Ask the Audience: Retreating in Italian Rapier

So I’ve come across a couple different mechanics for the retreat, in a historic Italian context:

Through the Heel – peel up the toe (dorsiflexion) and straighten the front leg, pushing the front heel into the ground to drive the body back.

Through the Ball – flex the foot in the opposite direction (plantarflexion), using […]

HMA: Strength Training and Rapier

It’s been observed before that rapier combat in the SCA, featuring minimal armor and positive-pressure calibration, may appear to be less physically demanding than “heavy” combat, and may suggest to the uninformed that less physical training is necessary for success. Popular culture may have ensconced similar memes in the public at large, vis-a-vis strip fencers […]

First Giganti Redux 13: Cuts

At this point, defense against cuts has already been pretty thoroughly covered in the recent discussion of tempo and in the discussion of Second Giganti, in chapters I, II, and III. What follows is a rough summation of those lessons.

When discussing cuts it’s always worthwhile to remember Di Grassi’s (and others’) admonition that the […]

First Giganti Redux 12: Sword and Dagger

In single rapier the sword divides the world into two halves, the inside and the outside. Attacks are generally described as being on the inside or outside line (with variants high and low, and at various angles). To cover these two lines, you have one weapon.

In sword and dagger you have a world divided […]

First Giganti Redux 11: Bodywork


Most ancient masters and modern instructors discuss footwork and bladework as the means of controlling access to your target area and creating access to your opponent’s target area. “Bodywork” – the movement of your torso to achieve these same goals – is rarely addressed except in the context of the voids previously addressed (ducking […]

First Giganti Redux 10: Voids

During a normal find or parry, the sword is moved laterally or vertically to close the line. During a void, the body is moved laterally or vertically from the open line to a closed line. This bodywork can also be applied without active voids, as we’ll discuss.

Voids against attacks on the inside


First Giganti Redux 9: Passing Steps

Moving on from theory and swordplay it’s worth taking a moment to discuss the footwork Giganti employs beyond the lunge. He barely addresses advances as most fencers understand them (step the front foot forward, bring the back foot up to end in guard), and they may or may not exist in his system at all […]

First Giganti Redux 8: Feints

Up until now the basic tactics of Italian Rapier have been to set yourself in guard so that your opponent’s line of attack is closed (limiting their options) and, when they give you a tempo by performing a predictable action in measure (either stepping to measure, stepping laterally, performing a disengage, or attempting to beat […]

First Giganti Redux 7: Cavazione

There are three actions that are the basic elements of the Italian Rapier decision tree: Gaining the blade, lunging, and performing a cavazione. Really, the majority of actions in Italian Rapier are going to boil down to one of these things. Gaining the blade and lunges have already been discussed, so it’s probably a good […]

First Giganti Redux 6: The Lunge

After teaching guards and counter-guards and the basics of theory, the first action Giganti moves to instructing is the lunge. There’s a good reason for this: If your entire plan is to take a single tempo and strike, the lunge is the best option. It covers the most distance with the fewest moving parts. Since […]