Fiore dei Liberi: Flos Duellatorum, 1410 (Pisani-Dossi, F. Novati, Bergamo, 1902)
 4 spada longa - longsword
 4.1 poste (guards)
 4.1.1 tuta porta de fero click to hear the Italian text, pulsativa1 (full iron gate)

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Synopsis: This third plate begins Fiore's dissertation on the twelve guards for the longsword with the depictions of 12 masters in a sequence of illustrations on 3 plates illustrating the various poste or guards. Central to his descriptions of the twelve poste, he writes the following four line introduction to these plates highlighted in the top of the illustration on the right. He writes:

Poste e guardié chiamare per nome si façemo
E'una simille cum l'altra contrazie noy semo
E'segondo che noy stavemo e semo posté
De far l'una contra l'altra façemo le mostre
For simplicity we are named posts and guards
And we are similar with one's other counters
And according to how we are and our poste
To show how simple to use one counter to the other.

It is surmised that the pairings of the guards as illustrated imply that the guards were illustrated with their most appropriate counter guard. In other words, when two fighters face each other and one assumes the guard stance on the left, the appropriate "counter" guard would be the one illustrated to its right. This is somewhat supported by the interpretation of the introductory paragraph where it implies that the guards are indeed different from each other and mentions the counter stance within the same context. This is further supported by the last statement where he mentions that he will demonstrate how to use one guard opposite to its counterpart. However, one can also surmise that each guard is the next logical sequence of guards if one transitions from one guard to the next.

Fiore now begins his presentation of each guard accompanied with a couplet revealing the intentions of the master in the illustration. The first posta illustrated on the top left of this plate is the tuta porta de fero which is described as the "ground floor" or foundational guard and continues by indicating the guard is an effective parry against cuts and thrusts.

Tuta porta de fero son la piana terena
Che tagli e punte sempre si refrena
The full iron gate is the ground floor
You can always parry cuts and thrusts.

Notice that the left hand grips the pommel from above in a somewhat relaxed manner, which is a good position to move directly into the "posta de dona soprana" in the next image by simply raising the hands from the lowered position up and over the right shoulder. This supports the premise in which the sequence of the guards can move from one guard to another smoothly and effectively. The second verse makes reference to point or tip "punte" or thrusts, and therefore, as Fiore indicates that one can always "parry cuts and thrusts".

Application: This guard is deployed similarily as illustrated, whereby the sword is angled towards the earth and outwards towards the wielder's right similar to one holding a hockey stick outwards to the player's right side and downward towards the ice (ground). The deployment of a counter from this posta would involve a number of attributes, which involve time of the body, foot and hand (see footnote below). The manner of deployment would be exactly the same whether the inbound blow is a thrust or cut. The stepping forward and aside (traverse) while raising the sword and twisting the body provides the necessary power to either parry aside a thrust or blow in which the deployment would conclude by acquiring the posta de dona soprana. Secondly, from the posta de dona soprana, one could strike the inbound blow or thrust downwards to the ground and acquire the porta de fero again with similar footwork and body movements engaged during its deployment.

example applications
Reference Page
Fiore de' Liberi 1410 mezza porta di ferro (Half Iron Gate)
Fiore de' Liberi 1410 denti di cinghiale (Guard of the Boar's Tooth)
Hans Talhoffer 1467 (tafel 2) Twisted Cut and Low Guard
Giacomo di Grassi 1594 The Low Ward
Giacomo di Grassi 1594 (13.3) Of the Defense of the Low Ward at Two Hand Sword

  1. pulsativa refers to where one must deliver a counter attack (cut or thrust) as a cover in order to survive an attack concurrently while taking a step. This info was derived from the Getty's version of Liberi's treatise.

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Released: December 2, 1999 / Last modified: Febrary 5, 2009