Here begins the plays of sword in two hands in narrow play in which it will be of all manner of covers, and strikes, and binds, and breaks, and grips, and sword disarms, and throws to the ground in different ways. And they will be the remedies and counters for every reason that you need for offence and defence.
We stand here crossed and from this crossing we will make all the plays which follow. We can do the same as each other. And all the plays will follow one another as I said before.
As with the 1st and 2nd Masters of sword in two hands, the 3rd Master also is crossed in a state of equalibrium with the player. Crossed at the base of the swords, both combatants have a strong bind. Either can take the role of master as stated ‘we can do the same as each other.’ The roles are decided by who moves first.
It is noteworthy that where the masters of wide play crossed swords with their left foot forward, the master of narrow play leads with the right. This closes the distance between the masters dominanat hand and the opponent, altering the lines of attack. Combat now occurs at the range of grappling and dagger techniques.
Here begins the plays of sword in two hands in wide play. This master who is here crossing this player at the point of the sword says: “When I am crossed at the point of the sword, I immediately switch my sword to the other side and fiercely strike a downward cut to the head or arms. Also I can put a thrust in his face, as you see in the next picture.
The 1st Master of Sword in Two Hands defends against an attack with Posta Frontale at such a distance that both swords are crossing at the tip of the blade, as shown in the picture. In this position, we can see the major defining characteristics of wide play.
As a fairly broad definition of wide play, although each combatant can grab the weapon or possibly arm of their opponent, they are unable to effectively deliver a strike without making a step.
To more tightly define what is happening here, both swords lack any real leverage in this crossing, making both the Master and the player weak in the bind. Also, due to the distance of the combatants and the angles of the blades, neither directly threaten each other with the point.
It is interesting to note that in all other manuscripts of Fior di Battaglia, both combatants in this play are Masters. The equality of their structures means that the play goes to whoever has the presence of mind to take advantage of the circumstances first.
As the Master, due to the lack of pressure in the bind, you are free to disengage, quickly lifting your sword over the tip of your opponents sword. This leaves an open line to the outside, along which you can strike down onto your opponents right forearm.
From the crossing which is done by my master with the right foot forward, I complete the first play. That is, that I pass with the left foot and put my left hand over my right arm and grab and hold his sword between his hands, in the middle of the hilt. And with cuts and thrusts I can hurt him. And this grip can be done with the sword in one or two hands. The crossing can be done above or below the hands to make such a grip.
As the 3rd Master, both combatants had their swords crossed in the middle with the right foot forward.
Ensure that the crossing has given you a space to move into by keeping the pressure on the bind. Step through with your left foot directly down the centerline. Simultaneously advance your left hand in a straight line from your own sword, over your right arm to between your opponents hands.
You can grab their sword with your thumb down, as drawn. Alternatively, you can have your thumb up and grab from underneath. Both will work. Thumb down will provide better torque to twist the blade offline.
Pull your left elbow back to lock into your hip and twist or push your forearm to the outside. The details of what to do here is determined by the grip you have taken. Regardless, the objective is to disable the weapon and move it to the side. You will not have the leverage to strip it from your opponents hand, but you will put it out of action long enough to give you at least one good strike.
Clear your own sword by pulling it in a straight line down and to the right. Pivot on your left foot if needed to give yourself the appropriate angle and distance. A range of targets will present themselves for you to strike at.
I placed a thrust in your face like the master who is before me described. Also, I could have done this, drawn back my sword immediately when I was crossed on the right, switched the sword to the left side and delivered a downward cut for the head or arms, as the master who is before me said.
Having made the cover of the 1st Master, you will find youself in Posta Frontale with both swords crossed at the tip.
At the point of the 1st Master, both combatants are weak in the bind. As the 1st scholar, you can take the initiative by simply dropping the point of your sword and extending into Posta Longa. This should drive it cleanly into your opponents face.
Alternatively, as previously described, you can quickly lift your sword over the tip of your opponents sword and strike down onto your opponents right forearm.
This is another play that comes from the crossing of my master. And from that crossing I can make this play and the others which follow me here. That is, I can take the player in this way and strike him in the face with the pommel of my sword. Also, I can strike him with a downward cut to the head before he can cover himself.
In the play of the 3rd master, both swords were crossed at the mid point of the blade.
Drop your weight down low and step through with the left foot. As you do so, raise your hands to head height. Duck under you opponents blade while turning your own sword so that the handle faces your opponent and the blade extends over your shoulder. Keep the point of the bind stationary, and be sure that everything rotates around that point. This will allow you to safely roll under your opponents blade to the other side.
Keeping your elbow in close to your body, sweep your left hand across to grab your opponents right wrist. You do not need to push their hand. Just ensure that it stays out of the way.
Align your sword to your target. Use the handle of your sword as a heavy dagger, and make a fendente strike straight forward at the base of their nose. If you allow the sword to move off its alignment and swing in an arc, it will dramatically lose speed and power. Take care in all the excitement not to slide the blade of your sword across your own shoulder.
Your opponent will be left either with a savagely broken nose, spitting out a number of teeth, or both. Cut them down at your leisure.
This is another pommel strike. And if you are quick, you will doubtless find the face uncovered. This can be done armoured and unarmoured. I have proven that four teeth will be knocked out of the mouth with such a play. And the sword can be wrapped around his neck if you want, as you will be shown in the play after this by the next scholar.
In the master play, both combatants have their right foot forward with the blades crossed in the middle. Similar to the 2nd scholar, lunge through with your left foot. At the same time, roll the handle of your sword in an arc under your opponents blade. Use the crossing point of the blades as the centre of the arc. This will provide you with cover as you cross to your opponents outside and enter the narrow play.
When the axis of your sword lines up with your opponents face, drive it forward, aiming just under the base of the nose. This strike works best if you visualise the sword handle as a dagger blade, and strike much as you would with a dagger. The power comes from the right hand, and your left only provides direction.
Fiores comment that four teeth will be knocked out is a very interesting detail. It is a very specific number, especially when coupled with the claim that he has proven this. We know from the books introduction that Fiore fought and won five formal duels. His statement here might imply that this was the play which finished one of them.
With both hands in position, and your momentum already moving to the outside of your opponent, wrapping your sword around their neck is a nice smooth way to continue from here.
You begin this play on the outside line of your opponent, with their sword safely out of the way to your right. Your own right hand is perfectly placed in front of their face. Keep it as a stable point for a moment and move everything around that.
Turn your wrist, spinning your sword in a horizontal arc around your opponents neck. As you do so, step past your opponent with your right foot. Step with your front foot turned toward your opponent as you do so. Quickly follow with your left foot in a light, fast movement.
Raise your left hand up to your left shoulder. As your left foot lands, your sword should slap with the flat of the blade into your hand. You will be facing the complete opposite direction from where you started. This is the moment depicted in the drawing.
Step back with your right foot, and as you do so, pull your right hand back to your right shoulder. This will pull your opponent backwards off balance and stretch their neck out. Your sword blade should go under their chin, with the flat of the blade just balancing on the corner of their jaw. Their head should be cradled under your chin.
Pivot 180 degrees on the balls of your feet, to end facing the same direction you were facing originally. Your right foot should be forward. As you pivot, roll your wrists down and pull both hands back as tight to your shoulders as you can.
The edge of the blade will roll onto the left carotid artery. Although your arms are locking the head in place, it is the turn of the hips which does all the damage. You are effectively throwing your opponent in a backward twist by the head using a sharp object to grab them. This will sever all the way to the neck bone with dramatic results.
When I am crossed, I pass with a cover and boldly sweep both your arms like this. And I put this thrust in your face. And if I advance my left foot, I can bind both your arms. Or else, in the next play that comes after me I grab you. That is, I bind you at the sword and hold the hilt.
From the master play, which leaves you both crossed in the middle with the right foot forward, step through with your left foot to close with your opponent. As you step, make a hooking block with your left hand. Move your forearm in a tight arc which sweeps across the front of your body, leading with the thumb. As you make contact with your opponents right wrist, your hand is ready to roll your hand over into a grab. Simultaneously raise your right hand into posta fenestra . This is the position shown.
Having arrived at this point, Fiore gives us three options.
Firstly, you can hold your arms reasonably still and pivot your hips anticlockwise. As you complete the grab on your opponents right hand, this will simultaneously pull their sword off to your left and drive the point of your own sword into their face.
Secondly, by making a quick shuffle step, moving your back foot then your front, you can step to the outside of your opponent. As you do so, spiral your left arm from the inside, over the top of your opponents elbow, and then lock your arm close to your body. It will feel like making the start of a middle bind in the way it slides over the arm. You will find yourself in a very similar situation as the 8th scholar of the 3rd master of sword in two hands, except that your sword point will be facing forward.
This is the grip that the scholar before me said that I can do. I can hurt you with no trouble. I keep hold of your sword hilt, and thrusts and cuts I will give you cheaply. And this play breaks every disarm of the sword and doing it quickly ruins the narrow play.
The mechanics of this very interesting play have a lot in common with making a ligudura mezana (middle bind). The base movement is two consecutive hooking blocks. When making a ligadura mezana, you spiral your hand around your opponents arm. Here, you spiral it around their sword. The biggest difference between the two techniques is context.
As the scholar tells us, the action for this play starts with the previous play. As the 5th scholar, you have stepped through with your left foot and made a hooking block with your left hand. Continue the motion, rolling over the top of your opponents hands and trapping the blade under your armpit. You will need to move fast and smoothly, to prevent your opponent stepping back and sliding the length of the blade along either your inner arm or ribcage.
Using a second hooking block, roll your forearm under the blade and grab the crossbar of your opponents sword. You have now pinned their sword as shown. With no means to defend themselves, you opponent is open to any cuts or thrusts you choose to make.
The play of my master I have done. I have made his cover and immediately I did as he said, in that I first wound the arms, and then I put the point in his chest.
In the preceding play, you crossed swords with your opponent in the middle of the blade. There, the master said to slide your sword down to attack your opponents hands or thrust to the chest. In this play, you demonstrate what the master described.
Moving into posta frontale during the master play should have deflected your opponents sword off the centreline. At the very last instant of this move, twist your sword along its lateral axis. In addition to knocking your opponents sword aside with the momentum of the beat, it will also add a slight flick, ensuring you have a clear opening.
Keeping your elbows locked to your hips, make a short downward cut. This is a relatively weak, but very fast action. It is driven entirely by the wrists and forarms. You are aiming for your opponents exposed left hand or forearm.
As you make contact, step through and slightly offline with your right foot. This will increase the target size. Extend your arms as shown. Maintain a downward pressure on the blade, as your technique transitions from a cut to a thrust. You will simultaneously cut into the wrist and push into the solar plexus.
When I am crossed, I come to the narrow play. I put the hilt of my sword between your hands and I raise both arms high with my sword. I will throw my left arm over both your hands, and I will wrap both arms with your sword under my left arm. And I will not stop striking you until I am tired. The play that follows me, that the scholar does, is my play and I want to do that next.
When the swords are crossed at the middle as the 3rd master, with both combatants having their right foot forward, you are in a momnet of equalibrium. As the 7th scholar, you take the initiative by binding your opponents arms.
Using the flat of your blade, slide your sword down the length of your opponents blade until you hit their crossbars. Using the contact point of the crossbars and the blade as a pivot point, push your hands forward. You want the crossbar of your own sword to go between your opponents hands and underneath their hilt. As you do so, you will need to step through with your back foot. This is the moment shown in the picture.
Be sure to step in as deep as you can into your opponents space. Keeping your elbows in tight, drive your arms straight up. This will lift your opponents sword and hands. With your left hand, let go of your own sword and roll your hand over both your opponents arms. This is a movement from the inside to the outside, in a similar manner to a hooking block.
This will bind your opponents arms under your left arm. Your sword will be chambered to deliver the devastating flow on techniques of the 8th and 9th scholars.
My master who is before me taught me that when the sword is crossed at the middle, I immediately advance forward and take his sword as shown to wound him with a cut or thrust. Also I can injure his leg in the way you see drawn here to hit him with my foot over the back of the leg or under the knee.
When acting as the second scholar, your counter is conceptually the same. Having beaten your opponents sword offline, give a lateral twist as you enter Posta Frontale to flick your opponents sword that much further away.
Let go of your own sword with your left hand and grab at the point of your opponents sword. Be sure to grab it firmly. Your opponent will instinctively try to pull it away. You will only be cut if you allow the blade to slide through your grip.
Having momentarily immobilised your opponents weapon, you now have a clear line of attack. Make a single handed cut or thrust at your opponent. You will need to step through to get proper distance. Because your opponents weapon is jammed, you are safe to make your attack in false time. Step through first, and drop all your available body weight behind your attack. This will add a degree of power to what will otherwise be quite a weak attack. You are not starting from a mechanically strong position, so take the opportunity to add everything you can to it.
As you step through, Fiore suggests maximising your advantage by kicking your opponents knee. This is explored further by the 3rd scholar.
I am also crossed in the wide play, but at the middle of the sword. And immediately that I am crossed, I slide my sword down onto the hands, and if I want to pass with my right foot off the line, I can put a thrust to the chest as drawn hereafter.
As the 2nd master, you are in Posta Frontale crossing swords with your opponent in the middle of the blade. Your hands are relatively safe and can be withdrawn by pulling them back to a more neutral position. You can even disengage competely by stepping with your front foot out of range.
For a safe and easy attack, cut straight down the line of your opponents blade as if cutting to Posta Mezzana Porta di Ferro. Strike your opponents left hand or forearm on the way through.
Alternatively, you can step through and offline to the right with your back foot. This will bring you within the range of narrow play, and give you a clear line to stab your opponent in the face or chest, as shown by the 1st scholar of the 2nd master.
Before me was the Peasant Strike where I placed a thrust in his chest. And I could have struck a blow to his head or arms with a downward cut as I said before. Also if the player wants to counter this and wound me with an upward cut under the arms, I immediately advance my left foot and put my sword on his, and he cannot do anything to me.
This play depicts the culmination of the Peasant Strike. Against an overly enthusiastic and under controlled fendente attack, as the 4th scholar, you have rolled under your opponents attack from right to left. You now finish them with a thrust to the chest as shown. You could just as well use a downward cut to the head or arms.
It is possible that your opponent will attempt a counter. In the picture, you can see your opponent, having finished the unsuccessful attack, recover to Mezana Dente di Zenghiaro, chambering themselves to deliver an upward cut or thrust.
If your opponent is fast enough here, you may be exposed to a double hit. If you feel this is the case, then instead of striking directly at your opponent, then cut down on top of their sword. This will jam their counter, and also leave you with a first move advantage to make an upward cut or thrust of your own.
When someone strikes at your leg, pull the front foot back, or step backwards and deliver a downward cut to his head as drawn here. Although with a sword in two hands you should not strike to the knee or below as there is too much danger to the one who strikes, because whoever strikes to the leg has no cover. If one has fallen to the ground, then you may well attack the leg, but otherwise, do not do it standing sword against sword.
With a sword in two hands, you should not strike at the knee or below. Here, the 6th scholar of the 2nd master gives a clear demonstration as to why not. It all comes down to geometry.
Imagine a circle whose centre is at the shoulder and whose radius extends along the line of the arm and sword. The circumference of the circle is at the swords tip. Where the radius of the circle is horizontal, it will reach the opponents head. This is shown by the scholar. Where the radius of the circle reaches for the opponents legs, it will fall short, as you can see with the player.
In practice, this makes for quite a simple technique. A cut to the leg is a relatively large movement, and you should be able to see it coming. Do not bother trying to cover it, but simply slide your front foot back out of range. Try to keep your shoulders in more or less the same place. As you step out of the way of your opponents cut, make a cut of your own to their head.
Your strike will be strike a short snap driven by your arms rather than your hips. You should finish in Posta Longa. It is not a powerful cut, but instead relies on accuracy and a complete absence of cover from your opponent. Strike right into the centre of your opponents forehead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here the sword guards of two hands begins and there are twelve guards. The first one is Posta Tutta Porto di Ferro (Full Iron Gate guard) that is like a great fortress. And it is a good guard to wait in against any hand held weapon, long or short, as long as you have a good sword with not too much length. She passes with cover and goes to the narrow play. She exchanges the thrusts and puts hers in. Also she breaks the thrusts to the ground, and always goes with a step. And she covers every blow. This guard gives those who use it great defence and does it without tiring.
Posta Tutta Porta di Ferro appears in variants across several weapon systems within armizare, being used not only in sword, but also grappling, dagger and spear.
Adopt a stance with your left foot forward. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, your back straight, and your core engaged. Bend your knees slightly and drop your weight. This will give you a very fast, mobile platform to deliver your techniques from.
The real key to this posta is keeping your shoulders and arms relaxed. Your arms will hang naturally in front of your hips. Hold the sword lightly, gripping with the last two fingers of each hand. It is this relaxation as you wait that allows you to explode into action when the right moment presents itself. By relaxing, you also hold your energy in reserve and so do not tire yourself out.
Posta Tutta di Ferro appears open and unprepared, but gives you the ability to sweep your sword across, covering the entire body. As the hands are already near your centre of gravity, a sweep is achieved using a minimum of body movement, making it a deceptively fast action. When accompanied by a step, this is very well suited to exchange or break a thrust and simultaneously enter the narrow play.