Bolognese Sword & Buckler Curriculum – Lesson 7

Lesson 7 – The Tramazzone from Guardia Alta

This lesson we continue on from Lesson 6, building up the technical skills of the system. Last Lesson the emphasis was on the montante thrust, which is a concealed attack against an enemy. This Lesson the emphasis is on the tramazzone.

The advantage of the tramazzone from Guardia Alta is the protection it offers to the hand, as well as the circular momentum it uses to generate a good strong descending blow. Like the montante thrust, it requires us to concentrate on the coordinated timing of hands, body and feet so that we can attack and move in safety.


False edge parries:

  • Parry from Sopra il Braccio to Guardia di Faccia on a left pass.
  • Parry from Porta di Ferro Stretta to Guardia di Faccia on a left pass.
  • Parry from Porta di Ferro Stretta to Sopra il Braccio on a right pass.
  • Parry from Guardia di Testa to Sotto il Braccio on a slip back.

Concept 1 – Offensive Action Using Tramazzone

From Guardia Alta, pass with your right foot throwing a tramazzone that ends in Porta di Ferro Larga. Defend the head with your buckler.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 2nd Assault]

The Drill by the Numbers

  1. From Guardia Alta, pass with the right foot hitting to the head with a tramazzone.
  2. Complete the pass with the left foot recovering into Porta di Ferro Larga.

Class Notes

The important part of this cut was to get the sword moving first by turning the wrist, which rolls the sword into the same position we would use to deliver an imbroccata. The wrist turn continues bringing the sword through our inside , just outside our buckler arm, making a complete 360° arc to land as a descending blow on top of the enemy’s head. The first step of the pass does not start until the sword is travelling forward again in the last part of it’s rotation, so that we are stepping forward behind the extending arm. During the first part of the rotation when the sword is in front of our body, it is safe for us to drop the hand down below the buckler, as the sword will protect the hand against any counter attacks.

The cut travels all the way through, ending with our hand in 3rd, and the sword pointing to the ground. The sword hand should be just inside the right knee. Don’t let the hand travel back too far, otherwise you will smack your pommel into your groin, which is just embarrassing, painful, and a really stupid way to die. 🙂 This point down guard position is called Porta di Ferro Larga. (Have a few lagers and everything droops down!)

The large opening left by the guard position leaves the head very vulnerable, so we defend the head by bringing the buckler up to create a cone of defence around our head and shoulders. The head guard with the buckler is with an extended arm, and the hand about even with the eyes, so that we can see under the bottom of the buckler rim. We do not turn the face of the buckler upwards, as this will open up the wrist to an attack. We instead keep the buckler face pointing towards the enemy, similar to our regular on guard position, with the wrist straight, not kinked.

Concept 2 – Offensive Combination Using Tramazzone, Thrust And Mandritto With Presa

From Guardia Alta, pass with the right foot turning a tramazzone, ending in Porta di Ferro Larga. Immediately pass left with the left foot and thrust to the right side of the enemy’s face to draw the parry. Close out the enemy’s sword to your inside with the left hand (buckler or hand grab is not indicated) and hit with a mandritto to the head, or where open.
[Manciolino Libro 2, 2nd Assault]

The Drill by the Numbers

  1. Step right throwing a tramazzone to Porta di Ferro Larga
  2. Traverse left thrusting to the right side of the face
  3. Contract back with the left foot throwing mandritto to the face (most people ended up in our underarm position – which is good.)

Class Notes

When we make our initial tramazzone attack, it comes in slightly on the left hand side of the enemy, which will tend to pull their equipment towards the buckler, opening up the sword side of the enemy. We capitalise on this by making an immediate redoubled attack, by passing with the left foot, and thrusting underneath our buckler towards the enemy’s face on their right hand side. Again this will draw their equipment towards the incoming attack, which will allow us to push the sword out of the way and then hit them with a mandritto.

What we’ve actually done here is combine 2 of our regular footwork sequences together. The first 2 steps are a regular pass and traverse, however instead of the 3rd step being one where the foot comes behind the traversing foot, we have stepped in an expand & contract sequence with the left traversing foot. The contracting step also allowed us to generate a hard and fast mandritto, due to the hip turn inherent in this step.

Concept 3 – Attack By Second Intention With Tramazzone To Draw Parry – Riposte

From Guardia Alta, cut a tramazzone, ending in Porta di Ferro. The enemy will then throw some blow to your uncovered body, which you will defend by parrying with Guardia di Testa, passing forward with the right foot. Riposte with a mandritto to the face or thigh, warding the head with the buckler. Pass back the right foot to place yourself out of distance.
[Manciolino Libro 1, Capitolo 3]

The Drill by the Numbers

  1. From Guardia Alta in passo stretto, pass with the right foot throwing tramazzone to the head.
  2. Recover back with the right foot into Porta di Ferro in passo stretto.
  3. As the enemy attacks, punch out into Guardia Testa to parry the blow whilst making a passing step with the right foot.
  4. Riposte with a mandritto to the face or thigh, completing the pass with the left foot.
  5. Pass back with the right foot.

Class Notes

This sequence drilled the basic defence from our Porta di Ferro guard, which is the extension into Guardia di Testa (head guard). We would need to do this if our enemy is quick with a riposte, or we are slow to make our immediate redoubled attack. Manciolino does not tell us if the cut finishes at Porta di Ferro Larga or Porta di Ferro Stretta, and thus we must assume that the defence works from either guardia.

The extension into Guardia di Testa is essentially a punching action out and upwards, with the hand finishing just above the shoulder, and the sword up at 45°, across at 45° and forward at 45°. This creates a defensive ramp above our head with the sword. The buckler hand is held just below the sword so that it protects the sword hand against a mandritto which slips under our sword, and cuts down parallel to the line of our sword. We can also bring the rim of our buckler in contact with the false edge of our forte in front of the sword hand, to support the sword against a strong descending cut. This defensive triangle which it creates is very strong and near unbreakable by a descending cut.


This Lesson we concentrated on the tramazzone from Guardia Alta. We practised the tramazzone, and then we added the redoubled attack, and finally we looked at the basic defence we can make straight after our tramazzone.

On the footwork side we again practiced our pass, our pass and traverse, and our expand and contract footwork. However we combined the pass & traverse with our expand and contact footwork, to create a pass, traverse and slip sequence. The aim of this was to show how we need to maintain our correct footwork distance so that we can transition between all our different steps at will, without becoming unbalanced.

We also introduced 2 of our basic defensive actions, that being the parry with the buckler, and the parry with the true edge of the sword. Both of these parries were made by extending the hand holding the item into Guardia di Testa. In other words, to defend the head, we extend an item into Guardia di Testa. We also showed how the 2 items can work together as a unit to create a very strong defensive cone against a determined enemy.