Glossary of Academie Duello's Terms of Swordplay

Ours is a martial art rich with words. Words that describe foot positions, body orientations, sword positions, sword relationships and angles, directions of movement, tactical principles, strategic ideals, and more. We also use a vocabulary that is full of unfamiliar words from the Italian language (some of them even unfamiliar to modern Italian speakers) and English words that can seem equally as alien.

To help tackle this challenge at Academie Duello, resident word geek Roland Cooper recently spear headed a project with our lead instructors and myself to update our glossary of terms across our three primary disciplines: Rapier, Sidesword, and Longsword. The results of that project have been compiled onto the Academie Duello Glossary page on WMAwiki (the Academie Duello Western Martial Arts Wiki). This is a great resource for new and experienced students alike. It is absolutely worth checking out and will hopefully be a helpful tool for remember and understanding all these words that float around in our swordy conversations.

One important thing to keep in mind as you review the glossary is that these are the terms as we use them at Academie Duello. Different schools will apply similar terms in different ways. Also when referencing historical texts, be aware that every fencing master tended to use their terms differently as well so no one glossary is a universal tower of Babel.

Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.