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Zaine
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 2298
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2023 9:43 am    Post subject: Fiorian Swordplay Reply with quote

When I am learning new things, I often try to relate them to other things that I have learned. In the case of HEMA, that relation is to my extensive background in Eastern Martial Arts. This has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, there are a lot of similarities of movements between Fiore's plays and the drills and kata that I have learned. The body can only move in so many different ways. On the other, sometimes I miss the little idiosyncrasies of a specific style due to my familiarity with the bio-mechanics of the movement. However, in this case, it was exactly my past experiences that made Fiore's swordplay click for me. The name of the game is flexibility.

Fiore gives 3 ways of slicing in Il Flor di Battaglia. The Colpi Fendenti, Colpi Sottani, and Colpi Mezani. However, the ways of getting to these blows is varied. He gives you 20 guards from which you may begin and separates those in 2 categories, stable and instable. The stable ones are ones in which your arms are close to your body, or that could take a blow and you could parry with a strong rebuke. The instable ones are ones in which you are extended and, in my experience, tend to be positions that come at the end of a clash. For example, posta longa is a guard in which you would naturally end a thrust of the sword in. Fiore then further separates the guards into those that are powerful, i.e. you can make a powerful strike from them; fluid, i.e. mobile and dexterous; and fixed, i.e. somewhere in between, where you can't as easily move it around, and it isn't as powerful.

After this breakdown, we have the zogho largo and stretto plays, long and short range respectfully. These are numerous, taking up the largest section of the manuscript. Why does it take up the largest? Well, aside from it being largely what Fiore was concerned with in the first place, and the most common knightly weapon at the time, there is just so much that you can do with a sword. Hence, my earlier observation about flexibility. Fiore gives such a large number of plays because the idea here is flexibility of movement and options. A big toolbox is a boon to any martial artist. I may, in my sparring, default to only a number of moves as a baseline, but having a large toolbox is beneficial because it gives me options over the choices of my opponents. Pulling some obscure move out of the toolbox in an important moment is the difference between victory and defeat, and when the stakes are life and death, as was the case in some duels with the sword, then one must be ready for anything. In this, it struck me as important to practice ad nauseam every play, so that during sparring practice (if I ever become so lucky again) I may have the advantage over my opponent.
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bushido_man96
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 30229
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2023 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished the book, and I got that other title you suggested in and have started pouring through that. Seeing the videos helps a bunch, too.

There were quite a few guards presented, and seeing them in action will make more sense than on the page. I do agree with you on the flexibility aspect; being competent in both ranges and in moving between the guards and the plays would be huge.

Hopefully you do get to spar again. It'd be awesome to hear about those training sessions.
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Zaine
Black Belt
Black Belt

Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 2298
Location: Dallas, TX
Styles: Matsumura-Seito, Shobayashi-Ryu, Shudokan, Long Fist, American Street Karate, Southern Mantis, HEMA

PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2023 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very much so. It's also worth noting that you can do the plays in reverse. Performing a stretto play into a largho one is a great way of covering yourself while gaining distance. I am 6' 1, and so I'm more comfortable with a larger range due to my long limbs. Using plays to create distance so that I may attack is a great tool in my box that I used frequently.
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