Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs Dagger – 1st Master

Folio 19 r. a


Here begins sword and dagger plays. The advantage is great for those who can do it. The master is in this guard called Dente di Zenghiaro. Come with all the thrusts and cuts that you know. My right foot and then my dagger will turn and I will beat your sword aside. I know the narrow play and I cannot fail. Come one by one to oppose me as you wish. You will not touch me and I will break you with a turn.


Most closely resembling the Master of Sword in One Hand, this Master utilises a common theme of defence seen throughout Fiore’s style. As the first master, you are in a rear weighted stance with the point offline ready to sidestep and pass across, using the power from the resulting hip motion to beat aside any incoming attack before making a counter.

In beating attacks aside as the First Master, be sure to keep a very acute angle between the dagger blade and your forearm as you contact your opponents blade. As the angle approaches 90 degrees, it becomes increasingly susceptible to leverage on contact. This places strain on the wrist and your sweep can potentially collapse. By keeping the angle at around 20 degrees, the dagger blades ‘locks in’ with the motion of the forearm, while still ensuring a safe distance between your own arm and the blade you are striking against.

Should the opportunity arise, you can also go on the offensive. You are perfectly placed to deliver a roverso attack, or indeed, an attack anywhere above the elbows.

Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs Dagger – Counter to the 1st scholar of the 1st master

Floio 19 r. c


If the player who came before me knew such a defence, he would have put his left hand on the scholars guard, and in this way pushed his elbow turning it as shown. Then I would not need the counter to the master with the dagger in his guard.


You have just made a lower thrust against the master armed with a dagger. Your opponent has stepped offline, beating your thrust to your left. As they step through with their left foot, as shown by the 1st scholar, they are going to try to grab and control your right hand. Counter it like this.

Once your opponent has committed to their step. pivot your hips clockwise. Let go of your sword with your left hand and reach over your arm. Immediately before their hand reaches yours, drop your sword hand out of the way.

Catch the outside of your opponents left wrist with the back of your left hand. You are using timing and flow to catch this. It is not a forceful action. Step through with your left foot, rolling your hand up your opponents forearm, and causing them to twist away to your left. As your left foot anchors, shove your left hand out to full extension. Your opponent will be completely spun around with their back towards you. Pull your sword back, arriving in the position shown.

Your opponent will instinctively try to push back against you, in which case, stab them under the left armpit. A more experienced opponent will work with the momentum, make a complete turn to the right, and try to attack with a roverso strike. In this case, move your sword point to the right and ensure they run onto it.

This whole play is essentially another elbow push. What makes it stand out from the others is that you are pushing the left elbow, whereas all other examples push the right. These can be seen in

  • Dagger – Counter to 2nd master
  • Dagger – Counter to 6th master
  • Dagger – Counter to 7th master
  • Dagger – Counter to the 8th master
  • Sword vs Dagger – 2nd scholar of the 1st master
  • Sword in one hand – 6th scholar
  • Sword in one hand – 8th scholar
  • Sword in two hands – 14th scholar of the 2nd master
  • Sword in armour – 3rd scholar
  • Sword in armour – Counter to master
Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs Dagger – Scholar of the 2nd master

Folio 19 v. b


When he raises his arm with the dagger in it, I immediately put the sheath of my sword on his dagger arm, so that there is no way he can trouble me. And immediately I draw my sword, and I can wound him before he can touch me with his dagger. Also I can take the dagger from his hand in the same way as the first dagger master. And also I could bind him in the middle bind from the third play of the first dagger master.


As the 2nd master of sword vs dagger, you were walking along minding your own business, carrying your sheathed sword by the hilt, and holding the scabbard with your left hand as it rested by your left shoulder. Suddenly and unexpectedly, you were grabbed by a reprobate intent on stabbing you. Although taken by surprise, you are nonetheless prepared, and respond as the scholar shows.

With the sheathed blade, use the sword as you would a short staff. Strike down into the crook of your opponents right elbow. Hit exactly where the elbow bends, and the arm will collapse, jamming the attack. Your sword will be aligned such that you can draw the blade back, loading it for your own counter attack, as shown in the drawing. Attack them as you chose. Using the sword as an oversized dagger and making a sottano stab into their solar plexus is the easiest option.

The scabbard acts as an extension of your hand. As your opponents arm collapses, the point of the dagger should slide down the inside line of the scabbard. This means you will have effectively made the cover of the 1st master of dagger. Fiore gives us several different options as to how to take advantage of this.

The percussive shock of being struck on the tendons like this tends to cause the hand to pop open. You opponent will momentarily have a loose grip on the dagger. Use the elbow as a pivot point and lift and turn your hand to the left. This applies leverage to the base of the dagger blade, stripping it from your opponents hand.

In order to jam the arm fully, you could also try pushing the scabbard while winding it in such a way that the tip goes over the back of the arm and anchors onto the chest. This would tie up the arm and keep your opponent at a distance, leaving them wide open to attack. Attempting this requires a large movement on your part which would be quite difficult to perform confidently in the high stress environment of fighting your way out of a murderous surprise attack.

Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs Dagger – 3rd master

Folio 19 v. c


This is another match of sword and dagger. The one that holds the sword with the tip of the sword on the ground as you see, says to the one with the dagger that holds him by the collar, ‘Come between with the dagger from your position, that when you try to strike with the dagger I will beat my sword over your arm. And in that moment, I will unsheathe my sword going back with the right foot behind, and so I will wound you with my sword before you strike me with your dagger.’


Like the 2nd master of sword vs dagger, the 3rd master is caught unawares in a grab and stab style ambush by a dagger weilding assailant. Although the sword tip is down rather than resting up by the shoulder, both the 2nd and 3rd masters hold the sword with the thumb by the crossguard, ready to draw.

With a minimum of body movement, roll your hands in a tight circle. The blade will move in a fast arc behind you, transitioning through the picture point of the 2nd master, and striking with a fendente cut intside your attackers, now presumably, raised and chambered right hand. Drive your left hip forward to maximise the impact.

You are aiming to strike into the crook of your opponents right elbow. This will casue the arm to collapse, and the hand to roll inward. The inward roll will throw the dagger tip inside the line of the scabbard, further tangling the attack. If you hit hard and accurately enough, the hand will pop open and the dagger will fall to the ground.

Having broken the attack, step back with your right foot as demonstrated by the scholar of the 2nd master. Leaving your left hand in place to jam up your opponents attacking hand, draw your sword as you step back.

You have an open target to thrust into. Make the best use of it, but also be aware that your frenzied and dying opponent can still potentially put in an after blow as long as you remain in narrow play.

Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs dagger – 4th master

Folio 19 v. d


This is a similar match to the one before, although it is not done in the same way as the one before it. This play starts in the same way as the one before us, but when the one with the dagger takes up his arm to strike, I will immediately raise my sword in under his dagger and put the tip of my scabbard in his face, returning my foot that is in front to the back. And I can strike him in the face as depicted after me.


The 4th master is another example of a ‘self defence’ type play. You are relaxed and holding your sheathed sword point down. Your left hand carries the sword by the scabbard. Your right hand rests thumb up on the handle. With no cause, a potential assassin grabs you by the collar, intent on delivering a fatal downward stab.

In your defence, you use the sheathed sword as a short staff. Step back with your right foot to give yourself as much space as you can. Raise your left hand straight up the centreline to shoulder height. Also keep your elbow in the centre. The angle of your forearm will determine the angle of your strike. As your right foot anchors onto the ground, lever your right hand down.

As the hands are held so close to each other, the sword blade will snap up in a very fast, tight arc. Aim to strike under the attacking wrist between the dagger bade and the forearm. This will jam the attack. On contact, push forward with your left hip and hands, driving the tip of the scabbard into your opponents face. This is explored further by the scholar of the 4th master.

Sword vs Dagger

Sword vs dagger – Scholar of the 4th master

Folio 20 r. a


This play is of the master that makes the match here before. By following his instructions, I am able to do it. You see well that your dagger does not make me any trouble.


This play illustrates the description given by the 4th master. While holding your sheathed sword with your left hand at the mouth of the scabbard and your right hand thumb up on the handle, you are defending against a surprise fendente attack.

Drop your right foot back to give yourself space and raise your right hand to your shoulder, using it as a pivot point. Push forward with your left hip and drive the left hand up. As your hands are so close together, the sword will move in a fast tight arc. Strike under the dagger at the base of the wrist. Adjust so as to align the blade with your opponents face and then lunge forward. Precisely aiming this will be difficult, but you are aiming to take out an eye. With no element of surprise, their weapon jammed, and their face injured, your opponent has now lost all the initiative. As much as you can keep pushing the scabbard tip into their face. Use the scabbard to keep the dagger tangled while you change your grip and draw your sword to posta fenestra. Finish your opponent off before they can recover.