Second Giganti I: Defense against cuts to the Head   4 comments

Through his first four plates (and a fifth plate embedded later on, in the section on passing steps), Giganti lays out his method for defending against cuts to your head or upper body with the sword or sword and dagger.  In the first book his responses were either to lunge in the tempo of their preparation for the cut, or to parry with the dagger while lunging.  These are both single tempo actions, but here (as discussed in the preface) he goes into m

He considers two types of opponents.  One is roughly the equal of you in arms, armor, and vigor.  The other carries a heavier sword, wears more armor, or fights more vigorously; by whatever means he attacks more boldly.  The defense varies between these two fighters, but the counter is largely the same: attack on the same side from which you were attacked while maintaining control of the opponent’s sword with your dagger.  If your opponent attacks you with a mandritto (attacking you on your left side) you return a roverscio (attacking from your left).  If he attacks with a roverscio, you return a mandritto.

Against the equal opponent he instructs to:

parry with the edge and forte of your sword.  In the same tempo deliver a cut to his legs, placing your dagger under his sword. (Pg 29)

Following his instruction puts your sword in prima.  Against the opponent’s mandritto, your sword will be pointed down and to the left; against the roverscio, more in line with the opponent’s right shoulder.  These positions are what dictate the possible responses.  In each case, the response is a single tempo cut delivered from the wrist in time with the lunging step forward (while extending the dagger to the opponent’s sword).  Answering the mandritto with a mandritto would require circling completely around the head with the blade; answering the roverscio with a roverscio would require two tempi to prime and then deliver the blow.

Against the bolder opponent he prescribes:

as his enemy delivers a cut to his head, he should parry with his sword and dagger crossed, with his dagger above and sword below

This negates the strength of the opponent’s attack with both weapons, and places the dagger already in position to maintain the defense.  Placing the dagger above (between your face and your sword) keeps it out of the way of the sword’s answering shot.  Here, as above, you have the same mandritto answering roverscio/roverscio answering mandritto setup.

He also offers a third option specifically against the stronger opponent’s mandritto: a thrust in quarta to the chest, which keeps both the dagger and the sword’s guard in place to trap the opponent’s sword while the sword’s rotation to quarta yield’s around the opponent’s blade.

Against either the equal or the bolder opponent, the preferred target for the answering shot is the lead leg, as the opponent has taken a lunging step to land his cut and it should be exposed.  Going for the head at this point is less optimal because the opponent’s sword is in the way.  However, if the opponent withdraws his leg before you answer, you can continue through to reach his head instead (since going for the leg at that point would take a longer path than going for the head).  Or, as he shows on page 65, you can just pass forward and cut his leg.

In sum:

Opponent Attacks with



Equal Opponent

Block with sword in Prima toward opponent’s right knee

Block with sword in Prima toward opponent’s right shoulder

Bolder Opponent

Block with sword and dagger joined (dagger closer to your face)

Block with sword and dagger joined (dagger closer to your face)

Answer with




Posted March 6, 2014 by Wistric in Giganti, Italian Rapier

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