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Art of the Two-Handed Sword part 4: Let's See some Action!

Of the Primo Assalto, the fourth part is one of my favorites. It is really the fourth part that kicks off the flowing and inspiring nature of Marozzo’s two-handed sword.

The same feeling is reflected in the fifth and ninth part, and in a way also in the final tenth part. But before we can get that far let’s hear what Marozzo has to say about the fourth part.

Fourth part that discusses the tramazoncello

Therefore you being in Porta di Ferro Alta and your enemy in the selfsame guard, I want you to throw a tramazoncello, with your left foot passing toward his right side, in a way that your sword falls into Cinghiara Porta di Ferro Stretta.

And from the said Cinghiara you drive a thrust (punta infalsata) to the outside, that will go to his left temple over his sword: for fear of the said thrust he will expose his lower parts wherein you will give a <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="

Mandritto
Literally "right hand". Refers to strikes that originate from the right (sword-hand) side of the fencer. Mandritto is a roof term for these cuts, but on its own it refers typically to a downwards diagonal cut from the right with the true edge, a mandritto sgualembrato.">mandrittotondo to the feet that draws and enters into Guardia d’Entrare in largo passo.

And then, being in the said Guardia d’Entrare you will pass with your right foot strongly forward and push a thrust, crossing your hands together over the enemy’s sword on the inside, that is to his left side, and the said thrust will go strongly to his face; and then for the fear of this thrust he will displace it with his true edge towards the inside, then you will let go a mezzo <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="

Mandritto
Literally "right hand". Refers to strikes that originate from the right (sword-hand) side of the fencer. Mandritto is a roof term for these cuts, but on its own it refers typically to a downwards diagonal cut from the right with the true edge, a mandritto sgualembrato.">mandritto to his right leg that will not pass Porta di Ferro Larga.

Then if your enemy attacks your head you will draw the right foot close to the left and parry his strike with the true edge of your sword, in Guardia di Faccia, and having parried you will gallantly pass your left foot toward his right side and give him a roversofendente that will fall into Coda Longa Alta.

Then for you safety draw the left foot close to the right and go with your sword into Guardia di Croce and then throw the right foot two spans behind the left and throw a falso dritto to his hands from below upwards; and in throwing the said falso the left foot will go strongly behind the right, in a way that your sword will go into Porta di Ferro Alta, and here settle yourself neatly and gallantly.

I realize how long this is and (for those not well accustomed to reading Bolognese fencing terminology) words do not fully do justice to the nature of this play. While I odn’t yet have a proper video to demonstrate this sequence, I can explain and analyze it a little.

As the title suggests, this video introduces the tramazoncello. A tramazoncello is a little tramazzone, but what is that, then? A tramazzone is a type of cut explained to be done as a wheeling wrist cut when used with a one-handed sword, that is typically done by letting the sword-point drop to the inside and delivering the cut as a righ-to-left diagonal descending action (which would be called a <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="

Mandritto
Literally "right hand". Refers to strikes that originate from the right (sword-hand) side of the fencer. Mandritto is a roof term for these cuts, but on its own it refers typically to a downwards diagonal cut from the right with the true edge, a mandritto sgualembrato.">mandritto).

Entering into the realms of interpretation I have come to the conclusion that with the two-handed sword the tramazzone is typically done by dropping the point to the outside, mainly because of how the left hand acting as a lever enables different mechanics. The tramazoncello therefore, I believe, is simply a smaller version of this. Almost like a round disengaging action that keeps the point oriented forwards rather than wheeling it around.

After this action, that gets you on top of the opponent’s sword you launch a thrust and for the duration of multiple actions you never cease to keep the offensive, going from one target to another until your opponent avoids your cut to the leg and responds with an attack. Even at this moment you will only let him keep the initiative for but a little instant, until you parry and strike again.

In the end you finish with the retreat out of measure that is already familiar to us from parts one, two and three: parrying with hands crossed in guardia di croce, following with a falso to the hands.

This part of the assalto is my favorite exactly because of the sequence of

  1. Initiating with a thrust that is parried high
  2. Following with a cut to the feet from the right, leading into a high left position with point threatening the face of the opponent
  3. Switching to a thrust from the other side by crossing the hands, with a descending thrust that is again parried, giving way for the next strike:
  4. another <span class="glossaryLink cmtt_Strikes" data-tooltip="
    Mandritto
    Literally "right hand". Refers to strikes that originate from the right (sword-hand) side of the fencer. Mandritto is a roof term for these cuts, but on its own it refers typically to a downwards diagonal cut from the right with the true edge, a mandritto sgualembrato.">mandritto the feet like before — almost as if you didn’t manage it first you make sure you get it this time!

In the next part we will see how Marozzo uses not the small tramazoncello, but a normal tramazzone to begin the engagement.