Manciolino’s Sword and Buckler – Guardia di Testa Third Provocation (including advice for left-handers)


Or pretend to attack with a mandritto, but throw a riverso.


If, however, he throws a mandritto, you will go with your sword into guardia di faccia. And when he turns a riverso at you, either high or low, you will ward it with your sword, immediately turning a mandritto at him in whatever way seems best to you.

Now this is a real provocation. Simple, but very effective. The mandritto draws the blade out of position so that riverso can land without interference.

When properly executed, the mandritto and riverso are effectively one cut that mutates part-way through. Another way to think of it would be a mezzo-mandritto (half-cut) followed by a wrist cut on the other side.

As for the footwork, I use Meyer’s advice to use fake steps with fake cuts. Start with a step of the right foot, but don’t complete the passing step. As you abort the mandritto, set the right foot down and step wide with the left foot.

Against the Left-handed Fencer

When using this against the left-handed fencer, the provoker needs to reverse the order. That is to say, feint the riverso and then cut mandritto. As with the original version, the idea is to bring his sword over to his buckler side, leaving his sword-side exposed.

Corrections for the Provoker

The first correction isn’t a correction at all, but rather an observation. Against novice fencers this technique doesn’t work. The novice can’t really detect the incoming attack from body movement alone, so they aren’t liable to fall for the feint. But on the flip side, you don’t need a feint to hit a novice.

The next mistake made by the provoker (and myself) is to make the second cut too big. It is really tempting to make the riverso in the manner of a tramazzone. While this can work, it is slower than necessary and briefly opens up the center line.

Corrections for the Counter

The most common mistake is to leave Guardia di Faccia too soon. Students doing this exercise in a drill will want to anticipate the second cut and turn over their hand too soon. This is especially bad if the provoker doesn’t actually make it to the other side. Guardia di Faccia can foul his blade, trapping it on the mandritto side. If the student then leaves his guard to ward off the attack that isn’t coming he will leave his center line wide open.

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