Browse Categories
 
    Free Articles!
 
Search
Mailing Lists
 
 
 
 
 
  
Notes on the Bolognese Play of Two Swords
(Manciolino, Book Four)

 

This is a short guide to help Bolognese swordsmanship students understand the play of two swords in Manciolino’s Opera Nova.

 

As you can see in the book The Complete Renaissance Swordsman, Manciolino gives a play of two swords that consists of an entry into the play (solo form), a 14-step play against the opponent, and an exit from the play (also a solo form).

 

The two solo forms are self-explanatory, and can be understood directly from the words of Manciolino, even by less experienced students. This article will therefore focus on the play of two swords against the opponent, as a complement (or key) to better figure out the underlying principles behind Manciolino’s two-sword actions.

 

Underlying Rules for Bolognese Two Swords (Manciolino’s Version)
In analyzing Manciolino’s two-sword section, several rules jump out that are likely at the basis of the tactical foundations of this type of play. In total, I have extrapolated eight rules for the offense, and three for the defense. 

 

Here are a few premises that may make the rules more useful and understandable:

 

·         The right swords’ guards and cuts are understood to be from a right-handed perspective. The left sword’s from a left-handed perspective.

·         The main on-guard positions feature one sword in a high guard (Guardia di Testa occurring most often) and one in a low guard (Porta di Ferro Stretta occurring most often).

·         Whichever foot is forward while in guard corresponds to the hand that is in a low guard. For instance, at the beginning of the play against the opponent, you stand with your left foot forward; your left sword is in Porta di Ferro Stretta and your right sword in Guardia di Testa.

·         Of the 12 offensive actions described, 9 feature passes. The pass is therefore the dominant offensive footwork.

·         In the 5 defensive actions mentioned, no footwork is described. This means either that a) measure needs to determine which footwork you use or, b) that Manciolino prefers that no footwork accompany the act of parrying.  

 

Offensive Rules

The offensive rules for the play of two swords are as follows:

 

1.      Upon the pass forward with the rear foot, either sword can thrust.

2.      The sword performing the thrust moves first, and ends in Guardia di Testa or Guardia di Faccia.

3.      The other sword cuts a mandritto or riverso, and ends in a low guard (Porta di Ferro or Coda Lunga).

4.      From the Guardia di Faccia, you may perform a double attack with the same sword (thrust and mandritto), while the other sword goes into Guardia di Testa.

5.      From Porta di Ferro, you may perform a falso and riverso with the same sword, while the other delivers a half-mandritto into Guardia di Faccia.

6.       Both swords can do falso and mandritto, falso and riverso at the same time.  

7.      If both swords end in a low guard, immediately go into tutta coperta (i.e. hands high, true edges facing up, points facing downwards, blades crossed).

8.      When the two swords follow one-another with two distinct actions, the passes are two. When only one acts or both act together, the pass is one.

 

Defensive Rules

The defensive rules for the play of two swords are as follows:

 

1.      Against attacks to your left side, parry with the true edge of your left sword. Riposte with the right sword with a thrust to the chest or face.

2.      Against attacks to your right side, parry with the true edge of your right sword. Riposte by delivering a fendente with your left sword.

3.      Against attacks between the weapons, do falso and mandritto or falso and riverso with the sword situated in the low guard. The other sword executes a half mandritto into Guardia di Faccia.

 

Practical note on footwork: to make parrying and riposting more dynamic, you may accompany the former with a gather (forward or backward), the latter with an accrescimento--although this is not explicitly described in the text.

 

Notes on Guards Used

The total number of guard positions used in Manciolino’s two-sword section are as follows (square brackets indicate positions that Manciolino describes but does not name):

 

1.      Right foot forward, right sword in Porta di Ferro Stretta, left sword in Guardia di Testa.

2.      Left foot forward, right sword in Guardia di Testa, left sword in Porta di Ferro Stretta.

3.      Right foot forward, right sword in Coda Lunga e Stretta, left sword in Guardia di Testa.

4.      Left foot forward, right sword in Coda Lunga e Alta, left sword in Porta di Ferro Stretta.

5.      Left foot forward, swords in tutta coperta, right sword on top.

6.      Right foot forward, [right sword in Liocorno,] left sword in Porta di Ferro.

7.      Left foot forward, right sword in Guardia di Faccia, left in Porta di Ferro Stretta.

8.      Left foot forward, right sword in Porta di Ferro, [left in Liocorno].

9.      Right foot forward, [right sword in Guardia di Testa], left in Guardia di Faccia.

10.  Left foot forward, [right sword in Guardia di Testa, left in Guardia di Faccia].  
 
For a synopsis of all these actions, click here.

 

Find out More on Bolognese Two Swords!

Freelance Academy Press offers a complete critical translation of Manciolino’s Opera Nova, entitled The Complete Renaissance Swordsman. This lists some of the most useful actions and repertoire with the two swords, as well as many other useful topics and actions to understand 16th-century Italian swordsmanship.    
 
 
Shopping Cart
Your cart is empty.