Bicorno

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Bicorno

Postby Michael Chidester » 07 Feb 2012 00:31

admin wrote:I have always been candid about the fact that I haven't really got a clue. I have heard lots of theories and had lots myself, but at the end of the day I believe there is simply not enough evidence in any of Fiore's treatises to say what it's for.

We only really know that it is *not* listed as a centreline thrusting position like Longa, Breve or Mezza PdF, that it is 'instabile' and does what the other instabile guards can do, and that the name Bicorno means two-horned and was commonly the name of a type of blacksmith's anvil in use at the time.

Because of this I pretty much ignore Bicorno.

Don't blame you. Florio adds that "Biccorno" sometimes means strong or forcible. There's a position in a few of the German manuals that Mair calls "Einkiren" (Unicorn) that is pretty identical but canted off to one side (usually the left side) and central to a certain winding action where your opponent applies pressure to your sword, so you slide your cross up to his point while moving your hands to a position similar to that in the Getty. Like this:

Image

That's the best clue I have so far.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby admin » 07 Feb 2012 11:29

Michael Chidester wrote:Florio adds that "Biccorno" sometimes means strong or forcible.


That's very interesting - my instinct is that a person of the time hearing 'bicorno' would instantly think of an anvil. You might have noticed that in one of the 14th century wills I recently posted of an deceased armourer one of the items he left was a 'bicorno', listed simply as that (it is obviously an anvil, as also listed are hammers, tongs etc).

There's a position in a few of the German manuals that Mair calls "Einkiren" (Unicorn) that is pretty identical but canted off to one side (usually the left side) and central to a certain winding action where your opponent applies pressure to your sword, so you slide your cross up to his point while moving your hands to a position similar to that in the Getty.


Yes I'm aware of that position.. the problem is that Fiore never shows a position that looks anything like an extended Bicorno, which would look like 'Unicorn'. And then there is the etymological problem - a guard called 'two horned' implies something quite different to a guard called 'one horned'.

Then there is also the debate over what 'instabile' implies... what do Bicorno, Longa, Finestra and Frontale have in common?.. That they are primarily transitional positions rather than waiting or attacking ones?..
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Michael Chidester » 07 Feb 2012 18:48

Yes, that's true. One of my Italian friends suggested "fluid" or "flowing" as the best meaning, whereas Florio makes it "wavering" or "fickle" in addition to the obvious "unstable". I've tended to assume that instabile indicates transitory, but I wish there was a clearer explanation. I also wish I knew why Breve was Stabile when it is specifically described as not having stability.

I have to admit, though, that I've been known to hang out in most of those instabile guards just for fun--they're great for baiting people. Especially Bicorno, since people get confused about where its openings are and expect me to thrust, whereas I've spent a lot of time practicing moulinettes from there and can throw fast, hard rising and descending cuts. :)
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby TyHar7 » 07 Feb 2012 20:11

admin wrote:I have always been candid about the fact that I haven't really got a clue. I have heard lots of theories and had lots myself, but at the end of the day I believe there is simply not enough evidence in any of Fiore's treatises to say what it's for.
We only really know that it is *not* listed as a centreline thrusting position like Longa, Breve or Mezza PdF, that it is 'instabile' and does what the other instabile guards can do, and that the name Bicorno means two-horned and was commonly the name of a type of blacksmith's anvil in use at the time.

Because of this I pretty much ignore Bicorno.



May I offer a theory on this guard, it occurs to me that you may find yourself in the position after a thrust or an opponent coming onto your sword point. That Bicorno means two-horned or anvil and the position itself is resting the sword on the chest; it makes it look like the sword is there so you can use your body to prevent it or your arms from being forced back; so you can apply more penertration to the sword point?
This would make sense applied to the above as it would be a transitional move from longa or breve, especially if the sword is stuck or you need to add more weight/power for penertrating armour or mail?
It would also make sense for the name two-horned, as both ends of the sword are being used, or the anvil , you are the anvil the unmoveable objest in this case?? This is also why we haven't really found a use for it, for safety reasons when would we ever apply more pressure to the sword point, we're not trying to kill anyone?
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby admin » 08 Feb 2012 10:17

Yep, that's definitely one of the theories, and a fair one I think (as it follows the principle of 'pui fortezza' from the dagger section IMO). The problem is, as mentioned above, there just isn't any other evidence for Bicorno to be able to say. Fiore actually gives us more information about how to throw swords at people than how to use Bicorno. :D
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby TyHar7 » 08 Feb 2012 18:39

admin wrote:Yep, that's definitely one of the theories, and a fair one I think (as it follows the principle of 'pui fortezza' from the dagger section IMO). The problem is, as mentioned above, there just isn't any other evidence for Bicorno to be able to say. Fiore actually gives us more information about how to throw swords at people than how to use Bicorno. :D


And why not throwing swords is such good fun! lol

I understand your point and I know your very fundamentalist about Fiore but I don't think ignoring Bicorno is necessarily a good thing either. Unless any other treaties surface that explain Bicorno we're basically erasing part of the art because we can't prove it's historical function. Wouldn't it be better to except a plausible theory ( I'm not saying the one I've just posted) one that is the most "Fiorean" and work out principles or plays that would make that work. Not to say that we would ever consider this Fiore's way but the best adaptation we can come up with until proven different? Otherwise there is a chance the Bicorno will never be explained and never be used?
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 08 Feb 2012 18:44

I’ll throw in my schools thoughts on Bicorno, but it seems we apply it different ly and perhaps some will call it a different guard.

Instead of bicorno being center chest, we line it up on the left or right, thus two horns for the left and right horn, I’ll by no means state this is what was intended, I would hardly call myself a Fiore scholar, but it works for understanding our interpretation. By moving the pommel to the left or right it closes the line of your thrust ideally allowing you to take the foilable during a thrust, or as I believe the germans call it ‘winding’. It is the same motion as thrusting in second or fourth with a rapier. It also closes the line of a fendente so you can basically thrust strait into the cut. With the quillion turned 45 degrees to the side you are forming the guard on, your hands are protected.

I guess it would be closer to Einkiren but keeping the arms down and not extended over your head, more like Posta Sagitarria (a little research shows some people equating sagitarria and bicorno) as shown in the thrusting thread. Whatever the name it’s one of my favorite guards and I make good use of it. Perfect for stepping into someone’s cut.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Michael Chidester » 08 Feb 2012 18:50

Einkiren is sometimes done with the elbows down, too:

http://media.bibliothek.uni-augsburg.de ... 742717.png
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 08 Feb 2012 18:59

That's about correct for what I'm doing, no matter what it's called. My hads are a bit more confortable than that though...I think the artists had some poor hand drawing there.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby TyHar7 » 08 Feb 2012 19:23

John H wrote:I’ll throw in my schools thoughts on Bicorno, but it seems we apply it different ly and perhaps some will call it a different guard.

Instead of bicorno being center chest, we line it up on the left or right, thus two horns for the left and right horn, I’ll by no means state this is what was intended, I would hardly call myself a Fiore scholar, but it works for understanding our interpretation. By moving the pommel to the left or right it closes the line of your thrust ideally allowing you to take the foilable during a thrust, or as I believe the germans call it ‘winding’. It is the same motion as thrusting in second or fourth with a rapier. It also closes the line of a fendente so you can basically thrust strait into the cut. With the quillion turned 45 degrees to the side you are forming the guard on, your hands are protected.

I guess it would be closer to Einkiren but keeping the arms down and not extended over your head, more like Posta Sagitarria (a little research shows some people equating sagitarria and bicorno) as shown in the thrusting thread. Whatever the name it’s one of my favorite guards and I make good use of it. Perfect for stepping into someone’s cut.


Problem with this is the Fiore does not do 'winding', although I will agree that having the grip end either left or the right keeping some cover from a possible cross, while the point was in the center line would make sense.

I was pondering this last night "stuck in a hotel room because of a training course I had a lot of time to think" that most of Fiore's plays are about the most optimum thing you can do. So a posed the scenario that if I had crossed swords and won the line; made the thrust to the chest but did not penetrate enough and the sword got wedged for whatever reason; what would be the optimum thing to do? My thirst thought was I could go for a swords grab, but with my swords stuck the opponent could equally grab my sword; I could go for a kick to give me time to remove my blade with force, but would that be optimum? He could equally close on me and as my hands should be low in a Fiore thrust and the blade wedged the force of him closing could force my hands low or disarm me because I don't have enough support. Which is why I think moving to Bicorno in this situation would be the optimum thing to do, doing this I can the pass step at him forcing my weight onto my sword point, which will either force the sword through the opponent and closing inside his sword arm so I can't receive a blow from removing cover or it will force him back and off balance. The other scenario is that I move in Bicorno while he closes on me, which again if I'm holding a firm stance should force my point through him.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 08 Feb 2012 19:54

While fiore may not ‘winden’ if my opponent thrusts at me in long guard I can use bicorno to counter thrust. I’d agree that you won’t spend much time winding around in there as if your counter thrust fails and you are not hit you would move to ligadura. I was assuming the Germans may call the counterthrust a quick and effective ‘winden.’ But I no little of German aside from a few ales.

If my sword got stuck I would either stick it in further or move to ligadura depending on the range. Bicorno can of course be used to do so, but personally I wouldn’t spend too much time thinking this guard needs to be touching the body. I believe it is more important to create a better structure with your arms bent in this guard rather than rest it against your body. If you were going to counter-thrust a fendente with bicorno, (for the visual start in open iron door on your right and he cuts at your left line) you would want it slightly away from your body and on your left line. The bent arms create more stability when receiving the blow. Strait arms have a greater risk of collapsing under the blow. With the pommel touching the body his blade can end up needlessly endangering your head, move it out slightly and you are safer while not sacrificing much structural strength. I’m not advocating much distance I’m just saying move it out and inch or two and see how much safer you are.

Secondly if you do counter thrust and miss, the arms bent mean you are already in range to grab his sword or grapple.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Motley » 08 Feb 2012 20:12

This should probably be split into a discussion of Bircorno.

Have any of you read this http://www.swordschool.com/assets/files ... icorno.pdf for another data point to the discussion?

I am not sure where the idea of having the pommel on your chest comes from? Have you noticed the point is actually shown pretty high? I don't really have anything of use to add though.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Motley » 08 Feb 2012 20:31

I just skimmed my way through that Guy Windsor article I linked again and I still think it is the best explanation of Bicorno I have seen to date.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 08 Feb 2012 20:35

Seems on to me, except the shown version of his bicorno would be the equivalent of thrusting in third (no defense.) Take that guard and move the pommel to the right and left (rotating the quillion to protect the hands) to close a line, and now you have an effective guard that contains defense as well.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Bulot » 08 Feb 2012 21:05

Have any of you read this http://www.swordschool.com/assets/files ... icorno.pdf for another data point to the discussion?


I did not read this, and, like Matt, I tend to usually ignore Biscorno, as I'm never really sure what to make of it, but this is definitely food for thoughts and calls to a test.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Ran Pleasant » 08 Feb 2012 22:31

Motley wrote:This should probably be split into a discussion of Bircorno.

Have any of you read this http://www.swordschool.com/assets/files ... icorno.pdf for another data point to the discussion?

I am not sure where the idea of having the pommel on your chest comes from? Have you noticed the point is actually shown pretty high? I don't really have anything of use to add though.

I disagree with the article. In ARMA we treat Bircorno as the start and end of verticle cuts. These cuts leave our hands in the two hand positions show in Fiore. At the end of an Oberhau the hands are facing in opposition directions while at the end of an Underhau the both hands are facing to the right. The following video show how these cuts are performed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmUqhrcS ... 600472F3B0


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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 08 Feb 2012 22:53

Ran, back up a sec and look at the context of how the guard is being applied by Clements and Windsor. Clements is discussing bicorno in terms of a cut, Windsor is discussing the usages of a thrust. Why is either of them wrong?

If I am in open iron door and need to get to bicorno and catch a fendente, I will cut my way up to it, so I perform a sotani up to bicorno, and then thrust. If I’m in bicorno and want to yield to my opponent and perform a descending cut I’ll do what Clements shows. If I’m in bicorno and wish to thrust, I can disengage as Windsor states and thrust. I see no conflict in use of the guard between Clements and Windsor, just different applications.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Motley » 08 Feb 2012 23:15

John H wrote:Ran, back up a sec and took at the context of how the guard is being applied by Clements and Windsor. Clements is discussing bicorno in terms of a cut, Windsor is discussing the usages of a thrust. Why is either of them wrong?

If I am in open iron door and need to get to bicorno and catch a fendente, I will cut my way up to it, so I perform a sotani up to bicorno, and then thrust. If I’m in bicorno and want to yield to my opponent and perform a descending cut I’ll do what Clements shows. If I’m in bicorno and wish to thrust, I can disengage as Windsor states and thrust. I see no conflict in use of the guard between Clements and Windsor, just different applications.


I was pretty much thinking a similar thing, what that video shows to me is transitions into and out of Posta Bicorno, what we, or at least I :-), was discussing is what Fiore dei Liberi intends for us to do once we are there. Admittedly mainly in the context of a thrust as I think that is what Fiore is talking about with this being a middle Posta.

I don't see the two things as incompatible either, whether either of them is correct I don't know.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Bulot » 08 Feb 2012 23:23

One thing that bugs me a little bit in Clement's interpretation is that he has a bicorno with crossed wrists, closer to Vadi's guard of the archer.
Crossing wrists in front of the body leaves you open to disarms, and it's a recurring theme in Fiore's treatise. He usually avoids doing that.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby John H » 09 Feb 2012 00:02

Fiore would probably not do an oberhau from posta bicorno, but that is a separate issue. Kinda like pouring a Moscato into a Henfeweizen...But just like all martial arts moves, and drinks, what one person sees as a strength another can see as a weakness, or undrinkable. I agree I would not want to cross the arms when fighting a fioreist as they will most likely jump on top of you when they see the gift of crossed arms. But if you can keep them from getting into grappling range then the risk is not an issue.
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