Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – Master

Folio 20 r. d

Translation – players

Here are three players that want to kill this Master. One to stab him, the other to cut, the other wants to throw his sword against the said master. It will be a great deed that he is not killed, for God has made him very skillful.

Translation – Master

‘You are cowardly wretches and of this art you know little. Do the deeds that you can only talk of. Come one by one, if you dare, and if you were a hundred I would ruin you all, this guard is so good and strong.’ I advance my front foot a little off the line and with the left, I cross sideways. And in that step across, beating your sword aside I find you uncovered, and make sure I hurt you. And if a spear or sword is thrown I will beat them all as I described by passing off the line, as you see in my plays that come after. Please watch for them. And even with a single-handed sword I will do my art as it is said in these papers.


The master of sword in one hand makes a universal defence which is common to Fiores weapon systems. Whether the master advances their front foot to the left or right is something Fiore never elaborates on throughout the many plays that use this basic concept of defence. Either side works, but the different steps give different qualities to your actions.

Defence begins with rear weighted Posta Coda Longa. Note that the right elbow is anchored to the hip. As the masters hip revolves clockwise, the sword will sweep across the body, providing either attack or defence as circumstances require.

Regardless of which of the players attacks, the Master uses the same defence. Cut upwards with a roverso sottano, beating the attack to your right. As you do so, step through with your left foot, so closing in on your opponent. This leaves you a clear line of attack to proceed with the plays which follow.

Sliding your front foot to the right is not only an instinctive way to move, but is also implied by the way different plays following on from both this master and others who use the universal defence. You will almost always be sliding your right foot to the right. Doing so puts you directly in the line of your opponents attack. You must be greatly assertive when beating the attack aside as it leaves no room for error. To your advantage, however, is that widening your stance will open your hips right up, and allow you to put a great deal of power into your beat. In doing so, you will dominate the centerline. The directness and mechanical ease of opening your stance will also make this method slightly faster.

Sliding your front foot to the left closes your hips off quite substantially and robs you of a lot of power, however, it also moves you off the line of attack. There is no need to beat your opponents attack wide, as you will no longer be standing where the attack is directed. You are more defining your right edge and will need to step past it. This changes your angle of attack and so opens up previously unavailable targets. The need to move further makes this a slightly slower method. Although a viable option, sliding offline like this is an unusual exception, usually done for tactical reasons rather than making a direct assault.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 3rd scholar

Folio 20 v. c


I can wound with both a cut and a thrust. Also if I advance the foot which is front of me, I can put you in the middle bind which is shown previously on the third play of the first master of dagger. Also I could do the play which comes after me and in this way I can both wound you and also bind you.


Having beaten your opponents sword aside as described in the master play, use your left hand to control their sword hand. This action has been decribed in detail in the 1st master of dagger. Keeping your elbow in close to your body, lead with your thumb to catch your opponents hand. Once you make contact, roll your hand smoothly over, grabbing and controlling their wrist. This will turn your opponents sword to the left slightly, leaving you an open line on the inside.

With your sword in posta fenestra, and controlling your opponents weapon, you have a variety of options at your disposal.

By pushing forward with your right hip, you can stab your opponent in the face, as demonstrated by the 1st scholar. You could also make a cut to their head or neck.

Another option is to step forward with your left foot, spiralling your left arm along your opponents right arm. This will put them in a ligadura mezana (middle bind) as first demonstrated by the 1st scholar of the 1st master of dagger.

As mentioned, the 4th scholar of sword in one hand continues by both binding and striking at the same time.

The 5th scholar of the 3rd master of sword in two hands finds themselves in the same situation as presented here. They go on as the 6th scholar of the 3rd master to bind the weapon by grabbing the swords cross bar and locking the blade against the arm.

Always bear in mind that none of these responses should be formulaic. Although the entire book is written in the structure of ‘in situation a, perform technique b, followed by technique c,’ in truth, they are simpy options which would reasonably flow on. By learning the base actions that the plays are built upon, your aim is to be able to respond instinctively.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 4th scholar

Folio 20 v. d


Your sword and your arm are well trapped and you cannot escape that you are humiliated by my means, because you show you know little of this play.


Against an attack, you have responded as the 3rd scholar. You have already moved from the master play to beat the attack aside. With your sword landing in posta fenestra, you have reached out with your left hand to smoothly catch the attackers right wrist. Then you rolled your hand over their wrist in a grab to control your opponents weapon.

This is the position of the 3rd scholar which the 4th scholar continues the attack from.

Shuffle your right foot up and then step out with your left foot so that you are stepping into your opponents space. As you do so, slide your left arm over your opponents right arm, so that the inside of both elbows press against each other. Keep your sword point directed at your opponents face. This is the moment depicted.

To finish the bind, keep rolling your left forearm around. You should end with your hand at shoulder height, your elbow in close to your body, and a 90 degree bend in your arm. Your opponents arm will be completely bound and they will be twisted off balance to your left.

Keep pushing your sword point into your opponents face. This will not only wound them terribly, but also push them so far as to ensure that the bind turns into a throw.

To put on the middle bind effectively, the action of the left hand has to be one continuous movement across the plays of both the 3rd and 4th scholars. You can also see the middle bind in the following plays.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 5th scholar

Folio 21 r. a


Here I can easily wound you and take your sword without fail. By turning it around the hand, I will send you over in such a way that it is better for you that the sword be released.


The 5th scholar is a simple disarm to use. From the master play, step offline with your front foot, and beat the attack up and to your right, bringing your sword to posta fenestra.

Step through with your back foot. As you do so, extend your left hand out in a straight line from your hip to the pommel of your opponents sword. Keep your elbow in. With your thumb up, grab the pommel at the same moment your foot lands. You should be in the position as drawn.

As your weight sinks onto your front foot, continue the momentum of your left hand on an arc moving in to cover the body, and then back out. At the end of your movement your left elbow should be a fists width away from your ribs, your arm should be bent at 90 degrees, and your hand should be at shoulder height. Pull your hips back to square as you lock into this position.

In doing so, you may pull the sword out of your opponents hand. At the very least, they will completely lose control of it and the blade will be extending harmlessly out to your left side.

Continue your hip movement in an anticlockwise direction. With your left hand, you either take the sword or, if they dont let go, you pull your opponent further off balance. They will be wide open. Use your right hand to push straight forward with a stab to the face.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 6th scholar

Folio 21 r. b


Here I can wound you in the front, and this is not enough for me, for by grabbing the elbow I will make you turn around for wounds in the back. And I throw my sword around your neck so that you will not see it coming.


From the master play, beat aside the incoming attack with a cut from Posta Coda Longa to Posta Fendente. This will leave you in a stable position while your opponents weapon has been knocked offline.

If the beat has been sufficiently strong, your opponent will turn slightly to your right. As the 6th scholar, you magnify this momentum to take advantage of it. Reach forward with your left hand to catch your opponents elbow as shown.

Step through with your right foot while pushing diagonally across with your left hand. Your opponent will turn anticlockwise, leaving the whole right side of their back exposed. This leaves you with a wealth of opportunities to stroke at. From there, you can also grab your opponent around the neck with your sword as the 7th scholar.

Other examples of pushing the elbow like this can be see in the following plays.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 7th scholar

Folio 21 r. c


For that play which is before me I made you turn and immediately I threw my sword around your neck. If I do not cut your throat, then I am sad and foolish.


The play of the 7th scholar of the sword in one hand is a continuation from the elbow push made by the 6th scholar. Step through with your right foot while pushing your opponents elbow across your body with your left hand. This extra step will turn them well to the side, allowing you to get behind. Quickly step in close with you left foot. As you do so, swing your sword over your opponents shoulder and under their chin. Grab onto the blade with your left hand. You should find yourself in the position depicted.

As you swing the blade across, begin by laying the flat of the blade against your opponent. It is a little easier to grab onto, and also if you accidentally hit the chin, the blade is more likely to deflect under the throat to where you want it. Pull your hands back into your shoulders, rolling the edge of the blade into the throat as you do so. This will pull your opponent off balance as well as begin the cut.

Arc your right foot in a clockwise direction behind you and then make a volta stabile, following your foot. This will leave you facing the opposite direction to the picture. As you turn, slide the blade from hilt to point across the throat. The momentum of your turn will greatly magnify the force of the cut. You should be able to make a single slice all the way through the throat. Your opponent will collapse dead at yout feet in a tremendous spray of blood.

You can also see the application of this technique in the 4th scholar of the 3rd master of sword in two hands.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 8th scholar

Folio 21 r. b


You cast a thrust at me and I beat it to the gound. See that you are uncovered and that I can wound you. Also I want to turn you around to hurt you more. And I will wound you in the middle of the back.


In this play, you combine a number of characteristic techniques of armizare. You begin with a universal parry, continue with breaking the thrust and finish with an elbow push.

From the cover of the master play, defend yourself against thrust from your opponent by sliding your front foot offline. Catch your opponents blade as you cut with your sword through posta frontale. Keep the momentum of the blade going as you step through with your left foot. Use the motion of your hips to break the thrust by pushing your opponents sword to the ground.

As your left foot touches the ground, reach out with your left hand to push against your opponents right elbow, as shown.

Step through with your right foot, pushing your left hand across your body as you do so. This will turn your opponent, leaving their back exposed. Take the pressure off the bind as you push, allowing your opponents sword to slide underneath yours. Your sword tip will naturally lift and should cleanly push into your opponents right kidney.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 9th scholar

Folio 21 v. a


From the turn that I made you do by pushing the elbow, I have quickly come to this position, for the chance to throw you to the ground so that you do not fight again, neither against me nor any other.


Having cleared your opponents attack using the master play, you have been able to catch their elbow and turn them as shown by the 8th scholar. You now continue as the 9th scholar with a throw.

With your right hand, bring your sword in close. You are not going to use it, but by centralising your weight, you will move faster and more effectively. Bring it in even closer than shown, resting your wrist against your ribs, and tucking your elbow in.

Without losing contact, slide your left hand up your opponents arm and across the front of their collarbones.

While doing this, lunge in with your left foot as deep as possible behind your opponent. This is the moment pictured. You will be lifting their right thigh off the ground with your left, so you need to get very close. If you are too far away, then the throw will not work.

As your left foot lands, flare out your knees, stick out your arse, and keeping your back straight, drop your weight as low as possible. Your shins should be upright and your thighs parallel to the floor. This will drive your left knee under your opponents thigh, lifting it slightly.

They are going to naturally start to turn back in a clockwise direction, partly as a response to your original elbow push, and partly to face the threat you are now making behind them. Maximise this by dropping your left arm down and slightly back so that it aligns with your leg and your hand is directly above your knee. Your opponent will fall over your thigh, landing on their back to your left side.

They may well flail their arms around as they fall. This is another good reason to keep your own sword arm firmly tied to your core. With your sword in close, you will easily cover yourself and redirect any inadvertent strikes from your falling opponent. You can also see other examples of this throw in the following plays.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 10th scholar

Foilio 21 v. b


This one struck at my head, and I beat his sword aside, so coming to this position. Also, I will make you turn, for having not failed at this I will put the sword to your neck, I am so audacious.


The 10th scholar of sword in one hand gives a variation on breaking the thrust, as described by the 10th scholar of the 2nd master of sword in two hands, as well as combining several other elements. From the master play, the text says you are defending against a strike to the head. Regardless of the exact attack, your initial cover is essentially the same. Only the height of your inital beat will vary to match the attack.

Slide your right foot across to open up your hips, and with a riverso cut, move your sword through posta frontale, sweeping the attack to your right. Step through with your left foot, continuing to sweep the attack down to the ground.

As your left foot lands, shuffle your right foot up to step on the tip of your opponents blade, similar to the 11th and 12th scholars of the 2nd master of sword in two hands. Reach out with your left hand to catch your opponents elbow, and in a smooth continuous movement, carry your own sword up into posta di fenestra. This is the moment shown.

Your right hip will have slightly throughout this and is well chambered. Push the right hip forward and use it to power shoving your opponents elbow across their body, turning them to the right. The combination of the elbow push and the leverage of the sword tip will pull the weapon from their hand, causing it to snap down to the ground.

Fiore says ‘I will put the sword to your neck.’ One interpretation would be to use the right hip push which powered the elbow push to simultaneously drive the point in a straight line through your opponents neck.

A second interpretation would be to use that hip push to lunge your left foot behind your turning opponent. Throw your sword blade in front of their neck, and catch it with your left hand. Pivot on the ball of your left foot, arcing your right foot behind you, simultaneously cutting your opponents throat and throwing them backwards and to your right, as shown by the 7th scholar of sword in one hand.

Sword in one hand

Sword in one hand – 11th scholar

Folio 21 v. c


This is a play that wants to be done wearing armour by who would like to make such a thrust. When someone attacks with a thrust or a cut, you make the cover, and then immediately counter as depicted.


The 11th scholar does not quite fit the pattern of the rest of this section. It is more general advice than a particular technique. Despite not being drawn as such, the play is specifically for when you, and presumably your opponent, are wearing armour.

Against a cut or thrust, make the cover of the master, sweeping your opponents sword to the side. Grab your sword in the middle of the blade, and thrust it into your opponent as you step through. This is the point shown.

A variation on exchanging the thrust, this play is the same as the 1st scholar of sword in armour. The only difference is that the master play of sword in armour begins in posta vera croce, and so is already holding their weapon in a half sword grip.

The core message of this play is not so much how to do the technique, but the idea that if you are fighting in armour, then stay close to your opponent, support your swords blade with your off hand and fight with thrusts.