Terms are important to understanding fighting. In order to know what you are doing, you will want to be able to describe it. For the most part, terms as I have defined them through use of the source material, and from classes in historical play, HEMA stuff I do and the like. I don't think anyone has any copyrights to these terms, and you certainly can adopt, change or think of them however you want. I mainly do not wish to presume to create my own definitions of what everyone else has been doing. What ever you use, be consistent. It helps.
Assembling: Another term for “Recover”
Advance: Also advance pace, advancing paced, is where the foot comes out moving forward. Not a passing step. Can also be a half paced step.
Agrippa's Positions: There are four basic positions of the sword, coming from Agrippa. The important part here is that it's the hand orientation we are looking at, not the guard or ward.
- Prima: Sword held with true edge up.
- Secunda: Sword with blade horizontal to the ground, back of the hand up.
- Terza: Sword with blade vertical, back of the hand to the right, if right handed.
- Quarta: Sword held with the blade horizontal to the ground, palm up.
- Quinta: SECRET SAUSE GUARD!!! Back of the hand facing to the left.
- Mutation: The sword held in between positions.
Balance: The balance point of the sword is usually about 2 fingers away from the hilt. Balance in rapier or side swords is important as you want enough of the weight to be forward enough to make effective contacts, but not so tip heavy as you can't move it. If the swords balance is all in the hilt, the blade becomes very difficult to use in cutting, but can work well in thrusts.
Broad Ward: Ward with the sword hilt up near the hip. I feel this is unique to Saviolo, and it does not look to be referred to in contemporary writings.
Close Measure/Distance: Closest distance possible in an engagement. This is close enough to reach out and grab the opponent, or have the blades cross by greater than 6 inches. This is also dagger engagement distance. Hits can occur at less than a tempo.
Cut: Using the edge to strike, cuts are either true edge or false edge.
- Dritto: Generic term for a cut.
- Mandritto: Generic term for a cut from right to left.
- Fendente: A linear cut straight down the middle, literally an "Assault against the teeth." Ends in porta di ferro larga.
- Montante: A linear cut straight up the middle, literally an "Attack against the mountain." Ends in guardia alta.
- Dritto Squalembrato: A diagonal cut originating from the cutters right and going to the left. Ends in chingera porta di ferro larga, or guardia sotto braccio.
- Dritto Tondo: A horizontal cut from the cutters right, ends in guardia sotto braccio or sopra braccio.
- Dritto Redoppio: A rising diagonal cut from the cutters right, ending with inside guardia di testa.
- Roverso Squalembrato: A diagonal cut originating from the cutters left, ending in codelunga larga, or codelunga distesa.
- Roverso Tondo: A horizontal cut originating from the cutters left, ending in maybe codelunga distesa, or maybe guardia di testa.
- Roverso Dritto: A rising cut from the cutters left ending up high maybe in guardia alta.
- Squalembrato: A diagonal cut.
- Pushed Cut: A cut that does not have much wind up, and is a half tempo. Usually against a face.
- Stramazzone: Literally a wheeling cut, but there are different ideas out there about just how it works. Usually it's a component of a half tempo counter with the stramazzone being a follow on action against the head or something.
- Tip Cut: An SCA term used for dragging the tip down as a cut, so it's not following the length of the blade.
- Half Tempo: Any of the cuts that are full tempo, can be done in half tempo. If that's the case, they end up usually short with the point aligned well for a counter thrust as a second action. While half tempo cuts can be offensive, they are best thought of as defensive in nature and are what amounts to a parry. Half tempo cuts are best against the opponents blade, which then makes it a parry action.
- Falso Manco: A half tempo cut on the false edge from the cutters left, ending up in a porta di ferro alta. It's a common parry usually starting in chingera porta di ferro larga.
- Falso Dritto: A half tempo cut on the false edge from the cutters right, ending up in a porta di ferro alta. It's a common parry usually starting in codelunga larga.
- Falso: A false edge cut in any of the true edge types, in full tempo eg: Falso Dritto Tondo.
- Half Cut: Same as the half tempo.
Dardi School: Also known as Bolognese style, mostly a cutting and thrusting style that has roots to the early 1400's in Italy.
Dissemble: The end result of being played out along one's line of attack to a point where movement ceases. A dissembled fighter is very vulnerable.
Dui Tempi: Two Actions of a tempo, having to have to do two things in order to accomplish an attack.
Forte: The strong part of the blade, first 1/2 length from the hilt.
Incartata: A Middle Paced step off-line, like a slope paced step. It is executed with the left foot coming around behind the right lead while sloping to the right, passing the lead foot.
Gathering Step: A type of advance with the trailing foot coming up behind in almost the same time. Can be used to steal measure.
Guard: Also guardia. From the Dardi style, there are a lot of different ones. For the most part, a guard is somewhere the sword ends up after and attack, which should naturally flow to a defence. Habitually, an attack should flow directly to a defensive position, in case it fails, and the strategy of combining the offence with the defence means that one attacks into the opponent making the defence also the offensive end point.
- Guardia Alta: Sword held straight up, pointing to the sky, hand in terza.
- Guardia Alicorno: The Unicorn Guard. Sword held in prima, true edge up. Same as prima.
- Guardia d’intrare: The Entering Guard. Sword held in secunda, about shoulder height, slightly angled on the outside, tip to the opponents face.
- Guardia di Faccia: The Guard of the Face. Sword held in quarta arm straight out in line with the face.
- Guardia Sopra Braccio: The High Arm Guard. Sword is laying over the left arm, point back behind you, hand in secunda.
- Guardia Sotto Braccio: The Low Arm Guard. Much like the high arm guard, but low over by the hip, great for horizontal cuts.
- Guardia di Fianco: Guard of the flank, or flanking guard. Sword is in four, low, with arm across the body and the tip nearly pointing to the left toe.
- Guradia di Testa: Guard of the Head. I have seen this as both inside and outside, and there's no reason that it can't be, but all the historical depictions are always with this outside and high, with the sword almost vertical. It's meant to defend the head against an attack to the outside (opponent cuts a roverso), but what about a dritto, which comes on your leftr? "Historical" fencing has a 3 and 4 guards that are basically the guardia di testa with outside and inside line variants. The Morrozo version of this guard with great sword is right in the middle of the face, quillons at eye level sword mostly straight up. How about we just agree to defend the head?
- Guardia Becca Possa: Older version of the alicorno guard, but with left foot forward.
- Guardia Becca Cesa: Older version of the alicorno with the right foot forward. I have honestly seen no advantage of either left or right foot forward, and it's probably a hold over from the older longsword styles. Guardia alicorno seems to have replaced it, and it does not specify which foot is foremost.
Lead: Right lead, or left lead, simply which foot is foremost.
Menacing: The general practice of keeping the tip of the sword into the face of the opponent.
Measure: Also Distance. How far away the opponent is. Measure is a factor of tempo. How long it takes hit a target in a certain time. It also means what you can do with your hands and feet in the distance too. Silver talks about time of the foot, hand and sword as ideas of how long/far away someone is. A short measure takes a quick action of the hand to hit or do something. A long measure takes a lot more movement of the hand and foot to do something. There are 4 basic categories.
- Out of Measure: More than two tempos away. Usually not a threat.
- Misura Stretta: Close Measure, less than a tempo, usually a half tempo in actions away. It's where grappling starts.
- Misura Mezzo: Middle measure, about a tempo away.
- Misura Larga: Long measure, a tempo and a half or more away.
Mezzo Tempo: Middle Tempo. This tempo seeks to complete the action with the tempo opponent's offered tempo.
Middle Measure/Distance: Distance in an engagement where the tips of the blades cross by about 3 inches to 6 inches and the opponent can be readily struck with a middle paced step and or single
Parry: Any kind of action that intercepts the opponents sword from hitting you. It can be in two strengths, and done with a variety of techniques.
- Beat Parry: A type of forceful expulsion of the opponents sword to violently move it out of your presence.
- Glide Parry: This is a movement that starts gently and ends with force to move the blade of the opponent off-line.
- Glide in Opposition: It is a parry where the blades meet at 90 degrees, and is in full opposition of the opponents blade.
Parry Replace: A period technique of making the parry with the sword, replacing the control with the offhand weapon or thing then continuing on with an attack with your sword (now not stopping the opponents blade).
Pace: I use this to mean an foot movement that does not pass the ankles. I would refer this in three different types in depth, but many directions. The paces are used in an almost walking style, like if you are standing and make the first step off.
- Short Pace: Length of a your foot or so.
- Middle Pace: Length of about one and a half of the length of your foot.
- Long Pace: Length of two or more foot length, up to about 36 inches. A deep long step but not a lunge.
- Forward Pace: Foot moving forward.
- Side Pace: A lateral step out.
- Retreating Pace: Step going backward.
- Compass Pace: A step with the distance between ankles being constant. Can be from either foot, and looks to be done with from the hips.
- Cross Pace: If starting in a right lead, stepping out with the right foot, crossing the line of the left foot to step to the left.
- Crooked Pace: A type of slope paced step, but here where a slope pace step is a straight line, I think the crooked paced step follows an arch, or half circle movement to the same place the slope paced step does. I don't think of this like a compass which pivots around one foot, the other scribing an arch, rather this is more of a type of pass that the feet are never found be be narrow at.
- Slope Pace: Diagonal step movement. When doing this, the danger is that the distance between the feet narrows as the foot moves forward. It can create a brief point where the feet are narrow, and seems to be something that was not well liked, but used when making some slope steps when the ankles come near each other.
Pass: Also Passing Step. The action of the foot passing by each other. If starting out walking from standing, the first foot fall is the pace, the second foot fall is the pass. There are several types
Quarta: Holding the sword in the fourth position palm up.
Quillons: Horizontal cross pieces on the sword, part of the hilt. Also called a cross.
Recover: Returning to the stance that the movement began.
Redouble: A swift attack with the intent of immediate recover followed by an attack. The purpose is to draw the attacker out, and use a Parry Replace or Void or other type of counter.
Refuse: A modern term used to mean leading with the opposite foot than your main right hand/right foot (or left/left, if you are lefty). This is one of the Agrippa stances, where the left hand with dagger makes all defence, and the right hand held back and out of the play does straight thrusts with a passing step through.
Remove: A temporary movement of a body part, such as a foot or a hand, away from an attack, so as to not get hit. Usually a remove is only done enough to remove the body part from being hit, and then taking control of the attacking sword in the next tempo.
Retreat: A move backwards. Don't do it.
Ricasso: The exposed bit of the sword on a complex hilt forward of the quillons and still within the cage of the hilt. Used to with different methods of holding the sword for more accurate thrusts and cuts.
Quarta: Holding the sword in the fourth position palm up.
Short Paced Step: From a lead stance, the lead foot advances about 12 inches. This step can be in any forward direction.
Slope Paced Step: A pace step that goes diagonally in relation to the opponent.
Stance: How you are standing. It can be offensive or defensive. I use two different concepts, left lead and right lead. There is also a neutral, which is also the basic starting stance that is just standing there with the sword. The stance factor is important in movement in that after every movement, get to a stance, either offensive defensive, or what have you. There is also narrow stance, where the feet are close together.
Stesso Tempo: Acting before the time of the opponent. Like a quick draw.
T Stance: An open stance where the lead foot has a clear path to remove back in a straight line, as far back as possible.
Tempo: The concept of movement occurring in Distance. Tempo is the time it takes to do a thing. Tempo can be broken down into full and half tempo actions. There are three types of movements within tempo.
- Stesso Tempo: Acting within a shorter time of the attack; before the offered tempo can complete.
- Mezzo Tempo: Acting within the time of the attack. Tempo is usually established by the opponent.
- Dui Tempi: Two Actions of a tempo, having to have to do two things in order to accomplish an attack.
Trust: A point attack. There are several different ways to use it.
- Imbroccata: A thrust from prima or secunda, on the outside of the opponents blade. Some on-line historical fencing resources are showing this as a thrust that strikes in prima, but ends up in terza, meaning it transitions through to terza in the tempo of the thrust. If that's the case, it's nasty. It was also reputed to be the single most effective attack, being said that anyone were to learn the most effective thing with a sword, it would be the imbroccata.
- Stoccata: A thrust from terza or quadrant, on the inside line.
- Punta Dritto: A thrust from the outside, it's also been called a "German Thrust" in that it's delivered from maybe codelunga alta, or guardia di testa, with the hilt being on the outside as the sword strikes.
- Punta Riverso: A thrust from the far deep inside, in quarta. It can be done on the outside of the opponent, or inside, usually accompanied by a physical control (beat) to your outside in the same time that a left pass or pace or some other leftward movement is made.
- Straight Thrust: A thrust straight on with the arm, and sometimes the head all in-line behind the sword. Without angulation associated, it's best in a lunge or some other straight forward attack. It can also be done with a physical control which drives the opponents sword out of presence.
- Broken Thrust: A thrust usually in terza to the inside line. Unlike the straight thrust, the arm and sword are in maybe a 90 degree angle. It isn't long. A body lean is used to push the tip in, but the body will be mostly upright.
- Imbroccata Like a Stoccotta: I have struggled with this one for a while, but in essence it's an imbroccata on the inside line. I have tried this out starting it with a riverso dritto, going under the opponents sword, making a parry in the same time it sets up for a thrust.
Volte: Also Half-Incartata\Demi-Volte. A short paced step version of the Incartata.
Void: Also a Bota Vita. Moving the body out of the way of an attack. Saviolo espouses that the whole of the defence should not be a void only, and that it should always couple with some sort of counter. That's just smart.
Ward: A defensive posture/presentation. Borrowing heavily from the older Dardi tradition and some from Silver, there are several.
- Code Lunga: The high and hanging tail. It is a ward with the sword on the outside, sword is in a mutation of 2/3, lead foot and lead hand are the same.
- Code Lunga Alta: High guard of the codelunga set. Sword is around mid chest level.
- Code Lunga Stretta: Short ward of the code lunga, held on the right side of the thigh, pommel nearly touches the leg.
- Code Lunga Larga: Long and uncovered guard of the code lunga. Tip is off, outside the right foot, arm is nearly straight.
- Code Lunga Distesa: Sword held far off to the outside, possibly all the way behind. It looks like a cutting position, but lends well to a thrust since there is no way to tell where the points going to go.
- Porta di Ferro: The iron gate ward. Very common in a lot of historical work. Sword is held in the middle of the line of the leg in terza.
- Porta di Ferro Alta: High guard of the porta di ferro set, around mid chest level.
- Porta di Ferro Stretta: Short ward of the porta di ferro, held short to the thigh, pommel nearly touches the leg.
- Porta di Ferro Larga: Long and uncovered guard of the porta di ferro. Tip is down low straight in line with the lead foot.
- Cinghiara Porta di Ferro: The wild boar iron gate. Historical resources place this as a distinct left foot forward position, following the same methods of the previous sets. I think this is a hold over from longsword tradition, and I have not found any necessary reason to say that you can't hold your sword in say the Larga of this position with the right foot forward. In modern fencing, inside guards don't much care if the foot is left or right lead. I don't know when it changed.
- Cinghiara Porta di Ferro Alta: High guard of the cinghiara porta di ferro set. Sword is in a mutation of 3/4, around mid chest level over the left side of the body. Looks like a classical foil 6 parry.
- Cinghiara Porta di Ferro Stretta: Short ward of the cinghiara porta di ferro, held on the left leg, left side of the body.
- Cinghiara Porta di Ferro Larga: Long and uncovered guard of the cinghiara porta di ferro. Tip is off, outside the left foot, arm is nearly straight. Many historical references show this as a left foot forward position.
- High Ward: Same as guardia alta, silver uses this for what he calls Open Fight, or Open Ward. Can be used to throw imbroccata thrusts to counter cuts, or cuts to counter thrusts.
- True Guard: Much like guardia alicorno, it's a ward for the head, but can be used to cut or thrust from. Also one from Silver.
- Variable Ward: Again, from Silver, this is basically a code lunga larga.