Bicorno

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Bulot » 09 Feb 2012 00:13

Yes, of course. I'm not saying crossing wrists in front of the body is totally unheard of or silly in every given situation. My point was it is not Fiore-ish, and I don't see this archer-like bicorno fitting anywhere in the system.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby TyHar7 » 09 Feb 2012 10:58

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


Having read this late last night I got a sword out and changed the grip and then had the misses push the sword. You can certainly feel a difference in the strength of the grip as Guy discribes. I be interested to see how well people can parry of full powered thrust with this grip, and will be trying it out in sparring this week.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby admin » 09 Feb 2012 12:04

TyHar7 wrote: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.


In short, no. :)
I understand why you say all of the above, but within a Fiore context it doesn't really make sense, because all of Fiore's guards do the same things... they all either:
Cut and/or thrust
Form a gioco largo bind
Form a gioco stretto bind
Exchange and/or break thrusts and/or rebat

We know all the guards can do those things and nearly all of Fiore's longsword techniques come from the gioco largo or stretto binds. So knowing precisely how Bicorno was used is pretty irrelevant, because we already know how to do all the options from the 11 other guards. Not to mention the fact that Fiore shows dozens of core techniques and Bicorno is ignored in them. It's quite clear that Fiore used certain guards a lot more than others - he seemed to favour Posta di Donna, Posta di Fenestra, Tutta Porta di Ferro, Mezza Porta di Ferro, Denti di Cinghiale, Posta Breve and Posta Longa.

So by leaving out Bicorno you leave out very little - just a position in fact. We already know all the techniques Fiore chose to put in his book and that they can be done from a variety of guard positions.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby admin » 09 Feb 2012 12:09

Michael Chidester wrote:Einkiren is sometimes done with the elbows down, too:

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


I conceed that it is entirely possible that Fiore used Bicorno for thrusting like this, *instead* of thrusting in Ochs. After all, if you want to 'exchange thrusts' then it is virtually impossible to do it in Breve with the hands low if the opponent binds higher than normal. Perhaps Bicorno was used *instead* of winding into Ochs, and therefore conforming with Fiore's general comments about keeping the hands 'low'.

However, once again, this is only conjecture. People can use it as they wish, but nobody can say that this is what Bicorno *was* used for, because there isn't enough evidence in Fiore's treatises to say one way or the other.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby admin » 09 Feb 2012 12:14

Bulot wrote: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 admin » 09 Feb 2012 15:14

TyHar7 wrote:I know your very fundamentalist about Fiore


I was thinking about this and just thought I'd address it as a separate point.
Basically this is how I think - If I say I'm teaching Fiore then I'm going to teach what is in the treatise, not what isn't in it. I don't think that is fundamentalist, just honest.

Sometimes I will show things that are not in Fiore, or that may only be implied, and I'll note when that's the case. If people want to do a class of 'general longsword stuff from various sources' then I can do that as well, but I'm not going to pretend it is from Fiore like some instructors do.

I am in no way against exploring possibilities of Bicorno and I always teach it as one of the 12 posta. However I'm not going to go around saying how to use it, because there simply isn't enough evidence. In contrast most of Fiore's guards are incredibly well explained. Add to this that Fiore himself doesn't seem to have considered Bicorno very important.. hence he shows it only once and gives it a very lame description.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby TyHar7 » 09 Feb 2012 21:42

admin wrote:
TyHar7 wrote:I know your very fundamentalist about Fiore


I was thinking about this and just thought I'd address it as a separate point.
Basically this is how I think - If I say I'm teaching Fiore then I'm going to teach what is in the treatise, not what isn't in it. I don't think that is fundamentalist, just honest.

Sometimes I will show things that are not in Fiore, or that may only be implied, and I'll note when that's the case. If people want to do a class of 'general longsword stuff from various sources' then I can do that as well, but I'm not going to pretend it is from Fiore like some instructors do.

I am in no way against exploring possibilities of Bicorno and I always teach it as one of the 12 posta. However I'm not going to go around saying how to use it, because there simply isn't enough evidence. In contrast most of Fiore's guards are incredibly well explained. Add to this that Fiore himself doesn't seem to have considered Bicorno very important.. hence he shows it only once and gives it a very lame description.



Sorry Matt if I struck a nerve on this it wasn't meant that way, what I was only implying is the you stay true to what is Fiore, what could be Fiore and what is something else; just as you've just stated. I wouldn't have it any other way! I was only suggesting exploring the possibilities of Bicorno, figuring out what Fiore might have used it for... Never putting the stamp on it though once we're done saying that's gotta be it. I agree it's all theory until more evidence surfaces. I suppose I just love a good mystery at the end of the day. :D
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Michael Chidester » 25 Feb 2012 13:58

admin wrote:
Michael Chidester wrote:Einkiren is sometimes done with the elbows down, too:

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


I conceed that it is entirely possible that Fiore used Bicorno for thrusting like this, *instead* of thrusting in Ochs. After all, if you want to 'exchange thrusts' then it is virtually impossible to do it in Breve with the hands low if the opponent binds higher than normal. Perhaps Bicorno was used *instead* of winding into Ochs, and therefore conforming with Fiore's general comments about keeping the hands 'low'.

However, once again, this is only conjecture. People can use it as they wish, but nobody can say that this is what Bicorno *was* used for, because there isn't enough evidence in Fiore's treatises to say one way or the other.

I was thinking more about this position yesterday, and I started digging through shades of meaning in some of the terms present. Despite what Guy says, serrare is still a verb very much in use in Italian, and means "to tighten/close/clench/lock". Furthermore, Florio has an interesting note about serráta, noting that it properly refers to soldiers closing ranks to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Combine with the name "Guard of the Anvil", a name which has an additional connotation of strength and forcefulness, and Bicorno as a guard primarily intended to cover the upper openings (especially on the left) seems pretty likely.
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Re: Coda Longa

Postby Ran Pleasant » 27 Feb 2012 18:46

John H wrote: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.

John

I should have been clearer about what I was disagreeing with. Thrusting from bicorno is not an issue. Fiore is clear that what longpoint can do bicorno can do. I disagree with Windsor's conclusion that the function of bicorno is to provide a stronger thrust because the left hand is against the right wrist. Windsor overlooks the very simple fact that while a thrust is made can be made from bicorno a thrust is actually the act of moving out of bicorno. In other words, the action of thrusting itself breaks the supposedly strong grip. Plus in the Getty image we can clearly see that the left hand is not against the right wrist. In additon, Windsor fails to explain both grips of the left hand.

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Re: Bicorno

Postby Michael Chidester » 27 Feb 2012 19:07

His summary dismissal of the Morgan's hand position is also unjustified. He's correct that the Morgan is damaged in a lot of places, but the hands in this image are quite clear:

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Re: Bicorno

Postby John H » 28 Feb 2012 22:46

Got it, When I read his section on the stronger thrust, I read what I wanted to; that being the function of bicorno provides a stronger structure. If you consider the thrust is done with footwork, rather than with the arms, after you set your arm and blade in the position of bicorno, then his section makes sense. Also if you wish to try to thrust into a cut with the guard the extra strength of position is needed. I’ll agree the hands do not need to be against the wrist, that is also a function of how much strength you need to bring to bear.

On the practical side you end up with the action that Michael referenced as Einkiren - http://media.bibliothek.uni-augsburg.de ... 742717.png and the arm position having greater strength is important so you can catch the strike and not allow your arms to buckle to the strike. If Einkiren equates to bicorno is a different discussion though.
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Isto » 13 Mar 2012 15:54

Here are my current thoughts...

Fiore's treatises are full of mnemonics. I think Bicorno is one of them. When you want to pick up an anvil with two horns how do you do it? I would grab the horns and lift it. Then imagine that your sword is an anvil. Pick your sword up like you would pick up an anvil. Turn the point forward. Now you have the Bicorno shown in the treatises. You hold your sword from under it. With Posta Breve and other not high guards you hold your sword from above.

How it functions?

- You can make strong middle thrusts with it like described in the Guy's article. You can also do Guy's feint. From Tom Leoni's translation: "...which stays closed so that the point stays on the centerline." I think you can do Bicorno closed or open (like drawn in the treatises) depending on the situation.

- I think you can do a high thrust from the left using Bicorno like shown in those German treatises. This also explains why it isn't listed with mezza Porta di Ferro, Posta Longa and Posta Breve. It can move away from the center-line.

- You can use it as an end point for mandritto sottano cuts. I think it's the only working option if you want to avoid positions not shown in the Fiore's books. Notice that the point of the sword is drawn very high for example in the Getty version.

- Fiore says Bicorno can do all that Posta Longa can. With some imagination I definitely think it can.
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Isto » 13 Mar 2012 16:00

Michael Chidester wrote:His summary dismissal of the Morgan's hand position is also unjustified. He's correct that the Morgan is damaged in a lot of places, but the hands in this image are quite clear:


Looks like hands and other parts of that image with strong lines might have been drawn afterwards.
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Ran Pleasant » 15 Mar 2012 22:14

Isto wrote:You can make strong middle thrusts with it like described in the Guy's article.
Isto

I thank you for your thoughts. However, please read my previous post. There is no "strong" thrust from Bicorno, it's just a thrust. The very act of thrusting takes you out of Bicorno. In the first inches of a thrust the hands and arms must start rotating inward. Any arm-to-arm contact is lost.

Isto wrote:Fiore says Bicorno can do all that Posta Longa can. With some imagination I definitely think it can.

We don't have to Imagine, Fiore says it can. Anything you try to do, thrusting or binding, results in a quick transition to Posta Longa.

When all is say and done, the true effectiviness of Bicorno is not in thrusting from Bicorno, but rather in the cuttin into and out of that guard. Those cuts, as seen in the Clements video, are what explains the left palm facing both to the right and the left.

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Re: Bicorno

Postby Isto » 15 Mar 2012 23:56

Ran Pleasant wrote:There is no "strong" thrust from Bicorno, it's just a thrust. The very act of thrusting takes you out of Bicorno. In the first inches of a thrust the hands and arms must start rotating inward. Any arm-to-arm contact is lost.


I disagree. I can extend my arms quite a bit without that kind of problem, maybe I'm a mutant. Also when you make an opening you can strike your blade against the opponent and ram it in by stepping. There is no need for huge amount of extension. Altough I have not tried how a thrust like that would penetrate a gambeson for example.
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Ran Pleasant » 16 Mar 2012 00:34

Isto wrote:I disagree. I can extend my arms quite a bit without that kind of problem, maybe I'm a mutant.

You must be. :D

If I cut up into Bicorno my left palm is facing to my right. If I thrust out my right elbow naturally wants to rotate outward and my left hand moves round the pommel. If I thrust without rotating my right elbow outward then the arm basically locks up and the thrust is slow and weak.

If I cut down into Bicorno my left palm is facing to my right. If I thrust out both elbows naturally want to rotato outward with the hilt turning in my left hand. If I thrust without rotating my elbows outward then both arms basically lock up and the thrust is slow and weak.

Isto wrote:Also when you make an opening you can strike your blade against the opponent and ram it in by stepping. There is no need for huge amount of extension.


Respectfully, thrusting by only stepping forward (not extending the arms) is just not a realistic thing to do. Even if my point was touching by adversary's chest I cannot imagine not extending my arms. Especially given moving as one does in sparring. Just moving at speed makes it almost impossible to not extend the arms. Must guess is that you will never successfully pull off such a thrust in hard sparring as you will be moving much too fast to make such a stiff movement. Plus, such a thrust is not described by Fiore or any of the other longsword masters. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Re: Bicorno

Postby Isto » 16 Mar 2012 00:52

Ran Pleasant wrote:Respectfully, thrusting by only stepping forward (not extending the arms) is just not a realistic thing to do. Even if my point was touching by adversary's chest I cannot imagine not extending my arms. Especially given moving as one does in sparring. Just moving at speed makes it almost impossible to not extend the arms. Must guess is that you will never successfully pull off such a thrust in hard sparring as you will be moving much too fast to make such a stiff movement. Plus, such a thrust is not described by Fiore or any of the other longsword masters. Please correct me if I'm wrong.


I have always thought that Fiore shows a thrust like that in his exchange of thrusts play :?

From Tom Leoni's translation: "As the opponent attacks you with a thrust, step out of line with your front foot, then pass obliquely also offline, crossing his sword with your arms while thrusting in his face or chest with your point high, as shown."

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Re: Bicorno

Postby Michael Chidester » 16 Mar 2012 04:36

I dunno, Ran, as much as I like the cut from Bicorno (which for all I know I may have initially learned from JC), I don't see any indication that this is what Fiore intended us to do with it. I agree that Guy Windsor's thrust is awkward and not particularly useful, but those aren't the only two possibilities. I translate Fiore's description thusly:

    This is the Guard of the Anvil (Posta de Bicorno), which is so strongly enclosed that she always remains with the point toward the middle of the way. And she can do that which the Extended Guard can do, and this can similarly be said of the Guard of the Window and the Headband Guard.
So here he pretty much just says that it's a strong guard, and allows you to always keep your point online. Fiore directs us to look at Posta Longa to learn about its use, and if we do so then we read:

    This is the Extended Guard (Posta Longa) which is full of deceit; she probes the other guards to see if she can deceive her companion. If she can strike with a thrust, she knows well how to do it; she voids the blows and she can strike when she is able. More than any other guard, deception she knows how to use.
So, he's basically telling us the same thing that we hear from masters like Meyer, that it's a guard used to bait an attack from your opponent, and great for thrusting. Add the descriptions of Bicorno and Longa together and we're left with a strong guard ideal for thrusting. I also think, and this is purely speculative, that the name is a significant clue to its use--all of Fiore's other guards are named in evocative ways that allude to their characteristics (the only one I haven't figured out to my satisfaction is Finestra). In this case, I think the name of "anvil" refers to its capacity to receive strong blows without collapsing and without having its point knocked off-line. This again supports the interpretation that brings it in line with the obscure German position mentioned earlier (shown by Antonius Rast here):

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Last edited by Michael Chidester on 27 Feb 2013 23:44, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Bulot » 16 Mar 2012 04:44

all of Fiore's other guards are named in evocative ways that allude to their characteristics (the only one I haven't figured out to my satisfaction is Finestra)


I know it' OoT, but I'm curious about how you explain the name of Posta di Donna ? Because it is a good guard to protect a lady, like in Montante ?
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Re: Bicorno

Postby Michael Chidester » 16 Mar 2012 05:35

I take a direct approach, there. "Donna" is the Italian name of the Queen in chess, and Florio demonstrates that it was already called that in 1611. Guard of the Queen because, similar to the chess piece, she's a puslative guard which can make all seven strikes of the sword, perform all the covers, break all the other guards, and make the plays of exchanging the thrust as well as all of the narrow plays. The Queen is a fair analogy, I'd say.*

I've heard many theories over the years, but this seems to mesh well with the naming scheme used in the other guards--they generally seem to remind you of their function, not their appearance or tactical significance.

*Similarly, the U.S. Infantry corps styles itself the "Queen of Battle", because like the queen they believe they can move anywhere on the battlefield, regardless of terrain or defenses, and attack with impunity. The Field Artillery corps, on the other hand, goes by "King of Battle"--gunners use the term because we think it sounds awesome, but everyone else lets us use it because we sit comfortably at the back of the battlefield and if the enemy ever gets close to us, the battle is pretty much lost.
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