Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Fiore dei Liberi and his treatises Fior di Battaglia/Flos Duellatorum c.1410.
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Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 07 Feb 2013 03:07

I was going over some basic stuff the other day and I was looking carefully at the specific actions Fiore discusses in the description of Posta Frontale in the Getty. Here is the Schola translation:
This is Posta Frontale (Headband or ornament worn on the forehead), called by some masters Posta di Corona (Crown), which for crossing [incrosar - crossing blades] is good, and for the thrusts she is also good, because if they strike at her with a high thrust, she crosses it, passing out of the way. And if the strike is delivered low, also she passes out of the way, beating [rebatendo] the thrust to the ground. Also, she can do another thing, because in delivering a thrust, returning with the rear foot and makes a fendente for the head and for the arms and arrives in Dente di Cengiaro and immediately stabs a thrust or two with an advance [acresser] of the foot and returns with a fendente to its own gaurd.


Separating the different actions Fiore describes, we have:
    Crossing swords (cuts)
    Crossing thrusts, specifically...
    Crossing a high thrust, passing forward offline
    Beating a low thrust to the ground, again passing offline
    The last one is a little less clear - Tom Leoni's translation puts this as:
...against a thrust, pass back while delivering a fendente to the head or arms down the Dente di Chinghiaro, then immediately deliver one or two thrusts with an accrescimento of the front foot. Finish with a fendente that gets you back in that guard.


I'm a big believer in doing what Fiore tells us explicitly to do so a few days ago a friend and I were playing around with these specific actions. It was interesting, and it actually raised a number of questions.

Crossing swords - This one is pretty basic - I've done this many times, and it's pretty common. I think Guy Windsor uses it for all of his crossing plays, if you look at his Swordschool videos. My main issue with this is that if someone is cutting at you with any intent, and you cover by moving into frontale, it definitely works, but their blade ends up against your quillion - it definitely does not resemble any of the "ideal" crossings (tip to tip, middle to middle, etc.) that are illustrated and described.

Crossing high thrusts - This seems like the exchange of point, except that you end up in frontale instead of a thrusting position. The assumption is that you start from another position (tutta porta di fero, finestra or di dona ont he right), and the footwork seems slightly different from the exchange - no accrescimento off the line with the front foot.

Defending low thrusts - This seems straight forward, except that the implication is that you are starting from frontale - something I'd have to say I've never really done. Depending on where you hold the sword you are also obscuring you vision to a degree, making it a little tricky to pick up the incoming low thrust.

Other low thrust option - I think this is reasonable, though again frontale is apparently your 'waiting' position. Distance is also a bit of an issue - if an attacker thrusts at you they are presumably passing forward from a starting position. If you pass back, are you not at the same distance as when the play began? What I mean is, wouldn't an accrescimento with your thrust from Dente di Chinghiaro still leave you a little short of distance?

Anyway, I know I'm a little pedantic when I look at the manuscripts, but these are some of the thoughts I've been having. I'm interested to hear if anyone else has tried to look at these specific actions and had any thoughts.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Motley » 07 Feb 2013 20:18

A couple of thoughts Chris,

Does passing out of the way have to be passing forwards off line? Could it not just be side ways?

If you are passing back against the low thrust then yeah measure remains the same absolutely but if his target is into your body yours is to his head or extended arms so you get a geometry advantage do you not?
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 08 Feb 2013 01:02

Motley wrote:A couple of thoughts Chris,

Does passing out of the way have to be passing forwards off line? Could it not just be side ways?

If you are passing back against the low thrust then yeah measure remains the same absolutely but if his target is into your body yours is to his head or extended arms so you get a geometry advantage do you not?


Hi, Dan.

I'd say that no it doesn't need to mean passing forwards, but passing back is generally seen only a handful of times throughout the text, and usually is specified.

For the pass back vs the low thrust, I think the attacker has to be leaning forward pretty far to be able to reach the head. The hands are definitely in play, though. It's the thrusts from dente di chenghiaro which would seem to require a pretty deep acressemento (almost like a lunge).

The odd part, at least to me, is the notion of starting in frontale - One thing we played with is the idea of starting elsewhere (tutta porta di fero), covering into frontale to deal with a high thrust, then cutting down from there when the attacker withdraws the high thrust to try and go low. It kind of works. At that distance it would allow the thrusting from chenghiaro as well.

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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Bulot » 11 Feb 2013 20:08

Crossing swords - This one is pretty basic - I've done this many times, and it's pretty common. I think Guy Windsor uses it for all of his crossing plays, if you look at his Swordschool videos. My main issue with this is that if someone is cutting at you with any intent, and you cover by moving into frontale, it definitely works, but their blade ends up against your quillion - it definitely does not resemble any of the "ideal" crossings (tip to tip, middle to middle, etc.) that are illustrated and described.


Agreed, it works well when you want a strong crossing, taking and keeping the center line.

Defending low thrusts - This seems straight forward, except that the implication is that you are starting from frontale - something I'd have to say I've never really done. Depending on where you hold the sword you are also obscuring you vision to a degree, making it a little tricky to pick up the incoming low thrust.


Where do you get the implication that you have to start in Frontale ?
I read the action described as essentially similar to the high thrust : pass out of the way and cross in Frontale. and beat it.

Other low thrust option - I think this is reasonable, though again frontale is apparently your 'waiting' position. Distance is also a bit of an issue - if an attacker thrusts at you they are presumably passing forward from a starting position. If you pass back, are you not at the same distance as when the play began? What I mean is, wouldn't an accrescimento with your thrust from Dente di Chinghiaro still leave you a little short of distance?


This one is a bit tricky.
First, once again, I don't think Frontale has to be your starting position, it is your crossing position.

Both of the above defenses against the thrust work well when you cross at the tip of the sword : there is enough distance between you and the player to move out of the way/beat the sword/exchange the thrust without altering this distance.

I believe the third defense is more appropriate for a crossing at the middle of the swords (regardless if it is a low or high thrust) : There is no room for a rebat, and Frontale is a shitty position to enter the narrow play. The extended arms are vulnerable to locks, breaks and disarms.
Therefore, you pass back while striking to the head and arms, to create distance while covering your retreat, and immediatly shuffle forward and thrust back from the boar's tooth a couple of times. I think there is a very similar action in Meyer.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 12 Feb 2013 05:40

Bulot wrote:
Defending low thrusts - This seems straight forward, except that the implication is that you are starting from frontale - something I'd have to say I've never really done. Depending on where you hold the sword you are also obscuring you vision to a degree, making it a little tricky to pick up the incoming low thrust.


Where do you get the implication that you have to start in Frontale ?
I read the action described as essentially similar to the high thrust : pass out of the way and cross in Frontale. and beat it.


I've not dismissed the possibility that this does not start in frontale, but if it does not, where does frontale come into it? Frontale or corona is held with the quillions at forehead level - any time you cover a low thrust (at the belt line, for example) with a sword then you are definitely not in frontale.

This one is a bit tricky.
First, once again, I don't think Frontale has to be your starting position, it is your crossing position.


If you are suggesting that holding the sword low enough to catch the low thrust can be considered posta frontale, I disagree. Besides, there is apparently no crossing of the sword - it's a cut to the head/arms with a step back. The implication is that this movement goes between frontale and dente di chinghiaro - fendente down, thrusts up.

Therefore, you pass back while striking to the head and arms, to create distance while covering your retreat, and immediatly shuffle forward and thrust back from the boar's tooth a couple of times. I think there is a very similar action in Meyer.


Please see above - if you consider frontale to be strictly a "crossing" guard, why is this action (with no crossing of the swords) described under frontale? Note that I agree with your interpretation of the technique, but it does leave an issue that would need to be resolved, IMO.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Bulot » 12 Feb 2013 21:55

If you are suggesting that holding the sword low enough to catch the low thrust can be considered posta frontale, I disagree


It is not what I am suggesting. Pictures of Posta Frontale are clear enough.
It is possible to pass out of the way, cover against a low thrust, and lift your sword in frontale, while catching his blade on the quilions. That's what I meant.

It is a very instinctive reaction against a thrust, high or low, and a pretty strong defense, but it lacks an offensive component to re-take the initative and deprive the opponent of a second attack tempo, hence Fiore explaining simply what to do from there (IMO depending on the distance and aggressiveness of your opponent) : walk sideways, rebat and strike, or take a step backwards, strike a fendente to stop his advance and thrust back.

Besides, there is apparently no crossing of the sword - it's a cut to the head/arms with a step back. The implication is that this movement goes between frontale and dente di chinghiaro - fendente down, thrusts up.


I think of Frontale strictly as a crossing posta, or at best as a transition between two strikes. I also think it is a valid explanation for its "Instabile" label.
I do think some sort of crossing is implied in this third defense (simply stepping back won't save me), but it is less important, as I simply use Frontale as a cover for my retreat.

In my opinion, the reason why these defenses are described in this section is simply that these are more or less the only offensive moves you can do from Posta Frontale, which is essentially a defensive stance.
Beating the sword while going out of the way is described many times elsewhere, and the retreat & thrust from boar's tooth don't really make sense from another guard.

Does that sound reasonable ?
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 14 Feb 2013 14:27

Bulot wrote:It is not what I am suggesting. Pictures of Posta Frontale are clear enough.
It is possible to pass out of the way, cover against a low thrust, and lift your sword in frontale, while catching his blade on the quilions. That's what I meant.


OK, thanks - I understand now.

It is a very instinctive reaction against a thrust, high or low, and a pretty strong defense, but it lacks an offensive component to re-take the initative and deprive the opponent of a second attack tempo, hence Fiore explaining simply what to do from there (IMO depending on the distance and aggressiveness of your opponent) : walk sideways, rebat and strike, or take a step backwards, strike a fendente to stop his advance and thrust back.


My question about the martial effectiveness/utility of this would be: What is the value of lifting the sword up, once the cover is made? At the moment you have caught the low thrust, before you lift into frontale, how different is this position to the exchange of thrust? To me, the exchange is very "Fiore": one quick defensive motion leaves your opponent uncovered and you can immediately counter. Once you're in frontale, I see that the play works just like a high thrust defence, but what value is there to doing it that offsets the extra tempo you use to raise the sword in the first place?

I think of Frontale strictly as a crossing posta, or at best as a transition between two strikes. I also think it is a valid explanation for its "Instabile" label.
I do think some sort of crossing is implied in this third defense (simply stepping back won't save me), but it is less important, as I simply use Frontale as a cover for my retreat.


If you are beginning from a safe distance, and your opponent passes forward to attack, a pass back should certainly save you - I understand that frontale is instabile, but there is no indication in the text that that play includes a crossing.

In my opinion, the reason why these defenses are described in this section is simply that these are more or less the only offensive moves you can do from Posta Frontale, which is essentially a defensive stance.
Beating the sword while going out of the way is described many times elsewhere, and the retreat & thrust from boar's tooth don't really make sense from another guard.


Well, there are several poste where separate defensive and offensive options are not given (breve, longa, and bicorno include nothing offensive; like frontale, tutta porta di fero only includes offensive options as counter actions, such as the exchange of point, for e.g.).

I think the retreat and thrust description would most appropriately fit with the posta from which you would begin the action - hence my questioning it. :)
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Bulot » 14 Feb 2013 17:50

My question about the martial effectiveness/utility of this would be: What is the value of lifting the sword up, once the cover is made? At the moment you have caught the low thrust, before you lift into frontale, how different is this position to the exchange of thrust? To me, the exchange is very "Fiore": one quick defensive motion leaves your opponent uncovered and you can immediately counter. Once you're in frontale, I see that the play works just like a high thrust defence, but what value is there to doing it that offsets the extra tempo you use to raise the sword in the first place?


Honestly ? I don't think it is the most martially sound thing to do in a perfect situation. But it happens. And it is useful to know what to do from there.
Exchanging the point is a "perfect" defense, but it requires the right tempo and the right measure. Sometimes the best thing you can do is lift your hands in a purely defensive stance, and you find yourself in Posta Frontale with a very specific crossing that is not covered in the rest if the plays.

Piece of anecdote : one of my partners used to take almost every crossing in frontale, without even thinking about it, and it was awfully frustrating for the others and for himself. He would just catch their blades on his quilions and wait. He did not know what to do to counter attack, and the attacker could not use most of the "traditional" crossing plays. It usually resulted in a lot of bad stretto, double hits, or just disengage the blades and retreat.
We went through several weeks of drills (most of them involving elbow pushes, pommel crocheting, provocation thrusts, and sottanis to the wrists) specifically designed to counter the dreaded "frontale lock" before getting finally rid of it.

To be fair, I don't like to use Frontale very much, and I don't think Fiore did either. The only play I can think of that is explicitely using it is the kick to the balls, and I tend to ban it from our ususual practice for obvious safety reasons.
I don't dismiss the posta entirely, as it is a very strong defense, but as you suggested, I would rather use exchanging/breaking the point most of the time.

If you are beginning from a safe distance, and your opponent passes forward to attack, a pass back should certainly save you - I understand that frontale is instabile, but there is no indication in the text that that play includes a crossing.


If you don't cross, what is the point of being in Frontale ? If you are safe by just stepping back, would'nt you rather be in a pulsativa Posta to beat the incoming thrust/strike right after his attack ?

Once again, I think the strength of Frontale is its defensive aspect. I agree no crossing is mentioned, and actually, crossing is not necessary at all to do the rest of the play, but the only reason I can think of for being in Frontale is to shield myself from the incoming thrust. I highly doubt my opponent will stop his thrust after a single step if I don't have some sort of cover.

Well, there are several poste where separate defensive and offensive options are not given (breve, longa, and bicorno include nothing offensive; like frontale, tutta porta di fero only includes offensive options as counter actions, such as the exchange of point, for e.g.).


The difference is, the use of Porta di Ferro, Breve and Longa are covered in the plays. Bicorno is an oddity, but I have to admit I still don't really know what to make of it.
Maybe Fiore could have included the "Frontale Crossings" there as well, but he choosed not to do so, and instead summed up three defenses as one-liners in the Frontale description.

I think the retreat and thrust description would most appropriately fit with the posta from which you would begin the action


Well, whatever your starting stance is, you have to go through Frontale to do it (if you don't, you have way better options), so I don't think it is entirely inappropriate to describe it here. Where would you have him put it ?
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 15 Feb 2013 04:28

Bulot wrote:If you don't cross, what is the point of being in Frontale ? If you are safe by just stepping back, would'nt you rather be in a pulsativa Posta to beat the incoming thrust/strike right after his attack ?

Once again, I think the strength of Frontale is its defensive aspect. I agree no crossing is mentioned, and actually, crossing is not necessary at all to do the rest of the play, but the only reason I can think of for being in Frontale is to shield myself from the incoming thrust. I highly doubt my opponent will stop his thrust after a single step if I don't have some sort of cover.


Well, this wouldn't be the first instabile posta that Fiore does the break of point from (i.e. finestra).

I agree that I don't wait in finestra as a natural defence, but I maintain that the last two plays vs the low thrust do not involve lifting the opponent's sword by moving into finestra before bringing it back down.

The way I see it, there are two possibilities for these low-thrust plays - either it is a reaction to a second attack, where it was an initial thrust that caused the defender to move into frontale in the first place (I alluded to this in my first post, and I read something similar by Guy Windsor in one of his articles), or the low thrust defences (beating the thrust to the ground or stepping back with a fendente) actually have nothing to do with frontale. In this way, the text might be read as "frontale is good for crossing sword cuts, or high thrusts. If your opponent thrusts low, however, don't use frontale, but do *this*." Neither explanation is ideal, IMO.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Bulot » 15 Feb 2013 20:01

Well, this wouldn't be the first instabile posta that Fiore does the break of point from (i.e. finestra).


Yes, it is true, but my question was not "if" Frontale was able to break the point, it was "Why" doing it from Frontale, if not for the cover of its crossing ?
In my experience, simply stepping back against an incoming thrust does not make me feel safe enough to strike back without covering myself wih my sword first, which is why I don't consider the Frontale plays to be out of place.

but I maintain that the last two plays vs the low thrust do not involve lifting the opponent's sword by moving into finestra before bringing it back down.


I'm not certainly not saying it is the only way to get there, it's just one of several possible scenarii.

either it is a reaction to a second attack, where it was an initial thrust that caused the defender to move into frontale in the first place (I alluded to this in my first post, and I read something similar by Guy Windsor in one of his articles)


Which I completely agree with : You cross/cover yourself in Frontale, and then react from there.

In this way, the text might be read as "frontale is good for crossing sword cuts, or high thrusts. If your opponent thrusts low, however, don't use frontale, but do *this*


It's an idea I could get behind, actually, but It goes against the way Fiore describes it in both Getty and PD, where he says Frontale is good to cover against every cut and thrust.

the low thrust defences (beating the thrust to the ground or stepping back with a fendente) actually have nothing to do with frontale


Well, that's the only part of your suggestions I disagree with, but the only evidence supporting the idea that these plays are worth doing from Frontale is exactly the part you find inappropriate. :)

I am under the impression you are trying to read a bit too much in a paragraph that basically says "if you are in Frontale (whatever happened before that), and this happens, react like this".

Now we can discuss the situations when it is useful to go to Frontale, but I think I summed up my views in the previous posts. :)
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 16 Feb 2013 05:42

Bulot wrote:I am under the impression you are trying to read a bit too much in a paragraph that basically says "if you are in Frontale (whatever happened before that), and this happens, react like this".


Well, I would go back to the text - It's a paragraph, ostensibly about posta frontale, but it is not particularly conceptual or theoretical - there are four actions described, and it is *very* specific in certain details (footwork, where to thrust from, etc.). The most fundamental part of interpreting the manual (to me) is to be able to do the physical actions in their most basic, "textbook" form. The description of frontale just seemed to pose as many questions as it answered.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby TyHar7 » 26 Feb 2013 14:35

CPenney wrote:
This is Posta Frontale (Headband or ornament worn on the forehead), called by some masters Posta di Corona (Crown), which for crossing [incrosar - crossing blades] is good, and for the thrusts she is also good, because if they strike at her with a high thrust, she crosses it, passing out of the way. And if the strike is delivered low, also she passes out of the way, beating [rebatendo] the thrust to the ground. Also, she can do another thing, because in delivering a thrust, returning with the rear foot and makes a fendente for the head and for the arms and arrives in Dente di Cengiaro and immediately stabs a thrust or two with an advance [acresser] of the foot and returns with a fendente to its own gaurd.




I am in no way as versed in Fiore as many of you are but I'm reading this differently from your interpretation. You read this as four instances where you can use Frontale, I'm reading this as 3 ways you can end up using Frontale from the crossing.

So from the crossing your opponent thrusts; if it is high thrust, you move into frontale pass out of way. If they go for a lower thrust from the cross you catch raise to frontale and beat the blade down while passing out the way of the point.

The 3rd I read as if you've thrusted from the cross, (and presumably missed your target) I would imagine you'd find you self close to your opponent in frontale. As described pass back and then advance with a thrust.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby CPenney » 02 Mar 2013 14:04

I'm certainly open to a wider interpretation of the text, as there are other instances of Fiore being a little ambiguous. Regarding the last action, where you suggest it is the Master, not the attacker who thrusts, Tom Leoni's translation is more unequivocal at the action is a defence against a thrust. It might be worth discussing that point in greater detail.

The main stumbling block I have is that I don't see the utility of covering the low thrust, lifting the swords up into frontale, then bringing it down to the ground. I'm not 100% convinced, but I think the most feasible scenario for that case is that the Master covers a thrust into frontale, and if the attacker thrusts again or redirects his attack, whereupon the Master who has moved into frontale, clears the low thrust with a fendente from there. It's still a work in progress, though, I must admit.
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Re: Posta Frontale ditta Corona

Postby Francesco Perciballi » 19 May 2013 23:50

Guys, if I can help with translations, ask me.

For the interpretations, I think is very difficult "to speak" about fencing... Fencing is a complete art, like painting, or sculpting... How could we "speak" about them? We can try, of course, but aproximately...
So, is very difficult to explain what we want to say.

If you come in Italy, contact me, you'll be my honorable guests, and we could speak and try!

Good fencing!
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