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of the Ofantine-Murgese Valley

by Domenico Mancino

The knife is just a tool for fencing.

However, “the art of fencing” is within the person. 

In the present work are not analyzed the fencing tactics applied in the dimension of self defense, together with the counter “legature”, the double “legature”, or the trapping and “rapimenti” (kidnapping) with the twine. Conversely, the pictures are elements of the final part in the fencing actions with the knife.


This little photographic booklet are shown some “legature” (tactic & technique) with the knife and the twine. The knife & twine is a local method from the “Ofantine Valley in Apulia”, developed by the “frantoiani” (workers with the “frantoio”, used to make olive oil) and from some Sheppard, as a pedagogic method to learn the tactics and techniques  of the knife fencing at short range.


The tradition of the knife fencing in the Ofantine valley can be dated back at least 200 years of real-life experience with the knife combat for defense. It was passed from father to son. However, when the particular use of the twine, common tool of the agropastoral tradition, was developed exactly is not know. What it is certainly known, is that the use of the twine for pedagogic purpose has always been part of the school “Cielo&Meraviglia”. The idea of the use of the twine for pedagogic scope was inspired by several factors, such as the way animals were bind in a fence, the use of securing and closing the bags full of olives.


Moreover, I want to highlight that the fencing with knife & twine, in a light sparring for training, can be a good chance to test your own skills of short range knife fencing.

Since the use of knife&twine supports and develop a specific coordination and motor function, timing, opportunism, reflexes together with, importantly, the awareness of the great danger of fencing at short range. In that dimension of the knife&twine, the fencer is facing himself, highlighting his own “fencing personality”, amplifying all defects and errors. It could be defined as a mirror, where the fencer looks at himself. Obviously, all this practice must be under the expert guidance of a skilled Master depositary of the tradition and of this system. Indeed, only the persons who own the codes of this fencing have the full picture and the full vision of this fencing method. Without the help of the depositary masters of this art, the study as a self-taught, is certainly doomed to fail and even dangerous. I strongly discourage anyone to try the practice of the knife&twine, without, I insist, an expert supervision. 

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