Manciolino’s Sword and Buckler – Measure and the First Attack in Guardia Alta

The first attack in Guardia Alta begins as follows,

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 into Sopra il Braccio, 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.

Until recently we’ve taken that to mean all three attacks are meant to be aimed directly at the hand. However, in practice we find that the first attack is quite easy to parry simply by lowering the hand. Consistently the blow lands on the forte close to the hilt. This seems to be direct contradiction to Manciolino’s claim that the opponent will be unwilling to lower the hand for fear of being hit.

Let’s think about that for a moment. If the opponent is afraid of lowering his hand because he will “collide his hand into your sword”, then it necessarily means that his hand won’t be hit if he doesn’t move it.

Revised Interpretation

Under our revised interpretation, the agent cuts directly in front of the hand with the mandritto. If the opponent is utterly motionless then the attack will miss by a couple of inches.

An interesting effect we discovered is that if the opponent does try to parry then the last few inches of the blade consistently land on his fingers. It is the response, not the first mandritto, that causes the injury.

From there you take a wide offline step to the left for the riverso. This one seems best suited to strike the wrist.

The montante is more of a slice that a hack. As you pull it upwards it will cut open the arm, chest, or face. And at almost any point you can convert the slice into a downwards thrust.


No footwork is mentioned for this technique. Experimentally we found that the first step, if needed at all, is just an increase of the right foot. The second step will be more or less forward depending on the opponent’s reaction, but always well to the side. A step with the final cut is not always necessary in drills. I suspect that with sharps the opponent’s desire to get away from the blade dragging across the chest will necessitate a step forward on the attacker’s behalf


The buckler isn’t mentioned either, but its role became fairly obvious once we started drilling. At some point during the second or third tempo the buckler finds itself against the opponent’s arm, preventing him from lowering it.

Notes and Corrections

Make the second cut tight. Big actions will leave the arm well exposed.

Don’t lean forward while performing these actions. Stay upright and noble throughout the engagement.

The second step must be well to the left. The goal is to move to the opposite side of his body in order to take his buckler out of play.

As you perform the third strike, don’t be afraid to step into your opponent. As long as you keep his arm trapped high with your buckler he’ll be weak and easily unbalanced.


The counter is to step back while lowering just the point as if to perform a montante. Do not lower the hand until the parry has been enacted.

This entry was posted in Antonio Manciolino and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Manciolino’s Sword and Buckler – Measure and the First Attack in Guardia Alta

  1. simonedavenezia says:

    Reblogged this on Gazzetta di Simone da Venezia and commented:
    Just an article I found interesting to read.

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