Bolognese Sidesword

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Exhibiting the versatility, grace, and deadly efficiency of sixteenth century Bologna, Italy.

Origins: The Bolognese tradition originates from Bologna, Italy. It refers specifically to the works of masters from this geographic location; they exhibit a particularly graceful, elegant, and efficient style, cultivated from a long tradition of fencing within Bologna.

About: Our bi-weekly study group explores the history of this tradition, the basics of the art – including footwork, the guards, the parries, and the cuts – and (eventually) more complex techniques and sparring. We will begin with the sidesword alone and then explore the sidesword and buckler. We currently study from The Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A Guide to the Use of All Manner of Weapons, Tom Leoni’s translation of Antonio Manciolino’s Opera Nova from 1531. Eventually, we will also explore Marozzo, the “Anonymous Bolognese” and other sources.

The Weapon: The sidesword is a one-handed, double-edged sword, usually with a simple hilt, but sources also show swept hilts. Regardless of the hilt type, the fencer should be able to put his or her index finger through the ricasso safely. The blade should be 32-40 inches long, depending on the height of the fencer. The entire weapon shouldn’t weigh much more than 2 – 2.5 pounds.

The Danger Zone: The Bolognese Sidesword is a two-edged cutting and thrusting weapon, therefore the true edge, false edge, and point are all utilized.

The Target Area: The whole body, excluding joints, back of the head, and back of the neck.

Prerequisites: Currently at SIF, students can study Bolognese Sidesword through bi-weekly study groups once they have completed one of the beginning and intermediate classes and joined the club.

Required Gear: You can learn the basics, including footwork, guards, and solo blade work with minimal gear. However, for sparring, mask, jacket, gloves, and gorget are required. The club has a limited number of club weapons and gauntlets available.



"I say that every motion and every stillness of mine and my adversary together make a tempo, in as much, that the one measures the other."
Ridolfo Capoferro
Capo Ferro