Exchange of Thrusts - Technical Execution with Tactical Notes
The attached video details the execution of one of Fiore dei Liberi’s signature techniques: the scambiar de punta (exchange of thrusts). A recent discussion of this action on social media posed the question: is it a parry-riposte or is it a counterattack? Opinions were divided, as opinions often are, and in general I subscribe to the interpretation that the action is a counterattack. That case is made in a good post by Tuomas Tähtinen, and I largely agree with his position:
“I am the axe, heavy, cruel and lethal, and I deliver bigger blows than any other handheld weapon. “ - Maestro d’Arme Fiore dei Liberi, Il Fior di Battaglia, 1410 (translation Tom Leoni)
While the axe is indeed heavy, it’s not merely the weight of the weapon that is both cruel and lethal: it’s how the blow is struck. Fiore’s Armizare is founded on a system of mechanics that engages the whole body into a strike, a defense, a grapple or a throw. This example, taken from class on August 31 2015, demonstrates the integrated nature of the body mechanics, and their use of True Times (as defined by George Silver in 1599, but found in all martial arts) to both power the blow and deliver it in a martially correct manner, with the weapon leading, thus providing both threat to the opponent and cover to the attacker during the attack.
Fiore dei Liberi's system of martial arts, L’Arte dell’Armizare (the Art of Fighting, more colloquially known as Armizare), is a single system for fighting. The principles taught through the techniques for abrazare (grappling), daga (dagger), spada (sword), azza (poleaxe), and lanza (spear) in or out of armour are used across the system in all weapons and situations.
The accompanying video shows a basic pattern practice drill using Fiore's six spear guards and an associated play from each. This pattern practice drill is the foundation of Northwest Fencing Academy's spear curriculum, and on this platform we incorporate Fiore's lessons in all weapons (in and out of armour) for a complete fighting form. Proper movement and body mechanics are essential, both to armoured and unarmoured work.