Italian traditional fencing

Discussion in 'Western Martial Arts' started by gipoco, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. gipoco

    gipoco New Member

    Italian Trditional Fencing is really appreciated in Europe for:
    - historical commemorations
    - street fighting skills (for defence)

    Historical commemorations events are organized by a great effort and a count a big number of participants. Normally take place in costume, old dress or original dresses, when possible. Often there are musicians who accompany the exhibition with a soundtrack perfectly matching the style of those times. During these events the food and drinks are on theme. It 's not difficult to see actors among the public that act all day, doing jokes or entertaining visitors one by one or in groups. They are often invited flag-waving, fire eaters and stilt. It must be said that the duels are almost always faithfully replicated so that every aspect of combat (and defense) is absolutely real.

    I know two major fighting technique (with similar technique):
    - sword
    - stick

    Sword fighting is the major technique and the most advertised on mainstream media and historical commemorations. I practice stick fighting because is a just lost sport (was forbidden during fascism in Italy) and I think it could be a real shame if its memory die. Sword fighting is a real sport today, stick fighting is a more pratical defense technique, an every-day-street-defense skill, a "wow, I didn't know enything about it !" sport, etc.

    The primary fencing shools were born in:
    - Italy
    - France

    Many documents are in german, english, spanish, etc because in every country culture there are references to a past fencing history, but the great part of the original documentation is from Italy and France.

    In Italy the stick fighting was really frequent and each region developed a custom technique mixed with traditional cluture, historical dresses, specific weapons found in the region that the stick must overcome, etc.

    The most important are:
    - bastone genovese (stick combat and defense from Genoa)
    - bastone siciliano (stick combat and defense from Sicily)
    - bastone piemontese (stick combat and defense from Piedmont)
    - bastone pugliese (stick combat and defense from Puglia)
    and (our main antagonist ;))
    - bastone francese (stick combat and defense from France)

    I study "bastone genovese": a whole fighting art and a 360° personal defense tecnique. It has a deep historical backgroud and consequently a really demostrated effectiveness and a really smart resolution of contentions.
    There are a lot of sub-arts:
    - the walking stick (standard stick)
    - the antique stick (big stick)
    - the life-saving stick (very little stick)
    - the Genoa knife (specific Genoense knife skill)
    - the knife defense (defeat every knife teclique)
    - the "gambetto" (full-contact bare hands defense)

    For other informations, our bibliography, video-clips, etc visit:

    Thanks and sorry for my english, GiPOCO :)
  2. embra

    embra Valued Member

    I came across some websites and youtube clips covering Italian stick and dagger duelling, and also some clubs (one in Sardegna I think) who also practised Fillipino stick and dagger arts.

    I saw a lot of similarities (at least superficially) between the Italian schools and the Fillipino styles. The Spanish influence on Fillipino Eskrima is well established, but maybe there is something of an Italian influence also.

    I dont have time today to search on internet again (I am quite busy today), but if I find them again I can post them in ths thread, and maybe you can pass some more informed commentary on them?

    I read, understand and speak a reasonable ammount of your language, s I will in time study your site more closely.

    From what I recall of Italy; your country, language (via dialects) and culture is quite a bit more diverse than that of most European countries - and I imagine that this is the case with Martial traditions as well.

  3. gipoco

    gipoco New Member

    strange weapons

    Il Italy, when I turn upside down a stone, I find a fossil :)
    ...for the culture I think it's the same.

    You are right, Embra, when You say that in Sardegna there are different weapons and custom fighting and defense skills, because that island is a "national park" of culture for Italy, such as Madagascar for Africa. Dialects in some regions are really distant from the standard Italian language, but in Sardegna they have a really different "language", with an awareness of that speciality. For the mutations in the traditional fighing and defence landscape, I think it's the same: in Sardinia there are a lot of contaminations and also a great independence that results in a unique expression of culture (and fighting skills).

    "Bastone Genovese" is deep-rooted in regions where Genoa put his commercial influence in part centuries. In effect the first time our beloved martial art bacame famous was not in Italy, but in Istambul, where seamen from Genoa used to guard the mid-class commoners, using sticks when ordinary weapons where banned in the citadel. Also in Sardegna there is a great influence of Genoa, like in Calasetta where people descend from Pegli natives. Even in Cagliari there is a Museum of Arcibrotherwood of Genoa, that is a proof of the deep connection between Liguria and Sardegna.

    One night our teacher said that he fought with a strange weapon (I am not sure it was from Sardegna) using his technique of stick, taking a big risk: the weapon was a standard stick with a short extension bound to the tip. The lenght of the little stick and especially the lenght of the string were chosen for the perfect balance and usability. Every carefree defense resulted in a big risk of impact with the short stick that whip wildly with each hit. I think it derived from the tool used to beat the grain. I don't remeber the name of this clever and well engineered weapon.

    Beste regards, GiPOCO.
  4. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    This is really quite fascinating!

    Is it a folk tradition, handed down or reconstructed from period manuals, or a mixture of both?

    How does it differ in concept (strategy, etc) to other European stick arts such as Grande Bastone, Jogo do Pau and others? How many people practice this art, and is it done internationally?

    I look forward to learning more!

    Best regards,

  5. gipoco

    gipoco New Member

    Stick informations and techniques comparison

    Thanks Langenschwert for your post.

    Sure, bastone genovese is a folk tradition, but I like to expand my historical fencing skills reading old books (and pdf ;)) about traditional sword and stick combat.

    Our sport isn't very famous, so I think nobody teach it outside Italy, probably outside Genoa. There are few gym where stick fencing is put into practice in our city, and some are more "french stick" oriented. We don't use protections of any kind, to remain faithful to the tradition, and this choice don't help this sport to spread ;)

    Comparing Grande Bastone and Jogo do Pau with Bastone Genovese is a very hard work, but it's very exciting 'cause the sitcks are different but the thickness is similar and nobody can compete using "brute force". I don't know every single aspect of the first two, but they use a long stick: for my experience it may be very interesting to make a test match, but I think that our stick technique can have a little vantage: a little stick CAN accept a hit by a long staff and follow with a fast burst of strokes.

    For some aspects Jogo do Pau is similar to our ancient stick (much more similar to Bastone Siciliano) and opponents can balance, but Ta Kwan can use very long staffs: if the distance between opponents remain large, the match can balance or bend in favour of Ta Kwan, but if the shorter stick can reach his opponent or the long staff makes tired, it may be difficult to hold the "uzi-like" burst of shorter stick shots :)

    Obviously these are my own thoughts, based on my personal experience.
    I'm sure there are a lot of other aspects that may be crucial or even conclusive for the match.

    I give way to others to reply, GiPOCO.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2009
  6. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    Interesting. Yeah, I was looking for Jogo do Pau or Grande Bastone in Canada, and have been out of luck in my area. I thought it might be a nice adjunct to my longsword studies.

    Most Koryu kenjutsu schools don't use protective equipment either, and they can have proplems finding students, even in Japan.

    Best regards,

  7. Polar Bear

    Polar Bear Moved on

    Well better to remain small and true to the art than make it popular and watered down rubbish. Sounds like you guys have a good training ethic.

    The Bear.
  8. lklawson

    lklawson Valued Member

    I'm excited to see that these European folk-art stick-fighting traditions are being maintained. Thank you for this service.

    Peace favor your sword,
  9. Rick Kirkham

    Rick Kirkham New Member

    Lot of fighting styles become stemmed in tradition

    The hula for example was once used for training lua practitioners

  10. gipoco

    gipoco New Member

    Every movement in our beloved art has a strict dialect name.
    For example there is a combo called "parpaggiun". Its name comes from the "parpagione" or "parpaglione": the big moth, a nightly butterfly. The insect has the same shape of the movements of the stick :)

    Hula and lua are certainly connected to each other.
    There are a lot of fighting styles with their roots in dance (or with similarities): I mean capoeira for example.

    Our complemntary dance is "a muesca": a pantomime dance with various subjects, but with frequent references to warfare and combat.
    We are collecting informations and, as soon as possible, we are publishing
    everything in a specific section on our web site. There is just nothing (I mean videos and quality infos) about the Genoa's version of that traditional dance style. For other styles try "moorish dance" on google.

  11. Louie

    Louie STUNT DAD Supporter

    Hi GiPOCO...
    I've been involved in researching a traditional Scottish dance which involves the use of a dirk dagger or singlesticks - would be interested in seeing the "a muesca"


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