History of fencing, swordplay and weapons

Cut and thrust: effectiveness of the sword [Guest Post]

Cut and Thrust European Swords and Swordsmanship - Martin J. DoughertyBy: Martin J. Dougherty.

Historically, weapon designers also had to consider a number of other factors, not least of which was the ability of the user to carry and effectively wield a weapon. Most swords are carried as side-arms rather than as the main combat weapon. That is to say, if the user were expecting to fight a battle then he would probably equip himself with a ‘battlefield’ weapon. Depending on the era this might be an axe or spear, a large mace or lance, an arquebus, or even a rifle. He would fall back on his sword only if necessary. …

Cut and thrust: the definition of a sword [Guest Post]

Cut and Thrust European Swords and Swordsmanship - Martin J. Doughertyby Martin J. Dougherty. 

Of all the weapons ever invented, none has the mystique of the sword. It remains a symbol of authority and strength long after its day on the battlefield has passed. Swords feature in figures of speech, in statues and monuments, and in company logos. They are used in solemn ceremonies and hung on walls as decorations. The sword remains a potent symbol of authority, strength and power. …

Fiore’s longsword guards

By: Robin Catling.

Fiore longsword gaurdsFrom our Historical Swordplay class, our starting point is the twelve guard positions taken from Fiore’s treatise.

The four high, four middle and four low guards are:


1) Posta di Donna (guard of the lady)
2) Posti di Donna la soprana (High guard of the lady)
3) Posta di fenestra (Window Guard)
4) Posta di Donna la sinestra (Guard of the Lady on the left)


5) Posta Breve (Short Guard)
6) Posta Longa (Long Guard)
7) Posta Frontale (Front Guard)
8) Posta di Bicorne (Two-horned Guard)


9) Posta di Dente di cinghiale (Boar’s Tooth Guard)
10) Mezzo Porta di Ferro (Middle Iron Gate)
11) Tutta Porta di Ferro (Whole Iron Gate)
12) Posta di Coda Longa d’esteso (extended Long Tail Guard)

Florio’s Italian to English dictionary of 1611 translates:

Pulsare – to smite
Pulsativa therefore translates as something like ‘great smiting’.

Instabile – ‘fickle, wavering, unstable’
Stabile – ‘stable, firm, permanent, steadfast, fixed, immovable, durable’.