The Masters of Longsword

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Motley » 30 Aug 2012 19:35

This post is not in direct response to the other but tries to explain where my thoughts currently are. I was going to write this in an email to Chris but it seemed better here.

I don't know that my thoughts are really fully developed enough for me to argue too strongly about it, but I have decided to throw them out anyway (knowing I risk looking like a muppet) as I think they impact this discussion. I really don't think there is anything revolutionary about them, just a different way of I have been conceptualizing the situation.

I have recently been thinking about the cross positions a bit differently to how I had previously. For a while I have being trying to figure out for myself what is being shown in the largo section where Fiore says things like “here we are crossed”.

The reason I think this is different to how I was thinking before is that I had looked at the incrossada and then tried to wind back to the starting posta, as though it was the direct result of an attack-defence situation. I now don’t think this is what Fiore is trying to convey. An incrossada seems to me a more nebulous concept. I don’t think it is “you attack I defend here we are”.

Go and look carefully at the hand, arm, blade positions in the hi-res getty in the two largo crosses (now we can discuss it with everyone having access http://www.googleartproject.com/galleri ... /27602323/).

My thinking goes something like this. I don't see how in any of them could be seen as coming from two people cutting directly at each other.

Take the case of the 2nd Remedy Master of Largo, if we do assume both cutting at each other then we would end up with both people in posta longa and some kind of double to the hands.

If the defender was to have parried and the attacker just continued the cut down, then the defender would be in the parry position shown but the attacker would probably have slid down to the defenders cross to a posta longa like position, this would leave the attacker foible against forte and open to be set aside.

If when the defender parries, the attacker changes his action to not give this advantage to the opponent then we could end up in a cross, as shown. Depending on how the blades move at this point it could be either the middle or tip (or full) that the cross occurs.

We are then shown different responses based on this cross. If something else happened, well we are not crossed are we?

Anyway that I how I currently see it and why I think I agree with Matt that counter cutting in largo is a bad idea*, as the only way to avoid the double cut to the hands above is to cut wide to the sword and hence be open to counters based on that. I think that a counter cut would work in stretto as the positional relationship is different and the counter cut provides more cover.

Anyway that is a whole lot of words so I’ll leave it at that for now.

*Note I am not trying to suggest that this is what Matt is thinking.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby admin » 30 Aug 2012 19:55

CPenney wrote:I think that cutting towards the attacker, catching the sword as the attacker tries to take the centre with his cut is not only valid, in that it defends while covering the centre line, and leaves one in the exact place to do the Scholar's response. And if the attack was a feint with a step, I'd hit the 'attacker" in the case of a feint without a step, I should be better than to fall for it, or I'd end up in posta longa.


Sorry Chris, but you're wrong. If you are hitting *at the attacker* with the left foot remaining forwards you will not defend against the cut (ie. parry). If you hit at the sword (ie. parry), then you will not hit the attacker. You either have to direct your sword at the sword or the person, you can not do both unless you pass with the right foot and make a kind of 'zornhau' (which would put you in gioco stretto).

Stop for a second and think about this - if your sword is on a trajectory that would *cut the opponent* then how can you ever conceivably come to a crossing in which you are able to thrust them in Posta Longa? Either your sword is close enough to cut or far enough away to thrust, it can not be both.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby admin » 30 Aug 2012 20:04

Motley wrote:An incrossada seems to me a more nebulous concept. I don’t think it is “you attack I defend here we are”.


Not to be disrespectful, but yes of course (I agree with everything you wrote). This is Fiore seminar hour 1 stuff. There are only two kinds of incrossada with the point up that you can ever end up in - either you both have the same foot forward or you have different feet forward. That's it. End of. Fiore's two longsword sections show what you can do from either of those types of incrossada. It doesn't actually matter how you get there.

Now what I'm arguing with Chris about is really a different issue. It is about whether Fiore cuts into people's cuts, whether he parries or whether he countercuts directly at the person. Well actually he clearly does the first two and never gives any evidence at all for the third.

If a person wants to get to a gioco largo incrossada by cutting into a person's sword rather than parrying then that is up to them - both can get to the same position - but I'm saying that you'll be a better fencer if you parry properly instead of whacking people's sword for the sake of it (if you want to beat a person's sword, such as in a rebat then that is a different matter).

Chris seems to be confused about cutting at a person's sword vs. cutting at the person - Fiore is clearly not doing the latter, because he finishes crossed in a position to thrust in Longa.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby admin » 30 Aug 2012 21:41

p.s. Sorry if I come across as shouty or overly blunt in this thread. It's just a subject that I care a lot about and it gets my goat. Please don't take it personally - people can interpret Fiore however they want, I just strongly know what I believe and why.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Joeli » 30 Aug 2012 22:55

Image
(hope the image works, animated gif and all)

Comparing the crossings by aligning them all to match the position of the front foot of the zugadore can give more info on the differences between the three crossings - assuming the drawings are reliable enough.

Too bad the conventions for drawing the perspective were not quite established yet (or so I have been told), cause I sure can see some differences between the position of the master in respect to the centre line. One narrow, one on the centre and one wide. What do these largi and stretti mean again?

Is there also a difference of how close to the face the sword point ends? I've been told the difference is debatable. You can see for yourself.

Also, the master seems to be eyeing the crossing in all three cases. Is this done to give visual ques about the parameters of the crossing? Funny that.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby CPenney » 30 Aug 2012 22:59

admin wrote:Stop for a second and think about this - if your sword is on a trajectory that would *cut the opponent* then how can you ever conceivably come to a crossing in which you are able to thrust them in Posta Longa? Either your sword is close enough to cut or far enough away to thrust, it can not be both.


Sorry, Matt, but it can easily both (or more correctly, either). If you are defending yourself with a fendente while not taking a step, you are depending on the attacker to close the space between you. It is that space that decides whether this fendente ends with a cut into the opponent, or a posta longa position where you extend into a thrust (this is also what decides whether the cut is into the head, or the hands, as the Getty specifies). All of this, of course, happens directly after your sword glances off of theirs from the crossing of the tip.

As far as a cut (I'm speaking specifically about a fendente) either hitting the sword or the opponent, where do you think the opponent is holding his sword? If he's stepping in to you to attack, he is standing behind his sword.

P.S. No offense taken, but I've been doing this for a few years myself, and I too have confidence in my interpretations. :)
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby CPenney » 31 Aug 2012 01:22

Hi, Dan. I'd like to look specifically at one particular point right now.

Motley wrote:Go and look carefully at the hand, arm, blade positions in the hi-res getty in the two largo crosses (now we can discuss it with everyone having access http://www.googleartproject.com/galleri ... /27602323/).

My thinking goes something like this. I don't see how in any of them could be seen as coming from two people cutting directly at each other.


I want to focus on this, and the interpretation you make based on it.

My issue is you are asserting that the images as drawn can be taken as "photo-realistic", meaning that if Fiore were able to take a photograph of an actual full-speed exchange of his plays, the body/sword position and orientation of both figures, and their relation to each other, would be exactly as we see them (or at least close enough that we can base our interpretations on the minute details we see in the drawings).

Based on these, you (and Matt) feel that the sword position/orientation demonstrates that neither figure could have made a cutting attack (or must have made some other movement at the moment that the drawing captures). Otherwise they should be closer to a posta longa position with the arms and sword extended.

However, if we look at the Sword in one hand, the Master faces three attackers, ready to cut, thrust and throw. The Scholar, in the next play, beats the cut aside:
Image

In the Mounted section, a Master in a similar position faces an attacker ready to cut. The Scholar beats this aside to thrust:
Image

In both of these, the attacker has made a cut, with the Scholar has defended. Although these images come from the Pisani-Dossi, the text of the Getty is very clear that both of these plays are a beat of the attacking sword, allowing the Scholar to thrust the attacker (a little less-so with the mounted play, but his elbow is still tucked in in a manner unlike a cut passing through posta longa).

In both of these, the attacker, which Fiore tells us just made a cutting attack, is in the exact same position in terms of the bent arm, and sword tip pointing up into the air - this is completely at odds with these images representing a cut that has been beaten aside (additionally, the scholar of the sword in one hand has apparently beaten aside the strong the attackers blade with the tip of his own).

Again, you have other evidence for your views of the incrosada, but I'm just pointing out a couple of plays that do not match the expectation of what we would expect to see if the drawing is meant to be an accurate "freeze-frame" of the physical play. If we can see even one play where this is demonstrably false, we cannot assume that it holds true for any other play in order to confirm a particular theory.

Now the drawings do, of course, convey information, but just not in that sort of precise way. I think the arms of both incrosada masters are bent in each play because illustrating the swords coming to a cross is the pertinent information (as we've discussed before). They also show the orientation of the legs (acknowledging the variation in the 1st gioco largo play in Florius.)

Another consideration is the ability of Fiore to accurately observe the minute details that occur between two swords at speed, and the differences between, for example, the crossing at the tip or the middle of the blade. A parallel with this has to do with horsemanship. In the past, there had been a debate as to whether a horse ever had all four hooves off the ground at once while running. This debate was not answered until the advent of photography (a horse does, BTW, but before photography, even the most experienced horseman couldn't say for sure). I'm not saying anything *definite* about Fiore's plays, but this idea must be kept in mind that certain things that happen when weapons meet at speed could not always be accurately seen by an observer.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Motley » 31 Aug 2012 14:32

Joeli wrote:Image
(hope the image works, animated gif and all)

Comparing the crossings by aligning them all to match the position of the front foot of the zugadore can give more info on the differences between the three crossings - assuming the drawings are reliable enough.

Too bad the conventions for drawing the perspective were not quite established yet (or so I have been told), cause I sure can see some differences between the position of the master in respect to the centre line. One narrow, one on the centre and one wide. What do these largi and stretti mean again?

Is there also a difference of how close to the face the sword point ends? I've been told the difference is debatable. You can see for yourself.

Also, the master seems to be eyeing the crossing in all three cases. Is this done to give visual ques about the parameters of the crossing? Funny that.


Hi Joeli,

That is a really cool gif, I have noticed the way that the master is looking at the cross before but putting it together like that really makes it stand out.

I have often wondered about the foot position in the stretto crossing too, the master really does look to have stepped across the line.

I am not sure what point you are trying to make though sorry :-( and I would like to as you usually have something interesting to say. As it is about crossing it is probably in response to my post.

Cheers,
Dan.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Motley » 31 Aug 2012 14:46

CPenney wrote:My issue is you are asserting that the images as drawn can be taken as "photo-realistic", meaning that if Fiore were able to take a photograph of an actual full-speed exchange of his plays, the body/sword position and orientation of both figures, and their relation to each other, would be exactly as we see them (or at least close enough that we can base our interpretations on the minute details we see in the drawings).


No.

I am suggesting that the images look like they might be posed and then drawn to convey important information. The drawing quality and shading is really quite remarkable and they often show a lot of anatomical detail if you look at the musculature and the character in the faces. The Getty is not I.33 :-)

What I am suggesting is that you look at the detail of the blade orientation and the hand/arm positions. Just stare at Joeli's excellent gif for a while. It's soothing :-)
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby admin » 31 Aug 2012 15:11

Awesome Gif, Joeli!
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby admin » 31 Aug 2012 15:15

CPenney wrote:Based on these, you (and Matt) feel that the sword position/orientation demonstrates that neither figure could have made a cutting attack


No, my view is stated above, that it does not matter in this case how he got to the bind, but rather that he is either in one type of bind or the other kind. Which type of bind you are in dictates what happens next, because of which foot you have forward.

Regarding how to defend against a simple fendente, ie. whether to parry or whether to cut into the person's sword, that is what my beef is about. I believe that cutting into their sword in gioco largo, with the left foot remaining forwards, is silly. That's all :).
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Joeli » 31 Aug 2012 15:50

Motley wrote:I am not sure what point you are trying to make though sorry :-( and I would like to as you usually have something interesting to say. As it is about crossing it is probably in response to my post.


Sorry, I didn't have a contesting point per se - I just chimed in with a visualization. I more or less agree with what you and Matt are saying. I like to stress some kind of a crossing-based approach of looking at Fiore's longsword section, though. I was also (sarcastically) admitting the counter argument I have met a lot, that I should not compare the images of the plays when looking for hints of how to execute these plays.

I would call these three crossings very largo, mid-largo and stretto. They seem to show a gradual change of three parametres - the position and alignment of magistro's feet in relation to the zugadore; the height of the crossing; the distance the points of the swords are from the zugadore's face. But if I just state that in text, there's a chance half the people reading my post would probably not listen. That's all. We don't really know how they got there, or how the feeling of the crossing changes in comparison between these three principal situations - we merely know what they are going to do next from those crossings.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Motley » 31 Aug 2012 15:57

Joeli wrote:
Motley wrote:I am not sure what point you are trying to make though sorry :-( and I would like to as you usually have something interesting to say. As it is about crossing it is probably in response to my post.


Sorry, I didn't have a contesting point per se - I just chimed in with a visualization. I more or less agree with what you and Matt are saying. I like to stress some kind of a crossing-based approach of looking at Fiore's longsword section, though. I was also (sarcastically) admitting the counter argument I have met a lot, that I should not compare the images of the plays when looking for hints of how to execute these plays.

I would call these three crossings very largo, mid-largo and stretto. They seem to show a gradual change of three parametres - the position and alignment of magistro's feet in relation to the zugadore; the height of the crossing; the distance the points of the swords are from the zugadore's face. But if I just state that in text, there's a chance half the people reading my post would probably not listen. That's all. We don't really know how they got there, or how the feeling of the crossing changes in comparison between these three principal situations - we merely know what they are going to do next from those crossings.


Cool thanks, that is what I thought but I didn't want to miss something.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby CPenney » 31 Aug 2012 22:15

Motley wrote:No.

I am suggesting that the images look like they might be posed and then drawn to convey important information. The drawing quality and shading is really quite remarkable and they often show a lot of anatomical detail if you look at the musculature and the character in the faces. The Getty is not I.33 :-)

What I am suggesting is that you look at the detail of the blade orientation and the hand/arm positions. Just stare at Joeli's excellent gif for a while. It's soothing :-)


I agree with your first statement 100% The issue of course, is what information is each image trying to impart?

I don't have time for a long post, but my suggestion is to look throughout all four manuscripts at images where the text either states explicitly or implies that one or more figures has attacked with a cut (oftentimes specified as a fendente). I think you will find multiple instances of the same 'motif', i.e. a figure with their arm bent, with their elbow in to their torso, and the sword blades angled upward (i.e. they are not in a position where they have extended into a cut that has been beaten aside).

I'm citing this as a demonstration that the incrosada images therefore do not necessarily show someone who has not cut fendente, and many figures who Fiore says did indeed attack with a cut are drawn in this similar manner.

I agree with the observation you made to me before (and Joeli also saw) that they are looking at the crossing - I think that these drawings are meant to show that. I'm simply sceptical that these drawings (particularly as people seem to be focusing on one of four surviving manuscripts) show the level of precise technical detail that some are suggesting.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby CPenney » 07 Sep 2012 03:23

admin wrote:Regarding how to defend against a simple fendente, ie. whether to parry or whether to cut into the person's sword, that is what my beef is about. I believe that cutting into their sword in gioco largo, with the left foot remaining forwards, is silly. That's all :).


I'm interested to know why you think that.

I was just reading over the coda longa thread...

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=18188

...and I was struck at the discussion you were having about the movements described in that guard. Given that Fiore does not tell us any specifics about how to enter into the gioco largo I looked at Fiore's description of Coda longa where he states "And if she passes on the front and delivers a fendente she enters into Gioco Stretto" and I wondered if being so specific about striking a fendente with a step might not imply that it is possible to strike with a fendente without one? I don't take this as evidence that it is so, but I have yet to see your evidence proving that it cannot be so.

Also, speaking specifically of the first crossing (at the tip), what sort of parry/cover is it that you see as the "textbook" version (i.e. the one that will most likely result in a play most resembling the illustration)?
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Mark Lancaster » 10 Sep 2012 19:05

Hi Chris,

I haven't followed the entire thread but I'm with Matt on this one.

If your opponent has stepped in with his/her attack then they are inviting stretto. If you 'parry' by cutting at their sword then you are leaving the centre line open for their stretto.

If you cut back with a Fendente then you will cover the centre line, cover their attack and close off their stretto. You will create a threat that will be more likely to draw them into the incrossada from where you can attempt to enter remedy - or simply hit them :)

I do agree that you could Fendente without a step but I don't think will be common from longa due to distance.
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby CPenney » 12 Sep 2012 00:26

Mark Lancaster wrote:I do agree that you could Fendente without a step but I don't think will be common from longa due to distance.


Hi, Mark. Thanks for the reply. I'm not sure what exactly you mean here (a fendente from longa?)
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Re: The Masters of Longsword

Postby Mark Lancaster » 12 Sep 2012 08:05

Hi Chris,

Yes - I wasn't sure where that part of the conversation was so I covered my bases. If a true Posta Longa then it's too outstretched to Fendente. Generally though doing a Fendente from a left leg lead if within distance will place you in time of the hands.
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