Category Archives: Bolognese Swordsmanship

Posts covering Bolognese Swordsmanship lessons and notes

Bolognese Clock Drill – Guardia di Faccia

This is the clock drill for Guardia di Faccia, which will cement the basic defensive options from this guardia.

Basic Clock Drill from Guardia di Faccia

Like all the clock drills we are covering the attacks into all the main quadrants fo the guard, and the basic sequence is as follows:

  1. Opponent attacks with a thrust
  2. Opponent attacks into the low inside line
  3. Opponent attacks into the high inside line
  4. Opponent attacks with a descending vertical attack
  5. Opponent attacks into the high outside line
  6. Opponent attacks into the low outside line

This is the first clock drill to incorporate the thrust as a separate attack to be countered, as the direct thrust becomes a very potent attack when both fencers are in Guardia di Faccia.

Defence Against The Attack With Thrust

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, attacker makes a direct thrust on a step forward
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, defender disengages under the attacker's sword whilst simultaneously making a traverse left with the left foot. As the right foot moves to the left, counterthrust to the face.
    (Right foot either traverses left or passes forward depending on how deep the attacker's step was.)
  3. Attacker takes the hit.
  4. Reset to the beginning.

Source: Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 8

Defence Against The Attack To The Low Inside Line

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the attacker throws falso dritto to the defender's sword (back beat) to take the tip offline. Whilst the tip is offline they immediately step foward throwing either a thrust in the high inside line or a mandritto to the face.
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, when the defender feels the inital contact of the back beat, they turn their sword hand into second (palm down) to remain secure. The riposte can either be a direct thrust to the face, or if they make a retreating step on the hand turn a direct thrust to the sword hand.

Source: Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 8

Defence Against The Attack To The High Inside Line

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the attacker lifts their sword hand into Guardia di Testa, and them throws a strong mandritto to the face on a pass right.
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, when the defender sees the attacker lift their hand to cut mandritto, stifle the blow with a thrust to the sword hand.

Source: Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 8

Defence Against The Vertical Descending Attack

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the attacker turns their sword hand over their buckler arm to throw tramazzone, and as the sword comes forward hits to the top of the head.
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the defender parries the tramazzone with a falso that turns that well toward the attacker's left side, which will also give him the edge in the face.

Source: Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 8

Defence Against The Attack To The High Outside Line

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the attacker throws a riverso to the right temple, covering the head with the buckler.
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the defender extends into Guardia di Testa on a left foot traverse turning towards the incoming blow, riposting with a mandritto that ends in Sopra il Bracchio with the right foot slipping back to the left. Redouble passing left with a rising falso that ends in Guardia di Faccia.

Source: Manciolino Libro 2, 3rd Assault

Defence Against The Attack To The Low Outside Line

  1. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the attacker throws a rising riverso to the sword hand, covering the head with the buckler.
  2. From Guardia di Faccia in passo stretto, the defender covers the rising riverso by bringing the hands back together into Porta di Ferro Stretta, pointed at the incoming blow.

Source: Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 8

Note: This is shown in Manciolino as a counter to the rising riverso feint, which is followed by a mandritto. The actual counter is cover the rising riverso feint and then counterattack the mandritto with a mezzo mandritto to the sword hand.

Bolognese Footwork Forms

This is a Bolognese footwork form, which is used to practice all the basic footwork used in sword and buckler, as well as passing through the guardia used by Manciolino. This form is one of the basic warm up exercises used in my classes at Stoccata Drummoyne.

Basic Footwork Form

  1. Start with the feet together and the hands by side. Step forward with the right foot into Porta di Ferro Stretta.
  2. Pass forward with the left foot into Cinghiara Porta di Ferro.
  3. Step back with the right foot into Coda Lunga Alta.
  4. Pass with the right foot into Coda Lunga Stretta.
  5. Gather the left foot forward into Guardia di Faccia.
  6. Step back with the left foot into Guardia di Testa.
  7. Throw a mandritto passing forward with the left foot into Sopra il Braccio.
  8. Volta stabile right, lifting the sword into Guardia d'Alicorno.
  9. Throw a mandritto passing right into Sotto il Braccio.
  10. Throw a rising riverso slipping the right foot back into Guardia Alta.
  11. Throw a mandritto on a pass right into Porta di Ferro Larga.
  12. Elsa e tira with a gather & step forward into Coda Lunga Larga.
  13. Elsa e tira with a gather step forward into Porta di Ferro Stretta.
  14. Slip back into Guardia di Faccia.
  15. Step back several paces and return to arms by the side

Explanation of the Basic Footwork Form

In steps 1-3, we are making the left pass, and showing how we transition between Porta di Ferro Stretta and Cingiaria Porta di Ferro, followed by the transition into Coda Lunga Alta on the corrective step. No actual cutting actions are made on this part of the basic footwork form.

Steps 4-5 are practicing our basic slope pass footwork, using the right passing step. The expansion into Coda Lunga Stretta shows how the difference between it and Coda Lunga Alta is just the placement of the feet. The gathering of the feet into Guardia di Faccia is one of the common preparation spoiling methods in the system, and is especially useful as a counterattack.

Step 6 is the pass back into Guardia di Testa, which is one of the most common head defences in the system, and this is teaching the simultaneous extension forward with the hand and behind with the foot that makes this action so successful as a parry.

Steps 7-9 is a variation of the redouble mandritto, using the volta stabile transition to link the two cuts together. The first mandritto teaches the basic mandritto cut to Sopra il Braccio, reinforcing the half turn of the buckler hand to allow this cut to be easily done. The transition to Guardia d'Alicorno teaches the use of coiling and uncoiling actions that can be initiated with the use of a volta stabile to enable powerful blow generation. We finish in Sotto il Braccio, emonstarting how these two guardie are achieved with the mandritto cut, and the choice of finish is just determined by whether you cut above or below your sword hand.

Steps 10-11 is teaching contract and expand footwork, as well as linking together two common full cuts, the rising riverso and the mandritto. The sequence is also teaching the idea that Guardia Alta is a position to transition through instead of using it as a starting point.

Steps 12 -13 practice the elsa e tira actions, first with the cuts to the right and then the cuts to the left, using the gathering step footwork. This footwork is the preferred method of closing in on an opponent, and coupled with the rising falso cut on the gathering step, followed by the descending cut on the forward step is an excellent inimidation tool. The second set finishes in Porta di Ferro Stretta as a method of teaching blade control, as it's important to be able to arrest the full cuts with the sword in presence.

Steps 14-15 is the most common retreating technique shown in the manual. The extended point in Guardia di Faccia is a deterrent to any opponent closing in on you, and coupled with the retreating steps is teaching the idea of getting out of measure before you relax. We don't want to relax in measure, as this is a sure way to get hit.

Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Gioco Stretta pt2

These are the Bolognese Swordsmanship (sword & buckler) drills for the class held at Stoccata Drummoyne on 14 Oct 2015

Clock Drill, Defending From Porta di Ferro Stretta

This is a partner drill, where the attacking partner throws a blow to the various targets, starting from the lower leg and working up and around the body, coming down the other side. The defending partner will then parry with false edge / true edge as required, and riposte as appropriate. The drill is designed to get people practicing cuts to the 5 mainquadrants, and practicing the appropriate defence for each of thos quadrants

  1. The attacker starts in Coda Lunga Alta, and throws a mandritto to the legs of the defender. The defender starts in Porta di Ferro Stretta, and parries with a descending falso to Sotto il Braccio, and ripostes with either a rising riverso to the flank or a tramazzone to the head.
  2. The attacker starts in Guardia Alta, and throws a mandritto to the neck / shoulder of the defender. The defender starts in Porta di Ferro Stretta and parries with a falso to Sotto il Braccio (keeping the tip up at temple height) and ripostes with a mandritto to the head.
  3. The attacker starts in Guardia Alta, and throws a fendente to the head of the defender. The defender starts in Porta di Ferro Stretta and parries with Guardia di Testa and ripostes with a mandritto to the head, on a pass left.
  4. The attacker starts in Sopra il Braccio, and throws a riverso to the neck / shoulder of the defender. The defender starts in Porta di Ferro Stretta and parries with a falso to Guardia di faccia (keeping the tip up at temple height) and ripostes with a riverso to the head.
  5. The attacker starts in Sotto il Braccio, and throws a riverso (ascending or descending) to the leg of the defender. The defender starts in Porta di Ferro Stretta and turning down their tip parries with the true edge (parry of 2nd) and ripostes with a thrust to the abdomen.

Gioco Stretta Plays – True Edge to True Edge

Revision

Direct Attack With Thrust To The Head

Pull back your sword, and passing left extending a thrust to the right temple, accompanied by your buckler. This action also counters every deadly blow.
[Libro 3, 15th action of true edge to true edge]

Parry Riposte Against Thrust To The Head

Parry the thrust with your false edge, and riposte with a mandritto to the face.
[Libro 3, Counter of the 15th action of true edge to true edge]

Direct Cut To Head With Riverso

Pass left and throw riverso to right temple
[Libro 3, 1st action of true edge to true edge]

Counterattack Against Riverso To Temple

When your enemy passes to throw riverso to your right temple, throw mezzo mandritto to the head, ending in Guardia di Faccia.
[Libro 3, Counter of the 1st action of true edge to true edge]

New Drills

Direct Cut To Head With Riverso Followed By Blade Shunt And Fendente

Pass left and throw riverso to the right temple. If the enemy parries the attack, hit the outside of his sword with your hilt or guard, and then throw fendente to the head.
[Libro 3, 3rd action of true edge to true edge]

Parry And Riposte By Cut-Over Against Riverso, Blade Shunt And Fendente

When your enemy passes to throw riverso to your right temple, parry with the true edge of your sword. When your enemy goes to hit your sword with his hilt, swiftly lift up your own sword to avoid the hit and riposte with a riverso to the head.
[Libro 3, Counter of the 3rd action of true edge to true edge]
 

Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Gioco Stretta pt1

This was the first week’s lesson in Bolognese sword & buckler for Term 4 at Stoccata Drummoyne. (7 Oct 2015)

Warm Ups

  1. X-cuts pattern stationary
  2. Mandritto & Riverso passing left & right from Porta di Ferro Stretta
  3.  Inside Falso Parry & Mandritto from Porta di Ferro Stretta

Gioco Stretta Plays – True Edge to True Edge

Direct Attack With Thrust To The Head

Pull back your sword, and passing left extending a thrust to the right temple, accompanied by your buckler. This action also counters every deadly blow.
[Libro 3, 15th action of true edge to true edge]

Parry Riposte Against Thrust To The Head

Parry the thrust with your false edge, and riposte with a mandritto to the face.
[Libro 3, Counter of the 15th action of true edge to true edge]

Direct Cut To Head With Riverso

Pass left and throw riverso to right temple
[Libro 3, 1st action of true edge to true edge]

Counterattack Against Riverso To Temple

When your enemy passes to throw riverso to your right temple, throw mezzo mandritto to the head, ending in Guardia di Faccia.
[Libro 3, Counter of the 1st action of true edge to true edge]

 

Manciolino’s Movement and Tactical System – An Introduction to Bolognese Swordsmanship

These are the class notes for the seminar given at the NZ Swordsmanship Symposium, 10 Oct 2015.

Further information regarding some of the terminology used here can be found at Sword & Buckler Teaching Curriculum

Class Details

Instructor: Richard Cullinan
Class Category: Bolognese Swordsmanship – sword & buckler
Class Length: 2 hrs
Experience Level: Beginner
Intensity Level: Moderate
Pre-Requisites: None, but familiarity with Italian nomenclature is useful
Required Equipment: Sword (<37” / 94 cm blade length), mask and buckler, forearm protection recommended
Maximum Attendees: 30

Introduction

The sword and buckler was the primary teaching system for the early Bolognese swordsmanship authors, and it describes all the foundation skills used by the other weapon systems incorporated into their art. Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova (1531), as well as being the earliest Bolognese Swordsmanship treatise, also provides a surprisingly complete and succinct movement and tactical framework. During the class we will be examining how his movement system is far removed from the complex approach it first appears to be. We will also explore how he provides a rigorous tactical approach that should enable a person to hit without being hit.

Manciolino on Footwork

…as it does not occur that “mandritti”, “riversi”, “falsi”, “punti”, and similar such words (which need to be understood in the art) can be changed into other names, as the signification of “to pass” does, which occurs to me continuously while writing with the pen, whence many times one comes to say that players “pass” with the left or the right foot, since one can say “pass”, “cross”, “glide”, “guide”, or “direct” the feet, and so where “right” <destro> is said, we will sometimes say “straight”, or “strong”, or “able”, because man naturally has more strength in his right side than in his left, and equally sometimes “sinister”, sometimes “left”, or “weak”, in order to avoid tedious regret, there being nothing more odious than the frequent repetition of the same word…

This key paragraph from Manciolino goes a long way towards explaining the seemingly limitless ways in which the feet can actually move within the system. The author is following a literary convention, and is not describing the action using a precise technical language. Once this is understood, the simplicity and elegance of the footwork becomes apparent.

Double Actions are the norm.

Only 17/153 show a single action. The rest are all double actions, following the basic rule of one step one action.

Typical Actions

1. Double descending cuts.

2. Descending & Ascending cuts

3. Ascending & Descending cuts.

4. Thrust & Cut combination.

The Footwork Types

1. The pass

2. The slope pass

3. The Pass & Traverse

4. Expand & Contract

5. Contract & Expand

Some Detailed Examples from Porta di Ferro Stretta

Offensive Combination Using Thrust And Riverso

Pass left and throw a thrust to the face, and as your enemy goes to parry it, throw a riverso to the thigh, ending in Guardia di Testa.

[Libro 2, 3rd Assault]

Offensive Combination Using Thrust And Riverso Feint & Mandritto

Extend a thrust to his face, and passing left, throw a riverso feint to the head, but give him a mandritto to the head or to the leg.

[Libro 1, Capitolo 13]

Offensive Combination Using Thrust And Rising Riverso & Mandritto

Pass with the left foot, extending a thrust, and then traverse right throwing rising riverso to the arms, and mandritto to the head or leg. For your protection, pass back with the right foot, throwing riverso to the sword hand.

[Libro 1, Capitolo 13]

Defence Of The Thrust And Riverso

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.

[Libro 1, Capitolo 14]

Slip, Parry And Riposte Against the Thrust And Head Blow Combination

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. [Libro 4, Capitolo 9]

Some Examples from Coda Lunga Stretta

Counterattack Against The Mandritto To The Head

When the enemy throws the mandritto to the head, pass back with your right foot and counterattack to the sword arm with a mandritto that ends in Cingiaria Porta di Ferro, defending the head with your buckler. For your safety, pass back with the left foot turning the sword hand to end in Coda Lunga Stretta.

[Libro 4, Capitolo 6]

Parry Riposte Against The Mandritto To The Leg

When the enemy throws the mandritto to your right leg, pass left and parry with a falso from below the buckler. Riposte with a riverso to the right leg, and redouble with a stoccata to the face. For your safety, leap backwards, and then you can step forward with the right foot, returning to Coda Lunga Stretta.

[Libro 4, Capitolo 7]

Conclude with the circle theory summary

The Marozzo (Bolognese) segno for footwork shows the overall concept for all the actions we used above.

Essentially, everything we did was to control the diameter of the inner circle, forcing the enemy into the circumference. Each of the stepping actions made can be related as either a step from one triangle to the next, or as an expansion from or contraction to the apex of that triangle on the outer circle.