Elza e Fugie

Elza e Fugie is a generic defensive technique that utilises the false edge parry, followed by a riposte as you slip back out of measure. Marrozo gives us an excellent description in Libro 1, Capitolo 14 of his text…

In case you don't know what elza e fugie is, I will explain it to you presently. Elza e fugie is when your opponent delivers you a dangerous blow as you are in porta di ferro alta or stretta or larga, or sopra il braccio, or in coda lunga e stretta, or in cinghiara porta di ferro ­ no matter what posture you are in, as long as it is a low guard. In the time that he delivers the blow, you will give a strong upward falso followed by a mandritto fendente, at the same time pulling your right leg behind the left. This is called elza e fugie. Please know that this technique is a good counter against one who wants to penetrate your guard therefore make a note of it and be careful. (William Wilson,  Arte dell’ Armi Books One & Two, http://www.marozzo.org/marozzo­trans.pdf, accessed 27 Feb 2007)

The actual technique generally works as follows:

  1. From our low guardia, parry the opponent's attack with a rising falso (either falso manco or falso dritto). The opponent’s sword should be beaten offline, and our sword should be in the high line.
  2. Using the charity ribbon technique to conserve momentum, riposte with a descending blow to an open target on the opponent. Head and arms are both excellent targets. This riposte is made as you slip back the front foot to the rear foot.
  3. Step back with the rear foot into a passo largo stance. This should add a slicing action to the riposte, as well as helping us to fly back out of measure.
  4. Ensure you finish in a guardia with the sword in prescence.

So lets look at a couple of examples from Manciolino, to see how this would work. We'll start with the defence of the mandritto from Porta di Ferro Larga…

From Porta di Ferro Larga, when the enemy throws a mandritto to the head, parry with the false edge and riposte with a mandritto to the face. [Manciolino, Libro 1, Capitolo 18]

This is another of those techniques where he gives us a specific action, but omits the footwork. If we perform this defence using the principles of elza e fugie it quickly becomes a readily understood and effective response. So when we look at it step by step it becomes…

  1. Our guardia is Porta di Ferro Larga, and our opponent has taken the initiative and thrown a mandritto at our head.
  2. Without moving our feet we parry the incoming blow with a falso dritto,  ensuring we lead with the tip. We use the falso dritto since this lets us cut into the inside of the opponent's blade, deflecting it to the outside of our buckler.
  3. At the top the arc for a rising cut we allow the sword to loop over, and come back down with a mandritto to the opponent's head. We also slip back our right foot to the left as the blow is descending, which should result in the debole of the sword cutting the opponent's face.
  4. For our safety, we then step back with the left foot, pulling the blade edge through the face with a slice, finishing in Porta di Ferro Stretta.

Next we'll look at the defence of the mandritto from Porta di Ferro Stretta. This sequence is interesting for us because we don't know which side of the sword the mandritto will be on, and hence we have two possible variations.

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, as they throw the mandritto to the head parry with a falso and cut to the leg with a riverso. (Manciolino, Libro 1 Capitolo 6)

For the purposes of  illustration, we are going to assume both fencers are starting from Porta di Ferro Stretta, and that the attacking opponent is using the extension into Guardia di Testa as the charging action. Thus we have the mandritto cutting either over the top of our sword, or underneath our sword by cut over. Let's start with the mandritto as the direct cut over our sword.

  1. The opponent extends to Guardia di Testa, and the throws a mandritto to the head on a left pass.
  2. Parry the mandritto with a falso manco by extending into Guardia di Faccia, pointing the sword at the opponent's left shoulder. This action should be done on a slip back with the right foot.
  3. Continue the momentum of the sword by rotating the forearm to turn the sword, and then throw a riverso to the leg as you step back with the left foot into a passo largo stance.
  4. For your safety slip back the right foot, extending the sword into Guardia di Faccia. Retreat back out of measure and then return to Porta di Ferro Stretta.

We want to slip back on the parry in this case to give ourselves time to react to the attack.

Now let's look at the mandritto variant thrown by cut over.

  1. The opponent extend to Guardia di Testa whilst gathering the left foot to the right, and then on a right passing step throws a mandritto to the head.
  2. Parry the mandritto with a falso dritto that transitions to Sotto il Braccio, whilst slipping back the right foot.
  3. Continue the momentum of the sword, pulling the sword tip past the tip of the opponent's sword and then cutting riverso to the opponent's leg as you step back with the left foot into a passo largo stance.
  4. For your safety slip back the right foot, extending the sword into Guardia di Faccia. Retreat back out of measure and then return to Porta di Ferro Stretta.

Again, we slip back with the parry to give ourselves time for reacting with the parry. In both cases the slip is slightly increasing measure, and thus extending the tempo of the attack from our opponent.

Spadone – Lesson 17

Lesson 17 – Spadone vs Sword

Ok so the last class of term rolls around and we're dealing with temperatures in excess of 30°C! That meant we did a different class to what should have been a bouting practice class, because I wasn't going to let people armour up in that sort of weather. So what we did was look at some basic concepts behind spadone versus single handed sword. It's really an applied class for the drilling work we've been doing for weeks.

Countering the Parry of Guardia di Testa

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent parries with Guardia di Testa.
  4. Blow fails, attacker retreats back out of distance.

This first drill is about showing how the guy with a single handed sword must defend themselves using a committed parry structure. The force behind the spadone blow will smash through any improperly formed guard. What the students learnt here is that fully committed defensive structure gave the spadone wielder a free tempo to redouble their blows, which is what the next drill is all about.

Redoubled Blow Against a Committed Parry

  1. Attacker repeats mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind
  2. Opponent parries with Guardia di Testa
  3. As we see the extension into the parry, beat sword to left by pushing pommel under arm to throw mandritto falso tondo. Rebouble with tondo to head or body.
  4. Opponent takes the hit
  5. Attacker retreats out of measure.

So what we saw here was the ease with which we could defeat the committed parry. The students then decided that the committed parry was a sub-optimal solution for the swordsman, so they decided they'd try a beat parry instead, stepping into the spadone blow to meet it before it comes to full force.

Redoubled Blow Against the Closing Beat Parry

First we practised the actual parry whilst stepping inwards…

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent parries with mezzo mandritto, gathering or passing forward to meet the blow.
  4. Blow fails, attacker retreats back out of distance.
  5. Opponent attempts to riposte with riverso to head.

The opponents actually managed to get the occassional parry & riposte to land so they were emboldened by this success. This was when I informed them of the one small issue they have, which is the speed with which the spadone can redirect, and it's superior leverage…

  1. Attacker repeats mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind
  2. Opponent parries with mezzo mandritto
  3. As we see the forward movement into the parry, beat sword to left by redirecting the mandritto towards the debole of the opponent's sword. Rebouble with tondo to head or body.
  4. Opponent takes the hit
  5. Attacker retreats out of measure.

The students suddenly realised that the spadone has superior leverage, and the ease with which you could redirect the blade meant that the mezzo mandritto was not a safe parry at all. It was at this point one bright spark said that it was impossible to get the forte into the parry with a mezzo mandritto, so we should parry stepping in with the hanging parry instead. So we had a look!

Redoubled Blow Against the Closing Hanging Parry

Looking to be able to close with a hanging parry, we had the opponent switch to Coda Lunga Stretta, which allowed them to gether in or pass in with Guardia d'Alicorno as the parry, which continues as a tramazzone to riposte to the head.

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Coda Lunga Stretta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent parries with Guardia d'Alicorno, gathering or passing forward to meet the blow.
  4. Blow fails, attacker retreats back out of distance.
  5. Opponent throws tramazzone to riposte to the head.

Again, the opponent's had the occassional riposte success, and then I asked the question regarding whether the spadone wielder would just blindly continue the blow, or would they capitalise on the weakness of Guardia d'Alicorno? Again leverage with the spadone becomes our friend…

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Coda Lunga Stretta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent parries with Guardia d'Alicorno, gathering or passing forward to meet the blow.
  4. As we see the forward movement into the parry, redirect the mandritto towards the opponent's leg, cutting through the debole of the opponent's sword. Rebouble with tondo to head or body.
  5. Opponent takes the hit
  6. Attacker retreats out of measure.

By redirecting the mandritto towards the leg, aiming to cut through the opponent's debole, we end up with a huge leverage difference. That difference is the oppoenent's thumb trying to oppose the lever we have between our two hand with the spadone hilt. It's an order of magnitude in difference, and the student's all found that their parry collapsed under the redirected attack. This redirected attack was effectively taking people off at the knee, and they found it disturbing how easily the redirection could be done.

Countering the Spadone With a Strong Cut From Guardia Alta

I then posed the question, what's the weakness of the cut from the spadone? They all quickly understood I was talking about the downwards momentum of the cut, which they already knew can be difficult to control. We can capitalise on this by adding to the momentum…

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Guardi Alta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent traverses right, hitting the spadone downwards with a strong mandritto or fendente.
  4. Blow is driven downwards into the ground, attacker typically loses their grip with the front hand.
  5. Opponent riposte with a blow to the exposed body or head.

Everybody loved the way this action nearly completely beats the spadone out of the hands of the attacker! This was when I asked, are we as spadone users smart or stupid? What do we know about dealing with Guardia Alta from our other studies? That's when I got the answer that if it was sword & buckler, we should be attacking the hand, which is exactly what I wanted to hear! (Yeah I've got some smart students who are really starting to put the pieces together!)

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Guardi Alta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto to the opponent's sword wrist from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent traverses right, attempting to hit the spadone downwards with a strong mandritto or fendente.
  4. Attacker hits to the hand with the original mandritto by redirecting the blow sideways, and then reboubles with a second blow.
  5. Opponent takes the hits, and the attacker retreats out of distance.

Attacking at the sword wrist just shuts down the strong cut out of Guardia Alta. I even saw a few times students throwing the initial attack a bit slower to encourage the counterattack, just so that they could redirect the cut into the wrist as the opponent started to throw their blow. It really brought home that the spadone user can't just be a guy relying on force to win, they can also be really smart about it.

What if I Attack into the Cut With an Extended Thrust?

It was at this point that one of my students came up with the clever idea of using the counterthrust to attack into the cut from the spadone wielder. The thinking being that the extended point would give the reach to defeat the attack from the spadone.

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Guardi Alta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent passes forward and left, counterthrusting in Guardia di Faccia with the the edge turned upwards to close the line as they hit.
  4. Attacker takes the hit, with the opponent withdrawing back and right behind the extended point.

Seems easy when you write it, but the opponent needed to really commit to the closing action. Most of the time the spadone wielder would subconsciously redirect their cut inwards collecting the incoming thrust and still hitting the opponent without being hit. So we changed up the footwork to give the opponent extra tempo through am increase in measure.

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Guardi Alta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent slips back closing the inside line with a mezzo mandritto, immediately following with step in thrusting to the chest or head as the spadone passes through to the ground.
  4. Attacker takes the hit, with the opponent withdrawing back and right behind the extended point.

Except We Can Easily Defeat the Counterthrust

The slip back had one fatal flaw, it also gives the spadone wielder a tempo within which they can react, and their greater reach proves fatal…

  1. Attacker with spadone, opponent with single handed sword in Guardi Alta.
  2. Attacker throws mandritto from Right Guard, Point Behind.
  3. Opponent slips back closing the inside line with a mezzo mandritto, immediately following with step in thrusting to the chest or head as the spadone passes through to the ground.
  4. As the opponent slips back, the attacker also slips back changing the mandritto into a single handed thrust by letting go with the right hand.
  5. Opponent takes hit either directly or as they start to move forward with their attack.
  6. Attacker retreats back, pulling the spadone back into a point forward guard.

The students taking the role of the swordsman all quickly found they couldn't stop the thrust single from the spadone. The biggest complaint was the lack of time to react, with the spadone just moving too fast to prevent the thrust from landing.

Summing Up

The guy with the spadone has a huge advantage in reach, leverage, momentum and initiative. The guy with the sword is at a major disadvantage, especially if the spadone guy is sensible with his actions. As we saw, the clever man can easily deal with anything the guy with a sword can throw at you, which just goes to point out why the spadone was such an effective battlefield weapon.

Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 14

Lesson 14 – The Slip

Introduction

This lesson we look at the next defensive concept – The Slip. The primary advantage of the slip is that it allows you to bring your body just outside the enemy’s death bubble, whilst leaving yourself free to riposte in safety as the sword harmlessly passes through. It is however vulnerable to a hit when the enemy subtly extends their range with a body lean or gathering step, so it is always good practice to cover the line of the attack with your equipment to prevent this vulnerability. We looked at the specific examples of covering the attack with both the buckler and the sword whilst performing a slip.

Revision – Falso Parry against the Thrust

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes with the left foot extending the thrust, parry it with a falso…
[Manciolino – Libro 1, Capitolo 14 & Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

The Slip

Concept 1 – Buckler Parry And Riposte With Slip

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, defend your head with your buckler, riposte by slipping back your right foot, throwing a montante that ends in Guardia Alta.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 1st Assault]

Class Notes

The primary goal of this exercise was to get the students used to the slip footwork. The dual buckler parry with a riposte on the slip teaches the concept of defence in depth, mostly by osmosis. The key to the buckler parry is to extend the buckler hand into Guardia di Testa.

Concept 2 – Defence Of The Thrust And Riverso Feint & Mandritto

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy extends the thrust, pass back into Cingiara Porta di Ferro Stretta. When the enemy passes right throwing the riverso feint & mandritto, parry the mandritto with a falso and riposte stepping forward with the right foot to give a mandritto to the face.
[Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 14]

Class Notes

The agent in this sequence is attacking with a thrust, riverso feint and mandritto on a pass and traverse. The patient agent will be using a variant of the contract and expand footwork.

The first step of the pass back is a 45° step back to the right with the right foot. The sword hand should transition from in front of the right leg to in front of the left leg. This will both clear the body out of the line of the direct attack, and also provide a secondary clearance of the attacking thrust with the sword.

In general, the riverso feint will cause the defender to turn the sword slightly towards the feint to the outside. The key thing the student needs to remember at this time is that the pass back has also placed them out of the distance of the second attack, and the opponent can not hit them easily without moving forward. The falso parry of the mandritto will depend on the line taken by the attacker's sword. If they take the outside learning turning over the sword, the falso parry is an extension into Guardia di Faccia. If it turns to the inside under the sword, the falso parry is the falso cut to Sopra il Braccio. It is also possible to parry the outside attack the same way, but first disengage under the sword to allow the falso cut to Sopra il Braccio.

The riposte is taken on a pass right with the right foot, which can either bring you back to the original Porta di Ferro Stretta position, or Porta di Ferro Stretta off to the right of your original starting position. The angle of the passing step is determined by the position of the enemy at the time of the riposte.

Concept 3 – Slip, Parry And Riposte Against the Thrust And Head Blow Combination

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes to give the thrust, slip the blow by passing back your right foot ending in Cingiara Porta di Ferro. When he traverses to throw the head blow (mandritto or fendente), pass right and parry with a rising falso traversale, and riposte with a riverso to the leg. Pass back, extending a thrust to the face, covering the sword hand with your buckler, and ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Notes

The sequence used in Concept 2 whilst being effective is not what could be described as universal, being more situational depending on the type of redoubled action used by the attacker. In this drill, we examine a more universal parry to the redoubled attack.

The preferred parry to the redoubled attack is the falso traversale. This is a rising falso parry that cuts across the line of engagement. This is generally done by cutting from right to left, bringing the false edge of the sword to the left hand side of the face of the buckler. Essentially you are cutting to a point up Sotto il Braccio position. This type of parry is also shown in Manciolino's Primo Assalto, where he writes several times:

…and in such passage you will give a blow with your false edge to the dome of your buckler…
Manciolino, Libro 2 – Primo Assalto

The falso traversale is never actually described, and this description in the Assalto is one of the keys to it's execution.

The finishing position also places you in the perfect position to throw a riverso riposte to the leg of the enemy. This is followed by the retreat behind an extended point, which will discourage the enemy from following you during the retreat.


Previous | Sword & Buckler Curriculum | Next

Giganti Lesson 12 – Cuts and Their Counters

​Lesson 12

Warmups

  1. Weight exercise
  2. Translate & Turn
  3. Lunge with resistance
  4. Footwork drills
  5. Lunge drills

Review Lesson 11 – Inquartata

  1. Invite the opponent to gain on the outside. As he begins the glide, cavazione to the inside, stepping with inquartata, hitting to the face.
  2. Invite the opponent to gain on the outside. As he begins the glide, cavazione to the inside, stepping with inquartata, hitting to the chest with sword hilt raised (point under their hilt).
  3. Invite the opponent to gain on the inside. Cavazione to the outside and push against the opponent's sword. If they push back, cavazione to the inside and perform inquartata.

Cuts and Their Counters

Cuts as afencing action actually consists of two actions, a percussive element and a slicing element. Each of these elments are needed to deliver an effective cut, otherwise you just have an impact blow with the edge that doesn't do any real damage to the opponent. Cuts with a rapier are far less forgiving of poor technique due to the relatively thinner blade profile that has less mass behind the blow.

Mandritto to the Head

From Guardia Terza, we need to perform a charging action to take the point offline so that the edge is now in line for the cut. This charging action is centered around a rotation action from the elbow. The mandritto to the head is performed on the lunge, with the actions coordinating during the lunge as follows:

  1. Starting from Guardia Terza, the sword hand lifts from the elbow pulliing the hand back to charge the blow. Some people may find it easier if they allow the thumb to turn to the 11 o'clock position as they do this. The action of the hand lifting should also be accompanied by a slight hand movement that moves the pommel from in line with the wrist to in line with the heel of the hand.
  2. When the hand reaches about temple height, rotate the forearm to turn the thumb to the 2 o'clock position and begin extending the arm forward, keeping the pommel in line with the heel of the hand.
  3. As the arm reaches the extended position the legs drive the body forward into the lunge position. The sword hand continues moving until it is aligned in front of the the left shoulder. (Right handed fencer assumed)
  4. Initial impact to the opponent's head occurs as the front foot lands on the heel during the lunge. The sword should be forming a line across the line of engagement from in front of your left shoulder to the left temple of the opponent. The sword edge should be impacting just in front of the blade's percussion point.
  5. Complete the lunge with the weight rolling forward onto the front foot. As you do so, push the thumb of the sword hand forward, transitioning the pommel to in line with the wrist to provide a forward slicing action. The hand should stay in front of the left shoulder as this maintains the pressure of the slicing cut.
  6. Recover as per usual, making sure the arm withdraws last.

Note: The mandritto to the head can be made from the chest to the head.

Counter to the Mandritto to the Head

The charging action for the mandritto presents the perfect tempo for a counterattack against the cut. The key to the counterattack is to perform it in such a mannner that it simultaneously parries the mandritto as you hit the opponent.

  1. The opponent begins the mandritto on the lunge as described above.
  2. As the opponent's arm starts to extend forward to deliver the cut, turn the true edge of the sword upwards to between 10-11 o'clock and extend a counterthrust to the face. The sword hand should be at about the height of your left cheek, to ensure that the head is covered against the mandritto by the forte of the sword.

Note: One of the key problems that will result in double hits is the failure to turn up the hand first to cover the head. This is typically a result of the fencer rushing to hit with the counterthrust, neglecting the simultaneous defence.

Mandritto to the Leg

The mandritto to the leg is performed in the same manner as the mandritto to the head.

  1. Starting from Guardia Terza, the sword hand lifts slightly from the elbow pulliing the hand back to charge the blow. Some people may find it easier if they allow the thumb to turn to the 11 o'clock position as they do this. The action of the hand lifting should also be accompanied by a slight hand movement that moves the pommel from in line with the wrist to in line with the heel of the hand.
  2. When the hand reaches about shoulder height, rotate the forearm to turn the thumb to the 2 o'clock position and begin extending the arm forward, keeping the pommel in line with the heel of the hand.
  3. As the arm reaches the extended position the legs drive the body forward into the lunge position. The sword hand continues moving until it is aligned in front of the the left side of the chest. (Right handed fencer assumed)
  4. Initial impact to the opponent's leg (usually the thigh) occurs as the front foot lands on the heel during the lunge. The sword should be forming a line across the line of engagement from in left side of your chest to the inside of the thigh of the opponent's leading leg. The sword edge should be impacting just in front of the blade's percussion point.
  5. Complete the lunge with the weight rolling forward onto the front foot. As you do so, push the thumb of the sword hand forward, transitioning the pommel to in line with the wrist to provide a forward slicing action. The hand should stay in line with the left side of the chest as this maintains the pressure of the slicing cut.
  6. Recover as per usual, making sure the arm withdraws last.

Note: The mandritto to the leg can also be made from the flank down to the knee.

Counter to the Mandritto to the Leg

The counter to the leg relies on geometry and body positioning to counterattack the opponent as they throw a mandritto to the leg. The counter is performed as follows:

  1. Opponent throws the mandritto ot the leg as described above.
  2. As the opponent extends the arm beginning their lunge, slip back the front foot to your rear foot and extend a straight thrust at the opponent's face. The leg should be clear of the incoming cut, and the opponent should lunge into your extended point.
  3. Opponent takes the hit.
  4. Recover backwards out of distance.

In this particular case, our safety derives from the geometrical advantage we achieve through the slipping action. Our counterthrust is on the side of the right angle triangle formed by our body and the 2 sword arms, however the opponent's sword and arm is on the hypotenuse and therefore needs to be proportionately much longer to reach the leg.

Riverso to the Leg

Surprisingly, Giganti doesn't discuss the way to throw the riverso at all in his manual.  The method for throwing the riverso is from Capo Ferro, and is in concordance with how Giganti describes the throwing of the mandritto.

  1. The action begins with the opponent gaining the student's sword to the high inside line.
  2. In response to the opponent's gaining action, the student disengages clockwise, and as the sword hand passes under the opponent's sword tip allow the thumb to turn to the 11 o'clock position presenting the true edge towards the opponent's leg. The disengage should also be accompanied by a slight hand movement that moves the pommel from in line with the wrist to in line with the heel of the hand.
  3. When the hand reaches about the middle of the chest,  begin extending the arm forward, keeping the pommel in line with the heel of the hand.
  4. As the arm reaches the extended position the legs drive the body forward into the lunge position. The sword hand continues moving until it is aligned in front of the right side of the chest. (Right handed fencer assumed)
  5. Initial impact to the opponent's leg (usually the thigh) occurs as the front foot lands on the heel during the lunge. The sword should be forming a line across the line of engagement from in right side of your chest to the outside of the thigh of the opponent's leading leg. The sword edge should be impacting just in front of the blade's percussion point.
  6. Complete the lunge with the weight rolling forward onto the front foot. As you do so, push the thumb of the sword hand forward, transitioning the pommel to in line with the wrist to provide a forward slicing action. The hand should stay in line with the right side of the chest as this maintains the pressure of the slicing cut.
  7. Recover as per usual, making sure the arm withdraws last.

Note: The riverso to the leg can also be made from the flank down to the knee.

Counter to the Riverso to the Leg

The counter to the riverso to the leg is described by Giganti, and we are told is made using the same counter we use against the mandritto to the leg. In other words, this is a universal defence for attacks to the leg. The counter is performed as follows:

  1. Student gains the opponent's sword in the high inside line.
  2. Opponent throws the riverso ot the leg as described above.
  3. As the opponent extends the arm beginning their lunge, slip back the front foot to your rear foot and extend a straight thrust at the opponent's face. The leg should be clear of the incoming cut, and the opponent should lunge into your extended point.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Recover backwards out of distance.

Capoferro also states that as we slip back the right leg we can also throw a stramazzone to the opponent's sword arm. This is performed using an anti-clockwise cavazione action, to cut to the outside of the opponent's sword arm.

Riverso to the Head

Again Capoferro provides us with an explanation of how to throw the riverso to the head, this time as a forced glide action against the gain by the opponent.

  1. Opponent gains the student's sword on the high inside line.
  2. In response to the gain the student lifts their sword tip up and placing it over the opponent's sword so that the forte is closing the inside line, whilst turning the sword hand into 4th. This will move the opponent's sword tip to be in line with just outside the left side of the student's chest.
  3. Student then glides down the oppoent's sword beginning their lunge sequence, keeping the forte in contact with the sword. As they reach the medole of the opponent's sword, turn the hand over into 2nd, cutting with riverso to the opponent's right temple. The cut finishes with the pushing action used with the completion of our lunge.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Allow the tip to lift up and turn the sword hand into 3rd, and cut downwards with mandritto fendente, using the lunge recovery to make the slicing action. The student should return to Guardia Terza.

Counter to the Riverso to the Head

This counter is from Capoferro, and is interesting in that it's nearly identical to the counter against the mandritto to the face given by Giganti.

  1. The student gains the opponent's sword to the high inside line.
  2. Opponent begins the riverso to the face as described above.
  3. As the opponent lifts their tip up to engage the student's debole in 4th, the student will cavazione clockwise lifting their sword hand up and turning the true edge upwards to between 10-11 o'clock, and immediately lunges to hit to the chest. The sword hand must stay high to prevent the opponent from being able to make their riverso, and should be ideally in line with the right shoulder.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Recover back to Guardia Terza.

Previous | Giganti Curriculum | Next

Spadone – Lesson 16

Lesson 16 – Thrust Provocactions

This lesson builds on Lesson 4 where we used the initial imbroccata thrust as a feint. This time we'll be using the same sort of action as a provocation, with the action setting up the molinetto in 2nd intention.

Revision

  1. Thrust in 2nd Intention
  2. Thrust in 2nd Intention on a Pass
  3. Low Line Thrust in 2nd Intention
  4. Low Line Thrust in 2nd Intention on a Pass

Thrust Provocations with Cuts in 2nd Intention

The imbrocatta thrust from either the point forward or hanging guards can be readily turned into a redoubled cut. We can use this imbrocatta  action to provoke a response from our opponent, opening them up for the redoubled cut.

Thrust & Riverso

  1. From Left Hanging Guard, lean forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn the sword through a circular cut deliver a riverso to the head.

Thrust and Mandritto

  1. From Right Hanging Guard, lean forwards and deliver imbroccata to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn the the sword through a circular cut to deliver a mandritto to the head

Note: These two static footwork drills allow the students to learn how to turn the thrust into a cut.

Thrust and Redouble

This is a moving drill designed to teach the student to flow the thrust into the cut, and then into a hanging guard in defence.

  1. From Right Hanging Guard, make a volta stabile forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  2. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn a circular mandritto to the head on a right step forward. Make sure the step forward is performed in a true time with the forward motion of the mandritto.
  3. Redouble with mandritto tondo without moving the feet.
  4. Recover back with volta stabile to Left Hanging Guard.
  5. Make a volta stabile forwards and deliver imbrocatta to the chest.
  6. Drop the tip and using the momentum to turn a circular riverso to the head on the left step forward. Make sure the step forward is made in a true time with the forward motion of the riverso.
  7. Redouble with riverso tondo without moving the feet.
  8. Recover back to Right Hanging Guard.
  9. Repeat from 1.

If space is limited turn to face the opposite direction in Left Guard, Point Forward and instead throw a riverso combination followed by a mandritto combination.

Bouting Practice

1 on 1, both with spadone

This is a limited target drill, where the targets are restricted to the head and forearms. Each fencer is using the spadone simulators, since we don't generally have enough protective armour to use the steel blunts.

2 on 1, with 2 using boffers

This bouting exercise is designed to teach the spadone wielder to use redoubled cuts against multiple opponents. Since the spadone wielder is using a shinai simulator, we used boffer swords instead to simulate the relative weakness the single handed swords have against the spadone.


Previous | Curriculum Index | Next

Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 13

Lesson 13 –  Falso Parry & Riposte against Thrust & Riverso

Warm Up

  1. Mandritto to Sopra il Braccio & riverso to Coda Lunga from Guardia Alta on a pass left and a pass right.
  2. Mandritto to Sotto il Braccio & rising riverso to Guardia Alta from Guardi Alta on a pass left and right.
  3. Fendente & Tramazzoni from Guardia Alta on a pass left and right.

Revision

Drill 1 – Thrust Provocation to the High Inside

  1. From Porta di Ferro Stretta, attacker throws a thrust to the high inside line.
  2. Defender parries with a falso to Sopra il Braccio.
  3. Attacker redoubles with a riverso to the head on a left pass

Drill 2 – Thrust Provocation to the High Outside Line

  1. From Porta di Ferro, attacker throws a thrust to the high outside line on a left pass.
  2. Defender parries with falso extension to Guardia di Faccia
  3. Attacker redoubles with a mandritto to the head on a traverse right.

Parry Riposte vs Thrust & Riverso

Concept 1 – Parry And Riposte Against The Thrust And Riverso

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes with the left foot to throw the thrust, parry with the false edge without moving your feet. When the enemy throws the riverso, pass left parrying the riverso by turning your true edge towards his sword, and defending your head with your buckler. Riposte by checking the enemy's sword with your buckler and throwing a stocatta to the face or chest, and then jump backwards, ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino – Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Note

This drill is to teach defence against a redoubled attack. Since the feet do not move for the falso parry, all you have to do is pick the correct parry for the line through which the attack is made. In this case, because the redoubled attack will be riverso, the initial thrust by the opponent must be a provocation thrust to the inside, since a provocation to the outside just closes the line through which we wish to attack. For the defender it becomes…

  1. Parry with falso sweeping sword to left
  2. Parry with true edge cutting to right
  3. Check their sword and stab them with a rising thrust.

This sequence actually shows how the falso parry sets you up to quickly parry an subsequent redoubled blow, which is the teaching aim of this drill.

Concept 2 – Parry Riposte Against Thrust & Riverso To The Leg Combination

From Porta di Ferro Stretta, when the enemy passes left to throw the punta, traverse with the left foot and parry with a falso, ending in Guardia di Faccia. When the enemy throws the riverso to the leg, pass right and parry with a rising mezzo riverso, and riposte with a mandritto traversale to the sword arm, defending the head with your buckler. Pass back with the right foot into Guardia di Faccia, and then pass back the left foot ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino – Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Class Note

This time the enemy provokes with the thrust through the high outside line, so that they can redouble to the low outside line. The falso is done as the extension into Guardia di Faccia with a traversing step of the left foot. This helps reorient the extending sword into the incoming thrust, creating a good crosswise opposition to the incoming sword. We then follow this with the correct parry against any outside blow to the leg, which is the rising mezzo riverso cut into the blow, and should be recognisable to modern fencers as the parry of 2nd. The riposte to the sword arm is made on the corrective step, and we finish with another classic Bolognese defence, the retreat behind the extended sword. (Colloquially called the F$%# Off defence when I teach it!) It’s designed to stop the enemy chasing you down.


Previous | Sword & Buckler Curriculum | Next

Giganti Lesson 11 – Inquartata

Lesson 11

Warmups

  1. Weight exercise
  2. Translate & Turn
  3. Lunge with resistance
  4. Footwork drills
  5. Lunge drills

Review Lesson 10

  1. Invitations to hit through an open line, so that you can parry riposte
  2. Invitations to gain the sword, so that you can hit with cavazione & riposte

Inquartata

The inquartata is our first introduction to the concept of counterattacks, as well as being a characterisically Italian fencing action. The inquartata is a body voiding action, that simultaneously closes the inside line as we move our body towards the outside. When done properly it almost looks like the sword has stayed stationary in space, and we've moved our body behind it to close the inside line.

For teaching purposes, I primarily teach the more classical style of inquartata which looks like an angled reverse lunge. The inquartata demonstrated by Giganti is what I call the volta, as a way of differentiating the form.

giganti-volta
[caption id="attachment_654" align="alignnone" width="794"]parise_inquartata Parise’s Inquartata (the classical inquartata) (ref 2)

The main reason for teaching the later classical form is that it helps the student understand the timing of the action, allowing them to build up to the full volta shown by Giganti. I've found that by starting with the classical version, students are much less likely to be counterhit (a very common problem when you get the timing wrong) when you perform the full volta style inquartata.

Inquartata as a Direct Counterattack

This is the initial teaching action, where we teach the actual sequence of the counterattack in response to the high inside gain of the sword by the opponent.

  1. Student will invite a thrust to the inside line (Invitation in 3rd).
  2. Opponent will make a direct thrust on a lunge to the student's high inside line.
  3. As the opponent begins, the student will gain and glide to the inside (parry 4th), stepping with inquartata, hitting to the face. The inquartata step is where the rear foot steps backwards and to the side at 45º as the front knee bends, forming the lunge position with the legs.

Inquartata as an Indirect Counterattack

The inquartata can also be performed as an indirect counterattack, where we invite the opponent to first gain our sword and then respond wih a cavazione and inquartata.

  1. Student extends the sword in the high outside line, inviting the opponent to gain on the high outside line (Gain in 3rd).
  2. Opponent gains the sword in 3rd, and then attacks with a thrust by glide to the high outside line.
  3. As the opponent begins the glide, the student will cavazione counter-clockwise to gain on the high inside line (disengage under the sword), stepping with inquartata, hitting to the face.

The indirect inquartata can also be performed with the cavazione over the opponent's sword.

  1. Student extends the sword in the high outside line, inviting the opponent to gain on the high outside line (Gain in 3rd).
  2. Opponent gains the sword in 3rd, and then attacks with a thrust by glide to the high outside line.
  3. As the opponent begins the glide, the student will cavazione clockwise to gain on the low inside line (disengage over the sword), stepping with inquartata, hitting to the chest with sword hilt raised (point under their hilt).

References

  1. Newe Fechfust, oder Schawplatz darauffallerhand Arten Zuversten und zusschlagen mit del Rapier allein und mit Rapier un Dolchenzusamen vortestellet by Nicoletto Giganti, Jakob de Zetter(trans), Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel, http://diglib.hab.de/drucke/xb-7532-1s/start.htm?image=00042
  2. Trattato teorico-pratico della Scherma di Spada e Sciabola di Masaniello Parise, Tipografia Nazionale, Roma 1884.

Previous | Giganti Curriculum | Next

Spadone – Lesson 15

Lesson 15 – The Thrust in 2nd Intention

Whilst we have briefly touched on this in the past, the thrust is also a devastating redoubled attack with the spadone. The only caveat is that this technique is really for one on one fights, not for melee. Most authors recommend the thrust be omitted from melee situations as the flow of the spadone can be broken quite easily during the thrust.

Thrust on 2nd Intention Partner Drill

This drill is taken directly from Alfieri's Lo Spadone, Chapter 10.

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto on a right step to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head, lengthening the right step into a lunge.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head on a left step. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in 2nd Intention on a Pass Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a mandritto on a right pass to the head.
  3. Defender parries with Left Head Guard, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head, whilst completing the corrective step.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an imbroccata to the head on a left pass. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in Low Line on 2nd Intention Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a rising mandritto on a right step to the flank.
  3. Defender parries with rising mandritto, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly, lengthening the right step into a lunge.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing rising riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly on a left step. Repeat 5 times each.

Thrust in Low Line 2nd Intention on a Pass Partner Drill

  1. Both start in Right Guard, Point Behind.
  2. Attacker throws a rising mandritto on a right pass to the flank.
  3. Defender parries with a rising mandritto, turning the vita into the parry with a volta stabile.
  4. Attacker rolls the hands up anti-clockwise to deliver a stoccata to the belly, whilst completing the corrective step.
  5. Repeat 5 times then switch roles.
  6. Switch to Left Guard, Point Behind, throwing riverso and rolling up clockwise to deliver an stoccata to the belly on a left pass. Repeat 5 times each.

Controlled Bouting

  1. In pairs with one person designated as attacker, and one as defender.
  2. Attacker attempts to hit to arms and body with redoubled attacks.
  3. Defender attempts to hit with parry riposte or counterattacks to arms or head.

Previous | Curriculum Index | Next

It’s all one system!

I’ve been teaching Bolognese swordsmanship for many years now, and one of the most important things to understand is that it’s actually all one system, not a collection of tricks for each weapon combination.

I work primarily out of Manciolino, with some additions from Marozzo. Both of these authors use sword and small buckler as their primary teaching system, and I follow this pedagogy as well. The buckler teaches dual hand use right from the start, and also gives students a great focus point for cutting actions.

One of the things that many people miss is the instructions for how to use the buckler. We get some simple instructions regarding how to hold the buckler in Manciolino and a relatively unhelpful instruction for how to use it to parry. What we really need to understand is that the use of the offhand in defence is really embedded in the sword and dagger material, which is where Marozzo really comes into his own due to his quite comprehensive instructions.

A prime example of how this works is  the crosswise parry with the offhand against the riverso. (Right handed fencers is assumed in this discusssion.) In the buckler material we get the unhelpful instruction to “defend the head with the buckler” from both authors. In sword and dagger though, Marozzo tells us to turn down the point and parry the blow with the true edge. This thumb down hand position (1st hand position in Classical Italian fencing) is a strong skeletal alignment, that forms a true cross against the opponent’s sword. The parry is also made close to the furniture on the oponent’s forte, preventing redirection. Now when it comes to holding the dagger, the hilt is held exactly the same way we hold the buckler handle, so this parry should work exactly the same way in sword and buckler and lo and behold it does. Our natural inclination  to make the buckler parry with the hand in 3rd (thumb up) creates a weak collapsible skeletal alignment,  but the thumb down position doesn’t! 

Without this dagger instruction, we wouldn’t understand the buckler parries, which is to use it exactly as we would with a dagger true edge parry. The instructions for holding the buckler tell us how to hold the dagger, but the dagger material really fills in the blanks for using the buckler to parry. Together, it all makes one comprehensive teaching  system! So the upshot of this post is that if you want to study Bolognese Swordsmanship, you can’t study the individual weapon combinations in isolation but need to look at the material holistically. I’ve been teaching the sword  and dagger material this way over the last term in 2016, with reference back to the buckler material, and have seen  the understanding of my students go through the roof!

Bolognese Swordsmanship isn’t just a collection of tricks for using different weapons combinations, it’s actually a beautiful art and system that teaches you core principles that can be applied to all weapon combinations! I love it, and it will reward you if you take the time to really plumb it’s depths.

Giganti Lesson 10 – Invitations

Review Lesson 9

Attacking on the pass

  • Threaten the face, then pass and hit to the stomach / chest
  • Repeat, but this time hand check the opponent's hilt for greater security
  • Invite to the outside, cavazione to draw the parry, the pass and hand check

Invitations

Invitations are a passive action designed to place your opponent into obedience, so that you can control their attacking action with a suitable defensive response. We have 2 primary types of invitations being taught in this lesson: those designed to set up parry response and those designed to evade blade engagement with cavazione.

The first type of invitation is the classic type of invitation, where we leave a line open for the opponent to make a direct attack, setting them up to hit them via parry riposte. The key here is to make the invitation in such a fashion that the opponent is constrained in the available options for a direct attack, and that they do not feel threatened by our sword point.

The second type of invitation is one where we place our point in line, so that the opponent must first engage our blade to make their attack. We will use the tempo of their gaining action to avoid the contact and then hit them with an attack by disengagement. The key here is to place the point in line in such a manner that the blade engagement is readily obvious, forcing the opponent to move into a particular line. We want them to feel threatened by our point in line, so that they are forced to attempt to engage our sword.

Invitations to Enable Parry Riposte

Invitation in 3rd

  1. From Guardia Terza, the move the hand so that the sword moves to close the high outside line (Invitation in 3rd), exposing the high inside line to a direct attack.
  2. In response to the invitation, the opponent shall extend their arm and begin a direct attack on the lunge to the high inside line.
  3. As the opponent commences their attack, deflect the extended sword with a parry of 4th (gain to the high inside line), and riposte with a thrust by glide to the opponent's high linside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Invitation in 4th

  1. From Guardia Terza, the move the hand so that the sword moves to close the high inside line (Invitation in 4th), exposing the high outside line to a direct attack.
  2. In response to the invitation, the opponent shall extend their arm and begin a direct attack on the lunge to the high outside line.
  3. As the opponent commences their attack, deflect the extended sword with a parry of 3rd (gain to the high outside line), and riposte with a thrust by glide to the opponent's high outside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Invitation in 2nd

  1. From Guardia Terza, the move the hand so that the sword moves to close the low outside line (Invitation in 2nd), exposing the low inside line to a direct attack.
  2. In response to the invitation, the opponent shall extend their arm and begin a direct attack on the lunge to the low inside line.
  3. As the opponent commences their attack, deflect the extended sword with a parry of low 4th (gain to the low inside line), and riposte with a thrust by glide to the opponent's low linside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Invitation in Low 4th

  1. From Guardia Terza, the move the hand so that the sword moves to close the high inside line (Invitation in 4th), exposing the high outside line to a direct attack.
  2. In response to the invitation, the opponent shall extend their arm and begin a direct attack on the lunge to the high outside line.
  3. As the opponent commences their attack, deflect the extended sword with a parry of 3rd (gain to the high outside line), and riposte with a thrust by glide to the opponent's high outside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Invitations to Enable Attack by Disengagement

Point in Line High Inside

  1. From Guardia Terza, extend the sword so that the point threatens the opponent on the high inside line. The sword tip should be in front of the opponent's guard and about a fist length up and to the inside of the opponent's guard, along the diagonal line.
  2. In response to the extended sword, the opponent moves to parry the sword with the parry of 4th (gain to the high inside line).
  3. As the opponent moves to parry / gain the sword, cavazione clockwise to engage the opponent's sword in the high outside line, followed immediately with a thrust by glide to hit in the high outside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Point in Line High Outside

  1. From Guardia Terza, extend the sword so that the point threatens the opponent on the high outside line. The sword tip should be in front of the opponent's guard and about a fist length up and to the outside of the opponent's guard, along the diagonal line.
  2. In response to the extended sword, the opponent moves to parry the sword with the parry of 3rd (gain to the high outside line).
  3. As the opponent moves to parry / gain the sword, cavazione counterclockwise to engage the opponent's sword in the high inside line, followed immediately with a thrust by glide to hit in the high inside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Point in Line Low Inside

  1. From Guardia Terza, extend the sword so that the point threatens the opponent on the low inside line. The sword tip should be in front of the opponent's guard and about a fist length down and to the inside of the opponent's guard, along the diagonal line.
  2. In response to the extended sword, the opponent moves to parry the sword with the parry of low 4th (gain to the low inside line).
  3. As the opponent moves to parry / gain the sword, cavazione counterclockwise to engage the opponent's sword in the low outside line, followed immediately with a thrust by glide to hit in the low outside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Point in Line Low Outside

  1. From Guardia Terza, extend the sword so that the point threatens the opponent on the low outside line. The sword tip should be in front of the opponent's guard and about a fist length down and to the outside of the opponent's guard, along the diagonal line.
  2. In response to the extended sword, the opponent moves to parry the sword with the parry of 2nd (gain to the low outside line).
  3. As the opponent moves to parry / gain the sword, cavazione clockwise to engage the opponent's sword in the low inside line, followed immediately with a thrust by glide to hit in the low inside line.
  4. Opponent takes the hit.
  5. Repeat 5 times then reverse roles.

Previous | Giganti Teaching Curriculum | Next