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  1, MS. 345 25V (p. 50/1)

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This is the first action I have decided to enumerate from the Anonimo Bolognese. It is one of the longest plays in the entire manuscript, including multiple points where the opponent can be harmed. It spans all the stages of combat from entering from outside of measure with a provocation through various attacks and defenses into a close-quarters action by performing a presa.

Originally one of the hardest plays to interpret, this sequence finally renders into a beautiful set of chained offensive actions, perfectly displaying the nature of Bolognese swordplay as demonstrated by the Anonimo.

Translation

First, having the sword alone you can set yourself in PdFS, with the right foot forward opposite to your enemy, keeping the left hand close to the thigh. From here you can approach him, making the left foot push the right forwards. Without striking make sure to keep yourself in a wide pace in order to more readily be able to push forwards and to retreat backwards without disorder. You having done this he is forced to make a strike or retreat backwards. But if instead he only wants to oppose you in the same guard with the right in front, with genteel skill you push your opponent’s sword to his left with thefalse edge of your sword atop his, taking it out of the way. And during this time make a wide pass with your left foot towards his right side throwing amandritto to his face or sword arm that does not go beyond CPdF and the right foot follows behind the left[1]. And if your opponent responds with any strike you can hurt his sword hand with a mezzo roverso that does not pass CLS. And if he doesn’t respond with any strike do not hold yourself from delivering the abovesaid roverso. And if your opponent has the sword in presence you can make a small feint of pushing a thrust to his right side, but in the instant passing with the right foot towards his left side taking his sword with the true edge of yours, making a half-turn of the hand and pushing a thrust to his body behind his sword with the left foot following behind the right. And in this taking you need to smack his sword somewhat forcefully away towards the ground or his right side. With vigor you overpower him and push a thrust to his flank for his misfortune. And if he, in any way, saves himself with his sword pushing yours upwards or to the side, after seeing this you follow with a wide pass to his right side with your left making a presa with your left hand on his sword hand and push it to his left, during which you turn a riverso fendente on top of his head, while letting your right foot following behind the left.

[1] The original text reads so that the left follows behind the right. This seems to be a mistake, so I have corrected it in the translation. In the position of CPdF, and after a pass forwards with the left it is unlikely the left would be following behind the right.

Commentary

This play is one of the longest in terms of description within the Anonimo. Despite this the techniques themselves are quite straightforward.

But do not let the quickness of this play deceive you, as there is a wide array of material available in this first play. We are introduced for example to the following concepts:

  • initiating an attack by constraining the opponent to attack (or stand still as in this case), the action of stringere
  • feinting
  • half-turn of the hand
  • entering into a presa in case your attack is parried
  • making a beat onto a sword extended in presence
  • using both edges of the sword to manipulate opponent’s sword

Some parts of this play include options, through which this play can be easily varied.

I often find the first plays in fencing texts a bit more cryptic than many of those that come later — as if the masters got better at communicating through the processs of writing more.

With the Anonimo I get this feeling as well. The first play is long, has many options and even seems to have a mistake in the text. For these reasons it took me a long time to satisfactorily interpret this play, but I am rather satisfied with it now, and use many aspects of this play in daily practice.

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