Rapier Syllabus

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Capoferro’s Scherma

By completion of these seven levels the student will be deeply competent in our core style of 17th century rapier, familiar with the other major styles, and able to follow their own interests to direct their own future development.

Basic Syllabus: first steps, to freeplay.

Level One

Mechanics and Conditioning:



steps forward and back

passing forward and back


Parts of the sword

4 guards

All footwork actions, with sword

disengage, counterdisengage, redisengage

stringering inside and outside

Hunt the debole

attack by disengage

attack on the disengage (parry-riposte in one tempo)

Parry riposte in two tempi

Plates 7 and 16 (first actions)

Level Two

Mechanics and Conditioning:

Forearm conditioning

Forearm massage

Basic breathing exercises

Guard position analysis with pressure

Lunge against pressure


breathing steps

breathing turns

Scanso della vita

Scanso dell pie dritto

Sbassi (from plates 11 and 14)


Stringering game

Disengage to feint

Beat attack, with and without disengage

Plates 7 and 16 complete

Plates 8, 13 complete

Level Three

Mechanics and Conditioning:

Knee conditioning

Knee massage

Grip grounding (edges and point, with sword)


all actions and combinations


Use of wall target, pell and mirror

Stringering game plus striking

Compound counter riposte drill

Plates 9,10,11,12,14

plates 6 and 15 (re stringering)

Level Four

Mechanics and Conditioning:

Perfect push-ups (shoulder stabilisation)

Perfect squats (hip, ankle, knee alignment)

Able to competently warm up



Plates 17, 18, 19, 20

Sword and Dagger:

Dagger parrying game

Dagger parry and strike game

Feint against the dagger game

All 6 guards with sword and dagger

4 Dagger parries

plates 22, 23, 24, 25

Advanced Syllabus: a complete grounding in one system, and awareness of others.

Note that in the more advanced levels the organisation of new material is essentially arbitrary: study of Fabris is in no way less advanced than the use of the rotella shield. So students may expect to see this material in class out of order, and at these levels, students are expected to be actively involved in planning their own training, and so to request specific material from their instructor.

Level Five

Mechanics and Conditioning:

The Crane


Cutting with sharps

Competitive drilling of familiar drills

Coaching drilling

Freeplay analysis

Sword and Dagger:


Plates 26-30


Familiarity with key plays (to be determined)

Level Six

Mechanics and Conditioning:

Breathing form


Slow execution of set drills with sharps

Sword and Dagger:

Slow execution of set drills with sharps

Plates 31-35, 38-41

Sword and Cloak:

Wearing and releasing the cloak

Parrying with the cloak

Attacking with the cloak (throw onto sword or face)

Plates 36 and 37


Core mechanics


Key plays (to be determined)

Strengths and weaknesses of his approach

Theory: 800 word essay on agreed topic

Level Seven

Sword and Rotella:

Plates 42 and 43

Spanish Rapier:

Basic familiarity with the techniques and concepts: exact content to be determined


Freeplay competence at sword, sword and dagger, sword and cloak, sword and shield, against any combination, in any style (Capoferro/Giganti, Fabris, Spanish)


1500 word essay on agreed topic