Translation – players
Here are three players that want to kill this Master. One to stab him, the other to cut, the other wants to throw his sword against the said master. It will be a great deed that he is not killed, for God has made him very skillful.
Translation – Master
‘You are cowardly wretches and of this art you know little. Do the deeds that you can only talk of. Come one by one, if you dare, and if you were a hundred I would ruin you all, this guard is so good and strong.’ I advance my front foot a little off the line and with the left, I cross sideways. And in that step across, beating your sword aside I find you uncovered, and make sure I hurt you. And if a spear or sword is thrown I will beat them all as I described by passing off the line, as you see in my plays that come after. Please watch for them. And even with a single-handed sword I will do my art as it is said in these papers.
The master of sword in one hand makes a universal defence which is common to Fiores weapon systems. Whether the master advances their front foot to the left or right is something Fiore never elaborates on throughout the many plays that use this basic concept of defence. Either side works, but the different steps give different qualities to your actions.
Defence begins with rear weighted Posta Coda Longa. Note that the right elbow is anchored to the hip. As the masters hip revolves clockwise, the sword will sweep across the body, providing either attack or defence as circumstances require.
Regardless of which of the players attacks, the Master uses the same defence. Cut upwards with a roverso sottano, beating the attack to your right. As you do so, step through with your left foot, so closing in on your opponent. This leaves you a clear line of attack to proceed with the plays which follow.
Sliding your front foot to the right is not only an instinctive way to move, but is also implied by the way different plays following on from both this master and others who use the universal defence. You will almost always be sliding your right foot to the right. Doing so puts you directly in the line of your opponents attack. You must be greatly assertive when beating the attack aside as it leaves no room for error. To your advantage, however, is that widening your stance will open your hips right up, and allow you to put a great deal of power into your beat. In doing so, you will dominate the centerline. The directness and mechanical ease of opening your stance will also make this method slightly faster.
Sliding your front foot to the left closes your hips off quite substantially and robs you of a lot of power, however, it also moves you off the line of attack. There is no need to beat your opponents attack wide, as you will no longer be standing where the attack is directed. You are more defining your right edge and will need to step past it. This changes your angle of attack and so opens up previously unavailable targets. The need to move further makes this a slightly slower method. Although a viable option, sliding offline like this is an unusual exception, usually done for tactical reasons rather than making a direct assault.