Art of the Two-Handed Sword part 3: Choices

Previous: Second part
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Continuing from where we left in the previous part (Porta di Ferro Larga, in fact) we go ahead to the next chapter of the primo assalto.

As you know, in the second part you finished in Porta di Ferro Larga. I want you to give beat with the false edge of your sword to that of the enemy, strongly toward your right side, bringing in this strike your left foot close to the right, and having hit the said falso, you will strike him with a mandritto tondo to the legs, passing in this strike the right foot strongly forward, and this mandritto will return to Guardia di Faccia, pulling in that time the right foot close to the left.
And direct the point of your sword to the face of the enemy, in a way that if he strikes to your head, you feint as if you were parrying with your sword but let his strike go past and at the same time let go a roversofendente, while passing with your left foot toward his right side in a way that your sword will fall into Coda Lunga Alta. Without stopping, for your security draw the left foot close to the right and go with your sword into Guardia di Croce, and from there in one action throw the right foot two spans behind the left giving a falso dritto from below upwards to the hand of the enemy; and in throwing the said falso the left foot will go behind the right and in this way you go with the sword into Porta di Ferro Alta, to the right of the aforesaid.

The theme here is to begin with a different provocation: a beat with the false edge, followed by a cut to the leg. This is straightforward, but what about the following sequence? How, and in what time are we supposed to enter Guardia di Faccia, feint a parry, strike a riverso and so on? And what exactly is feinting a parry?

If your opponent strikes you during the tempo of your attack, there is no counter nor defence. Unless you use feints or otherwise work a step ahead of your opponent, you can’t really prevent him from hitting you. This often happens with the cut to the leg(s): if the defender draws the leg out of the path of the cut and simultaneously strikes the head or the hand of the attacker, there will be no time or possibility for the attacker to counter. How then is it possible to feint a parry while the opponent is countering your cut to the leg?

The answer — at least in my opinion — is to choose another type of defence for the opponent. The beat takes his sword that much out of the line that it is not possible for him to retract the leg and strike in time. Instead he goes for a parry with the spadone, keeping his hands high and simply circulating the blade into the way of the incoming cut. This forces the fight into a two-tempo mode, where the defences no longer are simultaneous with the attacks, but always have a parry followed by a riposte.

In this way the initial attacker, when the swords collide at the opponent’s parry, has time to retreat half a pace backwards, bringing the sword up into Guardia di Faccia as if to parry, but with the intention of letting the opponent’s sword go past, throwing his sword around into a riverso cut. The feinting of a parry serves to — well — parry in case there is no possibility to go around, but also to incite the opponent to steer his cut slightly off. This happens because there is a tendency for people to look for a crossing of blades (when in their perception the border between seeing a defence and seeing an attack blurs). This similar action was already seen, albeit slightly differently, in the first part and it is found elsewhere too. Dall’Agocchie specifically explains doing this with the single-handed sword.

And what are we left with? The opponent likely parries the riverso and strikes, and you parry with guardia di Croce as you have done before.

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