Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 11th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. d

Translation

If he covers the right side, take his sword in this way with your left hand and you can wound him with thrusts and cuts. And if you want, you can cut his face or neck with his sword in the way that is drawn. Also, when I have injured you well, I can abandon my own sword and take yours as the scholar after me shows.

Interpretation

Crossed in the middle of the swords as the 3rd master, your opponent is trying to switch sides, or possibly even disengage altogether. Dropping back with a volta stabile into a rear weighted stance, they use their sword to cover their right side. Before completing this move or properly chambering their weapon, you make your play.

Step though with your left foot. Move quickly so as to close the distance before your opponents structure achieves full stability. Grab the tip of their sword as you step through, and allow the point of your own sword to drop so that it points directly at them as shown.

From here, you are ideally placed to drive your point into their ribs, armpit or face. After your initial thrust hits home, you should have plenty of scope to deliver several more thrusts or cuts so as to finish the fight.

If you would like to continue, you could also shuffle up with your back foot and step behind your opponent with your left foot. Push your hand forward as you do so, causing your opponents blade to slice into their neck or face. As an expansion on this theme, you could also transition to the play of the 12th scholar.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 8th scholar

Folio r. c

Translation

As you can see, the scholar who came before me wounded the player in the face with the cross guard of his sword, and I can readily wound him with the pommel in his face as you see below.

Interpretation

This play can be used either as an alternative to, or a continuation of, the 7th scholar of sword in armour. You have already used the master play to cover your opponents attack and close the distance between you. Take a second step with your right foot to move in to very close range. Cover yourself with your sword as you step through, using it to jam your opponents movement. At this point, you can make the play of the 7th scholar if the opportunity is there. Whether you make that play or not, continue your movement so that the axis of your sword lines straight up at your opponents face, and your right elbow points over their shoulder as shown.

Keeping your elbow still, pivot your hips clockwise and swing your forearm up into your opponents face. It should feel a lot like making an upwardly angled roverso strike with a dagger.

This will cause a great deal of damage against an opponent with an open faced helmet. Even striking against a visor or bevor will, at the very least, disrupt your opponents balance and win you the initiative to make the next move. This play can smoothly transition to the 9th scholar to throw your opponent.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 9th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Translation

This play comes from ‘exchange of thrusts’ which is before me. Immediately that the scholar who is before me does not put his thrust into the face or chest of the player, because perhaps it was that the player was armoured, the scholar should pass forward with the left foot and in this way he should take the players sword and he can then injure well with his own sword because the players sword is taken and he cannot escape.

Interpretation

The general theme of armizare as a broad rule is to rapidly close the gap from the point of contact to narrow play and finish the fight from there. This should ideally happen in two passes with the feet. The 9th scholar is a great example of the end point of this chain of events.

From wide play, you have first made contact with your opponent as the 2nd master of sword in two hands. At this point, you can still safely back out, but sensing an advantage, you have made the play of the 8th scholar of the 2nd master, stepping through your opponents defensive shell to deliver a thrust at them. The 9th scholar then takes a second step to grappling range so as to finish them off.

The play of the 8th scholar has failed to deliver a finishing blow, due to your opponents armour or clothing either deflecting or absorbing the damage. From the thrust, the point of your sword was high, but your elbows were anchored to your body and your hands held low. Keep your hands in this position as you step through and off to the side with your left foot. With your sword locked to your core like this, use the strength of your step to push the opponents blade, clearing a space for you to step into.

This will lever your opponents blade off to your left. Once the momentum of this move is assured, let go with your left hand and reach over the top. Grab your opponents sword hilt between their hands and twist it outward to emphasis this disruption, as shown in the picture.

If you need to, you can pivot on your left foot, arcing your right foot around behind you to an appropriate angle and distance. The further you pivot, the closer you will end up. As your right foot anchors onto the ground, use it to slide your sword between your left arm and your opponents blade into your opponent. The face, neck, or right armpit should all be appearing as likely targets. From there, you can make a repeat thrust or withdraw the sword completely to posta fenestra and start striking with either the blade or pommel.

Although this is a series of individual steps, it should all be performed as a single flowing movement from the moment of contact as the 2nd master through to the completion of the 9th scholar.

Sword in two hands - Posta

Sword in two hands – Posta Dente di Zenghiaro Mezana (Middle Boars Tusk Guard)

Folio 24 v. d

Translation

This is Posta Dente di Zenghiaro Mezana (Middle Boars Tusk Guard) because there are two tusks in the whole boar. The other is in the middle, but it is in the middle of the person. And that which the other tusk can do, the middle tusk can do also. And in the way that the proud boar cuts diagonally this way, it can be done with the sword that will always cross the sword of the opponent, and always throw thrusts to uncover your opponent, and always damage the hands and sometimes the head and the arms.

Interpretation

At first glance, it appears that this posta is simply a rear weighted version of Posta Dente di Zenghiaro. Although the two posta share many similarities, there are subtle differences which set them apart.

With your right hand held against your centre and the blade extending down the centreline, this posta gives you a narrow base from which to deliver tight, linear actions. The close attachment to the bodys core movements puts it in the stable category of posta.

Like Dente di Zenghiaro, Dente di Zenghiaro Mezana delivers powerful diagonally upward cuts with the false edge of the blade. Given the longer measure provided by the rear weighting of the stance, these cuts tend to be more defensive, beating aside incoming attacks or striking at the hands.

The narrow base and the point held low in the centre also gives this posta common ground with Posta Mezana Porta di Ferro. Such mechanics give it a great capacity to deliver thrusts. Always bear in mind the instruction from the ‘One is like the other‘ section which tells us that when similar guards oppose each other which are in point, the longest weapon wounds first.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 10th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. c

Translation

If he covers the left side, then take his left hand with your left hand, with all the pommel of his sword, and hang it before you and with thrusts and cuts, you can hurt him well.

Interpretation

A technically simple play, the 10th scholar has a lot in common with the many examples of elbow pushes which can be found thoughout the Fior di Battaglia. Mechanically very similar, it relies more on timing than anything else.

The set up for this play is the 3rd master of the sword in two hands, with both combatants in a moment of balance. You both have your right foot forward and the swords are crossed in the middle.

As your opponent rechambers their weapon to their left shoulder, step through with your left foot. Your foot wants to move at the same speed as their hand. Grab the base of their left hand as well as the pommel with your left hand, catching their momentum and overexaggerating their motion. Push up and forward as you step. Your right hand stays more or less in the same position in space and you step past it. Drop the point, keeping your arm tight against your body. You want a straight line from your hip, along the axis of the sword to your opponent. You will find yourself as pictured.

Your opponent is initially wide open to a sottano stab straight into the solar plexus. After that, they will be incapable of much further action. Be aware that to prevent them making one last counter strike before collapsing, the softness of the abdomen means you can pull the blade back out without it catching on any bony structures. Continue the attack while still jamming their weapon.

Sword in two hands - Wide play

Sword in two hands – 8th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 v. a

Translation

This play is called ‘exchange of thrusts’ and you do it like this. When your opponent delivers a thrust, you quickly advance your front foot off the line and with the other, pass across also off the line, crossing the sword with your arms low and with the tip of your sword raised to the face or chest, as drawn.

Interpretation

Exchanging the thrust is a crucial play to understand in armizare. From a stance with your left foot forward against a thrust from your opponent, slide your front foot off the centreline and beat the thrust with a transition to posta frontale. This leaves you making the cover of the 2nd master of sword in two hands.

Sliding offline to either side will be effective, although each option will have slightly different qualities. If you slide your foot to the left, you widen your stance, putting your body firmly on the centreline of your opponents attack. You will need to have a strong and assertive beat to win the space, but will also have a slightly shorter, and so quicker, line to counter along. If you slide to the right, you move your body out of the way of the attack, and then redefine the centreline as you step through. This is safer and requires less force, but is also very slightly slower in delivering a counter. Fiore tells us that both feet step offline, suggesting that it is the second option that he prefers.

Regardless of which side you step to, catch your opponents blade with the flat of your own. As you lock into posta frontale, give your sword an axial spin, to flick your opponents blade to the side. Keep your hands low and the point up, so as to maintain a cover against your opponent. Step through with your right foot, driving the point into your opponents face, throat or chest, as shown.

Although there are a number of steps involved, in practice this plays out as a single smooth motion. Also bear in mind that although described as a parry and counter, you can transition into this, or any of the 2nd masters scholars, from any situation which finds you crossed at the middle of the blades when in wide play.

Sword in two hands - Narrow play

Sword in two hands – 9th scholar of the 3rd master – Narrow play

Folio 29 r. b

Translation

From the play before, this one is done. As the scholar, I have seriously wounded the player by tying his arms with his sword well bound with my left arm. My sword hits his neck and puts him in this position. If I throw him to the ground, the play is complete.

Interpretation

As the 8th scholar, you have bound your opponent by the arms and struck them multiple times in the head with your sword pommel. In the unlikely event that they are still standing, you can use the play of the 9th scholar to throw them to the ground.

Step forward with your right foot, placing it between your opponents feet. Raise your left hand to your opponents chin and drop your sword blade into it. You should be left half swording your weapon, with the blade parallel to the ground and resting under your opponents chin.

Quickly step your left foot in an arc behind you, so that you spin past your opponents left shoulder. Your arms stay quite still relative to your own body, with the blade sliding around your opponents neck, arriving at the position shown.

In doing so, you will slice a complete circle around your opponents neck. Even if you are pressing on bare flesh while you do this, it is unlikely to do much more than superficial damage, but it will still be exceedingly uncomfortable for them.

Having arrived at the picture point, make a volta stabile without stopping. Lock your left hand against your shoulder and push forward with your right hand as you pivot on the balls of your feet. Your opponent will be thrown backwards by the blade pushing against their throat. They will trip over your right leg and land on their back with both cut and crush injuries to the neck from this play along with whatever you gave them previously.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 6th scholar

Folio 34 r. a

Translation

This play is from the first master of Posta de Vera Crose and Posta Bastardo. That is, when the player thrusts at the scholar, who waits for him in this guard, the scholar immediately passes with cover off the line and thrusts to his face and advances with his left foot outside the players lead foot, as shown, so as to put him on the ground so that the tip of the sword advances beyond the neck.

Interpretation

Having made the master cover from either posta de vera crose or posta di crose bastardo, this play begins very similarly to the 1st scholar. Keeping the point of the sword high and the hilt low, step in deep with your left foot as you make your thrust. Although you certainly could drive the point into your opponents face from here, there may be circumstances at play making that unfeasable. So as the 6th scholar, you make use of another option.

Strike your opponent in the neck with your left wrist. You will be forced to use the radial edge of your wrist from posta de vera crose, and the ulnar edge from posta di crose bastardo. Make it a solid percussive strike. The sword blade should extend under your opponents jaw. If you extend your reach much past a 90 degree bend in the elbow, you will have overextended your structure, making it ineffective and weak. You need to be very close for this to work. Use your left thigh to lift and push the back of your opponents front thigh so as to disrupt their balance.

Having made this strike against the neck and thigh, you will be in the position shown. To complete the throw, exaggerate the movements you have begun. Drop your weight right down so that your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knees are flared out. This will push your opponents leg out from under them as well as making an obstacle for them to fall over. As you do so, keep your right hand locked to your body and pull your left hand around in an anticlockwise direction.

Your opponent will fall backwards over your thigh. Although the application and mechanics are slightly different, the general principle of this throw can be seen in the following plays.

Sword in two hands - Wide play, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – 7th scholar of the 2nd master – Wide play

Folio 26 r. d

Translation

In this play, I fiercely kick you in the balls, and I do it to inflict pain and to make you lose your cover. This play wants to be done quickly to remove all doubt. The counter to this play must be done quickly, which is that the player has to take the right leg of the scholar with his left hand, and he can throw him to the ground.

Interpretation

Having made a posta frontale in the master play, the 7th scholar continues with the unexpected move of fiercely kicking their opponent in the groin. As Fiore alludes to in the opening sentence, even if you miss when making a groin kick, it is extremely distracting. Your opponents attention will be entirely drawn away from the sword.

It is interesting to notice that the scholar kicks with the toe rather than the instep of the foot. Either will work, but kicking with the toe gives a little more distance. Also notice that the kick is delivered with the foot that moves on the inside line. If the scholar in the above picture was to kick with the left foot, the kick would most likely skim harmlessly off the opponents thigh.

Delivering a kick like this is a four part process. First of all, you need to raise your knee to point at, or slightly above, your target. Keep your back straight, your elbows in, your shoulders down, and your head up. Keep the sole of your foot parallel to the floor. You will need to bend your supporting leg. Many people telegraph their kick by bobbing their head and sticking their elbows out. Dont be one of them.

Secondly, use the hip to flick the foot out. Keep the attacking knee still. If your are kicking with the toe, bend your toes back, and actually deliver with the ball of the foot. Even with the protection of footware, if you kick with the point of your toe, you will end up hurting yourself.

When kicking with the ball of the toe like this, other good targets include just above the pubic bone, and into the solar plexus. A well delivered kick to either of these targets will fold your opponent in half. If you kick with the instep of your foot, kick up into the groin. Be sure to get your distancing right, as if you connect with your toes, you will hyperextend your own ankle.

The third step is the reverse of the second. Without moving your knee, get your foot back as fast as possible. The return should be faster than the delivery. You will know you are doing it properly when you kick yourself in the arse with your heel. Your foot should still be parallel to the floor.

Lastly, put your foot down and attack with the sword. Where you put your foot and how you continue the attack depends entirely on the success or otherwise of your kick. Be sure to do it in a controlled and balanced manner.

If you deliver your kicks like this, they will be fast, tight, easily controlled, and capable of delivering a huge amount of power. For such a beginner level technique, few people kick well, and many telegraph their intent.

If you are on the recieving end of a front kick, reach your left hand out and catch their shin just below the knee. From there, you can do one of two things.

Easiest and fastest is to step through while sweeping your opponents leg across to your right. Use this in a similar way to the many examples of an elbow push. Given the more direct effect it has on your opponents balance, you will find it extremely effective at turning your opponent. Be sure to cover their sword as they turn. They will be left wide open to an attack.

More difficult and dangerous is to scoop your hand under your opponents calf muscle and throw it up and forward as you step through. Your opponent will fall on their back, probably with a torn hamstring. Stab them before they can recover.

Sword in two hands - Posta, Uncategorized

Sword in two hands – Posta Frontale

Folio 24 v. c

Translation

This is Posta Frontale (Forehead Guard), called by some masters Posta Corona (Crown Guard), which for crossing blades is good and for thrusts is also good. Also if the thrust is high, she crosses swords and passes off the line. And if the thrust is too low, she also goes off the line and beats its point to the ground. Also you can do otherwise, in that striking with the point return with the back foot and strike with a downward cut for the head or arms, then move to Posta Dente di Zenghiaro and immediately throw a thrust or two while advancing the foot and return with a downward cut to that guard.

Interpretation

Posta Frontale is more of a transition point than a position you would hold. From a separate chambered posta, you will arrive here typically after beating aside an incoming attack. Less frequently, you might also use it to sweep aside your opponents weapon to initiate an attack of your own. As it is drawn, you would come to this position from a posta which is chambered on the right. You could also just as easily move from a sinistral posta to posta frontale. The mechanics would be essentially the same, except you would end with your right foot forward instead.

From your starting posta, drop your elbows close to your ribs. Ideally, they should be no more than a handspan from your body. Extending your elbows will weaken the structure, however, the circumstances you are facing may demand this to a certain extent. How you hold the forearms determines the height of the sweep you are making. The illustration shows the hands held quite high. In other examples throughout the book, the hands are held almost as low as the knees. Keep the blade upright, but with the point tipping somewhat forward.

You want to move your hands in something of a horizontal circle. Catch your opponents blade at the furthest point with the flat of your blade. Your own blade will sweep across your body completely, brushing your opponents blade offline. As you lock your arms and sword in place, they will trace back slightly along an arc. Your sword will naturally twist along its axis, flicking your opponents weapon to the side. When done properly, it will have a soft quality to it. It is more a scoop than a beat. This is the moment pictured.

From here, you can step forward, making an exchange of thrusts. You can also continue the momentum downwards, breaking the thrust.

Fiores last suggestion is a combination set. Exchange the thrust, which will leave you in posta longa. From there, follow up with a fendente cut to posta dente di zenghiaro. Continue with a second thrust and cut combination from there, returning again to posta dente di zenghiaro.