Definitions & Study Terminology
In the effort to help practitioners apply a more accurate vocabulary and formal lexicon of Historical Fencing, ARMA presents a brief list of key terms, phrases, concepts, principles, and ideas from the works of a variety of major Medieval & Renaissance masters at arms.  This list is frequently updated.

Western Swordsmanship Today - Defining Historical Fencing

Medieval and Renaissance Fencing Terminology from the Historical Source Manuals

Rapier Fencing Terminology

Medieval & Renaissance Sword Forms and Companion Implements

Fundamental Sword Parts

...Man muss fleissig nachdencken
("You must study this dilgently")


Renaissance Fencing Terms

This list is focuses on terminology of the rapier as well as 16th century short swords or military “cut and thrust swords” It is intended to reflect the distinction that developed between the older military fencing systems and the newer civilian ones It is derived primarily from Italian, Spanish, French and English source manuals with additional material included of a modern descriptive nature  The list is divided into helpful sections of Concepts, Components, and Techniques  It excludes terms of classical and modern (ie, 18-20th century) fencing either not taken from historical manuals of the period, or not directly related to the use of the rapier or “cut & thrust” swords It includes only those technical terms of modern sport fencing that are relevant to describing and reconstructing the practice of historical Renaissance swordsmanship today Thus, much current French and Italian terminology used within or developed for modern sport fencing has been excluded.

Concepts

Al la macchia / ala mazza - a less formal rough-and-tumble duel “out in the woods”, often by groups as well as individuals


Bill of Challenge - a formal posted announcement of an English student’s public “Playing” of his “Prize”

Bravazzo / Branando - a swashbuckler, a swaggerer, a cutter, quarreller, rostier, raffine, ruffian


Botta-in-tempo - (attack in time) attack while the adversary’s preoccupied with a parry, bind, or feint


Botta Secreta - a secret attack or special hidden technique of a school or master

 

Breaking the Measure - (rompere di misura) retreating from within the measure to out of measure


Camineering - a change of engagement or in the line of threat/attack


Cartel - a hand delivered written notice of challenge describing the cause of the offence that provoked a duel of honor


Cob’s Traverse - retreating indefinitely (running away, sometimes called the “ninth parry”)


Corporation of the London Masters of Defence - the guild of English instructors of fighting and fence in the 1500s, it had four levels of fighter: Scholar, Free Scholar, Provost, and Master, as well as four “Ancient Masters”

 

Contratempo – (counter time) The action of beating the opponent as he tries to take advantage of a tempo you create

Cavazione - (“trade”) the action of exchanging or switching sides on the opponent’s sword, from left to right or vice versa, under or over, without making contact with it

Controcavazione - (“counter-trade”) the action of beating a Cavazione with an opposite one, thus ending up to the side where your sword started

Contrapostura – adjusting your stance or guard so that your forte always defends the line between your body and the opponent’s tip

 

Coup de grace - the dagger stroke given to mercifully end the suffering of a wounded duelist (originally used to execute a defeated knight in heavy plate armor)


Coup de Jarnac - an early Renaissance term for a crippling blow to the back of the opponent’s exposed knee or hamstring (so called due to a famous judicial duel, it was not a new strike at all, but did become well known and quite notorious)


Coup de main - a kill by a single, smooth, quick thrust or cut


Debole – (foible) the section of the blade from mid-sword to the tip by which attacks should be made

 

La Destreza – A Spanish term translating as dexterity, skill, ability, (or) art and meaning “Philosophy of the Weapons” or “The Art and Science” of fighting


Desvio – in later Spanish schools of fence the technique of redirecting an attacking blow with a deflecting action rather than a solid block


Duel - personal single combat, usually illicit and illegal, only sometimes of gentlemanly or even honorable character


En guard - to come “on guard” (ready your weapon and self for the fight)


Engagement - contacting or crossing (opposing) the adversary’s blade


Escrime’ - French for fencing, or the art of fence


Extraordinary Step (passo straordinario)

 

False Edge - (or “Filo falso”) the back edge facing the wielder

 

Fence/Art of Fence - a word for swordsmanship derived from the Middle English “defence”, as distinguished from the modern sport of “fencing” with its origins in the late 1700s and early 1800s


Filo - Italian for the sword’s edge


Fingering - to wrap the lead (and sometime second finger and thumb) around the quillons and ricasso for superior tip control and grip, an innovative method of gripping known since ancient times, it found greatest use with Renaissance blades


First blood - a duel that is fought only to the first sight of drawn blood as opposed to “to the death” or to the opponent “yielding”


Foining (Foyning) - English word for thrusting style swordsmanship

Four Governors - one way of looking at the major factors in swordsmanship: perception, distance, timing, and technique

 

Forte - the section of the blade going from mid-sword to the hilt by which parries should be made

Gaining the Measure (finding the measure) - proceeding from out of to in range, or from the misura larga to misura stretta

Gripping - holding of the sword, cut & thrust swords and rapiers were held in a 45 degree position, as opposed to the “hammer” grip as with medieval swords, and also utilized the concept of “fingering” the ricasso, both may be held in a “normal” grip as that when “pointing” the index finger, or in a pronated or supinated position


Girata - stepping out of line by either moving your leading right foot to the right or by crossing the left foot behind the right one

Giving the lie - the name given to the act of purposly offending the honor of another gentleman or his lady through insult, innuendo, or wit, it was cause for challenge to duel (e.g., "You have inulsted me ..." or "You disagree, when I say you have offended me, Sir? Are you then calling me a liar?")


Grypes - techniques for seizure (grabbing the adversary’s blade, hilt, or arm)


Guard - (Italian: Guardia, sing Guardie, also Posta) - fighting positions, wards, stances, ready postures, for offense and/or defense (also the protective hilt of a blade, as in compound guard, cross guard, back guard, counter guard, ring guard, etc). Viggiani 1550 - taught seven guards, left side ones were called defensive, right side one’s offensive:  Prima, Seconda, Terza (high over right shoulder), Quarta (diagonal downward inside of right knee knuckles up, Quinta (with point up), Sesta (hand behind right thigh point diagonally down knuckles to the right, left leg leading), Settima (point diagonally up outside leading right leg).  Di Grassi 1570 - taught three wards:  Guardia Alta (high ward), the Guardia Largha (broad ward, arm extended forward), and the Guardia Bassa (low ward, arm low beside the right knee). Fabris 1606 - taught everything whether offensive or defensive came from just four guards. His four basic hand positions (which are not guards but hand positions) were attained by rotating the hand clockwise. Capo Ferro 1610: taught only one guard with the blade aimed straight and held low in the middle and four hand positions.  Prima – the first guard position from withdrawing the sword with the arm high to the right, palm facing to the right, (knuckles at 12 o’clock), Seconda – the second guard position, arm about shoulder or chest height, palm facing down (knuckles at 3 o’clock), Terza – a third guard position, usually with arm at waist level, palm facing to the left (knuckles at 5 or 6 o’clock), Quarta – a fourth guard position, palm facing up (knuckles at 9 o’clock)


Gaurdia Alta - Viggiani’s & Di Grassi’s high vertical position with blade over the right shoulder


Guardant Ward – A Hanging guard, similar to Prime, George Silver also distinguishes between True, False and Bastard Guardants


Hanging guard - a ward with point down and to the inside and the arm raise above


High Ward – the weapon is held centered over the head roughly 45-degrees, identical to medieval long-sword high postures, although Silver’s Open ward (perhaps so called because you are open to making any attack) may be over the shoulder rather than over the head


IL duello - single combat/duel


In-Line/Point-on -the new rapier’s method of swordsmanship with the tip held always at the enemy


Inside or Left Back ward – weapon held point back and down to the left, close to the hip, Viggiani’s “fourth guard wide”, identical to a left Tail guard for medieval long-sword


“In-the-Round” - a modern term to describe historcial sword fighting that is 360 degrees, not linear as with the smallsword or modern sport fencing, but uses sidesteps and diagonal movements (voids and traverses)


Invitation - positioning that intentionally exposes openings to purposely draw attacks


Just Distance - the distance (“measure”) where if you are close enough to hit your opponent, they are also close enough to hit you


Kissing-the-button - derogatory Spanish term for harassing rapier thrusts aimed at the mouth


La canne - a form of 19th century French stick fighting art related to the use of cut & thrust swords, sabers, broadswords and cutlasses


Left Back ward – Inside guard, Viggiani’s “fourth guard wide” , like theTail guard in medieval methods


Line (Line of Attack) - one of the four areas by which to attack: high outside (sixte & tierce), high inside (quarte & prime), low outside (octave & seconde), and low inside (septime & quinte)

These areas also correspond to types of parries


Low guard –with the weapon held point down and centered, Silver’s Variable ward, identical to medieval long-sword low postures

 

Lunge - (Allungo or Distesa) an extension (typically in the course of a thrusting attack) executed by stepping forward with the right foot and leaving the left foot anchored

Large Step (passo largo)


Mezzo - middle (half) of the blade

 

Mezza Cavazione - (“half-trade”) the action of interrupting a Cavazione in the middle, ending up underneath your opponent’s sword


Middle guard– Silver’s Close ward (perhaps so called because the blade closes nearer to the opponent), the weapon is held centered aimed at the opponent over the head, identical to medieval long-sword middle postures


Molinello/ Molinetto - circular cut


Master of Defence - a Renaissance instructor of swordsmanship or fence and other fighting arts


Measure - judging of distance or range in fighting


Misura – measure or distance and range (close or short, wide or tight, in or out)


Misura Larga - distance at which a strike can be made by a step, by a pass, or by a lunge


Misura Stretta - distance at which a strike can be made by simply leaning in with an extension (and no step or lunge)


On-the-Pass - to strike with a forward or outward step, a pass or Passado / Passato, a standard means of forcefully striking or stabbing in cut & thrust swordsmanship, often used with a traverse or void

 

Out of Measure (Fuori Misura) - the distance where you cannot reach the opponent on a thrust without steeping or passing

 

Playing the Prize - the public testing of a student for advancement in the English schools of Defence


Parrier-dolch - German term for using the dagger’s quillons to trap a sword blade


Pike & Musket - the term used today to refer to the Renaissance’s newer methods of mass warfare that replaced those of the Middle Ages which emphasized heavy cavalry and archery


Prima (Prima Gaurdia, or Reverse, or Guardant) - the high outside ward, pronated point on (one of five or six of the major stances/guards) assumed after the natural position of drawing the weapon from the scabbard


Pronation - gripping the sword with knuckles up and palm down, the significance of which originally applied to the use of a cutting sword’s flat to parry with but later referred to certain positionings for efficient parries with a rapier


Provost - the third level of the four rankings in English schools of Defence


Punta – point


Quarta-Guardia – Agrippa’s left side Terza


Raffine - a swordsman bully who will provoke a duel on the slightest pretext or cause


Rapier & Cloak – “Spada e Capa”, a method of fighting using a common cloak or robe for defense


Rapier & Dagger - a method of fighting using the addition of a parrying dagger in the other hand

 

Ricavazione - the action of beating a Controcavazione with an additional one


Riverso – a left to right cut, also called Manverso

 

Seizure - to grab the adversary’s blade or hilt


Scherma - Italian for fencing

 

Schivar di vita - the action of voiding the opponent’s sword by moving the body out of line


Scholar’s privilege - in English  schools of Defence, the excluding of attacks to the face during practice with novices


Seconda - (second), broad or wide ward in di Grassi and others


Second - in a formal duel, the neutral party for each side that stands in as witness and arbiter or back up


Slipping - gaining reach by sliding the hand down the grip to the pommel when striking with a cutting blade (also throwing out a one handed thrust with a pole arm)


Small Step (stretto passo or piccol passo)

 

Spada Libera - (“Keeping your sword free”) Keeping your sword in such a way (by space or leverage) that the opponent does not have leverage on it or the “advantage of the sword”

 

Spada e Pugnale - Italian for “sword and dagger”, usually a rapier & dagger

 

Spada Solo - Italian for single sword, usually use of the rapier alone without a secondary weapon


Stop-Thrust - a counter thrust attack into the opponent’s forward movement or oncoming attack


Stringering - maintaining contact or opposition with the opponent’s blade so as to control it


Supination - gripping the sword with knuckles down and palm up, the significance of which originally applied to the use of a cutting sword’s flat to parry with but later referred to certain positionings for efficient parries with a rapier


Swashbuckler – a Tudor or Elizabethan ruffian predisposed to streetfight and duel, so called by the “swishing” sound created by sword and buckler on the belt as the youth swaggered about town, the 1657 edition of Phillips’ New World of Words cites, “Swash-buckler” as a “Vain-glorious Sword-player or Fencer; a meer Braggadochoe, a vapouring fellow”, and cites “To swash” as “to make fly about; to clash, or make a noise with Swords”


Stances - (fighting stances) wards or guards: eg, high, middle, low, open, close, prime, seconda, terza, and guardant/hanging


Sword & Dagger - a method of early Renaissance fighting which led to the rapier and dagger


Sword & Buckler – (Spada e brochiero) a method of combat and street fighting common in the early Renaissance


Taglio – cut

 

Temperato - the part of the blade between forte and debole, also called Medio or Mezzane (middle)

Tempo - the element of timing or execution of moment/action in time

Terza – low, back Inside (right) ward, for a cut & thrust sword Viggiani’s “Terza” or third, blade at a 45 degree angle down, for a rapier it is the blade held back and lower, closer to the hip, usually in a reverse stance

 

Trovar di spada - (“occupare la spada”) the art of placing your sword against the opponent’s (without touching his blade) so that yours would have the advantage of a lever at the moment they meet

 

True Edge - (or “Filo dritto”) the forward edge on the same side of the knuckles

 

Tutte botte principali - principle cuts and thrusts


Variable Ward – Silver’s low guard (also a name for all other manner of guards not Open, Close, or Guardant)

 

Veney – a practice bout to a number of hits in free play or mock combat


Ward - one of five to seven fighting postures, ready stances, or guards

 

Components

Atajo – in the Spanish schools, the idea of taking control of the opponent’s blade, essentially a prise de fer


Anneu - the side-ring (ring guard or “port”) on a compound-hilt


Annelets –one term for the “arms-of-the-hilt”, protective quillons rings over the ricasso


Arms-of-the-Hilt - the finger rings extending from the quillons to the blade, often attached to a ring guard, they are mistakenly often called the “pas d’ane” although this has long been proved incorrect


Back-Sword - a primarily English cut & thrust blade of the Renaissance with a single straight edge and usually a swept or basket hilt, its single edge allowed for a sharper blade and stronger cut, it was popular in many countries both on foot and mounted


Blunts - dull cut & thrust practice blades which were rebated (or “bated”) with rounded edges and tips (they were sometimes called “foils” or “foiled blades”)


Broadsword - a Victorian era term coined to differentiate their own thinner swords from wider Medieval ones, it is commonly applied (incorrectly) to Medieval swords, also a form of naval cutlass


Buckler (bochiero or rottela) - a small hand held shield of metal or wood, held in a fist grip and used to deflect and punch, they sometimes had spikes, or hooks and prongs to catch rapier blades


Claymore - (basket hilted) a form of 18th century Scottish cut & thrust sword relative of the Italian schiavona


Colichemarde - a style of small sword blade, wider at the forte for strong parrying, then abruptly tapering for quick piercing thrusts


Compound-hilt (Compound guard/Complex hilt) - a term used to describe the various hilts of Renaissance and some late Medieval swords consisting of more than a simple cross guard, there were a great variety


Cup-hilt - a bowl like sword guard similar to those on modern sport fencing epee’s, common in theatrical fighting, they did not first appear until the 1650’s in Spain


Cut & Thrust sword - a form of “transition” sword from the heavier, wider Medieval blade to the thinner, edgeless rapiers of the Renaissance, they were used for hacking, slashing, stabbing, had compound hilts and employed fingering, they were military blades that became popular for civilian use until superseded by the rapier (other forms of later military cut & thrust swords include the: schiavona, spadroon, cutlass, mortuary sword, hanger, and saber)


Degen – A German word from the 1400’s generally meaning a sword, often slender, but also sometimes a Raufdegen or “brawling sword”, or a broader Haudegen, though never a rapier


Due Spada –a fighting style simultaneously using two swords or later two rapiers, a “case of rapiers “ or “brace” (sometimes now called “Florentine”)


Ecusson - (or Ecusson block) the metal center or bracket of the hilt’s guard where the quillons join and on which the thumb and fingers are often placed when gripping (fingering)
Espadon - late Medieval Spanish cut & thrust sword


Estoc - (also Tuck or Stocco) late Medieval edgeless, two handed, thrusting sword for piercing plate armor, starting in the Victorian era the term became quite often misapplied to the rapier


False edge - (or back edge) the top or thumb side of a sword’s blade, parrying with it is less effective and not as strong


Flamberge (Flamberg) - a “dish hilt” or “dueling hilt” style rapier, precursor to the later small sword Starting only in the last century, these began to also be called “flambergs” by scholars (they are also known as a variant of waved rapier blade said to affect the feel of actions during parrying and once thought to make more brutal wounds, waved blades (such as on some two handers) are actually correctly known as “flambards” or “flammards”)


Foible - the weaker (“feeble”) but faster first quarter portion of a blade, used for attack but not defense Foiled with a blunted tip, or to add a padded tip (“refoiled”) (also “debole” in Italian)


Forte’ –  the stronger but slower last quarter portion of a blade, used for defense more than offense, sometimes also called “fort” or even “prime”


Fuller - the shallow channel or grooves of some blades intended to lighten and strengthen it, it has nothing to do with blood flow, or sticking, or cutting power, fullers are sometimes mistakenly called “blood runs” or “blood grooves”


Grip - handle of a sword, usually made of leather, wire, bone, horn, or ivory (also, the method of gripping the sword) Guanta di presa (grasping glove) a mail, leather, or metal dueling gauntlet for grabbing blades


Hilt - the sword’s guard, handle, and pommel (types of Renaissance sword hilts include: swept-hilt, shell, half-hilt, cup-hilt, dish-hilt, dueling-hilt, cavalier-hilt, Pappenheimer, mortuary-hilt, basket-hilt, etc)


Knuckle-guard (knuckle-bar) - a protective bar on the forward quillon sometimes extending to the pommel


Long-Sword - in the Renaissance, a term used for a Medieval-style hand-and-a-half or “bastard” sword


Main Gauche (“left hand”) - a parrying dagger worn on the back and typically held in the left hand, usually it has a wide bell-guard


Media Proporcional – in the later Spanish schools, the key concept of achieving and maintaining proper distance of weapon and body to the opponent’s weapon and body

 

Outside-Ward (Low Outside-Ward) - with the sword held back and down to the right, like a Back or Tail guard with a medieval long-sword


Parrying-Dagger - a dagger intentionally designed for use with a rapier, they were light, narrow, up to two feet long, and usually had curved quillons, side rings and/or finger rings


Pas d’ane - a misnomer for the finger rings or “arms-of-the-hilt”


Pappenheimer - a rapier hilt of pierced shell guard style named after a military leader
Pommel bolt/nut (or tang nut) - a small metal bolt or rivet on some blades securing the pommel to the tang and thereby holding the handle and guard in place


Pommel - (Latin for “little apple”) the bottom of the hilt/handle which secures the hilt to the blade, with the rapier it is not gripped or handled as on some Medieval swords, nor does it rest in the palm


Poniard (Poynard) - a thin, long, thrusting dagger, typically square or triangular in shape

Rapier - the familiar, thin, virtually edgeless thrusting sword of the Renaissance, popular in duel for more than a century, it produced an almost entirely new method of swordsmanship (pronounced “ray-pee-er” or “rap-peer” not “ray-peer”)


Reitschwert - (“cavalry sword”) A German name for a military cut & thrust sword of c 1500-1700, it was also called a degen or “knight’s sword”


Ricasso - on cut & thrust swords and rapiers the dulled or squared off portion of blade just above the hilt, where the fingers hold and which is protected by the arms-of-the-hilt (finger rings), they were sometimes covered in felt or soft leather as on some two handers (modern sport fencing weapons do not have ricassos)


Riser - a raised fuller ridge providing rigidity and strength on a blade


Rondache/Targa - larger, less common renaissance battle shields worn on the arm, metal or wood

 

Rondella – a round buckler usually metal or leather


Rotella – a small round shield or targe usually metal


Quillon - a Renaissance term for the straight “T” shaped cross guard on swords (those on Medieval swords were simply known as the “cross”, or the “guard” today), it is a French word likely derived from an older Latin one, there are two quillons: the forward (bottom) and the rear (top)


Schiavona - an Italian cage hilt cut & thrust sword, usually with a ricasso for fingering


Sharpes - real blades with actual sharpened points or cutting edges (as opposed to practice swords or “blunts”)


Shoulder - the portion of the blade which fits against the hilt and at which the tang begins


Spada – Italian for sword, of any form, medieval or renaissance, usually a single-hand cut & thrust variety but also rapiers


Spada da gioco - practice sword (also “spade da marra”) as opposed to sharp or edged blades (spade da filo)


Spada di marra/Spada nera - historical Spanish practice rapiers which were untipped (also Italian “smarra”, and “fioretto” or foil)


Small-Sword - a sort of rapier-jr, that became the dueling weapon of the upper classes in the late Renaissance and Age of Enlightenment, it leads directly to modern sport fencing, sometimes known as a “court-sword” or” town-sword”


Segno - a wall target diagram showing the eight principle cuts


Stitchblatt - the small pierced plates on some hilts, German for “thrust leaf”


Stocco - Medieval Italian name for the estoc or tuck


Sword-Breaker - a term used for serrated dueling daggers with teeth-like projections capable of grabbing and holding, and supposedly snapping a rapier blade, they were fairly uncommon


Swept-hilt - an early Renaissance hilt form designed originally to protect the unarmored hand from cuts more than thrusts, they are made up of finger-rings, side-rings, knuckle-guard, and often a variety other protective bars (back-guards and counter-guards, etc), they are found on many cut & thrust swords and early rapiers The name is actually a Victorian era term and not a
historical one


Sword-Rapier - a modern collector’s term for certain Renaissance blades neither true rapiers nor clear cut & thrust ones, they were the result of attempts to combine the new rapier’s thrusting agility with traditional cutting actions, and as a result they do neither quite as well


Sword-catcher - a term used for special dueling daggers with extended prongs and quillons capable of grabbing and trapping a rapier blade, some had spring-locked triggers, they were uncommon (and possibly more menacing than practical)


Tang - the portion of untempered blade hidden inside the hilt and which attaches to the pommel

 

Targe / Target / Targa – a small round shield larger than a buckle and usually mad of wood


Terzo - Italian term for the middle portion of a blade


True-edge (right-edge/lead-edge) - the leading side or bottom edge of a sword, on the rapier it is used for all parries, on cutting swords only the flat and never the edge is used for parrying


Tuck - the English word for estoc, often mistakenly used as a synonym for rapier (which at one time was how it was derogatorily used)


Turk’s head - name given to the “turban-like” metal band or collar fitting between the pommel and handle, or handle and quillons of some swords, they were often merely ornamental


Umbo - the bowl-like metal protrusion of a buckler or shield in which the hand fits inside


Waster - a wooden stick used as a practice sword, also called a “bavin” (later a “cudgel” or “wiffle”)

 

Techniques

Affondo - an extending step thrust (a form of lunge)


Arrebatar - (Spanish) to cut with the whole arm (from the shoulder)


Attack-from-compound - (compound attack) to deliver an attack following a quick succession of prior ones


Attack-from-counter - (counter attack or counter) a retaliatory attack in reaction to one by the adversary and timed to take advantage of an opening thus created


Attack-from-inaction - one delivered quickly from a relatively still position without prior action or preparation

 

Attack-from-preparation - one delivered following a prepatory action (feint, beat, cut-over, etc)


Azioni Volanti - avoiding blade contact on the attack and instead thrusting by deceptive motion, as in camineering (may involve Troumpement - avoiding a parry or the blade as you attack, or

 

Derobement - avoiding a beat or bind)


Ballestra - a kicking feint and hop lunge


Battre de main - a hand parry


Bind - the action of pressuring or enveloping the adversary’s blade/point in order to carry it off line and make an opening


Botta de tempo/In Tempo - (attack-in-time) countering or attacking when the opponent is distracted and/or unprepared


Botta dritta - a straight attack (thrust)


Botte de paysan - a two-handed stab made by grabbing the blade near the middle with the free hand and closing-in to knock aside an opponent’s weapon


Battuta - (a beat) a distracting smack to move the adversary’s blade off line or evoke a response


Coupe’ - (cut-off) a quick disengage over the top of the adversary’s blade, often after their parry, basically a cut-over


Cuts - in renaissance cut & thrust swordsmanship, there are 8 primary cuts (diagonal, horizontal, and vertical delivered up or down, right or left, using primarily the true-edge)


Cut-over - altering the line of the attack by passing the blade over the adversary’s point, basically a coupe’


Disengage - deceptively altering the line of attack by passing the blade under the adversary’s point (said to have been first devised from observing the bobbing motions of fighting cocks)


Draw cut - a slicing cut made when close in by placing the edge against the target and quickly drawing it across or down, typically applied with steeping back or a reverse-pass


Dritto-Filo - cuts with the true (right) edge


Estramacon - French term for the Stromazone


Falsing - subtly faking the intention or the line of an attack (a form of feinting)


Falso Dritto - cuts to the wrists with the false-edge


Falso Filo - attacks with the false-edge or diagonal upward cuts using the back of the sword, it also indicates a strike that is brought to deceive the opponent and then transformed in something else


Falso Manco - cuts to the knees with the false edge


Fendente’ - vertical downwards cut (right or left of guard)


Finda / Finta - (feint) a false attack or action designed to elicit a response and create an opening

 

Fleche’ - (“arrow”) passing the adversary on the attack, a form of running attack


Full Pass - a form of lunge in which the rear leg moves to the lead with a thrust or cut


“Giving the blade” - an intentional threatening extension of the arm and weapon designed to provoke a response that can then be countered


“Half blows” – as taught by Giovanni Dell’Agochie in 1572, a form of parry, also a strike not meant to reach the opponent but deflect their sword by counter-cutting


Imbrocata - thrust over top of the adversary’s blade or grip


Lunga (Stocatta Lunga or Lunge) - a far-reaching thrusting attack using a forward step of the lead leg with a push off the rear leg, it was used in various forms during the Renaissance, (also a punta sopramano)


Mandoble - a light slash of the point delivered by a flick of the wrist


Mandritti - an attack cutting from the right to the left (“forehand” cuts) (plural, mandritta)


Mediatajo - cuts made from the “elbow” (faster than from the shoulder but not as strong)


Montante (Montante Sotto Mano) - a straight upward cut with the false edge (right or left of the adversary’s guard)


Parry - to block, defense by the deliberate resistance of an attack by imposing the blade before it, from 6 to 8 are used to the inside/outside and high/low areas or lines


Pass - stepping the rear leg to the lead (or a reverse pass where the lead leg falls back) as in a “cut made on the pass”, one major difference from the linear fencing of the modern sport version


Passatto Sotto/Batte de nuit - to duck under an attack with a drop onto the free hand to deliver a counter thrust


Patinado - a quick forward step and lunge


Prise de fer - to bind or take the blade


Punta Reversa - thrust to left/outside of the adversary’s blade or grip


Punta Sopramano (Lunge or Stocatta Lunga) - a straight thrust lunge


Quartatta (Incartata) - a rear leg side step around to the outside made with a counter-thrust


Redoppio - diagonal rising cuts (German Underhau)


Redoublement - quickly renewing the attack after a feint, beat, or bind


Reverso - an attack cutting from left to right (“back hand” cuts) (plural, roversa)


Reprise - renewing the attack after a quick return to guard


Riposte - a counter-attack immediately following a parry, usually in one action, an idea that became more effective with the rapier and perfected with the small-sword (common in the modern sport)


Seconde’ (seconda) - Middle- ward, with the blade up at a 45 degree angle (one of the major cut & thrust stances or guards)


Scandiaglio - probing actions (feints, beats, etc) to test and discover the opponent’s nature


Slip - to pull back some just prior to countering or stop-thrusting


Sopra il braccio - “over the arm” positions according to Di Antonio Manciolino in 1531 (equivalent to super brachium in the Medieval sword & buckler text MS I33)


Sotto il braccio - “under the arm” positions according to Di Antonio Manciolino in 1531 (equivalent to sub brachium in the Medieval sword & buckler text MS I33)


Squalembrato - a diagonal cut down or up (mandritta squalembrato = right-to-left, collar-to-waist cut, riverso squalembrato – left to right)


Stocatta - a thrust low under the adversary’s blade or grip


Stocatta Lunga (Lunga or Punta Sopramano) - a lunge and low straight thrust


Stop-Thrust/Stop-Cut - a preemptive counter attack into the opponent’s forward motion


Stromacione (stromazone) - a tearing tip-cut to the face, used to harass or distract


Stesso Tempo - to parry and riposte in one action, often a deflecting counter-attack


Tondo / Tonda - a horizontal cut (mandritti tonda = side cut right-to-left, reversi tonda = side cut left-to-right)


Traverse - a forward or backward diagonal side-stepping move employed with a parry, void, or passing attack, effective stepping is possible in 8 directions (as opposed to the two of the modern sport form) also called a Cross Passage


Volte’ - a rear leg side-step and void made with a thrust attack, it allows the adversary’s attack to slip past as a counter-thrust angles in, it is a form of half Quartatta


Void – (Voyd or Voyded) to evade or avoid an attack rather than directly parry, often by a simple side step or pass, used preferably to parrying

See Also: Italian Rapier Glossary

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