Anonimo 5

The fifth play introduces the sfalsata.


If your opponent has set himself in CLS with the right foot in front, or in PdFS, and you are placed in CLS with the left foot in front, from here make a feint of pushing a thrust to his chest on his right side, and as he makes any motion you then disengage your sword under his passing in this instant with the right foot deep towards his left side taking the true edge of the sword to his, beating it somewhat towards the ground or pushing it with force a little to his right, so pushing a thrust into his flank making the left foot follow behind the right. The sword will be found in GdI.

In doing this strike you want to force his sword this way and to turn your body as much as you can, because these are most genteel aspects to accomplish.


Building on similar concepts of beating and parrying from your right side and following with a thrust, this play begins by introducing the concepts of feinting with a thrust and the sfalsata, the Bolognese term for disengaging your sword under your opponents to the other side.

This play is very close to the hallmark plays of later era rapier texts, where a feint and a disengage form a great deal of the core system. In those texts the alignment of the blades is often described in great detail, but the Bolognese way of describing things — while extremely detailed — is often more superficial. Steps, body movements and blade actions are described in equal amounts of detail, not drilling into the specifics of any of these actions. It is left to the student to learn the specifics through experience.

It is of note that the thrust landed after the sfalsata could here be done either in a direct manner, or more like a due tempi action where the opponent’s sword is first pushed down and only then followed by the thrust.

For us working with the text these options are not problematic. The text clearly suggests to us two different methods, so we are free to practice and experiment with them. Tactically we then have the sequences of feint-disengage-thrust and feint-disengage-beat-thrust. Both perfect examples of Bolognese tactical thinking (and, in my opinion, of fencing in general). Former is quicker, but less secure and the latter is more secure but takes one tempo longer to execute.

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