Giganti 12: Inquartata (inquartati? -e? -ae? -es? issimo?)

Giganti teaches, basically, two voids, though he breaks the Inquartat (aka demi-volte/volte) into three ways to get there.  The “scans0 della vita” of Capo Ferro shows up here for discussion at length.  His (and here I’m paraphrasing the labels provided by Dante) “strike under the sword” and “passata to the left” show up elsewhere, but not necessarily discussed as voids.  Capo Ferro’s “pie dritto” doesn’t show up with discussion, though the opponent receiving a thrust to the eye in plate 7 seems to have attempted just such a void.  Subtle commentary on Giganti’s opinion of the technique?  Who knows.  Well, maybe Tom Leoni.  And, of course, the Shadow knows.

The Inquarta or Void

The inquartata (or void) is necessary to refine body control.

And definitely worth practicing.  It requires being in a balanced stance, while having feet ready to move.  Of course, it’s good to find somebody to practice against.  An entirely anecdotal polling of other fencers shows, though, that most practices have an unwitting inquartata practice partner.

This action is not ordinarily used in schools… but it’s used by the French

This one gets a ‘WTF?’  Seriously, like, the Bolognese have it, the Italians-in-England, so I can’t figure out where this comes from.  Any ideas?

I chose to only show three as the safest and the more showy.

Again, what he really seems to show is three different ways to end up in, essentially, the same position.

First Inquartata

Setup – it’s a bit complex:

In guard to the inside… right foot forward… sword and arm extended… blade to the opponent’s face

Then cavazione to feint a little wide to draw a parry as your opponent comes into measure, then cavazione again, and execute the oblique step with the left foot (the volte).   Your body’s void and movement forward, and your opponent moving in to measure, brings your sword into your opponent.

It boils down, to my interpretation, as “open your opponent’s center line as he comes forward, then volte”.

Notes from Giganti on the proper way:

Keep your arm taut, and use your hilt to protect yourself and to keep the opponent’s steel away from you.


Look into the opponent’s face, and make sure you do not turn your head as you perform this action (as some do).

Heh… just a minor dig at Agrippa.

Second Inquartata

This inquarta only differs… in the strike, which stays close to the opponent’s guard but ends under the opponent’s pommel, with your arm and hand lifted.

Sometimes I wonder if he was just trying to fill space.  “Look, I’ve reduced measure, tempo, and guards to easy to comprehend, straightforward concepts with a minimal amount of words.  Oh wait, you want 50 pages?  ummmmm…”

The second inquartata is extremely difficulty to parry – I would say impossible – when done with exactness

I’m always distrustful of the “My attack is unstoppable!” claims of certain fencing manuals.  However, this does open a door to discuss parallel attacks: the targeting, below the opponent’s pommel, means that your blade comes in parallel to your opponent’s, rather than across it.  Connor mentioned this the last two times I fought him: most of his attacks are launched parallel to his opponent’s blade, to make parries more difficult.  Giganti doesn’t enumerate this principle, but it can be derived from this illustration, with some difficulty.

Third Inquartata


Set yourself in guard like the other two… sword to the inside… arm extended and firm… Opponent advances and gains your blade, wait until he is in measure; perform a cavazione and turn your hand.

As with other techniques, no parry = lunge and strike.

If he does [parry], your swords will be in parity.  Press with your blade against his, so he will press back.  As you feel his pressure, perform the cavazione and the inquartata, and strike him in the chest under his pommel.

Pressure-no pressure, another part of Triplette’s “Drill of Five Things”: When there’s pressure on your blade from your opponent, you disengage and attack, or, if they’re attacking, disengage and void.  If there’s no pressure, you thrust.  Triplette’s drills are based in foil and epee fencing, but as “artificial” and “sport” as those forms are, they still follow the same principles as were taught by Giganti.  There are only so many ways to defend yourself and kill a man with a sword.

Giganti, though, has been way too verbose for all of this.  Second Inquartata could have been “You can also target your thrust below the enemy’s pommel”.  Third Inquartata could have been a brief discussion of the pressure against your blade.  It really didn’t need to be over a page.  But maybe I’m missing something.  Anybody else have thoughts on why he plotted it in this way?

An Artful Way to Strike the Opponent in the Chest after Pressing against Each Other’s Blades

Now, just a bit of application of the skills taught, with a slight reversal: Previously the strike was to the inside, now the strike is to the outside.


As your blades meet, press smartly against his with your edge, keeping your point aimed at his face and ensuring that your forte is above his blade.

Here again, pressure-no pressure.  No pressure = strike.  Pressure =

As soon as you feel his pressure, perform a cavazione under his hilt (and his sword will fall towards the ground)…

I’m not actually sure I’ve figured out how to execute this piece just right.  The description of “your forte above his blade” would mean your foible would be below his blade.  He would press down on it and, conceivably, as you disengage his pressure would continue his blade downward.  However, from that position, I’m not terribly successful at disengaging under my opponent’s blade.

…and he will receive a thrust that is impossible to parry.  in the same tempo, pass forward, and place your left hand to his hilt.

Here, the passata to the left.

You may then strike him with three or four thrusts, as he will be unable to defend against them.

I love Giganti’s occasional bloodthirstiness.  This, the opponent “unknowingly impaling himself upon your blade”, it just… makes my cockles all warm.

The bind, pass, and seize the pommel or guard or quillons is a technique I do love to execute, though I find some marshals feel the rules ban it.  So, execute with awareness of the climate.  But damn it’s fun.

Really, though, you should be able to control the pommel or quillons with just a couple of fingers, no tight grip needed, because you have a significant leverage advantage.

And that gives you time to even mock discuss with your opponent.  Things like, “care to yield?” or “Man, you’re kind of screwed, aren’t you?”  Usually they spend that time trying to seize your blade to turn it into a wrestling match and force a break.  A good time, then, for guardia alta, or guardia d’alicorno, or coda lunga e distesa, something where you can keep your blade away from them and strike only in your own time, when you have your advantage of position.

The next page was already discussed, in installment 4.  So next we skip along to a couple more interesting techniques.

2 comments to Giganti 12: Inquartata (inquartati? -e? -ae? -es? issimo?)

  • Dante di Pietro

    “Anybody else have thoughts on why he plotted it in this way?”

    Don’t apply 21st Century American English writing and organizational structures to 17th Century Italian. For an example of what I mean, Capoferro begins his discussion of stance with the position of the head, and then works down to the feet. This makes perfect sense from the perspective that the head holds the mind and is therefore the most important thing, but is very poor insofar as instruction is concerned, and why I addressed his points in reverse for my paper.

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