Grand Master Domenico Mancino
the last depositary active master of this legacy
The first written document that describes the use of knife for defense and offense in the Apulian Ofantine Valley is dated 1799
The "legature" (bindings) are organized in two main elements: tactics and techniques.
Tactics are like chords in music. Each chord is made by a sequence of musical notes. Similarly the "legature" of the C&M fencing are made by at least one tactics and two techniques. Each "legatura" has a story, and they are all derived from real situations of stabbing or real life knife attach and defense. These experience and skills for knife combat and defense has been secretly passed from father to son, from relative to relative, from trusted friend to trusted friend. For generations that was part of the family patrimony. This patrimony was enriched across generations by new experience. Over centuries, this patrimony became complex, organized and sophisticated to eventually become a real school, organized in a complex "fencing grammar", enriched in tactics and techniques. The first codification has been formalized at the beginning of the XX century. A second codification happened immediately after the second world war, in the 1950s.
The "legature' are divided into:
1) Legature alla corta distanza (Bindings at short distance), called in the school as "Parte Irrazionale" (Irrational Part).
2) Legature alla lunga distanza (Bindings at long distance), called "parte razionale" (rational part).
The "Legature" can be general (aimed for a large number of attacks), or specialized against single attacks, but particularly dangerous or peculiar.
Each "legatura" can be used as "contro-legatura" (counter-binding). However, the application of legature vs legature requires higher level of knowledge of the art, that only a depositary Master owns. Indeed, the School is organized in different levels and encryptions, and specific "codes" are required to unlock certain secrets. Currently, only two people alive know these codes: Grand Masters Domenico Mancino and Nunzio Galante.
The Structure: Legature
Scherma di coltello stile "Monsignore" (Fencing style of "Monsignor")of C&M is a style developed to fence and fight in large spaces and is based on the "rational part". It is a kind of dueling fencing, and its characteristic is based on the use of the armed hand. The unarmed hand generally holds the lapel of the vest or of the jacket. Otherwise, the hand is positioned resting on the hips, or in the pocket of the pants, holding tight a "rosario" (rosary).
In this style the adept learns how to move in large spaces, to manage the enviroment, the basic handling of the knife (critical matter for this school), and to manage attcks using the first "legature" developed for the longer range.
The Style "Cielo e Meraviglia" contains tactics and techniques at both long and short range distances. This school contains all the fencing knowledge of the Ofantine valley.
Style "Cielo e Meraviglia"
There are methods, in C&M, of handling the sticks with one or with both hands. The schools includes tectniques and tatics at long and short range distances.
Grand Master Mancino, when he was a young boy, was brought by his mother to learn the stick with shepherds, after he had too many brawl and one night returned home all injured. That nihgt his monther decided, and she said: "Allright, I really have to to send him to you to my cousins at this point". And so she did, starting his journey into the traditions of Heaven and Marvel.
Coltello e Spago (knife and twine) is one of the secret of this school. It is considered the jewel in the crown of the school. Conversely to what people might believe, this is not a system for defense against a knife (Grand Master Mancino says about this: "it would be crazy and a suicide try to defend against a real knife attack using a twine"). Instead, this is a very sophisticated method to learn the short range fencing of this school, and the "Coltello e spago" is part of the pedagogic secrets the schools possesses to teach how to use and apply the combinations of tactics and technics. The last elders among the now deceiced masters were "Frantoiani" (people who work at the "frantoio", the stone oil mill used in the past to make extravirgin olive oil, a typical product of the Apulia Region, in Italy).
The "Coltello and Spago" is organized in "nomine". Each "nomina" is structured generally in 3 to 7 "legature". Groups of "nomine" are organized together in groups of 7. Groups of 7 "Nomine" form a "stile" (style) or "didattica schermistica" (pedagogic fencing structure) for the use of knife and twine.
Coltello e Spago
Pedagocy to learn fundamentals:
1) Basic principles with knife and twine
2) Positions with knife and twine
3) "Canali di Entrata" (Channels to enter)
3) "Rapimenti" (abductions)
Styles or "didattica schermitica" with knife and twine
1) Ad aggrovigliare (tangling)
2) Ad acchipappare (catching)
3) Civetta (little owl)
4) Zanzara (mosquito)
5) Leone (Lion, from the name of the person that codified this group of "legature")
6) contro-legature (counter-binding)
7) sfilare il coltello (pinching the knife)
Grand Master Nunzio Galante with his granfahter, frantoniano, one of his and Mancino's masters
Grand Master Domenico Mancino with Marco Quarta in a "tirata" using Monsignore style
Closed-door seminar of G.M. Mancino on C&M at the academy of Master Gianluca Verdini (Cavalieri di Umilta'), in Reggio Emilia, Italy (2015).
Grand Master Nunzio Galante
the only other depositary master alive, but "in sleep"
text written by M. Domenico Mancino and Dr. Marco Quarta.