Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 6


Our work over the last couple of weeks has demonstrated that the descending blows are quite readily defended either with our buckler, or with the sword via Guardia di Testa or the falso parry.

This week we will look at a technique that attacks through the one vulnerable point of all these defences… below the buckler hand.

The key to this is the montante thrust.

The montante is a direct vertically ascending cut with the false edge. The montante thrust uses the same initial mechanics of the montante cut, however it extends into a rising thrust instead of the cut. The key to both actions is that from the point down position, with our sword hand beside the leg, the wrist is used to whip the tip up into line to deliver the blow. This action is also assisted by the forefinger over the cross of the sword.

Concept 1 – Offensive Action Using Montante Thrust

From Guardia Alta, pass right extending a montante thrust that ends in Guardia di Faccia.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 3rd Assault]

Class note

The montante thrust starts with the underarm bowling action, with the sword hand dropping behind and then swinging forward. At the bottom of the arc you will use the wrist to whip the false edge (back edge) through and flicking it up vertically, with the hand finishing completely extended from the shoulder. At the point your hand reaches hip height, the extending arm should be pulling the body forward to make the pass, which extends the montante into a rising thrust to the throat or face. The advantage of this action is that it completely obscures the thrust from the enemy, allowing us to hit in relative safety.

This extended thrust position, with the point in the face is called Guardia di Faccia. Typically you will find the blade passes between the opponent’s hands, nullifying the defence with either hand.

Concept 2 – Counterattack With Thrust On The Retreat

From Guardia Alta, step back with the right foot into large pace and extend a montante thrust, ending in Guardia di Faccia.
(Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 4)

Class Note

The action with the sword is identical to Concept 1, the chief difference is the footwork, and the tempo in response to the opponent’s attack. We use the pass back in this case to clear the body from the incoming blow, and the attacker’s step forward should keep them in distance for our counterattack.

Concept 3 – Offensive Combination Using Montante Thrust, Thrust and Tramazzoni

From Guardia Alta, pass with the left foot throwing a montante thrust that ends at the face. Immediately traverse right and throw a penetrating thrust to the face, redoubling with two tramazzoni to the head, ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 2nd Assault]

Class note

This action builds on the previous one, but uses the pass and traverse footwork instead of the pass footwork. The action starts by delivering the montante thrust on a passing step with the left foot, which is into the area to the inside of the enemy’s buckler. This will draw a response to the enemy’s right to close the space we have attacked into, exposing the space to the outside of the buckler. The second thrust to the face is made using the traversing step with the right foot, and the hand turning from 3rd to 2nd in 3rd (the same hand position we use for our Coda Lunga guards). The tramazzone (circular cut to the head made by rotating at the wrist) is made on the corrective step as the left foot comes behind the right, finishing in Porta di Ferro Stretta (right foot forward, sword hand in 3rd). We only did one tramazzone in the drills, however the manual instructions specify 2 trammazoni to be made.

Concept 4 – Offensive Combination Using Thrust, Riverso and Fendente

From Guardia Alta, pass right, throwing a rising thrust into the enemy’s face. Redouble by slipping your right foot to your left, throwing a riverso ridoppio to the arms. Follow with a fendente to the head that ends in Porta di Ferro Stretta.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 3rd Assault]

Class note

A second variant of our initial concept, but this time using the “expand and contract footwork”. The initial montante thrust attack is made on a passing step with the right foot, as practiced in Concept 1. This should draw the enemy’s equipment to their left, exposing the right flank and arms. The second (redoubled) attack is made by slipping the right foot back to the left and throwing a rising riverso that cuts through the extended arms of the enemy. This rising riverso is really thrown circularly from the wrist like a tramazzone, but in the reverse direction. This cut should return you to the starting Guardia Alta position. In the manual this cut is called riverso ridoppio because it immediately follows the first attack.

We then finish off the enemy by throwing a fendente to the top of their head, stepping forward with the right foot to a wide stance, ending in Porta di Ferro Stretta. Note that during the class we didn’t do the finishing fendente cut as we ran out of time for the class.


During this class we continued practicing our common basic footwork:

  • The pass (or triangle step)
  • The pass and traverse
  • The expand and contract steps

We also expanded our repertoire with the defensive pass backwards, which puts out of distance of the incoming blow whilst leaving us an opportunity to attack into that incoming blow.

The guards we used this Lesson were:

  • Guardia Alta – our starting guard
  • Guardia di Faccia – our finishing guard in Concept 1 & 2.
  • Porta di Ferro Stretta – our finishing guard in Concepts 3 & 4.

We also concentrated on 3 basic attacks:

  • Montante thrust – a steeply rising thrust that leads with the false edge.
  • Tramazzone – a descending circular cut with the true edge made by turning the wrist, with the arm remaining extended.
  • Rising riverso – a rising true edge cut that cuts from left to right. In this case it was made as a circular wrist cut.

3 thoughts on “Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 6”

  1. For concept 3, is that the set of actions that start the second assalto after your entrance and embellishment? If so, why did you change the riverso to a thrust?

    Is that thrust after the montante coming above or below his buckler arm?

    1. Ahh you spotted that!

      To summarise the actions it’s a montante thrust, followed by a riverso trivellato, followed by 2 tramazzoni.

      So what’s a riverso trivellato? The modifier trivellato is taken from the verb trivellare which means to “to bore through with an auger”. Augers and wimbles (a trivellino in Italian) are boring tools used in wood working. When using them you push the tip in and then turn the tool with the handle to make it rotate through it’s axis, boring out the hole.

      So keeping that boring action in mind, what I’ve found in practice is the parry of the montante thrust pulls your sword to the outside of the opponent’s face, forcing you to pull the hand back to free the tip for the next blow. This pulling of the hand back occurs during the traverse right, with the thrust being delivered using volta stabile. During the thrust, initial contact with the point is made with the hand in 3rd, and then it rotates into 4th, finishing as a punta riversa. This thrust delivered with a rotating hand is my interpretation of the riversa trivellato. The action gives a little bit of a pushing cut with the back edge before the point drives into the face. However for teaching purposes I just tell people to thrust whilst turning the palm up, as they get the action reliably right.

      The riverso trivellato is delivered over the buckler arm, which has the added advantage that as we turn the palm up it stops the opponents from turning back for a 2nd parry, giving us the space to turn the tramazzone.

      Thanks for the question, I’ll update the notes to make it clear that the second thrust is riverso trivellato.

      1. Thanks Richard.

        I had a chance to try this out last night, and it flowed pretty smoothly. It went much better than my initial interpretation of the riverso trivellato being a pushed (thrust-like) riverso, coming behind their parry of the montante. That did not leave me in a good position to throw a stramazzone.

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