Danet on the Demi-Volte

“In smallsword, the volte is a movement that is an evasive action—that is, an esquive—that sidesteps an attack while simultaneously thrusting into the opponent. When one executes this advanced move, one is simultaneously attacking and defending at the same time. Hence, the demi-volte can be considered a counter-attack. It is fraught with risk while remaining seductively elegant as an action that represents the epitome of classical fencing.”

Columbia Classical Fencing, LLC

Patrick Morgan
Head Instructor, Columbia Classical Fencing, LLC.

Scott A. Wright
Instructor, QueenCityClassicalFencing.com
Curator, SmallswordProject.com


In 1766, Guillaume Danet published the first of two volumes of L’Art des Armes. Volume I was Danet’s attempt to reassert the supremacy of the French school of fence in the wake of the Encyclopédie publishing Angelo’s plates as the sole entry for fencing the year before.  In so doing, Danet advocated for an improved and unified nomenclature of thrusts and parries with a numerical system in a natural order relevant to smallsword play.  It is Danet’s description of the demi-volte which we analyze here.

Given the advanced nature of the demi-volte, its use presupposes a depth of skill and experience.  Likewise, this examination of Danet’s demi-volte assumes a familiarity with fencing actions and vocabulary.  However, our use of terms in this article are defined here.

In smallsword, the volte is a…

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