks and breaks will make you pay. And soon it will be seen what I have earned. And I will gain the locks, if I am not forgetting.

Interpretation

Posta Frontale is neither comfortable nor safe to rest in. With your arms extended, they are easy targets for your opponent to grab onto. Should this happen, you will be at a mechanical disadvantage. It is a posta which must be used cautiously, but which still has many uses.

Far more than the other grappling posta, this is a transition point rather than a defensive guard as such. You will see it in the grappling plays being used in delivering an eye gouge, and a face strike against both an upper and lower grab.

From either Posta Dente di Zenghiaro or Posta Tutta Porta di Ferro, simultaneously punch with both your hands. Be sure to keep your back straight and your weight low. Do not over extend yourself. Grab onto your target, then rapidly close the distance by stepping in, and transition into something else.

Examples of this include grabbing your opponent and pulling them onto your knee, or grabbing your opponents overly exposed wrist and elbow, and spinning them into a takedown.