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 the use of the sidesword as taught by Achille Marozzo..

For footwork refer to the intro to rapier lessons.

Basic Wards/Guards

Marozzo taught 15 readily identifiable guards.  These will be introduced throughout the lessons.


    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 and rapier & buckler.

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 a few of the most used guards and general footwork.

2. On Guard Position

Introduce the Coda Lunga & Stretta and the Porta di Ferro & Stretta as the standard on guard and show the advance and retreat. Discuss the placement of the feet. Woodcuts from Marozzo may be used to illustrate

3. Teach the 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.

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 and circular movement

1. Introduction

Discuss the benefits of the different types of 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 cut is introduced.

1. Introduction

The students are introduced to the eight principle cuts.

2. Practice movement and cuts.

Section 2



The students continue to work with sword in hand.

1. Introduction

The students practice the cuts. The four positions (classical Italian) of the hand are discussed.

2. Practice


The student is introduced to the thrust.

1. Introduction

The thrust 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 variations of the Porta di Ferro and the Coda Lunga series.  Dui tempi vs stesso tempo defense should be covered.

1. Introduction

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

2. Practice

Ninth Lesson

The students are introduced to the Becca Cesa, Becca Possa and the Guardia di Testa..

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

The guardia di fianco and the guardia alta are introduced..

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 guardia di sopra series.

1. Instruct in the use of this series.
2. Practice the cuts.

Thirteenth Lesson

Introduce cuts with the false edge.

1. Introduce false edge cuts.
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


1. Review the techniques learned in the prior lesson.
2. Practice.

Quiz Questions

Section 1
  1. Name a fencing master who taught before 1550. What style of fencing did he teach?
  2. Name three types of cuts.
  3. What is the primary difference between the porta di ferro and the coda lunga?
  4. What is the pass?
  5. Explain distance.
  6. What are the parts of the sword?
  7. What is the difference between the true and false edge?
  8. What is the difference between a slope and a traverse pace?

Section 2