Open Wounds

C is for Capo Ferro



Capo Ferro has not nothing to do with Italian food or stringed instruments.

Lunge Capo Ferro

It, or rather he, has everything to do with what we know about actual rapier, rapier and dagger, and sword and buckler (shield) fighting from the renaissance period. Since we don’t have film from back then and no photographs, we have to go by line drawings and any books that were written that described it like the one above from Capo Ferro’s book Italian Rapier Combat originally published in 1610. I bought my copy in Portland from Powell’s Books (awesome indi and just a huge huge store). This book is a series of plates with short explanations of the positions and moves of Italian rapier fencing. The Italians were known in the 16th into the early 17th century to be the best with the sword. The French surpass them later but not for a long long time. Ferro was a fencing master in the city of Siena. My favorite are the many images that show (see below) what happens when you are successful in attack. Notice the three different angles the blade can take and the successful parry with the dagger.


Of course this is 1610 Italy so most people in the plates are fencing naked or mostly naked (very strategically placed scraps of cloth or leaf)- not sure I’d recommend that – must have been very hot in Siena.

Here are some words from the first section: Some Remembrances or True Advices of Fencing

First, if you are found at blows with your adversary; you must always have the eye on the sword hand more than in other places, all of the others are false, because looking at the hand you will see the stillness and all the movements that it does, and from this (according to your judgement) you will be able to determine what you will have to do.

Methods that one must hold against a brutal man:

If you have to encounter a brutal man who, without misura and tempo, hurls many blows at you with great impetus, you will be able to do two things. First adopt the interplay of mezzo tempo, as I will teach you in its place, you will strike him in his hurling of the point, either by cut in the hand or in the sword arm. Otherwise, you can leave him to proceed at emptiness with somewhat voiding the vita backwards, and then you instantly drive a point into the face or chest.

Needless to say, I chose Capo Ferro as a model teacher for my protagonist in my novel Open Wounds.

How could I not?

12 responses

  1. Fencing is such a cool sport. It’s so fast.

    April 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  2. Sounds like a really interesting model for a protagonist!

    April 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    • i had a lot of fun making him up. Hopefully readers have liked him too. Thanks for stopping by!

      April 3, 2013 at 2:34 pm

  3. Jemima Pett

    I can see that you are a fencing guru. I think I should follow you and make sure my sowrd-fights arent too unrealistic. :O
    Happy A to Z-ing!
    Jemima at Jemima’s blog

    April 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    • Thanks for the kind words and thanks for stopping by!+

      April 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  4. The Golden Eagle

    Fascinating! The art of using a blade goes really far back into history, doesn’t it.

    April 3, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    • Back to the Romans and beyond. Glad you liked the post and thanks for stopping by.

      April 3, 2013 at 7:09 pm

  5. And now I know what they were talking about in The Princess Bride…awesome choice for the letter C.

    April 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    • One of my favorite movies with a terriffic fight on the clifftop. Glad you liked the post! thanks for stopping by.

      April 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm

  6. Fencing naked seems a bit foolish.

    April 5, 2013 at 7:25 am

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