Category Archives: Armizare

Spada Instructional Video: First Master of Zhogo Largo

Instructional video showing the execution of the First Remedy of Largo and the binary choice that results from this particular crossing.

Here begins the play of two-handed sword, in wide play. This Master has crossed his sword at the point with this opponent, and says: when I am crossed at the points, I quickly turn my sword and strike the opponent on the other side with a fendente to the head and arms; or I thrust to his face, as you will see next.

I have given you a thrust to the face, as the Master before me had said. I could have also performed the other action he mentioned: attack right after crossing swords to the right, i.e. turn a fendente to the left side, to the head and arms of the opponent, as my master before me said. – MS Ludwig XV 13, translation © Tom Leoni

The first play deals with a critical situation: the crossing of the swords near the points, and the immediate tactical choice that presents itself depending on the quality of the incrosada – the pressure placed on the Remedy Master’s sword but the Player’s sword.  For additional context, please refer to:

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART 6: ORDERING THE PLAYS OF ZOGHO LARGO

If the Remedy Master crosses – i.e. parries – and finds the line open, he will make a direct point thrust to the Player.  If he finds the line closed – i.e. the Player’s cut has pushed his sword to the right – he will quickly cut over to the other side of the sword, striking head or arms with a fendente.

It’s important to remember that the text and image shown for any given play is not a prescriptive injunction that this play can only happen exactly as shown, but rather a descriptive example of principles to be applied in any similar situation.  Therefore the same crossing – weak to weak – is also demonstrated from actions in Posta Longa and Posta di Finestra. As Fiore says:

These plays are all linked, and have remedies and counters both from the mandritto and riverso side, counter-thrusts and counter-cuts to each action, with breaks, parries, strikes and binds—all things that can be understood very, very easily. – MS Ludwig XV 13, translation © Tom Leoni

For additional information on the variable nature of applying Fiore’s martial principles, please refer to

Stable, Striking and Mutable: Fighting from the Guards of L’Arte dell’Armizare

In the demonstrations I perform the actions of the Remedy Master from a “refused” or back stance position, using a volta stabile di corpo (stable turn of the body) to add strength and structure to the defensive cut.   This mechanic is covered in further detail here:

Fundamental Mechanics: Executing a Correct Fendente

Additionally, several of the demonstrations use sharps, because the qualities of the bind with sharps are much more noticeable than with blunts – sharps “stick” momentarily, blunts don’t.  PLEASE NOTE: the blades we are using are sharp on the edges but dull at the points, that we are wearing safety gear, and that we are both well-trained.  Don’t try this at home.

The plays could also be performed from a forward stance with a step of the left foot off the line to the left.  The volta and the step could also be combined.   Though not demonstrated here, these variations are taught at Northwest Fencing Academy and in the IAS.

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART 6: ORDERING THE PLAYS OF ZOGHO LARGO

We now turn to a more in-depth analysis of the technical curriculum Maestro Fiore has left us for how to remedy, or defend, against blows launched from the various guards in either wide (largo) or close (stretto) play. As seen previously, we can define wide play, or zogho largo, as encompassing any action that begins with one of the combatants bridging distance (analogous to the Wide Distance/misura larga/Zufechten of other traditions) and ending with the swords  crossed in the middle third (mezza spada).

Dei Liberi divides his instruction into two main groupings: a crossing of the sword in the first third, or punta, and a crossing at the mezza spada, with the majority of the plays falling in the latter category. There has long been a tendency for students to treat these plays in isolation — not just from the larger system, but from each other — and this is understandable, given how the master presents the material: Sometimes providing specific advice for variations to a play, illustrating a follow-on technique in zogho stretto for what to do when a play fails or is countered, discussing in some cases how to come to the half-sword, rather than beginning at the half-sword, etc. However, by carefully studying how the scholar is controlling the Player, both tactically and mechanically, a clear reason for each play and their overall ordering can be deduced.

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART 6: ORDERING THE PLAYS OF ZOGHO LARGO

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART THREE: SWORD IN ONE HAND

Alphabet - Having looked at Fiore dei Liber’s pedagogical system, system of blows, and six methods of using the sword, we now turn to those individual sub-systems itself. Swordsmanship proper first appears in the Pisani-Dossi and Getty manuscript (ff. 20r – 21v) after the dagger teachings, and is almost an extended interlude in its own right. A single Remedy is presented, a master standing in a low guard, comparable to a position of the sword in the scabbard. Although he is wielding the sword in one hand, as one might an arming sword, the weapon itself clearly has a long, two-handed hilt.

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART THREE: SWORD IN ONE HAND

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART TWO: The Seven Blows of the Sword

Alphabet - Fiore’s art is a holistic one, adaptable to a variety of situations and circumstances (in armis, sine armis…). Why then, is so little said of the mechanics of cuts and the tactical framework for initiating an attack?  Popular wisdom says Fiore’s art was not intended for use by newcomers to the art, but rather by experienced men-at-arms. This is easily backed up by even a cursory read through the introductory material, where Fiore lists his accomplishments in preparing men for feats of arms – a veritable who’s who of well-known medieval fighters.

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART TWO: The Seven Blows of the Sword

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART ONE: THE SIX MASTERS OF SWORD COMBAT

Alphabet - The lessons on the two-handed sword begin with two variations of the guard Posta di Donna opposing one another, followed by six unnamed masters. These masters are not so much poste – though many of them do correspond to specific poste, as they  do different ways that the sword can be used in combat: in armour and without, in one hand or two, thrown, and so forth. As explains its nature, they reveal the interrelation between the various forms of sword use, the close-quarters methods of the dagger, and specific “mixed weapons” techniques taught at various points throughout the manuscript.

Fol 22

We are two guards and we are alike but contrary to one another. As with all other guards in this art, alike guards are contrary to one another, with the exception of the point guards (Posta Longa, Breve and Mezza Porta di Ferro); with point guard against point guard, the most extended guard can reach the opponent first. Anyway, what one guard can do, its opposite also can. These guards can perform a volta stabile and a mezza volta.[1] A volta stabile lets you play forward or backward (from one side only), without moving your feet. A mezza volta is when you pass forward or backward, so you can play on the opposite side forward or backward. A tutta volta is when you use one foot to describe a circle around the other foot; in other words, one foot stays in place, the other circles around it. The sword also has three movements: volta stabile, mezza volta and tutta volta. These two guards are both called Posta di Donna. There are four more concepts in this art: passing forward, passing backward, an advancing (accrescimento) of the front foot, and pulling back the front foot (decrescimento).

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART ONE: THE SIX MASTERS OF SWORD COMBAT

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS: INTRODUCTION

 am the sword and I am lethal against any weapon; Alphabet - Ilances, axes and dagger are worthless against me. I can become extended or withdrawn; when I get near the opponent I can enter into close play, perform disarms and abrazare. My art is to turn and to bind; I am expert in defense and offense, and always strive to finish in those. Come against me and feel the pain. I am Royal, enforce justice, propagate goodness and destroy evil. Look at me as a cross, and I will give you fame and a name in the art of arms.

Il Fior di Battaglia, folio 25r, Fiore dei Liberi, 1410 (tr. Tom Leoni)[1]

Introduction

At first glance, swordplay seems to take  relatively minor role in armizare, at least compared to its German contemporaries. Whereas there are nine tactical situations, or Remedii (“Remedies”) containing 78 discreet dagger plays, Fiore dei Liberi summarizes his sword teachings in three Remedies with just over forty plays, more than half of which concern grapples and disarms with the weapon. The twenty plays reserved for Zogho Largo (“wide distance”) are not even a fifth of the vast corpus of techniques found in the Liechtenauer compendia.

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS: INTRODUCTION

Fiore dei Liberi and the Gladiatoria Tradition — A Comparative Analysis

[Nota Bene: IAS is pleased to present our first article from a Society Affiliate — Mr. Mauro Carapacchi of of Rieti, Italy. A founder of the group Mos Ferri, Mr. Carapacchi first encountered Fiore dei Liberi through the realm of historical reenactment. Today he works to understand the martial art of Armizare, with a particular interest in armoured combat. He maintains his own blog, where he has provided a free translation of the Gladiatoria Manuscript into Italian. — ed.]

Under the name “Gladiatoria” we can identify a group of early XV century manuscripts covering the art of fighting in armour, joined by stylistic form of pictures and some technical peculiarities.

Continue reading Fiore dei Liberi and the Gladiatoria Tradition — A Comparative Analysis

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS: SERIES INTRODUCTION

I am the sword and I am lethal against any weapon; lances, axes and dagger are worthless against me. I can become extended or withdrawn; when I get near the opponent I can enter into close play, perform disarms and abrazare. My art is to turn and to bind; I am expert in defense and offense, and always strive to finish in those. Come against me and feel the pain. I am Royal, enforce justice, propagate goodness and destroy evil. Look at me as a cross, and I will give you fame and a name in the art of arms.

Il Fior di Battaglia, folio 25r, Fiore dei Liberi, 1410

Introduction

At first glance, swordplay seems to take  relatively minor role in armizare, at least compared to its German contemporaries. Whereas there are nine tactical situations, or Remedii (“Remedies”) containing 78 discreet dagger plays, Fiore dei Liberi summarizes his sword teachings in three Remedies with just over forty plays, more than half of which concern grapples and disarms with the weapon. The twenty plays reserved for Zogho Largo (“wide distance”) are not even a fifth of the vast corpus of techniques found in the Liechtenauer compendia.

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS: SERIES INTRODUCTION

The Nine Dagger Remedy Masters: 5th Master

Video 5 of 9 in a short series.

In-Class Review Session for Iniziato, Compagno and Scholar candidates at Northwest Fencing Academy.  Produced by Northwest Fencing Academy for use by affiliates of  the International Armizare Society.

The remedies will be made public and the scholar’s plays put in the Member’s Area. This series covers the basic mechanics of the Nine Dagger Remedy Masters from Fiore dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia, which details L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Arms).  The instructional emphasis is on developing proficiency in mechanics and timing, so that there’s a solid foundation for the actual scholar’s plays.

The video is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll be happy to take questions over on the forums.  Note that this just covers basic execution of the Remedy.  We’ll cover various plays in later videos.

Candidates for all ranks are expected to be able to analyze mechanics as well as perform them, with execution skills increasing per level.

The Nine Dagger Remedy Masters: 4th Master

Video 4 of 9 in a short series.

In-Class Review Session for Iniziato, Compagno and Scholar candidates at Northwest Fencing Academy.  Produced by Northwest Fencing Academy for use by affiliates of  the International Armizare Society.

The remedies will be made public and the scholar’s plays put in the Member’s Area. This series covers the basic mechanics of the Nine Dagger Remedy Masters from Fiore dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia, which details L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Arms).  The instructional emphasis is on developing proficiency in mechanics and timing, so that there’s a solid foundation for the actual scholar’s plays.

The video is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll be happy to take questions over on the forums.  Note that this just covers basic execution of the Remedy.  We’ll cover various plays in later videos.

Candidates for all ranks are expected to be able to analyze mechanics as well as perform them, with execution skills increasing per level.

The Nine Dagger Remedy Masters: 3rd Master

Video 3 of 9 in a short series.

In-Class Review Session for Iniziato, Compagno and Scholar candidates at Northwest Fencing Academy.  Produced by Northwest Fencing Academy for use by affiliates of  the International Armizare Society.

The remedies will be made public and the scholar’s plays put in the Member’s Area. This series covers the basic mechanics of the Nine Dagger Remedy Masters from Fiore dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia, which details L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Arms).  The instructional emphasis is on developing proficiency in mechanics and timing, so that there’s a solid foundation for the actual scholar’s plays.

The video is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll be happy to take questions over on the forums.  Note that this just covers basic execution of the Remedy.  We’ll cover various plays in later videos.

Candidates for all ranks are expected to be able to analyze mechanics as well as perform them, with execution skills increasing per level.

The Nine Dagger Remedy Masters: 2nd Master

Video 2 of 9 in a short series.

In-Class Review Session for Iniziato, Compagno and Scholar candidates at Northwest Fencing Academy.  Produced by Northwest Fencing Academy for use by affiliates of  the International Armizare Society.

The remedies will be made public and the scholar’s plays put in the Member’s Area. This series covers the basic mechanics of the Nine Dagger Remedy Masters from Fiore dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia, which details L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Arms).  The instructional emphasis is on developing proficiency in mechanics and timing, so that there’s a solid foundation for the actual scholar’s plays.

The video is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll be happy to take questions over on the forums.  Note that this just covers basic execution of the Remedy, plus a simple armbar.  We’ll cover various plays in later videos.

Candidates for all ranks are expected to be able to analyze mechanics as well as perform them, with execution skills increasing per level.

The Nine Dagger Remedy Masters: 1st Master

Video 1 of 9 in a short series.

In-Class Review Session for Iniziato, Compagno and Scholar candidates at Northwest Fencing Academy.  Produced by Northwest Fencing Academy for use by affiliates of  the International Armizare Society.  The remedies will be made public and the scholar’s plays put in the Member’s Area.

This covers the basic mechanics of the Nine Dagger Remedy Masters from Fiore dei Liberi’s Fior di Battaglia, which details L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Arms).  The instructional emphasis is on developing proficiency in mechanics and timing, so that there’s a solid foundation for the actual scholar’s plays. The dagger strip (which is technically not a Fiore play) is something I use for teaching fundamental mechanical concepts of structure, timing, and movement. In reality, the other fellow will put up a fight, which is where the actual plays come in.

Candidates for all ranks are expected to be able to analyze mechanics as well as perform them, with execution skills increasing per level.  The video is fairly self-explanatory, but I’ll be happy to take questions over on the forums.  Note that this just covers basic execution of the Remedy, plus mechanics of the dagger strip.  We’ll cover various plays in later videos.

Fundamental Mechanics: Executing a Correct Fendente

From time to time IAS will release Member’s Area content (normally only available to affiliates) to the general public, in the interests of promoting L’Arte dell’Armizare and the Academy’s approach to it.  This post is an in-depth lesson and video detailing the execution of a fundamental action: the fendente, and is part of a series of in-depth Fundamentals videos.

The video details the specifics of the fendente itself; the lesson refers to partnered body mechanics exercises that are reviewed before the fendente lesson is begun.  Those videos are not shown here (but are in the Member’s Area).

Lesson 1: Fundamental Body & Sword Mechanics

Level: Fundamental/Beginning

Description: Students will learn to execute both mandritto and riverso fendenti from Posta di Donna diritta (mandritto side) and Posta di Donna sinistra (on the riverso side) using correct body mechanics.

Prerequisites: None.

Goals: To properly engage arms, shoulders, hips and legs to power the blow in a true time (hand before body and feet) into a tactically sound and physically stable ending position.

Continue reading Fundamental Mechanics: Executing a Correct Fendente

Measuring Success: the Role of Freeplay & Competition in Training

Freeplay

IAS Schools employs a variety of models for freeplay (sparring).  The bridge between strict drills and complete freeplay is in the form of exercises with certain parameters in which actions are limited to specific techniques.  Such exercises can more or less limit the scope of possibilities, and are designed to focus the student’s attention on specific aspects of the art as applied in the fight.  Since any limitation introduced necessarily distorts the reality of the art’s application, conditions in these drills are usually changed frequently from more limitations to fewer, consistent with the student’s level of ability.

Sean Hayes (r) fighting Axel Petterson (l)
The author (right) fighting Axel Petterson at Longpoint 2014. Axel took 1st in the tournament.

It is important to understand that even freeplay has limitations placed on it.  The most obvious limitations are that we use blunt weapons and protective equipment, we play so as to minimize the possibility of injury, and our intent is not lethal – quite the opposite!  Safety is always our first priority.  The effect of all this is to remove the very natural fear one would have with sharp weapons and lethal intent, to remove the caution that fear would inspire, and to encourage behavior that is not consistent with a real fight.

Because of these considerations, students must: Continue reading Measuring Success: the Role of Freeplay & Competition in Training

Applied Armizare – Fiore’s Five Throws

Introduction

Fiore dei Liberi is known as the founder of a fully-functional, holistic system of combat, used with and without weapons, that he named l’arte dell’armizare — the Art of Arms. Grappling without weapons forms the introductory section of at least two manuscripts, and is known by practitioners as abrazare, or “the art of embracing.”

Dei Liberi is often referred to by modern practitioners (erroneously, but that is a subject for a separate article) as a“wrestling master” when comparisons are made with his Germanic contemporaries . In point of fact, there is precious little in the way of wrestling instruction in the corpus of works attributed to Maestro dei Liberi, and what is present is predominantly a repetition of techniques across a variety of weapons. A portion of this is undoubtedly due to his focus on a holistic style of combat. For this reason, not only is much of the underlying structure for a wrestling system found integrated into the dagger remedies, but also throughout dei Liberi’s self-referential work.

Continue reading Applied Armizare – Fiore’s Five Throws

SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART FIVE: Wide and Close Play in Armizare

Gregory D. Mele, ©2014

[N.B: This article greatly expands and upon an earlier one “Understanding Wide and Close Play in the Martial Tradition of Fiore dei Liberi”, first presented in 2008 and later published with photo interpretations in In the Service of Mars, Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop (1999 – 2009), Vol. I. In addition to a new introduction that is about a third of its entire length, substantial revisions and citations extend throughout the article, so those familiar with the earlier work will still want to read this in its entirety.]

INTRODUCTION

A wide variety of Italian authors, from Giacopo Gelli to the famed fencing master, Luigi Barbasetti, had written on the man and his work in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Further a new generation of Italian researchers, most notably Massimo Malipiero and Giovanni Rapisardi, were also working with this “father of Italian fencing”, building on the work established by Novati almost 100 years earlier.[1]

Continue reading SWORDSMANSHIP IN THE ART OF ARMS, PART FIVE: Wide and Close Play in Armizare