For Members: the IAS Basic Curriculum

Welcome to the International Armizare Society!

If you are on this page it means that you are now an IAS Affiliate and ready to get to the fun part: immersing yourself in the practical aspects of the Art of Arms. On this page you will find all of the resources necessary to provide a basic curriculum in spada a dui mani (two-handed sword), daga (dagger) and abrazare (grappling). All of our Affiliates are welcome to either use this curriculum as “plug and play” in their classrooms, or as a foundation for developing their own. However, as the curriculum drills form a pedagogical, technical, tactical and interpretive foundations for later levels, the Society recommends that all Affiliates interested in rank-testing are at least familiar with the specific drills and essays contained therein.

OVERVIEW

The entire curriculum is summarized in the attached IAS Curriculum Map – Level One, and the individual set-plays and complex drills outlined in the following  Synoptic Tables. As these documents are meant to be used by Society members there is little explanatory detail. For those new to the IAS, this webpage will explain what you are looking at it and how the parts of the curriculum work.

RATIONALE

The first student rank signifies an understanding of the fundamental Armizare Basic Curriculum – Synoptic Tablesprecepts of the system and apply the entirety of their learning to a limited freeplay environment in a defensive capacity. Being Armizare Novice Curriculum – Synoptic Tablesadmitted to the rank of Scolaro attests to the candidate’s ability to perform fundamental actions and set plays with proper mechanics and footwork. 

Each member school is free to grant the rank of Scolaro to its students internally, provided candidates meet the base required criteria. (Each school is free to define other requirements as they see fit.) Although the rank is internal to member academies and outside the direct purview of IAS, the following curriculum is derived from that developed and used in Member academies and provides a lingua franca for the Society.

COMPONENTS

The IAS Basic Curriculum is built around a pedagogical method that embeds Fiore dei Liberi’s own within a structure derived from the creators’ experiences in traditional martial arts, modern fencing, and best-practices in contemporary education theory. The evaluation process is already discussed at length elsewhere, what concerns us here are the physical components of the curriculum, which include Solo Drills, Set-Plays and Training Sequences.

Solo Drills
Solo drills are used to teach the fundamental skills of Armizare —balance, body-mechanics, footwork, cutting, and thrusting. Examples include: air-cutting, pell-work, and slow motion and full speed footwork drills. The solo drills instill in the student the “alphabet” of historical swordsmanship.

Solo drills in the sword curriculum are comprised of two types: Cutting Drills and Assalti.

  • The Cutting Drills are designed to teach students the underlying body mechanics behind executing fendente, sottani, thrusts and how to apply them as defensive covers; each of the drills forms the basis for a set of two-person Set-Plays (see below).
  • Assalti are solo “forms” that are meant to give a student a routine for memorizing a variety of actions. The two forms used at this level include a Posta Progression for learning the various guards of the sword, and a Scholar Assalto which is a summary of all of the basic defenses used with the spada a dui mani. (The Scholar Assalto is adaptable to any long weapon used in the art, creating a “jumping off point” for students to take up a new arm, as will be seen at later levels in the curriculum.)

Set-Plays
Set-plays are pre-planned sequences of attack and defense, derived directly from the historical source material. They are used to teach fundamental techniques in a way that will encode them in the student’s muscle memory. Once the set play has been memorized, students can then vary the distance, timing and rhythm to further explore how the techniques can be applied. Set-plays essentially use the “alphabet” of the solo drills to create “sentences”.

Set Plays in the Basic Curriculum are taken from the various copies of the Flower of Battle, and correspond to the three primary areas of training: abrazare, dagger and sword. The rationale behind each section is as follows:

  • Abrazare Set-Plays are taken directly from the single Remedy and follow-on plays left by Fiore dei Liberi. When looked at en suite, the first six plays provide a fundamental lesson of how to use and apply the Remedy, responding to pressure in the bind, adapting to changes in measure if the Companion presses in or flies-out, and a basic Counter.
  • Likewise, Dagger Set-Plays are comprised of the basic cover and response taught by Fiore dei Liberi for each of his Nine Remedies, giving students a broad knowledge of how the master conceptualized dagger combat.
  • Finally, the Longsword Set-Plays focus on actions in zogho largo, particularly how to defend in tempo from the core poste as an attacker breaks measure. As such, they derive from two sources: the detailed instructions the Master provides for each posta (the First Master of Battle), and the instructions for coming to the bind and countering thrusts found in the plays of zogho largo.

Training Sequences
This term is used to mean extended set-plays comprised of linking a series of basic set-plays using Fiore dei Liberi’s pedagogcial model of Posta > Remedio > Contrario > Contra-Contrario. Each step should be trained, so that initially the Player makes an unanswered attack (Step One). The attack is repeated, but this time the Scholar defends with a Remedy (Step Two). In the third repetition, the first two actions are repeated, but the Player now Counters the Remedy (Step Three). Finally, all three steps are repeated, but the Scholar now executes a Counter to the  Counter (Step Four).

The Abrazare Training Sequence is a simple application of Gambarola versus Balestrata; each time the Player prevents a throw, his necessary weight shift forces a commitment that lets the Scholar flow into the next. The two Dagger Sequences are an application of the first four plays of the Primo Remedio (First Master), and not only illustrates the pedagogy of the system, but how collapsing measure informs the defender’s decisions. Finally, three of the four Longsword Training Sequences were developed to  link together individual Set-Plays taught previously, presenting them in a more dynamic framework that shows the use of line, rhythm and how a mezza volta di spada (half turn of the sword) defeats a tutta volta di spada (full turn) by holding the center-line; a recurring theme in Armizare. The final sequence is the only component not taken directly from the work of Fiore dei Liberi. Named Levata (“lifting”) , it comes from the writings of Pietro Monte and addresses an area in which Maestro Fiore is otherwise relatively silent: the tactical use of true-edge sottani with the two-handed sword.

Getting Started

This page has most of the materials you need to begin exploring the Society’s approach to Armizare. Start by downloading the following files:

IAS Curriculum Map – Level One — A complete overview of a plug-and-play “basic curriculum” available to all Affiliates, and which forms a common language for the Society to layer later levels of training.

An Introduction to Medieval Swordsmanship — A 40+ page training guide on fundamental footwork, sword grip, guards, cutting and defending against cuts, along with a 12-week lesson plan for an introductory class.

Armizare Basic CurriculumSynoptic Tables

Crash Course in Medieval Dagger — A 20+ page training guide that provides cultural context and fundamental rules to wearing, drawing and training with the dagger in Armizare.

Curriculum Resource Library

In the Resource Library, below, you will find support material for these documents: lectures and essays on body mechanics, training drills, and synoptic tables summarizing our formal “set-plays,” and links to explanatory videos.

Spada a Dui Mani

The Armizare Universal Form

A short solo form teaching the basic coverte-risposte (covers and responses) used with all long weapons in armizare. Covers include:

  1. Rising Riverso Sottano
  2. Falso Riverso Sottano
  3. Riverso Fendente
  4. Cover in Right Posta di Finestra
  5. Cover in Left Posta di Finestra
  6. Collection in Posta Frontale
  7. Mandritto Fendente (Cover of Zogho Largo)

Detailed Lesson on the Universal Form and Its Application

 Solo Forms and Partner Applications
Thrusts and Thrust Defenses, Part One: Scambiar di Punta on the Low and High Line

Abrazare and Dagger

 

A 40 minute video detailing the first 4 plays of abrazare.  This is a full instructional video on execution of the plays, and shows how to link them into a training sequence that teaches a critical concept of armizare: the Attack/Remedy/Counter/Counter-to-Counter Strategic Paradigm: “This Master […] is called Second Master or Remedy Master, since, by the rules of the art, he thwarts the Attacks deriving from the poste or guards shown before […] another Master appears who performs the Counter to the Remedy and all of his students […] In some places, the art admits a Fourth Master or King who counters the Third King or Counter to the Remedy. I call this the Fourth Master or Contra-counter. Few plays, however, can go beyond the Third Master, after which lies danger.”

Dagger Remedy Master Series — Instructional Video on basic execution of the remedies.

Fundamental Mechanics: Executing a Correct Fendente — An in-depth lesson and video detailing the execution of a fundamental action: the fendente.  This is the first of a series of in-depth Fundamentals videos.
PDF of Lesson Plan
Video of Lesson Plan