Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coverta within Fior Di Battaglia - Tutta Porta di Ferro

Here we begin the sword in two hands.

Sort of. Really, I am going to skip some stuff and come back later. The part I am skipping is possibly Fiore's most important text on fighting with a sword, so it deserves its own place. I will continue by looking at Tutta Porta di Ferro, on v23, where something quite peculiar strikes me:
"Qui cominzano le guardie di spada a doy man e sono XII guardie. La prima si è tutta porta di ferro che sta in grande fortezza e si è bona di 'spetar ogn’arma manuale longa e curta e pur ch’el habia bona spada non una di troppa longheza. Ella passa cum coverta e va ale strette. Ela scambia le punte e le soy ella mette. Anchora rebatte le punte a terra e sempre va cum passo e de ogni colpo ella fa coverta. E chi in quella gli dà briga grande deffese fa senza fadiga."
"Here begin the guards of the sword in two hands, which are twelve. The first one is Tutta Porta di Ferro, very strong and good for waiting against any handheld weapon (long or short), provided that your sword is of good quality and not too long. This guard parries, passes and comes to the close. She can exchange thrusts and deliver her own. She can also beat thrusts to the ground, always proceeding with a pass and parrying any kind of attack. She can defend without much effort against anyone who picks a fight with her." - Tom Leoni

Now this is interesting. This guard parries, passes, and comes to the close. It can exchange thrusts. It beats thrusts to the ground. Always with a pass and parrying of any kind of attack. Let's take a look at each bit.

It can exchange thrusts. This seems clear enough, and on v26 we have a play and a follow-on play telling us exactly what to do. This is a largo play of course, so it doesn't come to the close like we have been told; however, it does preform a parry and pass. The follow-on play involves a second pass and though in the largo section, it is very much a close play.

It beats thrusts to the ground. My reading of this is the play of breaking the thrust in v26 and r27. The play here tells us to use the same parry and pass from the exchange and it also speaks of beating thrusts to the ground and then immediately go to the close play. This seems quite in line with Fiore's instruction to parry, pass, and close.

It always proceeds with a pass and parry of any kind of attack. This seems to be tied to beating thrusts to the ground but I get caught up on the 'any kind of attack' part. To me this bit is part of the more general instruction that Tutta Porta di Ferro parries, passes and comes to the close. I can only read this instruction to mean that if covering a cut from here, one should enter stretto, covering with a pass, and look to preforming a close play. With this thought in mind let's jump forward to r39 and the plays with the spear.
"Noi semo tre magistri in guardia cum nostre lanze e convegnemo pigliare quelle dela spada. E io son lo primo che in tutta porta di ferro son posto per rebatter la lanza del zugador tosto, zoè che passarò cum lo pe' dritto ala traversa fora de strada, e traversando la sua lança rebatterò in parte stancha. Sì che llo passar e llo rebatter se fa in un passo cum lo ferire, questa è chosa che no se pò fallire."
"We are three Masters in guard with out lances, and we aptly take the guards of the sword. I am the first who is set in Tutta Porta di Ferro to quickly beat away the lance of the opponent; I will pass obliquely out of line with the right foot, and crossing his lance I will beat it away to the left. As long as you pass and parry in an[a] single step with your strike, this action cannot fail." - Tom Leoni
Again we see this pass and parry action. Interestingly, we are given a few more titbits here. First, we are again instructed to beat away the attacks. We are then told that the passing step is 'obliquely out of line' and to cross and beat the attack away. And finally that this passing, crossing, and beating should all occur in one tempo.

Bringing these ideas together, it seems Fiore is telling us to always cover from Tutta Porta di Ferro with a pass of the right foot while beating the opposing weapon to the left in one tempo. The only given exception to this is given when defending a thrust from a sword, where by you first accresimento and then may elect to exchange rather then beat.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Coverta within Fior Di Battaglia - Sword in One Hand

Before departing the mounted section and turning to look at the sword in one hand I want to draw your attention to one last thing. It's small and tucked away, but I believe it is a key phrase and plan to come back to this idea after a throughout examination of the plays of the sword. This is found in r43.

"pò covrir e ferir in un voltar di spada"
"that is, parrying [cover?] and striking with a single turn of the sword" - Tom Leoni

This is the follow on bit of text after Fiore has instructed us to beat a lance aside. You parry/cover and strike with a turn of the sword. There are two things I want to draw out of this. First is whether or not the covrir portion is talking about the initial beat action or if this is something you do after the beat? If it is simply the beating action then Fiore has just linked the words covrir and rebatte together and as such may have far reaching implications through the manuscript. While I am not ready to call all covers beats, it is an interesting hypothesis. The second part that makes this interesting is how Fiore describes the strike as a single turn of the sword. To me, this implies that the "up-down" beat-dritto action seen demonstrated often by many may not be quite what is described. Instead one should seek to beat the attack away and then turn the sword and cut, in this case the action would be beat-reversi. My wife calls this a "ribbon cut" as the sword travels a path like one of those cancer ribbons in the air.

Moving along into the sword in one hand section on r20.

"E in quello passare incroso rebattendo le spade ve trovo discoverti e de ferire vi farò certi. E si lanza o spada me ven alanzada, tutte le rebatto chome t’ò ditto passando fuora di strada, segondo che vedreti li miei zochi qui dreto, de guardagli che v'in prego."
"I'll cross and beat away your swords, find you open, and strike you for sure. Go on and throw a sword or a spear at me, and I'll beat them all away as I've described, passing at an angle as you will see from my plays, which come just ahead." - Tom Leoni

Here, we see the master standing in Posta Coda Lunga on the left standing against all manner of attacks. Again, we are very clearly told to beat the attacks away with no mention of any other action. Looking to v20, r21 and v21 we are again told a number of times to beat the attack.

"Quello che à ditto lo magistro io l’ò ben fatto: zoè ch’io passai fora de strada facendo bona coverta."
"I've followed to the letter what my Master said. I have passed at an angle making a good parry" - Tom Leoni
"Tu mi zitassi una punta e io la rebatei a tera"
"You attacked with a thrust and I beat it to the ground." - Tom Leoni
"Questo mi trassi per la testa, e io rebatei la sua spada."
"This one attacked my head, and I beat his sword away" - Tom Leoni

Making a good parry, as I followed what my Master just described. Well, the Master just described a beat, so I can only take that this could read, I have passed at an angle making the beat described on r20. Following this are a number of other plays that reference this same play of the Master, all there by deriving from a rising beat out of Coda Longa. On r21 and v21 we are again told to beat the sword down or away. Again there is never a single mention of any other sort of parry, collection, stop or deflection. Fiore's instruction is often to beat and is other wise silent.

Once again I believe it is safe to say that Fiore's advice is to beat away attacks. Particularly Coda Longa on the left we are to beat away all forms of attack; thrusts, cuts or throws. In neither the mounted section nor the sword in one hand section is there any instruction of any form of cover or parry that is not a beat. There are a few mentions of parry/cover which are left undefined and not directly linked back to instruction to beat.

Throughout the sword in one hand section, it could be reasonably said that all of the plays fall into one of a few categories. Those categories are: beaten aside, failed beat (resulting in one of a number of binds or yields), follow on plays or special play with explicit instruction. While this could be said of other parrying devices, it does hold for Fiore's instruction to make an initial beat and there is no need to add extra devices. Next I will begin the two handed sword section, where things are not quite as clear.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Coverta within Fior Di Battaglia - Part 2

Continuing in the mounted plays, examining the parry. I started in the mounted section for a few reasons. Firstly, it seems this section contains a great deal of general instruction. Secondly, Fiore begins with mounted plays in two of his manuscripts. Third, I wanna.

Let us examine his first words on mounted play, r39.

"e si ò curta lanza più che lo compagno e si fazo rasone de rebatter sua lanza fora de strada zoè ala traversa overo in erto"
"and I count on beating his lance aside, ether obliquely or [Morgan: but not] upward, I will end up with an arm's length of my lance crossing and arm's length of his." - Tom Leoni

We are told to beat the lance away. Specifically we are to cross an arm's length of my lance to an arm's length of his. Which, given the lances depicted tells us that this beat is preformed approximately middle to middle. We are given no other instruction on how to defend - simply cross, middle to middle and beat obliquely - to the side. Here we see a possible word error in the Getty, as it states 'or upwards', however later it contradicts this advice and the Morgan tells us 'but not upward'. On v41 we see.

"Questo è un altro portar de lanza contra lanza. questo magistro à curta lanza e sì la porta in posta de donna la sinistra como voy vedete, per rebatter a ferir lo compagno."
"Anchora questo magistro porta la sua lanza in posta de donna la sinistra per rebatter la lanza che lo compagno gli vole lanzare. E quello rebatter ch'ello vole cum la lanza fare, quello cum uno bastone o curta spada far lo poria."
"This is another way to carry the lance against another lance. This Master has a short lance and carries it in Left Posta di Donna, as illustrated, to parry [beat] and strike."
"This Master also carries his lance in Left Posta di Donna to beat away the lance that his opponent is about to hurl at him. He could also preform the same defence with a staff or a short sword." - Tom Leoni

I curious about Tom's translation here, as the text clearly says 'rebatter', or 'beat'. So this becomes "beat and strike" not parry. Again, it seems we are told to beat. Further we are told that this beat will also work with a staff or short sword. Again we are given more general instruction and we are told to beat and then strike. More on r42.

"in dente di zenghiaro cum sua lanza, overo in posta di donna la sinistra, e rebatter e finire come si pò far in lo primo e in lo terzo çogho de lanza."
"Questo portar de spada contra lanza è molto fine per rebatter la lança cavalcando de la parte dritta dello compagno."
"in Dente di Cinghiaro with his lance, or in Left Posta di Donna; he could parry and strike as is possible in the first and third plays of the lance"
"This position of the sword against a lance is very good to parry [beat] the lance as you ride to the opponent's right side." - Tom Leoni

Again Tom translated rebatter to parry, instead of beat. If we use beat here then we are told to use the same beat and parry action from Dente di Cinghiaro that we were just told to use. Further we are told to do the same with a sword. Moving into the sword vs sword mounted plays on v43 we see.

"Anchora questa propria guardia de choda longa si è bona quando uno gli vene incontra cum la spada a man riversa come vene questo mio inimigo. E sapia che questa guardia è contra tutti colpi de parte dritta e di parte riversa, e contra zaschun che sia o dritto o manzino. E qui dredo cominzano gli zoghi di coda longa che sempre rebatte per lo modo ch'è ditto denanzi in prima guardia de coda longa."
"This same guard of Coda Lunga is good when the opponent comes with his sword on the riverso side, as does this one. Bear in mind that this guard counters all the blows both on the mandritto and the riverso side, and is usable against right - or left-handed opponents. We will now see the plays of Coda Lunga, from which you always parry [beat] as I have described in the first illustration of the guard." - Tom Leoni

So here we are told Coda Lunga can parry everything, any attack, from any opponent. We are further told exactly how to do this in the first illustration. To recap, beat and then strike. So far, the entire mounted section we have been told to beat away the attack. Lance or sword against all attacks. Moving on, r44.

"Questo è lo primo zogho che esse de la guardia de coda longa ch'è qui denanzi, zoè ch'ello magistro rebatte la spada dello suo inimigo, e mettigli la punta in lo petto, o vole in lo volto come qui depento."
"Questo si è lo segondo zogho ch'è pur di quello rebatter, io fiero costuy sopra la testa che vezo ben ch'ello non è armado la testa"
"This is the first play deriving from the guard of Coda Lunga, which we just saw: the master parries [beat] the opponent's sword and places his point in the opponent's chest or face as illustrate here."
"This is the second play, in which from a similar beating aside of the opponent's sword, I strike the opponent over the head, since I have observed that he is not wearing head armour." - Tom Leoni

I will not quote the rest of the sections on the sword plays here, as almost every single one contains the word beat. Fiore never once tells us to parry any other way, and constantly, repeatedly tells us to beat attacks away. I find my self in conclusion that, in as far as the mounted section is concerned, you defend your self with beats. I am aware that he has talked a lot on left sided guards, Coda Lunga, left Posta di Donna and Dente di Cinghiaro in particular. Thus far we have been provided very clear, explicit instruction on how to beat an attack away. Further we have been given no other instruction on how to parry, cover, deflect, stop or otherwise.

Next up I am going to jump into Sword in One Hand and see what Fiore has to say.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Coverta within Fior Di Battaglia - Part 1

I was once, a long time a go asked the simple and unassuming question, "What is a parry." I stared at the person who asked dumbfound as this person knew damn well what a parry was! The I started to explain what I thought a parry was and how to form such a parry - mostly using language like "move into frontale" and "don't parry wide".

He stopped me and said, "No, I mean what is a parry, according to Fiore." It took many weeks for this to percolate in my brain sufficiently long to realise I really didn't have an answer which I could back up with actual text from Fiore's manuscripts. It took many more weeks to cope with the fact that what I was doing may or may not be what Fiore means when he uses the term coverta, often translated to parry or cover - depending on the translator.

When I am presented this sort of question, there is only really one thing to do - pull out the manuscripts and the assorted translations of which I have access to. So, off I went to dispel my ignorance and find out what, exactly Fiore says and try to puzzle out what he means. This chase eventually lead me to r43 of the Getty.

"Questo cum la spada 'spetta questo cum la lanza e sì lo 'spetta cum dente di cenghiaro, come quello cum la lanza gli vene apresso lo magistro cum la spada rebatte sua lanza in fora inverso parte dritta. E chossì pò far lo magistro cum la spada, ch'ello pò covrir e ferir in un voltar di spada."
"This swordsman waits for the lance in Dente di Cinghiaro. As the opponent with the lance approaches him, the Master beats the lance aside to the right. The master can easily do this action with this sword - that is, parrying and striking with a single turn of the sword."- Tom Leoni
Here we can see Fiore links the terms beats (rebatte) and parrying (covrir). Essentially, he is calling the beat a parry. Thus we can conclude that beats are parries or covers. Which of course does not imply they are the only parries. We are also fortunately given very explicit instruction on how to preform just such an action on the page preceding this. v43 of the Getty.

"E tente ben a mente che le punte e li colpi riversi si debano rebatter in fora, zoè, ala traversa e non in erto. E li colpi de fendente, si debano rebatter per lo simile in fora, levando un pocho la spada dello suo inimigo,"
"Bear in mind that thrusts and riversi must be beaten to the outside, that is, sideways, and not upward; fendenti should similarly be beaten to the outside, lifting slightly the opponent's weapon." - Tom Leoni
Here we are given explicit instruction on how to beat almost any attack. More explicit than anything else I have found in the manuscript on how to perform a parry, outside of the copli de villano and scrabulare du punta plays. Those being explicitly called out to only apply to specific situations. In a future post I will explore the use of a beat in the rest of the mounted section and perhaps other places in the manuscript which it is found.