What is a Montante?

This is a signature move in the Bolognese tradition, but what do we really know about it? Not much, other than it involved the buckler.

Beyond these five there are two which are not principal because they only occur in the play of sword and buckler. The first is called “tramazzone”, which is done with the wrist of the hand that has the sword, with that winding from below upwards toward your left side in the manner of a fendente; the other is called “montante”, because it is thrown from below upwards in the fashion of a falso which ascends to finish in guardia alta.


First Attack Against Guardia Alta

Ok, so it is a rising cut that involves the buckler. Let’s look at the first action that uses it.

Accordingly, posing the case that you and your enemy are in guardia alta, and that you are the attacker, you can throw a mandritto at his sword hand which will go over your arm, and then turn a riverso also to that hand. Then ascend with a montante to return to guardia alta; if you will do these three blows, your enemy will be unable to throw anything toward you that could offend you, because he would always come to collide his hand into your sword. But if it does not please you to throw the three aforesaid blows, you can turn a riverso to his thigh. And if the enemy throws to your head, meet his sword hand with a falso crossed over your arm.

Breaking this down into steps:

  1. Throw an onside cut over your arm towards his hand. You are going for a small, high target so use a small action, such as a wrist cut along the diagonal descending line.
  2. Throw an offside cut at the same target. It is really easy to follow that up the first wrist  cut with another descending wrist cut.
  3. Now the rising montante, which is generally thought to be a true edge cut.

I was taught to throw the montante you cut the buckler’s dome with the false edge, then rise off of it. But from here that means a big movement to get the hand from the lower-right quadrant to the upper-right.

What if instead we roll it over? The riverso can end with the left flat resting against the back of the buckler. From here it is trivial to roll the false edge over the top of the buckler. The buckler arm will contract slightly when doing this, then punch back out to lend power to the rising cut.

Second Attack Against Guardia Alta

Or you can make a show of raising a montante, and in that tempo step forward into large pace with your left foot, and go with your sword into guardia di testa, there awaiting the enemy’s blow upon your sword. Which done, then you will immediately be able to step your right foot toward his left side, giving to him in that tempo a mandritto upon his head, so that your left foot follows behind your right, and going with your sword into guardia di testa for your shelter.

Here we again see big movements verse small movements. In the past I would say that you do a big movement to cut the dome with the false edge, then another big movement to bring the point high with the hands separate.

But if we rolled the blade into position for the montante, surely we can roll it back out again. This leaves us with a Guardia di Testa that has the false edge on the back of the buckler. The buckler itself is angled slightly up and to the left so that a triangle is formed with the sword.

Second Defense while in Guardia Alta

You can also attack against each one, drawing your right foot behind your left into large pace, extending a thrust in the gesture of a montante, which goes into guardia di faccia.

Using the old theory, we have a three tempi action: cut to parry, cut to the dome, thrust.

Using the new theory there are only two tempi, cut to parry, thrust with some part of the blade touching the buckler.

Fifth Attack Against Guardia di Sotto Braccio

Or with the left foot forward raise a falso into the air, and in this tempo extend a thrust in the gesture of a montante passing forward soon with your right foot and turning a tramazzone which falls into porta di ferro stretta.

What is the “gesture of a montante”? If it specifically the cut to the dome in preparation of the rising, true edge cut this doesn’t make any sense. If we say it is any setup involving the buckler and blade kissing, then it works for both old and new theory of the montante.

Fifth Defense While in Guardia di Sotto Braccio

if perchance he throws a falso going into guardia alta, you will immediately go into the same guard, and while he wishes to stick a thrust in the gesture of a montante, withdrawing your right foot behind your left, you will go into cingiara porta di ferro, and if he throws a tramazzone, returning forward with your right foot into large pace, you will parry that with a falso, giving him a mandritto to the face.

To understand this we must first understand the tramazzone. If we accept that it is an action only performed with a buckler, that limits our options quite a bit. The one that comes to mind is an action I learned in a recent MS I.33 seminar.

Starting in half-shield, you wind your sword under your buckler. As you do this, you perform a circular wrist cut that ends with a descending path. That sounds a lot like the description given to us by Manciolino.

Furthermore, this sounds like it would be really easy to counter with a Falso from Cingiara Porta di Ferro.


Capitula 10

Then throw a high upwards cut with a mandritta and in this cut you do a molinello by making a gran passo forward with the right foot towards the left.  Then make another with the left foot and go over the brochiero and strike the brochiero with the pommel of the sword on the side inside the rim.  Bring the sword hand forward and place the sword point towards the ground and then bring the right foot forward and cut with a montante.

Holy shit, that’s Scott Brown’s interpretation of Second Cover from MS I.33!


The buckler is rotated to the right to show the relative hand positions. Rotate the buckler forward and the pommel will strike the back of the buckler, just inside the rim, as it settles into place. And from there it is easy to roll onto the false edge and throw that rising cut.

End in the coda lunga e distesa.  Finally make a gran passo forward to the right, punching the sword with the brochiero and going into a guardia di testa.  Then bring the false edge of the sword towards the copula del brochiero making a gran passo with the right foot towards the left and immediately cut with a montante as the right foot comes left.

Hmm.  This description definitely fits both the old and new theory, so I’m calling it a draw.

Next make a gran passo taking the right foot behind the left and cut with a
fendente.  Lastly you will return a cut with the left foot forward.  Then punch the sword with the brochiero and in said punching I want you to do a half turn of the fist, that is to move the point of the sword towards the ground and touch the copula of the brochiero with the false edge of the
sword and pass with the right foot into a gran passo towards the left.  Cut with a montante and end in guardia alta with the brochiero as extended as possible.”

Again a draw.

Second Part

With this you will parry the attack of your enemy and issue
immediately a mandritto tondo to the leg that goes under the arm, throwing in one true time a roverso sgualembrato.  And when you have thrown said roverso cut with a high montante and in this cut pull your right foot close by the left. 

Another riverso that is followed by a montante. I still like ending the riverso with the sword and buckler mated just prior to the montante.

Now you will touch the false edge of the sword to the high outside of the brochiero.  Pass in this touching with your right foot into a gran passo forward of the left.  In this passing step cut with a montante at the rim of the brochiero. 

This is definitely talking about an old-theory version. It is easy to say that this confirms the old theory because it describes it explicitly. It is also easy to say this refutes the old theory because explicit descriptions suggest an exception to the normal rule.


Marozzo could go either way, but I’m convinced that Manciolino’s Guardia di Testa is not half-shield, but it is similar in that the blade is resting upon the buckler.

The Montante starts not with a cut to the front of the buckler, but more of a roll over the edge. This allows for a single, fluid action when throwing a Montante from Guardia di Testa rather than a dui tempo set of cuts.

Tramazzone is a winding, wheeling cut with the wrists together.

This entry was posted in Antonio Manciolino, Marozzo, Sword and Buckler and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to What is a Montante?

  1. Pingback: Scholars of Alcala Class Notes – May 8, 2016 | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

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