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A void is a motion of the body which vacates the space that a sword is about to move into. In vulgar terms, it could be thought of as a "dodge". In rapier fencing, however, the term refers to a carefully timed, controlled action, almost always accompanied by an attack in counter tempo. A void should involve the least action necessary to "dodge" the incoming attack. The basic principle upon which a void operates

Types of voids

Obviously, a void can involve moving the body off to one side or the other. Dropping the body low so that the opponent's sword passes overhead should also be considered a void. However, by turning the body toward the inside, a very small void may be created which may suffice for defense, and in this turning (girata in Italian), the body will typically move forward.

Dropping low to void is typically accompanied either by a forward passing step or lunge, and in this case it is referred to as a low pass (passata sotto in Italian).

Finally, single part of the body -- such a limb -- may be voided without voiding the entire body. This is particularly the case with the forward leg.


The terminology used on this wiki is as follows:

English Italian Description
void of the right foot girata or scanso del pie dritto turning the body to the inside and rotating the front foot so that the heel is pointed towards the opponent. The rear foot remains in place.
void of the left foot, or void of the body girata or scanso della vita or inquarta same as the void of the right foot, except that the rear foot passes behind the front foot and is replaced, typically, close to or on the line of attack, in front of the front foot.
void of the leg extending the front leg either to the side or directly behind, while keeping the weight on the rear leg.
low lunge carrying the body low over the forward leg while lunging.
low pass passata sotto carrying the body low over the forward leg while passing.
reverse lunge carrying the body low over the forward leg while extending the rear leg out behind.
angulated step a step with the forward leg to either side.

Examples of voids

Capo Ferro and Fabris both give several examples of voids in their treatises. Only those in which the void is the primary vehicle of defense are listed here: many other plays also involve slight voids to augment a defense with the sword.

Capo Ferro

The body position of the void differs so much from Capo Ferro's recommended guard positions, that Capo Ferro seems to prefer defenses purely with the sword. Nevertheless, the void is demonstrated in the following plays:


Fabris believes that the void is superior to the parry for defense, and so almost all of his plays involve a void in one form or another. The following is a selection of the most demonstrative examples:

See also