The Problem with Distance in Capoferro

Another problem with Plate 20 was pointed out to me. This play is part of a set that looks at what you should and should not do when constrained on the outside as per this illustration.


Also consider this quote about the stringere:

First, the debole of the sword is acquired with one palmo of the debole of yours. In the second tempo the beginning of the forte of the adversary’s sword is acquired so that he will cavare and you contracavando or not.

Now lets look at where D’s disengage starts in the video:


In the illustration the points are over the opponent’s forearms. Here they don’t even reach the mid-point of the opponent’s blade. This discrepancy is caused by several factors:

  • The swords are far too short for this style of fencing
  • The left fencer is leaning back instead of forward.
  • The right fencer is leaning back instead of being upright
  • The left fencer isn’t extending her arm.
  • Both fencers are in too narrow of a stance
  • The distance between the front feet is too far

Also note that the blades are held at a very shallow angle with the points chest high. Were they held at the angle depicted by the illustration, points level with the face, they probably would cross barely at all.


At this distance the constraint hasn’t been won. The left fencer should have either used a compass step to create her own constraint or waited until the the right fencer was stepping forward to perform the disengage. Attacking from this distance is foolish and draws into question the interpretation of the rest of the play.

Another thought. Consider the beat at the beginning of the video. I don’t for a second believe that you could really throw someone’s point that far offline. But let’s say it is real for the sake of argument. Why do it when the illustration doesn’t show it?

Well, we’re back to distance. This play requires you to swiftly move beyond the point so you are safe from a thrust. (The grapple protects you from a cut.) If we start as shown in plate 15, you have to clear half an arm length. If we start as shown in the video, that distance increases to a full arm’s length plus more than half a sword length. That’s a huge distance when you have no control over the opponent’s weapon.

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