Dagger and Knife
Short range fencing
Cod. Pisani Dossi - (early XV century)
Cod. Ludwig - Ghetti - (early XV century)
Cod. Pisani Dossi (early XV century)
Daga grappling - De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi - F. Vadi - (XV century)
De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi (XV century)
Dagger vs Dagger
Oepra Nova - A. Marozzo (XVI century)
ground grappling defense - XIX century
Italy early XX century
Nova Scrimia Short Range Fencing
Nova Scrimia offers a fencing and combat method of dagger and knife evolved from the fencing Italian tradition, which is embedded in the popular and regional knife fencing schools, in the historical dagger fencing literature and heritage, in the military Italian methods and schools. The practice is, according to the tradition, for self defense and for competing in tournaments (using protections gears and specialized blunt weapons) that are now organized across Italy and that count hundreds of practitioners in short range Italian fencing from different schools and methods.
A brief overview on short range Italian fencing
Historical Dagger Fencing
Short blades have been part of the warrior arsenal since the dawn of martial arts. In Italy the dagger and its use was integral part of the soldier training, of the gladiator fighting, of the fencing practice. Later, in the medieval time, followed by the flourishing of the renaissance era, the dagger remained one of the predominant weapons, alone or together the sword. The oldest Italian fencing manuscript survived to our age (mostly early XV century, such as “Flos Duellatorum”, by Fiore de Liberi da Premariacco, or “De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi”, by Filippo Vadi Pisano) show detailed description and technical dissertation on the use, defense and combat strategies with a dagger. Similarly, later authors (such as Achille Marozzo and the Bolognese school in general) will include the dagger as an essential element of the Art. Later literature will include the dagger in the use as "left hand" (mano sinistra), together with swords. The dagger and its training has always been part of the set of skills for the fencer of any time.
Military Dagger Fencing
The use of dagger was not only part of the knight or the gentleman, who generally preferred the more "noble" sword, but it has always been part of the training of the soldier for battle. From roman legionaries to medieval soldiers, daggers have been always one of the most common weapon used. Even civilians used to carry knives and daggers, including aristocrats who always were carrying a dagger with them often together with a sword. The military use of dagger has been propagated across the centuries in Europe, and the Italian military training of last century generated highly skilled methods of special units (for example the "Arditi", Folgore" and "Metodo di combattimento militare"). In the contemporary era, the Italian army still includes training with the short dagger in several elite units.
Italian Regional Styles
Every region in Italy (in particular Puglia/Apulia, Sicilia/Sicily, Campania but also Liguria, Sardinia, Calabria, etc.) offers a rich tradition in the use of knife and stick fencing. Most of these styles have been passed from father to son within families for centuries, and they are highly connected with the Italian academic school of fencing. The focus in these schools is generally on sticks and knifes, as these were the "poor" weapons carried by every citizen, in particular in the rural areas but also very common in the urban areas. Some of these schools and methods origin from centuries old traditions, enriched by complex symbology, ritualized ancient traditional music and dances (like the “Pizzica”, the “dance of the knives”, etc.), an interconnected spiritual practice (Cavalieri d'Umilta'/Knights of Humility in Manfredonia, Puglia; or the School of San Michele in Sicily). Each of them includes in its fighting style different unconventional tricks, articulated methods and peculiar tactics and strategies, but at the same time they all share the same fencing structure.
A the present time, Italy counts tens of historically recognized alive traditions and schools across the country, with living grandmasters and their legacy of hundreds of practitioners. Some of these methods have their own competing system to practice in tournaments; some are now interdisciplinary and often open to all schools and methods, others are still very secretive and private. Still, the higher and advanced practice and methods of these lagacies are still kept a secret and passed only by means of honor or family heritage.