Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Coverta within Fior Di Battaglia - Part 1

I was once, a long time a go asked the simple and unassuming question, "What is a parry." I stared at the person who asked dumbfound as this person knew damn well what a parry was! The I started to explain what I thought a parry was and how to form such a parry - mostly using language like "move into frontale" and "don't parry wide".

He stopped me and said, "No, I mean what is a parry, according to Fiore." It took many weeks for this to percolate in my brain sufficiently long to realise I really didn't have an answer which I could back up with actual text from Fiore's manuscripts. It took many more weeks to cope with the fact that what I was doing may or may not be what Fiore means when he uses the term coverta, often translated to parry or cover - depending on the translator.

When I am presented this sort of question, there is only really one thing to do - pull out the manuscripts and the assorted translations of which I have access to. So, off I went to dispel my ignorance and find out what, exactly Fiore says and try to puzzle out what he means. This chase eventually lead me to r43 of the Getty.

"Questo cum la spada 'spetta questo cum la lanza e sì lo 'spetta cum dente di cenghiaro, come quello cum la lanza gli vene apresso lo magistro cum la spada rebatte sua lanza in fora inverso parte dritta. E chossì pò far lo magistro cum la spada, ch'ello pò covrir e ferir in un voltar di spada."
"This swordsman waits for the lance in Dente di Cinghiaro. As the opponent with the lance approaches him, the Master beats the lance aside to the right. The master can easily do this action with this sword - that is, parrying and striking with a single turn of the sword."- Tom Leoni
Here we can see Fiore links the terms beats (rebatte) and parrying (covrir). Essentially, he is calling the beat a parry. Thus we can conclude that beats are parries or covers. Which of course does not imply they are the only parries. We are also fortunately given very explicit instruction on how to preform just such an action on the page preceding this. v43 of the Getty.

"E tente ben a mente che le punte e li colpi riversi si debano rebatter in fora, zoè, ala traversa e non in erto. E li colpi de fendente, si debano rebatter per lo simile in fora, levando un pocho la spada dello suo inimigo,"
"Bear in mind that thrusts and riversi must be beaten to the outside, that is, sideways, and not upward; fendenti should similarly be beaten to the outside, lifting slightly the opponent's weapon." - Tom Leoni
Here we are given explicit instruction on how to beat almost any attack. More explicit than anything else I have found in the manuscript on how to perform a parry, outside of the copli de villano and scrabulare du punta plays. Those being explicitly called out to only apply to specific situations. In a future post I will explore the use of a beat in the rest of the mounted section and perhaps other places in the manuscript which it is found.