Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 9th scholar

Folio 34 r. d

Translation

I also say that the scholar who is before me, who injured the player with the pommel of the sword in his face, could also do as I do. That is, advance with the right foot behind his left, and keep his sword on the players neck so as to throw him on the ground as I do.

Interpretation

This play is very similar to the 8th scholar, and indeed, you can easily finish your opponent with this play as a natural transition from either the 7th or 8th scholars

Having made the master cover, as your opponent recovers their sword, follow it by stepping through with your right foot. Use your sword to push your opponents weapon out of the way, clearing you a space to step into. Get in as close as possible. Ideally, you want the inside of your right thigh pressing against the outside of their left thigh. The closer you are, the easier the throw will be.

As your weight anchors onto your front foot, slide the handle of your sword onto the right side of your opponents neck. If they are half swording their own weapon, you can put your right arm under their elbow so that your forearm is pushing against their chest as shown. This will give you plenty to push against and you can be more confident of your throw. If they have boths hands on their sword handle, you will need to put your right arm over the top of their left, similar to the 8th scholar. Again, you want your forearm to rest against their chest as much as possible.

On a minor artistic detail, you might notice that the sword of the 9th scholar is drawn on the wrong side of the players blade. The position as shown is difficult to get into and requires a lot of cooperation. Your sword is supposed to be pushing your opponents out of the way.

Once in position, drop your weight down so that your thigh is parallel to the floor. Pivot your hips clockwise and scoop your right hand around and down to your hip. Your opponent will fall over your thigh landing on their back to your right side.

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

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 armour - Plays, Uncategorized

Sword in armour – 7th scholar

Folio 34 r. b

Translation

When I come to the guard in the narrow cover, if I cannot wound with a cut, I use the point. If I cannot injure with either of these, I will strike with the cross guards or pommel. This is done according to what I decide. And when I am in the narrow play, and the player believes I want to use the sword, I am going to grapple if it gives me the advantage. And if not, I am going to strike him in the face with the cross guards as I said before.

Interpretation

Having made the master cover, the scholar needs to flow on to another technique. When cutting and stabbing are not options, pommel striking and grapping come under consideration. In the end, the 7th scholar opts for a cross guard strike.

The master cover has swept your opponents sword off to your right side. The very close range and the mechanics of the play mean that it is safe to move in false time. Keep your left hand reasonably still in space and step your right foot past it. As your toes touch the ground, begin the strike with your right hand. It will feel something like you are punching your opponent in the forehead. Pivot the blade around the left hand and make contact as your weight sinks onto your front foot.

There is no need to try and drive this technique through your opponent. Stop the sword at vertical and then transition to something else. Eyes are particulalry vulnerable to stabbing attacks. At the very least, your opponent will be momentarily blinded, allowing you a free shot. In a perfect hit, it is possible to drive the cross guard straight through the eyeball and socket and into the brain, causing your opponent to collapse dead at your feet. Most likely is they will suffer a fractured eye socket and be unable to either see or continue fighting.

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 armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 5th scholar

Folio 33 v. d

Translation

In the lower bind, a strong key, I have held you in such a way that you cannot escape, no matter how strong you are. Trouble and death I can give you. I could write a letter that you could not see. You have no sword, no helmet, small honour and little to celebrate.

Interpretation

The 5th scholar of the sword in armour continues directly from the 4th scholar. The two plays essentially show the start and finish of the same technique.

From the master play, step through with your left foot and roll your opponents sword over to your right. You will land in the position shown by the 1st scholar. Release your left hand from your sword and lunge forward. Slide your hand over your opponents right forearm and then up behind their arm to the back of their shoulder as shown by the 4th scholar.

Pivot on the left foot and arc your right foot around 180 degrees. Use your hips to shove into your opponents space. It is important to be right on top of them. Lock your left elbow tight against your body and lever your opponent down as shown.

To hold your opponent in place long enough to write a letter explaining how bad they are, you will need to keep your hips pressed tight against their body. The closer you can move up to their armpit, the greater your mechanical advantage will be. Your opponents hand should be pressed against their spine, while you push down on their shoulder.

If you look at the master play, 1st scholar, 4th scholar and 5th scholar, they make a nice cartoon strip of entering into narrow play and applying a lower bind. Once achieved, you can stab, strike or hold your opponent as desired.

Sword in armour - Posta

Sword in armour – Posta di Crose Bastarda (Bastard Cross Guard)

Folio 33 r. b

Translation

I am Posta di Crose Bastarda (Bastard Cross Guard) related to Posta di Vera Crose. What it can do, I want to do. I make a good cover, and thrusts and cuts. Habitually, I always dodge the blows by stepping off the line. And my blows are my greatest asset.

Explanation

As the master clearly points out, Posta di Crose Bastarda and Posta di Vera Crose are variants of each other. Although shown here as a foward weighted stance, it is equally effective when rear weighted.

The main difference between these two guards is the placement of the left hand. Posta Crose Bastarda holds the hand palm down which naturally rests at the left hip, lowering the point of the sword.

By passing off line with the front foot and then sweeping the blade across the body as you step through with the back foot, this posta makes a very strong cover. Having made the cover, you can move on to any of the plays in armour. Fiore uses Posta Crose Bastarda to demonstrate the master play of sword in armour.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 4th scholar

Folio 33 v. c

Translation

When I saw that there was nothing the sword could do to you, I immediately took this grappling hold. I believe, see and feel that your armour is not worth anything now that I have you in the strong lower bind. In the next picture, I will show you.

Interpretation

Having made the crossing of the master play, your sword and left hand are pointing towards the centreline of your opponent, as shown by the drawing of the 1st scholar. Due to your opponents armour, however, you can see that continuing the attack with your sword will be inneffective.

Step in deep with your left foot. Extend your left hand under your opponents elbow, and reach behind their shoulder. Keep your own sword hand back at your hip out of the way to give the technique some space, as shown in the drawing.

Pivot on your left foot, arcing your right foot around behind you in a clockwise circle. Your left foot should end up level to or slightly behind your opponents right foot. Your hip should be pushing against theirs. Keep your left elbow locked against your hip and lever your opponents shoulder down into a ligadura sottano (lower bind).

There are numerous examples of the lower bind throughout the Fior di Battaglia. You will see it used in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Posta, Uncategorized

Sword in armour – Posta Sagittaria (Archers Guard)

Folio 33 r. a

Translation

Posta Sagittaria (Archers Guard) is the name I am called by. I give great thrusts while passing off the line. And if I come against the blow or edge, I make a good cover and immediately strike with my counter. This is my art in which I do not vary.

Explanation

Posta Sagittaria is a very interesting position. It contains elements of both posta breve la serpentina and posta serpentino lo soprano. It is also simliar in many ways to the 3rd sword guard, where the master holds his weapon in a half sword grip by the pommel.

Like the majority of the sword in armour posta, you are holding your weapon with a half sword grip. Hold your left hand against your chest and your right extended behind you. This loads your sword for a ‘great thrust.’ The mechanics of the grip favour a narrow stance. You are edge on to your opponent. This is a long range stance taken at wide play.

Step your front foot offline to open up your hips. Target the point with your left hand and then release it as the right hand delivers a single handed thrust. This thrust will cover a great distance. Even more so if you step through with your right foot while making it. The name ‘Archers guard’ gives an indication of this positions potential to strike from well out of range. In the moment of pain and confusion your opponent will experience by such an unexpected delivery, you can safely close to narrow play to complete your attack.

Sword in armour - Plays

Sword in armour – 3rd scholar

Folio 33 v. b

Translation

When I come to the narrow with this player to make the previous play, but can do nothing due to his armour, then I push the elbow so strongly that it makes him turn. If his armour is strong, I will want to try this.

Interpretation

You have just broken your opponents attack as the master of sword in armour, and have entered narrow play. Due to your opponents armour, you are not able to effectively wound them with your sword. The break, however, will cause them to turn slightly. As the 3rd scholar, you are maximising this potential opportunity.

Reach forward with your left hand. Keep your fingers together to avoid accidentally catching them on something and hurting yourself. With the fingers pointing down, put the palm of your hand on your opponents elbow. Anchor your weight on your left foot, and give a solid shove to the elbow, turning your opponent to your right.

There is a degree of timing involved in this. You need to catch your opponent as they are moving. Once they have both feet solidly on the floor, the effectiveness of the elbow push will be greatly reduced.

Depending on how far they turn, you will be to their side, or possibly even directly behind them. From here, a range of new opportunities will present themselves, despite your opponents armour. Look to the armpit, the side of the ribcage, the backs of the legs or any other unprotected area.

Grip your sword in the middle of the blade with your left hand. Use this to direct the point to your chosen target and drive it into your opponent before they recover their balance.

The elbow push is also used in the following plays.

Sword in armour - Posta

Sword in armour – Posta Porta di Ferro Mezana (Middle Iron Gate Guard)

Folio 32 v. d

Translation

Porta di Ferro Mezana (Middle Iron Gate Guard) I am called, because in armour and without I make strong thrusts, and I pass off the line with my left foot and put a thrust in your face. Or, with the point and edge between your arms, I enter in such a way that I put you in the middle bind as previously drawn and described.

Explanation

Outside of its appearance here, Posta Porta di Ferro Mezana is also used in easily transferable explanations in the Sword in two hands and Pollaxe sections. In all cases the thrust is emphasised.

In the Sword in two hands description, Fiore tells us that this posta works best with a long sword. This is a reference to the explanations from the One is like the other section. He tells us that any posta can be countered by adopting the same posta in opposition, but where the point is on the centreline, as it is here, the longer sword will have the advantage due to its extra reach.

From a relaxed stance, keep the elbows relaxed but tightly bound to the hips. Drop the blade straight down the centreline, with the point hovering just above the ground.

An invitingly open stance, from here you can flick your sword point up, allowing a recklessly advancing opponent to run onto it. Alternatively, you can go on the offensive, stepping through with the left foot as you thrust, covering a lot of distance and attacking an opponent who would have felt themselves to be out of range.

Use a roverso sottano cut to beat your opponents weapon up and to the right. You can then return along the same line with a cut to the head. The Pollaxe section, with more of a view towards dealing with an armoured opponent recommends having made the beat, you grab the blade in the middle with your left hand and stab into the face.

Another interesting option is provided here with the suggestion that you can thrust in the gap between someones arm and body. This uses your sword something like an oversized guiding rod to position you for a bind. This surprising choice would be more likely used against an armoured opponent or in a friendly bout, where you would be either less able or willing to injure your opponent with cuts and thrusts.