Now, you may ask..."so what's so cool about Bolognese Swordsmanship?" Thanks for asking! This is why I'm liking it:
1. The core weapon system is sword & buckler (at least for Marozzo and Manciolino). Sword & Buckler is one of my favorite things, so finding a system centered around it was cool for me! The only other documented Sword & Buckler system is the German I.33 method. But it is only Sword & Buckler. The Bolognese method starts with Sword & Buckler and then goes on to explain how to apply the same concepts and methods to many other weapons.
2. Bolognese Swordsmanship has many "Assalti", which is the same thing as the eastern martial art "form" or "kata." I do a lot of solo practicing. It can get a bit boring doing basic stuff over and over. So again, I thought it was pretty cool to discover a HEMA method that had many historical and well-documented "forms" to learn and practice. There is enough material here to keep solo workouts challenging and interesting for a very long time!
3. There are multiple documented resources for the Bolognese Tradition. There are 5 manuals detailing the tradition that span about 80 years. They have good internal cohesion. What may not be very clear in one manual is often explained better in another. They are laid out in a clear manner that is easy to follow. There are no cryptic verses to try and figure out a hidden meaning. And we are starting to see good translations. Tom's translation of Manciolino is excellent, and a good translation of Marozzo can't be far behind!
4. The system is very versatile. It was designed for multiple situations....battlefield, personal defense, dueling, and "school fencing." The manuals clearly lay out one mode of training designed for exhibition and school fencing, and another for fighting in "ernest." It also covers a multitude of weapons. Sword & Buckler (3 versions of the buckler), Sword & Shield (what other manuals do you know of that cover truly historical sword & shield methods?), sword & dagger, Sword & cape, 2 swords, sword alone, dagger alone, two-handed sword, partisan, spiedo (spear-like weapon), spear, and ronca (halberd-like weaon or "bill").
5. The "spada da due mani" or two-handed sword method uses a big sword also called a "spadone". It is very similar to the Portuges "montante." Its not as big as the German "zweihander", but close! However, I'm finding that the methods are easily adaptable to the Longsword. And what you end up with is a method different enough from the German Longsword or Fiore's dei Liberi's Longsword to be a 3rd major entry to the HEMA Longsword traditions. I'm kind of excited about developing this further. So I find this to be another cool aspect about the system.
Keith P. Myers
Lifetime Member HEMA Alliance
Affiliate: Bartitsu Society & Cateran Society
Friend: Meyer Frei Fechter Guild