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For some time now I have been using Tom Leoni’s translation of Capoferro. It’s a great book however the more I use it the more I realise that when reconstructing a martial art from a 400 year old source you shouldn’t rely on any one translation.

Others who work with Capoferro have warned me that Tom Leoni’s translation leans towards the interpretation side of things more than would be optimal especially when he translates the various cavazione and disengages in the work.

My copy of Alfieri (p29) describes four kinds of cavazione:

cavazionea removing the sword from one side to the other.
contracavazionethe same action in response the cavazione ending with the sword on the same side it started.
ricavazione cutting over from one guard to another to control the line in response to a cavazione.
mezza cavazioneremoving the blade below the opponents sword without ending on one side or the other.

The olny distinction between cavaziones that Leoni makes, that I can find, is in plate 12. He includes a cavazione da filo, a disengage of the edge instead of the point. I would argue that the action in plate 10 is similar. Leoni translates:

Però dico che se C. in cambio di voltare il riverso havesse cavato la spada in dietro con ritirarsi alquanto, & alzato la spada in linea obliqua, chè la sua punta guardasse verso le parti sinistre dell’Aversario, e volendo D. entrar di quarta, C. parando con uno mezzo mandritto li darebbe un riverso per la faccia, o vero una punta per il petto. (source)

As

Instead of the Riverso , the opponent could perform a cavazione and hold back, with somewhat of a retreat, while lifting his sword in an oblique line pointing to your left. As you attack in quarta, he would parry with a half-mandritto and follow with a riverso to your face or a thrust to your chest.

Where Schwanger & Wilson translate it as:

However, I say that if C, instead of turning the riverso, had drawn back
his sword while retiring back somewhat, and lifted his sword in an
oblique line so that its point faced toward the adversary’s left side, and
D had wanted to enter in quarta, C, parrying with a mezzo mandritto,
would have given him a riverso to the face or a thrust to the chest.

I have discussed my interpretation of this plate before and naturally I have changed my mind since then; returning to the true edge descending riverso as opposed to the rising one. The main point I want to get across in this post isn’t any particular interpretation though – it is that using only one source for interpreting an historical manual is a bad idea and that using other works of the period, other translations of the work, and the original words (even if you don’t speak the language) is a better plan.

Shwanger and Wilsons translation with the plates can be found here and the transcription by Società d’Arme dell’Aquila here.

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