Swordsmanship Terminology

It’s useless to start thinking about passares and dicresseres in the middle of a fight. The part of our brain that handles terminology is just rubbish at dodging blows. But why do we learn it then? Why do I keep bringing up weird Italian terms? If no-one thinks of which poste to take when in combat, why have them at all?

So that this blog can exist.

Okay, not quite. But imagine if there wasn’t a word for standing on guard with one arm stretched out to roughly the height of the opponent’s throat! I would spend 16 words explaining the unarmed posta longa every time I’d like to reference it. In short, explaining any topic on this blog would be a hassle, and Fiore would’ve had the same problem. Terminology is important because it allows us to easily discuss the art of swordsmanship.

“The blows create the guards.”

One needs to realise when learning terminology that the actions always came before the words. No-one ever sat down saying: “Hey, I’m going to design the art of swordsmanship! Let’s come up with some positions and steps first.” Instead, he would’ve said: “This guy is annoying as hell. I’ll choke him.” Bam! Unarmed posta longa, the long guard. Or, alternatively: “Wow, this idiot is just standing there while I have my sword out. I’m going to cleave him in two, that’ll teach him.” You’ve got yourself a fendente mandritto there, which includes the guards posta di donna, posta longa and porta di ferro. (Pictured below.)

The terms and guards both exist to make communication and discussion possible, neither of them are foundations of the art. Every attack and defence we learn existed before someone started to chop them up into guards and give them Italian names.

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5 thoughts on “Swordsmanship Terminology

  1. I like the diagram, it helps everything make sense. And I love the imagined dialogue, I can imagine some experienced fighters thinking just like that.
    Keep it up.

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