Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby leonardo daneluz » 15 Jan 2013 15:25

Brian:

If your argument is that both types of swords but you can only provide two examples out of dozen drawings then that is not a very strong argument. I don´t see that tha drawings in any of fiore´s book is so careful concerning proportions to indentify clearly a 10 or 20 cm diference in a sword blade. Btw the artist drawing some of the plays clearly had some problems depicting some plays, starting the picture by the arms and doing the rest around it. This kind of "conceptist" (so to speak) aproach produces a diferent kind of result that a more than a more "artistic" one of drawing a couple of figures, taking proportion and composition all into consideration.
These drawings, in all of the treatises, are not accurate pictures of reality but diagrams ttrying to give and idea. Take these for example:
Image
edit (this image seems not to load but it is the similar play in gettty)


Image

You see very different proportions but the same idea. The Getty´s sword is so longo because the artist clearly wants the point in the face of the opponent. It´s irrelevant if it is or not porportioned to the whole picture. Btw most drawings seem to be done from the weapons and arms to the rest of the figures, screwing any possibility of veracity into the relative distances af the body (quite evident comparing feet positions between Getty and PD)
The lenght of swords portrayed (blades and hilts) seem to obey more to the necessity to show an especific action than to respect the realistic size or proportions. There a lot of unrealistic long hilts, for example.

Look at this:

Image
Arms first, then the players. The result is oversized and unnatural arms... or two chimps fighting. But a clear diagram anyway.

and this

Image
"the elefant trunk". The artist took a real preocupation into show (by shadowing) that the arm is behind. But he didn´t care about realistic proportions.


Of course the artist in, say, the Getty´s is far more skilled. But I am trying to show how draws somebody who is trying to give and idea of a basic action and not an iaido guide where an ankle 20 cm more to the side is some kind of blasphemy.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby leonardo daneluz » 15 Jan 2013 15:45

Another example where sword lenght depicted is misleading

Image

Sword at one hand.
with a blade of 130 cm?
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby CPenney » 16 Jan 2013 02:57

Brian Stokes wrote:I can tell you without doubt, at least in my mind, that there are two different blade types displayed, sometimes in plays right next to each other. For example, 21v3 is holding a one-hander while 21v4 is holding a two hander. Similarly, the play at 22v3 is the single handed version of 31v2. In the latter the pommel of the blade is longer as is the blade itself.

...

I know I am opening up another can of worms, but why would he spend time with each of the other weapons and then combine all sword work as one type? The leverage afforded by a longsword due to the length of the handle makes it an entirely different beastie than the one hander. I firmly believe that both were seperately covered by Fior.



Looking just at the sword in one hand section, there are, as you say, some definite differences between swords from one image to the next. Looking over both the Getty and the Novati, there are a handful of swords that are clearly one-handers, and the majority of them are capable of being held with two hands. If anything, this would seem to imply that the physical form of the sword was *not* the important factor for determining whether one could or should use these techniques - one section was not made for one kind of sword and the next section for another.

To put it another way, if the sword in one hand plays were specifically meant to be used with a smaller, one-handed sword, why would Fiore draw the section almost exclusively with longer swords, and only throw in two or three depictions of the type of sword that was actually necessary?
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby Brian Stokes » 17 Jan 2013 03:05

I note Novati poping up in this discussion. I cannot with any authority comment on its creation as I do presently know whether it was done in studio or not (although in many of the drawings the shading is the same which suggests a studio was used with the same light source). Because of this fact I do not personally rely on the drawings therein as a reference point for determining sword lengths. That is why I have always referred to the Getty manuscript.

It seems as if there are two camps here, even though mine is much smaller! One is that there is only one type of sword and one that there are two types of sword. I firmly and always will believe that there are two different swords being used. There is no logic to showing one handed moves, then two handed moves than one handed moves as Fior does in the Getty if you are using the same sword. His is an extremely well laid out presentaton that follows a specific pattern. He also, again, differentiates the blades in more than one paragraph. My PhDs who read the lingo of the day are interpreting the phrases in the Getty as referring to one handed and two handed swords and NOT to the same sword wielded in one hand and in two.

Be that as it may I will leave this discussion where it lies. We shall not presently get anywhere other than to drive each other crazy. I do, however, respect your opinions.

By the way, as to the Novati manuscript - I think FD was written for a left-hander, but that is for another discussion. When I finally see the original manuscript one of the first items I will be looking for is a name for whom it was written (as opposed to dedicated) to see if that person, 1) can be uncovered and, 2) if there is any extant information in regards to their preferred hand.

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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby leonardo daneluz » 17 Jan 2013 05:21

It's ok with me, Brian. As a monkey sitting in my palm-tree of the endless forests of south america I understand I have no authority.
But this particular subject doesn't seem so complicated.
Also the shadow question is, in my opinion, another thing that doesn't stand. Shadows, both in Ludwig and PD, obey to a clear didactic intention, not naturalistic. In several cases it is quite impossible to form those shadow in real life without opposing sources of light. Shadows are there merely to show what is in front and what is far from the viewer. In ludwig folio28v (almost randomly chosen) you see this. The artist has obscured those body parts that could lead into connfusion and left blank the rest. In PD this is so blatantly evident that I pass to use it as example. But in this same thread there is a nice case, the elephant trunk and the sword at the left, shadowed merely to show it is behind the other.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby Bulot » 17 Jan 2013 18:55

It seems as if there are two camps here, even though mine is much smaller! One is that there is only one type of sword and one that there are two types of sword


You forget a "camp" : those who think there is no specific type of sword, and that the techniques apply to the way you are holding your weapon, whatever its blade length is.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby leonardo daneluz » 17 Jan 2013 21:31

Bulot wrote:
It seems as if there are two camps here, even though mine is much smaller! One is that there is only one type of sword and one that there are two types of sword


You forget a "camp" : those who think there is no specific type of sword, and that the techniques apply to the way you are holding your weapon, whatever its blade length is.

I thought that was the only other camp besides Brian's.

I simply don't understand why swords have to be of certain type. Sword typology is something we use to put an order into fragmentary evidence of objects spanning centuries. Most of the times they didn't exist in their times. And, if divisions existed, they usually weren't our ones. Sword types in fiore's books are : "longer than that of the opponent", "good swords" , "not too long" etc
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby Bulot » 17 Jan 2013 22:16

That's my opinion as well.
My point was, saying "There is one type of sword in Fiore" and "Fiore is not concerned with a specific type of sword" are two different things.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby CPenney » 18 Jan 2013 02:58

Bulot wrote:That's my opinion as well.
My point was, saying "There is one type of sword in Fiore" and "Fiore is not concerned with a specific type of sword" are two different things.


Exactly, and I'm firmly in the latter camp.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby leonardo daneluz » 18 Jan 2013 19:13

Well' it,s Brian who is saying that the argument opposed to him is that just one type of sword is used in fiore. But that was never the case. The word 'spada" in fiore includes different kind of swords common at the time. Or, if you prefer, i can argue there is just one type of sword: one with hilt, blade and point.
The point is that the techniques portrayed have less to do with the sword characteristics than to the way they are applied.
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Re: Sword length (Article by Guy Windsor)

Postby Sean M » 19 Jan 2013 02:13

Thanks for the explanation Brian. I am personally in the camp which thinks sword in one hand/sword in two hands is more about how you hold the sword than what type of sword it is (although Fiore certainly thought in terms of the common knightly swords, both "longsword" and "arming swords," of Italy in his day), but I don't have a problem with your view.
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Back to the original topic

Postby CPenney » 19 Jan 2013 16:31

Having looked over Guy's blog again (and the SwordForum thread that Matt referred to) I just wanted to weigh in on the whole sword-length issue.

I don't know how differently the systems would play with different sized swords, but I think it's fairly clear that Fiore uses a sword that is small enough to manipulate one or two-handed without problem (leaving aside the one and two-hander debate, Fiore uses the sword with one hand in all sections of the sword, from the sword in one hand plays, to the 6 'unmatched' poste, to the GL and GS plays, and on horseback).

I've not looked at Vadi as much as I'd like to, but one thing struck me from the old SFI thread from 2003 - namely, the point that Vadi's sword, aside from being longer overall, was supposed to have a longer grip (the length of the forearm).

The main sword I have for doing FIore is fairly long, both in blade and grip. Personally, I'd like to have another, smaller sword, but finances to not allow it at present (it's these kids - you feed them but they're hungry again barely hours later.....).

One thing I've tried with my sword is the 'new' footwork and movements from Vadi. See Greg Mele's comments from 2003:

Greg Mele wrote:If we look at the introductory chapters for Vadi's advice on playing with the longsword, there is nothing that suggests you need a larger sword or are best served by it. In Chapter 10 - Principles of Crossing the Swords, Vadi introduces his "new footwork":

To be sure you can understand my goal
with clear reason,
I hope to show you the way:
I don't want all [of your blows] to be pure riverso
nor fendente, but between the one and the other
be the common one
striking the head from every side.
And I advise you, when you’ve closed in,
set your legs paired,
you will surely be lord,
able to close and strike valiantly.
And when you strike with the riverso fendente,
bend your left knee and, note the writing,
extend the right foot
without then changing side.
Then, if the left foot with the head
are now under attack,
because they are closer
than the right, which remains sideways,
then you are sure from each side
and if you want to strike with a diritto fendente,
you should bend
the right knee and well extend the left one.
The head will be attacked also
with the right foot that is nearer to it:
this is a better footwork
than the stepping of our elders

Vadi, 11r - 11v, Porzio/Mele p. 70 - 73

This "new footwork", which largely consists of a narrower, more squared stance used at the incrossada works with a "longsword" of any variety, but not one of the massive two-handers in Marozzo or Alfieri. Why not? Because you can't uncross the sword quickly enough to strike from side to side, as Vadi advises. (See Vadi, Chapters 11 - 13, 12r - 13r [Porzio/Mele p. 74 - 79].)


Greg may be right in that Vadi doesn't draw a specific line between his earlier statement regarding sword length, and it's utility in this new technique. Indeed, I agree that a massive two-hander would be quite slow to move in this way. However, one observation I've made is that a longer grip (allowing for greater separation between the hands) allows greater leverage (and hence greater quickness and force) behind Vadi's cuts that are otherwise made primarily with the wrists and forearms. Aside from how the crossing plays out differently depending on blade length (Guy's theory) I think it's a lot harder to cut with sufficient force if you're using a "Fiore" sword with a smaller grip.

As an aside, I see a parallel with the spear. Fiore shows six guards, and two of them are finestra, with crossed wrists. In practise, this seems to be the least-used poste in my observation, as the other guards seem easier to use. I think this is an artefact of the spears we use - namely that they are too large and heavy. If you look at the drawings in Fiore, the spears are barely over the height of the figures, and generally have fairly small tips. Without trying the 'translate' this into a specific size, I'd simply say that the appropriate size would be "small enough to be manageable from all poste, and with all techniques."


Edit: Post number 69! http://tinyurl.com/akbe8jy
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