Covers and parries in Fiore

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby admin » 23 Jul 2012 11:13

Hey Mark, I haven't really been following this thread, but can you explain your comment here about covers and parries please? I'm curious to know what you mean.
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Mark Lancaster » 24 Jul 2012 22:28

Hi Matt,

I don't have Tom's translation, but from feedback by others there are several errors in there (which is why most are using Tom's, yours/Ele's and ours as cross reference). Apparantly Coverta is translated into Parry not Cover, which doesn't work in several plays.

There's other things, but I don't want to knock Tom's translation (in fact I suggest people should have all three) as it's very good in the main from what I've heard.

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Motley » 25 Jul 2012 03:22

Mark,

What significance do you see between the words 'cover' and 'parry'?

The only real difference in meaning I can think of*, and it is a bit of a stretch, is that 'parry' implies a slightly more active action and 'cover' a touch more passive.

I am probably being a bit dense here but the significance being lost on me.

Following on from this which plays would you see a problematic?

Cheers,
Dan.

* and this is after looking them both up in a dictionary :-)
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Mark Lancaster » 25 Jul 2012 08:56

Dan,

In this context a parry is active and a cover is passive (accepting that it may be engaged and so hence becomes a 'parry' of sorts).

So, for example, to parry a blow and keep your point online is difficult but to cover against a potential blow allows for the point to be kept online.

Of course a cover could be active as well, depending in the play, but it is there as a means towards something else. Simply check all the plays an moves with coverta and it should be fairly obvious.

Cheers

Mark
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby admin » 25 Jul 2012 09:05

I do agree with Mark in this case and it is why I chose to keep the word 'cover' rather than 'parry'. In my opinion many of the instances of 'coverta' in Fiore's text could be translated as parry, because he is making a parry in many of those cases - however not all! There are some cases where he is obviously just covering the line, not actually making a parry per se, and there are other cases where we know he is doing something like a rebat, which is not really a parry in modern fencing terms (it is a 'beat'). One of the problems with medieval sources like Fiore is that they had not yet evolved the technical fencing terminology that we have in later sources - Fiore performs parries, closing the line with a bind, beats, perhaps glissades etc and he can call all of those things 'coverta'. That's one of the reasons why interpreting medieval sources can be a pain in the arse compared to later sources. :)
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Motley » 25 Jul 2012 16:42

Thanks for clarifying.

So by cover you just mean sick your sword in the way of his to form a cross? and parry actively knock into his sword with yours to form a cross.

That is the only distinction I could think of, what I tried to express with 'active' and 'passive'. This is a distinction I am perfectly happy to make and I do see cases where one is perhaps more useful than the other, I just thought that the term parry is wide enough to mean all of these.

Please correct me if I am wrong but unless Fiore uses a term like beat/rebat does he use any word but coverta? I didn't think he actually used the Italian term 'parry' at all? I defer to you guys on this, I have no Italian skills at all.

This is interesting to me because there is a pattern I see in some of the sword in one hand plays that relies on this difference you are drawing. I am not sure if I am just imagining things though.

I have no idea if it has any bearing on the translations and I obviously don't want to speak for him but when I did a (very good) Bolognese S&B seminar with Tom Leoni he use the term 'soft parry' this seems to me to be what you are using the distinction 'cover' for.

Thanks,
Dan.
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Mark Lancaster » 25 Jul 2012 23:48

Hi Dan,

I'm certainly not having a dig at Tom who I have a lot of respect for both martially and linguistically. As I said above it is best to read the three main translations available and I'd suggest that if one (any one) of the three differs from the other two then it there is something wrong. They are all attempting to be transliterations but interpretation always comes into play.

In this case Fiore says, for example, that several posta can enter under/with cover. That does not imply a weapon contact (as parry would) but a 'shielding' if that makes sense and trying to actively parry could put you in a false time and/or offline.

Cheers

Mark
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby admin » 26 Jul 2012 10:31

I've split this into a new topic.

As Mark said, there are times in the techniques when Fiore is clearly covering a line, but not actually making a parry. In other words, the opponent isn't attacking necessarily and there doesn't need to be blade contact to make a 'coverta' - the technique simply requires that you cover the most likely line of attack with the sword blade, usually whilst moving somewhere. So actually the best translation of 'coverta' is simply 'cover', in my opinion. We commonly describe 'covering the line' in fencing - this amounts to the same thing.

I should mention though that the majority of times Fiore's text says 'coverta' it is what I would call a parry. Resulting in an 'incrossada', ie. a crossing or bind. The most obvious examples are the beginning of the gioco largo and stretto sections of the longsword, where we are shown two types of 'incrossada', from which the subsequent techniques come. You make the 'coverta' and come to the 'incrossada'. In actual fact, this is a parry.

I can not recall whether any of the Fiore texts use the Italian word for parry (parata/parare), but I have a bell ringing in the back of my head that it is used at some point.

How to make a parry in Fiore's system is up for debate to some extent. I suspect that the way Schola Gladiatoria make gioco largo parries is not exactly the same as the way The Exiles make them for example, in that we tend to parry by moving the sword to the parry position, closing the line, whereas I suspect The Exiles tend to chop into the incoming attack, like a zornhau. But maybe that's not the case? Either way, the end result is much the same.
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Re: Counter-remedy master of the fifth master of the dagger

Postby Motley » 26 Jul 2012 14:37

Mark Lancaster wrote:Hi Dan,

I'm certainly not having a dig at Tom who I have a lot of respect for both martially and linguistically. As I said above it is best to read the three main translations available and I'd suggest that if one (any one) of the three differs from the other two then it there is something wrong. They are all attempting to be transliterations but interpretation always comes into play.

In this case Fiore says, for example, that several posta can enter under/with cover. That does not imply a weapon contact (as parry would) but a 'shielding' if that makes sense and trying to actively parry could put you in a false time and/or offline.

Cheers

Mark


Sorry if I gave the impression I though you were that was not my intention. :-)

I am just trying to rationalise my understanding of what each of us is meaning. I do try and look through each of the translations and occasionally try to pick out words in the Italian.

Cheers,
Dan.
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby Motley » 26 Jul 2012 14:46

admin wrote:I've split this into a new topic.

As Mark said, there are times in the techniques when Fiore is clearly covering a line, but not actually making a parry. In other words, the opponent isn't attacking necessarily and there doesn't need to be blade contact to make a 'coverta' - the technique simply requires that you cover the most likely line of attack with the sword blade, usually whilst moving somewhere. So actually the best translation of 'coverta' is simply 'cover', in my opinion. We commonly describe 'covering the line' in fencing - this amounts to the same thing.

I should mention though that the majority of times Fiore's text says 'coverta' it is what I would call a parry. Resulting in an 'incrossada', ie. a crossing or bind. The most obvious examples are the beginning of the gioco largo and stretto sections of the longsword, where we are shown two types of 'incrossada', from which the subsequent techniques come. You make the 'coverta' and come to the 'incrossada'. In actual fact, this is a parry.

I can not recall whether any of the Fiore texts use the Italian word for parry (parata/parare), but I have a bell ringing in the back of my head that it is used at some point.

How to make a parry in Fiore's system is up for debate to some extent. I suspect that the way Schola Gladiatoria make gioco largo parries is not exactly the same as the way The Exiles make them for example, in that we tend to parry by moving the sword to the parry position, closing the line, whereas I suspect The Exiles tend to chop into the incoming attack, like a zornhau. But maybe that's not the case? Either way, the end result is much the same.


How to make a parry is a good question, I have spent ages trying to work out out to do it. I can think of lots of different ways that all seem to have there pros and cons. Just covering the incoming attack like you suggest, cutting into the incoming attack with a cut etc. They all seem to work, some better than others depending on where you are. My current working thoughts are any/all just close the incoming line, this seems to me to line up with the options I am seeing in the Bolognese material, sometimes a cut is used some times a 'parry' guard. But I must admit to feeling a little stupid not knowing how this is supposed to be done in Fiore.
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby admin » 26 Jul 2012 16:27

As you suggest, all the variations appear in the Bolognese material, not to mention the German sources also, so remember that whichever option we use they are all 'historical' in that sense.

As for what Fiore did, my belief is that in gioco largo it is basically a parry, as you'd do in sabre for example, whereas in gioco stretto it is perhaps more of a cut, like 'zornhau'. I believe the gioco largo incrossada is a regular parry because of the pictures - the point is up high, the left foot is forward, the arms are kept close to the body, not extended as in a cut - the whole position of the Master indicates a classic parry to me, rather than a cut. I also happen to believe that a parry is a more sensible action in this position, whereas a cut makes you more vulnerable to feints. But I completely accept that it is a subjective matter.
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby Motley » 26 Jul 2012 17:33

Thanks Matt,

So when you are talking about the stretto cross you mean it to be where a step has been made with the cut/parry rather than stepping in after the cross has been made in largo?
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby admin » 26 Jul 2012 17:54

If I understand you correctly, then yes.
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby Motley » 26 Jul 2012 18:28

admin wrote:If I understand you correctly, then yes.


lol that is the rub isn't it? I read something and I think I understand what is being said, but there is always that niggling little doubt.
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Re: Covers and parries in Fiore

Postby Mark Lancaster » 26 Jul 2012 19:13

I agree with everything that Matt has said (although from what I've seen our groups are maybe closer).
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