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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is Posta Bicorno (Two Horned Guard) which is locked so the point is always in the middle of the line. And what I can do with Posta Longa, I can do with this. And similarly I say for Posta di Fenestra and Posta Frontale.
Posta di Bicorno is surely the most misunderstood posta in all of armizare. The description of the text is not especially clear, the posta only appears once, and the pictures from different manuscripts show different grips.
The two horns in the name refer to a two horned anvil. Armourers will be familiar with these pieces of equipment. You can see this concept reflected in the text where Fiore tells us that the posta is locked in the centreline. This posta will not be beaten aside regardless of how hard you hit it.
Having said that, it is also classed as an unstable (instabile) posta. The sword is separated from your core, and is held in place by the strength of your arms. You can transition in and out of this posta, but should not rest there.
The biggest point of contention with this posta is the grip. The Getty, the Florius and the Morgan manuscripts show the left hand with the thumb facing back, or even cupped over the swords pommel. This feels completely counter intuitive, but it will make for an incredibly solid blade that is very useful in the exchange.
From a centreline posta, such as posta frontale, roll your right hand inward 90 degrees so that the true edge of the blade moves from the bottom to the left. As you do so, release the grip with your left hand. Maintaining contact with your palm, roll your hand back 180 degrees and then take hold of the handle again with your thumb towards the pommel. Keep your elbows in tight, your hands close to your chest, and your forearms braced against each other.
This gives a very strong line which will redirect a thrust from the bind. Although you will not be able to extend your arms, you can use your legs to make up distance, stepping into your opponent. Your sword will push through your opponents defences.
Alternatively, you can keep the thumb forward, as drawn in the Pisani Dossi. The movement of the right hand is the same as described above. With the left hand, simply loosen your grip and allow the handle to slide inside it. Tighten your hand again when the sword is in place. Again, you end up locking the forearms together, which holds the point in the centreline.
The scholar who is before me completed the play and now I do what he described. Your arms have been bound in the middle bind. Your sword is imprisoned and it cannot help you. And with mine I can injure you. I can put my sword around your neck without a doubt. And I can do the play that comes after me straight away.
Coming from the master play, you have stepped through with your left foot. Moving on the inside line, you move past your opponents sword and wrap your left arm over both your oppponents arms. The text tells us this play follows the 7th scholar. You could also arrive at this point as a continuation of the 5th scholar.
Be sure to step in very close. As you wrap your opponents arms, chamber your sword for a pommel strike. You will be in the position shown.
Lock your left arm tight to your body to hold your opponents arms. You are perfectly placed to make a series of pommel strikes into your opponents face. These will work best if you think of the handle of your sword as the blade of a dagger which you are using to make a series of fendente strikes. You want the sword to move in a straight line forward and back along the line of the blade. If you swing it in arc, you will rapidly lose power and control of your strikes.
The 7th scholar tells us that you can strike until you are exhausted. In practice, you should be able to deliver between two and five good solid strikes until your momentum runs out and your opponent collapses. This should be more than enough to finish the fight, however, if you choose, you can still continue as the 9th scholar.