Prepared and maintained by William E. Wilson

TOPICS OF INSTRUCTION -- Basic Class, Italian Traditions

The following is a list of the basic topics that will be covered in the beginning lessons.


Introduction to History of Fencing


    Advance and retreat

    The Pass

    Slope Paces, traverses and circular movement

Basic Wards/Guards









    Punta Riversa







    Dui Tempi Defence

    Stesso Tempo Defence

NOTE -- This series of lessons assumes one formal lesson per week with additional practices to hone skills. Each lesson will begin with stretching and basic warmup. The classwork is divided into 4 sections. Single rapier is covered in the basic lessons. Intermediate through advanced lessons should include rapier & dagger, rapier & buckler, rapier & cloak, and case of rapiers.

Section One



The student shall learn how to advance and retreat.
1. Introduction

Talk about history. Go over the weapons and weapon combinations. Give an overview of the period masters. Show onguard, advance, retreat, lunge

2. On Guard Position

Introduce the Terza guardia as the standard on guard and show the advance and retreat. Discuss the placement of the feet. Woodcuts from Marozzo, Agrippa or Swetnam may be used to illustrate (or other master's woorks)

3. Teach the advance and retreat (as in classical fencing's advance and retreat)

4. Have students practice the advance and retreat.


The students should be able to successfully advance and retreat. The passing step is introduced. Care must be taken to indicate that the pass must be used sparingly to begin with for safety.

1. Teach the pass forward and pass back.

2. Practice


The student practices the topics from the first & second lesson. New topics to be introduced include the traverse, circular movement and the four primary guard positions.

1. Introduction

Discuss the benefits of the four primary guards. Introduce the traverse and circular movement.

2. Practice the four primary guards

The students take each guard position and move in that position with straight, slope, traverse and passing paces.


The student is introduced to the sword.

1. Introduction

The students are introduced to sword. Define the parts of the sword. Allow the students to handle the weapons to check weight & balance.

2. Practice foot movement and guards from lessons one through three.


The students review everything from the first four lessons and the extension is introduced.

1. Introduction

The students are introduced to the extension (preparation for attack).

2. Practice movement. Work on extending the arm in preparation for attacks.

Section 2



The students start to work with sword in hand.

1. Introduction

The students practice the extension with sword in hand. The four positions (classical Italian) of the hand are discussed. The imbrocata and stoccata are taught.

2. Practice


The student practices the first two thrusts and is introduced to the punta riversa.

1. Introduction

The punta riversa is added to the student's repertoire of simple attacks.

2. Practice. The students will attack target by simple extension, extension with a step and with a pass.


The students are introduced to the lunge. The history of the lunge is given.

1. Introduction

Proper lunge technique is covered. The topic of distance is discussed.

2. Practice

Ninth Lesson

The students are introduced to dui tempi defense.

1. Introduction.

The use of the blade and off-hand for defense is discussed. The protective equipment is shown and explained to the students. All further practice between students or student and instructor will be with protective equipment worn. Introduce the salute and proper fencing etiquette.

2. Practice the use of the sword for parrying thrusts.

Tenth Lesson

Reinforce defense by further practice of dui tempi maneuvers.

1. Practice movement, attacks and defense. Use line drills and individual lessons to illustrate the points.

2. Have the more advanced students attack the beginning students so they may practice their defense.

Section 3


Eleventh Lesson

This lesson is for general review.

1. Have the students take part in line drills. Watch for proper execution of attacks and defense. Correct any deficiencies in the students' technique.

2. General practice.

Twelfth Lesson

Introduce the cuts with the right edge. Use Marozzo's techniques and terminology.

1. Instruct in the use of the tondo, fendente, montante, ridoppio and sgualembrato. Use line drills for the practice.

2. Practice the cuts.

Thirteenth Lesson

Introduce the parrying of cuts with the blade.

1. Introduce parries with the right edge of the sword. Give emphasis to parrying with the strong part of the blade and not the guard itself.

2. Use line drills and individual instruction to practice parrying the various cuts.

Fourteenth Lesson

Introduce body voids.

1. Talk about the incartata, the volte, slips, etc. Have the students practice these foot movements.

2. Practice using these movements while defending from thrusts and cuts.

Fifteenth Lesson

Introduce cuts with the false edge. Use Marozzo's techniques and terminology.

1. Use line drills and individual instruction to teach the use of false edge cuts.

2. Practice.

Section 4


Sixteenth Lesson

Introduce stramazone.

1. Show how these cuts may be used to cut the wrist and knee.

2. Practice.

Seventeenth Lesson

Have the students practice the various cuts.

1. Review and practice the mandritti, roversi and stramazone.

2. Open practice.

Eighteenth Lesson

Introduce bouting.

1. Discuss the topic of bouting. Go over general rules and why bouting is important.

2. Pair the beginning students with more experienced students and have them practice open combat.

Nineteenth Lesson

Introduce stesso Tempo defense.

1. Teach the counter-attack.

2. Practice.

Twentieth Lesson

Review lessons one through nineteen.

1. Review.

2. Practice.

Quiz Questions



Section 1

  1. Name a fencing master who taught before 1550. What style of fencing did he teach?
  2. Name the three types of thrusts.
  3. What are the four primary Italian guards? Describe each.
  4. What is the pass?
  5. What is the importance of the extension?
  6. Explain distance.
  7. What are the parts of the sword?
  8. What is the difference between the true and false edge?
  9. What is the difference between a slope and a traverse pace?
  10. What is the lunge?

Section 2 Section 3 Section 4