shaheediyan Posted June 1, 2010 Report Share Posted June 1, 2010 George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence, 1598 Courtesy of Mr. Steve Hick, ARMA is proud to now present for the first time the complete un-annotated works of the grand old man of English renaissance fighting styles, George Silver. Here are his 1598 Paradoxes of Defence and his 1599 Brief Instructions, including the rare (and almost indecipherable) insert section. We also hope to soon include additional rare illustrations from his work. Without question, Silver was a true martial arts master and one of the most practical and street wise of the renaissance masters. Although written in the English language of the day, the style and terminology can sometimes be more difficult than reading the translated manuals of other languages. Silver has often gone unappreciated by modern fencers and his value underestimated by scholars, particularly for his views on the rapier. Yet, his critique as well as praise of the rapier was/is both sound and well warranted. Silver’s sword was the military "cut and thrust" style of blade at common the time and his texts offers an unique view of its value against the rapier and vice versa. He also offers wise instruction on dagger fighting as well a the the staff. More recently though, Silver hascome to be praised and respected by historical swordsmanship practitioners. Along side other English works such as the Pallas Armata and Joseph Swetnam, his method and views are being placed in better context for the whole of renaissance fighting arts. NOTE: This translation is only as reliable as is so far known and ARMA makes no claim as to its accuracy. George Silver's Paradoxes of Defence, 1598 Courtesy of Mr. Steve Hick, ARMA is proud to now present for the first time the complete un-annotated works of the grand old man of English renaissance fighting styles, George Silver. Here are his 1598 Paradoxes of Defence and his 1599 Brief Instructions, including the rare (and almost indecipherable) insert section. We also hope to soon include additional rare illustrations from his work. Without question, Silver was a true martial arts master and one of the most practical and street wise of the renaissance masters. Although written in the English language of the day, the style and terminology can sometimes be more difficult than reading the translated manuals of other languages. Silver has often gone unappreciated by modern fencers and his value underestimated by scholars, particularly for his views on the rapier. Yet, his critique as well as praise of the rapier was/is both sound and well warranted. Silver’s sword was the military "cut and thrust" style of blade at common the time and his texts offers an unique view of its value against the rapier and vice versa. He also offers wise instruction on dagger fighting as well a the the staff. More recently though, Silver hascome to be praised and respected by historical swordsmanship practitioners. Along side other English works such as the Pallas Armata and Joseph Swetnam, his method and views are being placed in better context for the whole of renaissance fighting arts. NOTE: This translation is only as reliable as is so far known and ARMA makes no claim as to its accuracy. Paradoxes of Defence Wherein is proved the true grounds of fight to be the short ancient weapons and that the short sword has advantage over the long sword or the long rapier. And the weakness and imperfection of the rapier fight-fights displayed. Together with an admonition to the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, and most brave nation of Englishmen, to beware of false teachers of defence, and how they forsake their own natural fights. With a brief commendation of the noble science or exercising of arms. by George Silver, Gentleman. London Printed for Edward Blount 1599 To the right honorable, my singular good lord, Robert, Earl of Essex and Ewe, Earl Marshall of England, Viscount Hereford, Lord Ferrers of Chartley, Bourchier and Louaine, Master of the Queens Majesty's horse, & of the Ordinance, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Knight of the most Nobel order of the Garter, and one of her highness most honorable Privy Council. Fencing (Right honorable) in this new fangled age, is like our fashions, every day a change, resembling the chameleon, who alters himself into all colors save white. So fencing changes into all wards save the right. That it is so, experience teaches us, why it is so, I doubt not but your wisdom does conceive. There is nothing permanent that is not true, what can be true that is uncertain? How can that be certain, that stands upon uncertain grounds? The mind of man a greedy hunter after truth, finding the seem truth but changing, not always one, but always diverse, forsakes the supposed, to find out the assured certainty, and searching everywhere save where it should, meets with all save what it would. Who seeks & finds not, seeks in vain. Who seeks in vain, must if he will find seek again, yet all in vain. Who seeks not what he would, as he should, and where he should, as in other things (Right Honorable), so in fencing. The mind desirous of truth, hunts after it, and hating falsehood, flies from it, and therefore having missed it once, it assays the second time. If then he thrives not, he tries another way. When he has failed, he adventures on the third & if all these fail him, yet he never fails to change his weapon, his fight, his ward, if by any means he may compass what he most affects, for because men desire to find out a true defence for themselves in their fight, therefore they seek it diligently, nature having taught us to defend ourselves, and art teaching us how, and because we miss it in one way, we change to another. But though we often chop and change, turn and return, from ward to ward, from fight to fight, in this constant search, yet we never rest in any, and that because we never find the truth, and therefore we never find it, because we never seek it in that weapon where it may be found. For, to seek for a true defence in an untrue weapon, is to angle on the earth for fish, and to hunt in the sea for hares. Truth is ancient though it seems an upstart. Our forefathers were wise, though our age accounts them foolish, valiant though we repute them cowards. They found out the true defences for their bodies in short weapons by their wisdom, they defended themselves and subdued their enemies, and those weapons with their valor. And (Right Honorable) if we have this true defence, we must seek it where is is, in short swords, short staves, the half pike, partisans, glaives, or such like weapons of perfect lengths, not in long swords, long rapiers, nor frog pricking poniards. For if there is no certain grounds for defence, why do they teach it? If there be, why have they not found it? Not because it is not so. To say so, were to gainsay the truth. But because it is not certain in those weapons which they teach. To prove this, I have set forth these my Paradoxes, different I confess from the main current of our outlandish teachers, but agreeing I am well assured to the truth, and tending as I hope to the honor of our English nation. The reason which moved me to adventure so great a task, is the desire I have to bring the truth to light, which has a long time lain hidden in the cave of contempt, while we like degenerate sons, have forsaken our forefathers virtues with their weapons, and have lusted like men sick of a strange ague, after the strange vices and devices of Italian, French, and Spanish fencers, little remembering, that these apish toys could not free Rome from Brennius's sack, not France from the King Henry the Fifth his conquest. To this desire to find out truth the daughter of time, begotten of Bellona, I was also moved, that by it I might remove the great loss of our English gallants, which we daily suffer by these imperfect fights, wherein none undertake the combat, be his cause never so good, his cunning never so much, his strength and agility never so great, but his virtue was tied to fortune Happy man, happy dolt, kill or be killed is the dreadful issue of the devilish imperfect fight. If the man were now alive, which beat the masters for the scholars fault, because he had no better instructed him, these Italian fencers could not escape his censure, who teach us offence, not defence, and to fight, as Diogenes' scholars were taught to dance, to bring their lives to an end by Art. Was Ajax a coward because he fought with a seven folded buckler, or are we mad to go naked into the field to try our fortunes, not our virtues. Was Achilles a run-away, who wore that well tempered armor, or are we desperate, who care for nothing but to fight ,and learn like the the pygmies, with bodkins, or weapons of like defence? Is it valorous for a man to go naked against his enemy? Why then did the Lacedemonians punish him as desperate, whom they rewarded for his valor with a laurel crown? But that which is most shameful, they teach men to butcher one another here at home in peace, wherewith they cannot hurt their enemies abroad in war. For, you honor well knows, that when the battle is joined, there is no room for them to draw their bird-spits, and when they have them, what can they do with them? Can they pierce his corslet with the point? Can they unlace his helmet, unbuckle his armor, hew asunder their pikes with a Stocata, a Reversa, a Dritta, a Stramason or other such tempestuous terms? No, these toys are fit for children, not for men, for straggling boys of the camp, to murder poultry, not for men of honor to try the battle with their foes. Thus I have Right Honorable) for the trial of the truth, between the short sword and the long rapier, for the saving of the lives of our English gallants, who are sent to certain death by their uncertain fights, & for abandoning of the mischievous and imperfect weapon, which serves to kill our friends in peace, but cannot much hurt our foes in war, have I at this time given forth these Paradoxes to the view of the world. And because I know such strange opinions had need of stout defence, I humbly crave your Honorable protection, as one in whom the true nobility of our victorious ancestors has taken up residence. It will suit to the rest of your Honors most noble complements, to maintain the defence of their weapons whose virtues you profess. It agrees with your Honorable disposition, to receive with favor what is presented with love. It sorts well with your Lordship's high authority, to weigh with reason, what is fit for marshal men. It is an unusual point of your Honor, which wins your Lordship love in your country, to defend the truth in whomsoever, and it adds a supply to that which your Lordship have of late begun to your unspeakable honor and inestimable benefit, to reduce the wearing of swords with hilts over the hands, to the Roman discipline, no longer then they might draw them under their arms, or over their shoulders. In all or any of these respects, I rest assured that your Lordship will vouchsafe to receive with favor and maintain with honor these Paradoxes of mine, which if they be shrouded under so safe a shield, I will not doubt but to maintain with reason among the wise, and prove it by practice upon the ignorant, that there is no certain defence in the rapier, and that there is great advantage in the short sword against the long rapier, or all manner of rapiers in general, of what length soever. And that the short staff has the advantage against the long staff of twelve, fourteen, sixteen or eighteen feet long, or of what length soever. And against two men with their swords and daggers, or two rapiers, poniards & gauntlets, or each of them a case of rapiers, which whether I can perform or not, I submit for trial to your Honors martial censure, being at all times ready to make it good, in what manner, and against what man soever it shall stand upon your Lordship's good liking to appoint. And so I humbly commend this book to your Lordship's wisdom to peruse, and your Honor to the Highest to protect in all health and happiness now and ever Your Honors in all duty, George Silver AN ADMONITION 1 to the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, and most brave nation of Englishmen. George Silver having the perfect knowledge of all manner of weapons, and being experienced in all manner of fights, thereby perceiving the great abuses of the Italian teachers of offence done unto them, and great errors, inconveniences, & false resolutions they have brought them into, has informed me, even for pity of their most lamentable wounds and slaughters, & as I verily think it my bound duty, with all love and humility to admonish them to take heed, how they submit themselves into the hand of Italian teachers of defence, or strangers whatsoever, and to beware how they forsake or suspect their own natural fight, that they may by casting off these Italianated, weak, fantastical, and most devilish and imperfect fights, and by exercising their own ancient weapons, be restored, or achieve unto the natural, and most manly and victorious fight again, the dint and force whereof many brave nations have both felt and feared. Our plowmen have mightily prevailed against them, as also against masters of defence, both in schools and countries, that have taken upon them to stand upon school tricks and juggling gambols. Whereby it grew to a common speech among the countrymen "Bring me to a fencer, I will bring him out of his fence tricks with down right blows. I will make him forget his fence tricks, I will warrant him." I speak not masters of defence indeed, they are to be honored, nor against the science, it is noble, and in my opinion to be preferred next to divinity, for as divinity preserves the soul from hell and the devil, so does this noble science defend the body from wounds & slaughter. And moreover, the exercising of weapons puts away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increases strength, and sharpens the wits. It gives a perfect judgement, it expels melancholy, choleric and evil conceits, it keeps a man in breath, perfect health, and long life. It is unto him that has the perfection thereof, a most friendly and comfortable companion when he is alone, having but only his weapon about him. It puts him out of fear, & in the wars and places of most danger, it makes him bold, hardy and valiant. And for as much as this noble and most mighty nation of Englishmen, of their good natures, are always most loving, very credulous, & ready to cherish & protect strangers, yet that through their good natures they never more by strangers or false teachers nay be deceived, once again I most humbly to admonish them, or such as shall find in themselves a disposition or desire to learn their weapons of them, that from henceforth as strangers shall take upon them to come hither to teach this noble & most valiant & victorious nation to fight, that first, before they learn of them, they cause a sufficient trial to be very requisite & reasonable, even such as I myself would be contented withal, if I should take upon me to go in their country to teach their nation to fight. And this is the trial: They shall play with such weapons as they profess to teach withal, three bouts apiece with three of the best English masters of defence & three bouts apiece with three unskillful valiant men, and three bouts apiece with three resolute men half drunk. Then if they can defend themselves against these masters of defence, and hurt, and go free from the rest, then are they be honored, cherished, and allowed for perfect good teachers, and what countrymen soever they be. But if any of these they take fail, then they are imperfect in their profession, their fight is false, & they are false teachers, deceivers and murderers, and to be punished accordingly, yet no worse punishment unto them I wish, than such as in their trial they shall find. There are four special marks to know the Italian fight is imperfect, & that the Italian teachers and setters forth of books of defence, never had the per- fection of the true fight The first mark is, they seldom fight in their own country unarmed, commonly in this sort, a pair of gauntlets upon their hands, and a good shirt of mail upon their bodies. The second mark is, that neither the Italian nor any of their best scholars do never fight, but they are most commonly sore hurt, or one or both of them slain. The third mark is, they never teach their scholars, nor set down in their books any perfect length of their weapons, without which no man can by nature or art against the perfect length fight safe, for being too short, their times are too long, and spaces too wide for their defence, and being too long, they will be upon every cross that shall happen to be made, whether it shall be done by skill or chance, in great danger of death, because the rapier being too long, the cross cannot be undone in due time, but may be done by going back with the feet, but that time is always too long to answer the time of the hand, therefore every man ought to have a weapon according to his own stature, the tall man must have his sword longer than the man of mean stature, else he has wrong in his defence, & he man of mean stature must have his weapon longer than the man of small stature, else he has wrong in his defence, & the man of small stature must beware he does not feed himself with this vain conceit, that he will have his weapon long, to reach as far as the tall man, for therein he shall have great disadvantage, both with the making of a strong cross, and also in uncrossing again, and in keeping his point from crossing, and when a cross is made upon him, to defend himself, or in danger his enemy, or to redeem his lost times. Again, rapiers longer than is convenient to accord with the true statures of men, are always too long or too heavy to keep their bodies in due time from the cross of the light short sword of perfect length, the which being made by the skillful out of any of the four true times, upon any of the four chief actions, by reason of the uncertainty & great swiftness in any of these times, they are in great danger of a blow, or of a thrust in the hand, arm, head, or face, & in every true cross in the uncrossing, in great danger of a blow upon the head, or full thrust in the body or face, and being taken in that time & place, the first mover in uncrossing speeds the rapier man of imperfect length, whether it is too long, too short or too heavy, and goes free himself by the direction of his governors. The fourth mark is, the crosses of their rapiers for true defence of their hands is imperfect, for the true carriage of the guardant fight, without which all fights are imperfect. Of six chief causes, that many valiant men think themselves by their practices to be skillful in their weapons, are yet many times in their fights sore hurt, and many times slain by men of small skill or none at all. 3 The first and chief cause is, the lack of the four governors, without which it is impossible to fight safe, although a man should practice most painfully and most diligently all the days of his life. The second cause is, the lack of the knowledge in due observance of the four actions, the which we shall call bent, spent, lying spent, and drawing back. These actions every man fights upon, whether they are skillful or unskillful, he that observes them is safe, he that observes them not, is in continual danger of every thrust that shall be strongly made against him. The third cause is, they are unpracticed in the four true times, neither do they know the true times from the false, therefore the true choice of their times are most commonly taken by chance, and seldom otherwise. The fourth cause is, they are unacquainted out of what fight, or in what manner they are to answer the variable fight, and therefore because the variable fight is the most easy fight of all others, most commonly (they)do answer the variable fight with the variable fight, (at) which (they) ought never be but in the first distance, or with the short sword against the long, because if both or one of them shall happen to press, and that in due time of either side's fight be changed, the distance, by reason of the narrowness of space, is broken, the place is won and lost of both sides, then he that thrusts first, speeds (it home). If both happen to thrust together, they are both in danger. These things sometimes by true times, by change of fights, by chance are avoided. The fifth cause is, their weapons are most commonly too long to uncross without going back with the feet. The sixth cause is, their weapons are most commonly to heavy both to defend and offend in due time, & by these two last causes many valiant men have lost their lives. What is the cause that wise men in learning or practicing their weapons, are deceived with Italian Fencers There are four causes. The first, their schoolmaster are imperfect. The second is, that whatsoever they teach, is both true & false; true in their demonstrations, according with their force & time in gentle play, & in their actions according with the force & time in rough play or fight, false. For example, there is much difference between these two kinds of fight, as there is between the picture of Sir Beuis of Southhampton and Sir Beuis himself, if he were living. The third, none can judge of the craft but the craftsman, the unskilled, be he never so wise, can not truly judge of his teacher, or skill, the which he learns, being unskilled himself. Lastly, & to confirm for truth all that shall be amiss, not only in this excellent science of defence, but in all other excellent secrets, most commonly the lie bears as good a show of truth, as truth itself. Of the false resolutions and vain opinions of Rapier men and of the danger of death thereby ensuing 4 It is a great question, & especially among the rapier men, who has the advantage, the thruster or the warder? Some hold strongly, that the warder has the advantage. Others say, it is most certain that the thruster has the advantage. Now, when two do happen to fight, being both of one mind, that the thruster has the advantage, they make all shift they can, who shall give the first thrust, as for example, two captains at Southhampton even as they were going to take shipping upon the key, fell at strife, drew their rapiers, and presently, being desperate, hardy or resolute, as they call it, with all force and over great speed, ran with their rapiers one at the other, & were both slain. Now when two of the contrary opinion shall meet and fight, you shall see very peaceable wars between them. For they verily think that he that first thrusts is in great danger of his life, therefore with all speed do they put themselves in ward, or Stocata, the surest guard of all other, as Vincentio says, and thereupon they stand sure, saying the one to the other, "thrust if you dare", and says the other, "thrust if you dare", or "strike or thrust if you dare", says the other. Then says the other, "strike or thrust if you dare, for your life". These two cunning gentlemen standing along time together, upon this worthy ward, they both depart in peace, according to the old proverb: "It is good sleeping in a whole skin." Again if two shall fight, the one of opinion, that the warder has the advantage, then most commonly, the thruster being valiant, with all speed thrusts home, and by reason of the time and swift motion of his hand, they are most commonly with the points of their rapiers, or daggers, or both, one or both of them (are) hurt or slain because their spaces of defence in this kind of fight ate too wide in due time to defend, and the place being one, the eye of the patient by the swift motion of the agents hand is deceived. Another resolution they stand sure upon their lives, to kill their enemies. That is this, when they find the point of their enemy's rapier out of the right line, they say, they may boldly make home thrust with a Passata, the which the observe, and do accordingly. But the other having a shorter time with his hand, as nature many times teaches him, suddenly turns his wrist, whereby he meets the other in his passage just with the point of his rapier in the face or body. And this false resolution has cost many a life. That the cause that many are so often slain, and many sore hurt in fight with long rapier is not by reason of their dangerous thrusts, nor cunning of that Italianated fight, but in the length and unwieldiness thereof 5 It is most certain, that men may with short swords both strike, thrust, false and double, by reason of their distance and nimbleness thereof, more dangerously than they can with long rapiers. And yet, when two fight with short swords, having true fight, there is no hurt done. Neither is it possible in any reason, that any hurt should be done between them of either side, and this is well known to all such as have the perfection of the true fight. By this it plainly appears, that the cause of the great slaughter, and sundry hurts done by long rapiers, consists not in their long reach, dangerous thrusts, nor cunningness of the Italian fight, but in the inconvenient length, and unwieldiness of their long rapiers, whereby it commonly falls out, that in all their actions appertaining to their defence, they are unable, in due time to perform, and continually in danger of every cross, that shall happen to be made with their rapier blades, which being done, within the half rapier, unless both are of one mind (and) with all speed (make) to depart, which seldom or never happens between men of valiant disposition, it is impossible to uncross, or get out, or avoid the stabs of the daggers. And this has slain many times among valiant men at those weapons. Of running and standing safe in rapier fight, the runner has the advantage 6 If two valiant men fight being both cunning in running, & that they both use the same at one instant, their course is doubled, the place is won of both sides, and one or both of them will commonly be slain or sore hurt. And if one of them shall run, and the other stand fast upon the Imbrocata or Stocata, or however, the place will be at one instant won of one side, and gained of the other, and one or both of them will be hurt or slain. If both shall press hard upon the guard, he that first thrusts home in true place, hurts the other, & if both thrust together, they are both hurt. Yet some advantage the runner has, because he is an uncertain mark, and in his motion. The other is a certain mark, and in dead motion, And by reason of this many times the unskillful man takes advantage he knows not how, against him that lies watching upon his ward or Stocata guard.. Of striking and thrusting both together 7 It is strongly held by many, that if in a fight they find their enemy to have more skill than themselves, they presently will continually strike & thrust just with him, whereby they will make their fight as good as his, and thereby have as good advantage as the other with all his skill. But if their swords are longer than the other('s), then their advantage is great. For it is certain (they say) that an inch will kill a man. But if their swords are much longer than the other('s), then their advantage is so great, that they will be sure by striking and thrusting just with the other, that they will always hurt him that has the short sword, and go clear themselves, because they will reach him, when he shall not reach them. These men speak like such as talk of Robin Hood, that never shot with his bow, for to strike or thrust just together with a man of skill, lies not in the will of the ignorant, because a skillful man always fights upon the true times, by which the unskillful is still disappointed of both place and time, and therefore driven of necessity still to watch the other, when & what he will do. That is, whether he will strike, thrust, or false. If the unskillful strike or thrust in the time of falsing (feinting), therein he neither strikes or thrusts just with the other. He may say, he has struck or thrust before him, but not just with him, not to any good purpose. For in the time of feinting, if he strikes or thrusts, he strikes or thrusts too short. For in that time he has neither time nor place to strike home, and as it is said, the unskillful man, that will take upon him to strike or thrust just with the skillful, must first behold what the man of skill will do, and when he will do it, and therefore of necessity is driven to suffer the skillful man to be the first mover, and entered into his action, whether it is blow or thrust. The truth of this cannot be denied. Now judge whether it is possible for an unskillful ,am to strike or thrust just together with a man of skill. But the skillful man can most certainly strike and thrust just with the unskillful, because the unskillful fights upon false times, which being too long to answer the true times, the skillful fighting upon the true times, although the unskillful is the first mover, & entered into his action, whether it is blow or thrust, yet the shortness of the true times make at the pleasure of the skillful a just meeting together. In the perfect fight two never strike or thrust together, because they never suffer place nor time to perform it. Two unskillful men many times by chance strike or thrust together, chance unto them, because they know not what they do, or how it comes to pass. But the reasons or causes are these. Sometimes two false times meet & make a just time together, & sometimes a true time and a false time meet and make a just time together, and sometimes two true times meet and make a just time together. And all this happens because the true time and place is unknown unto them George Silver his resolution upon that hidden or doubt- ful question, who has the advantage of the Offender or Defender 8 The advantage is strongly held by many to be in the offender, yes in so much, that if two minding to offend in their fight, it is thought to be in him that first strikes or thrusts. Others strongly hold opinion that the warder absolutely has still the advantage, but these opinions as they are contrary the one to the other, so are they contrary to true fight(ing), as may well be seen by these short examples. If the advantage is in the striker or thruster, then were it a frivolous thing to learn to ward, or at any time to seek to ward, since in warding lies disadvantage. Now may it plainly by these examples appear, that if there is any perfection in fighting), that both sides are deceived of their opinions, because if the striker or thruster has the advantage, then is the warder still in danger of wounds or death. If again, if the warder has the advantage, then is the striker or thrust in as great danger to defend himself against the warder, because the warder from his wards, takes advantage of the striker or thruster upon every blow or thrust, that shall be made against him. Then thus do I conclude, that if there is perfection in the Science of Defence, they are all in their opinions deceived. And that the truth may appear for the satisfaction of all men, this is my resolution: that there is no advantage absolutely, nor disadvantage in striker, thruster, or warder, and their is great advantage in the striker, thruster & warder, but in this manner. In the perfection of fight the advantage consists in fight between party and party, that is, whosoever wins or gains the place in true pace, space and time, has the advantage, whether he is striker, thruster or warder. And that is my resolution. Of Spanish fight with the Rapier 9 The Spaniard is now thought to be a better man with his rapier than is the Italian, Frenchman, high Almaine (German) or any other country man whatsoever, because they in their rapier fight stand upon so many intricate tricks that in all the course of a man's life it shall be hard to learn them, and if they miss in doing the least of them in their fight, they are in danger of death. But the Spaniard in his fight, both safely to defend himself, and to endanger his enemy, has but one lying, and two wards to learn, wherein a man with small practice in a very short time may become perfect. This is the manner of the Spanish fight. They stand as brave as they can with their bodies straight upright, narrow spaced, with their feet continually moving, as if they were in a dance, holding forth their arms and rapiers very straight against the face or bodies of their enemies, and this is the only lying to accomplish that kind of fight. And this note, that as long as any man shall lie in that manner with his arm, and the point of his rapier straight, it shall be impossible fro his adversary to hurt him, because in that straight holding forth of his arm, which way soever a blow shall be made against him, by reason that his rapier hilt lies so far before him, he has but a very little way to move, to make his ward perfect, in this manner. If a blow is made at the right side of the head, a very little moving of the hand with the knuckles upward defends that side of the head or body, and the point being still out straight, greatly endangers the striker. And so likewise, if a blow is made at the left side of the head, a very small turning of the wrist with the knuckles downward, defends that side of the head and body, and the point of rapier much endangers the hand, arm, face or body of the striker. And if any thrust is made, the wards, by reason of the indirections in moving the feet in (the) manner of dancing, as aforesaid, makes a perfect ward, and still withal the point greatly endangers the other. And thus is the Spanish fight perfect: so long as you can keep that order, and soon learned, and therefore to be accounted the best fight with the rapier of all other(s). But note how the Spanish fight is perfect, you shall see no longer than you keep your point straight against your adversary: as for example, I have heard the like jest: There was a cunning Doctor at his first going to sea, being doubtful that he should be sea sick, an old woman perceiving the same, said unto him: "Sir, I pray, be of good comfort, I will teach you a trick to avoid that doubt. Here is a fine pebble stone, if you please to accept it, take it with you, and when you are on ship board, put it in your mouth, and as long you shall keep the same in your mouth, upon my credit you shall never vomit." The Doctor believed her, and took it thankfully at her hands, and when he was at sea, he began to be sick, whereupon he presently put the stone in his mouth, & there kept it so long as he possibly could, but through his extreme sickness the stone with vomit was cast out of his mouth. Then presently he remembered how the woman had mocked him, and yet her words were true. Even so a Spaniard having his rapier point put by, may receive a blow on the head, or a cut over the face, hand or arm or a thrust in the body or face, and yet his Spanish fight perfect, so long as he can keep straight the point of his rapier against the face or body of his adversary, which is as easy in that manner of fight to be done, as it was for the Doctor in the extremity of his vomit to keep the stone in his mouth. Yet one other pretty jest more, scarce worth the reading, in commendation of outlandish fight. There was an Italian teacher of Defence in my time, who so excellent in his fight, that he would hit any English man with a thrust, just upon any button in his doublet, and this was much spoken of. Also there was another cunning man in catching of wild-geese, he would have made no more ado, wen he had heard them cry, as the manner of wild-geese is, flying one after another in rows, but presently looking up, would tell them, if heir were a dozen, sixteen, twenty, or more, he would have taken every one. And this tale was many times told by men of good credit, and much marvelled at by their hearers, and the man who would have taken the wild-geese, was of good credit himself. Merry they said, indeed he did never take any, but at any time when he looked up, and seen them fly in that manner, he would with all his heart have taken them, but he could no more tell how to do it, then could the cunning Italian Fencer tell how to hit an Englishman, with a thrust just upon any one of his buttons, when he listed. Illusions for the maintenance of imperfect weapons & false fights, to fear or discourage the unskillful in their weapons, from taking a true course or use, for attaining to the perfect know- ledge of true fight 10 First, for the rapier (says the Italian, or false teacher) I hold to be a perfect good weapon, because the cross hinders not to hold the handle in the hand, to thrust both far & straight, & to use all manner of advantages in the wards, or suddenly to call the same at the adversary, but with the sword you are driven with all the strength of the hand to hold fast the handle. And in the wars I would wish no friend of mine to wear swords with hilts, because when they are suddenly set upon, for haste they set their hands upon their hilts instead of their handles, in which time it happens many times before they can draw their swords, they are slain by their enemies. And for Sword and Buckler fight, it is imperfect, because the buckler blinds the fight, neither would I have any man lie aloft with his hand above his head, to strike sound blows. Strong blows are naught, especially being set above the head, because therein all the face and body are discovered. Yet I confess, in old times, when blows were only used with short Swords & Bucklers, & back Swords, these kinds of fights were good & most manly, now a days fight is altered. Rapiers are longer for advantage than swords were wont to be. When blows were used, men were so simple in their fight, that they thought him a coward, that would make a thrust or a blow beneath the girdle. Again if their weapons were short, as in times past they were, yet fight is better looked into these days, than then it was. Who is it in these days sees not that the blow compasses round like a wheel, whereby it has a long way to go, but the thrust passes in a straight line, and therefore comes a nearer way, and done in a shorter time than is the blow, and is more deadly than is the blow? There fore there is no wise man that will strike, unless he is weary of his life. It is certain, that the point for advantage every in fight(ing) is to be used, the blow is utterly naught, and not to be used. He that fights upon the blow especially with a short sword, will be sore hurt or slain. The devil can say no more for the maintenance of errors. That a blow comes continually as near as a thrust, and most commonly nearer, stronger, more swift, and is sooner done 11 The blow, by reason that it compasses round like a wheel, whereby it has a longer way to come, as the Italian Fencer says, & that the thrust passing in a straight line, comes a nearer way, and therefore is sooner done than a blow, is not true, these are the proofs. Let two lie in their perfect strengths and readiness, wherein the blades of their rapiers by the motion of the body, may not be crossed of either side, the one to strike, and the other to thrust. Then measure the distance or course wherein the hand and hilt passes to finish the blow of the one, and the thrust of the other, and you shall find them both by measure, in distance all one. At let any man of judgement being seen in the exercise of weapons, not being more addicted unto novelties of fight, than unto truth itself, put in measure, and practice these three fights, variable open, and guardant, and he shall see, that whenever any man lies at the thrust at the variable fight, (where of necessity most commonly he lies, or otherwise not possible to keep his rapier from crossing at the blow & thrust, upon the open or guardant fight,) that the blows & thrusts from these two fighters, come a nearer way, and a more stronger and swifter course than does the thrust, out of the variable fight. And thus for a general rule, wheresoever the thruster lies, or out of what fight soever he fights, with his rapier, or rapier and dagger, the blow in his course comes as near, and nearer, and more swift and stronger than does the thrust. Perfect fight stands upon both blow and thrust, there- fore the thrust is not only to be used 12 That there is no fight perfect without both blow and thrust. Neither is there any certain rule to be set down for the use of the point only, these are the reasons: In fight(ing) there are many motions, with the hand, body, and feet, and in every motion the place of the hand is altered, & because by the motions of the hand, the altering of the places of the hand, the changes of lyings, wards, and breaking of thrusts, the hand will sometimes be in place to strike, some times to thrust, sometimes after a blow to thrust, sometimes after a thrust to strike, & sometimes in a place where you may strike, and cannot thrust without loss of time, and sometimes in place where you may thrust, and cannot thrust without loss of time, and sometimes in a place where you can neither strike nor thrust, unless you fight upon blow and thrust, nor able to defend yourself by ward or going back, because your space will be too wide, and your distance lost. And sometimes when you have made a thrust, a ward or breaking is taken in such sort with the dagger or blade of the sword, that you can neither thrust again, nor defend yourself unless you do strike, which you may soundly do, and go free, and sometimes when you strike, a ward will be taken in such sort, that you cannot strike again, nor defend yourself, unless you thrust, which you may safely do and go free. So to conclude, there is no perfection in the true fight, without both blow and thrust, nor certain rule to set down for the point only. That the blow is more dangerous and deadly in fight(ing), than a thrust, for proof thereof to be made according with Art, and Englishman holds argument against an Italian. 13 Italian: Which is more dangerous or deadly in fight(ing), a blow or a thrust? Englishman: This question is not propounded according to the art, because there is no fight perfect without ht blow and thrust. Italian: Let it be so, yet opinions are otherwise held, that the thrust is only to be used, because it comes a near way, and is more dangerous and deadly, for these reasons. First, the blow compasses round like a wheel, but the thrust passes in a straight line, therefore the blow by reason of this compass has a longer way to go than the thrust & is therefore longer in doing, but the thrust passes in a straight line, therefore has a shorter way to go than has the blow, & is therefore done in a shorter time, & is therefor much better than the blow, & more dangerous and deadly, because if a thrust does hit the face or body, it endangers life, and most commonly death ensues, but if the blow hits the body, it is not so dangerous. Englishman: Let your opinions be what they will, but that the thrust comes a nearer way, & is sooner done that the blow, is not true, and for proof thereof read the twelfth paradox. And now will I set down possible reasons, that the blow is better than the thrust, and more dangerous and deadly. First, the blow comes as near a way, & most commonly nearer than does the thrust, & is therefore done in a shorter time than is the thrust. Therefore in respect of time, whereupon stands the perfection of fight, the blow is much better than the thrust. Again, the force of the thrust passes straight, therefore any cross being indirectly made, the force of a child may put it by. But the force of the blow passes indirectly, therefore must be directly warded in the countercheck of his force, which cannot be done but by the convenient strength of a man, & with true cross in true time, or else will not safely defend him, and is therefor much better, & more dangerous than the thrust. And again, the thrust being made through the hand, arm, or leg, or in many places of the body and face, are not deadly, neither are they maims, or loss of limbs or life, neither is he much hindered for the time in his fight, as long as the blood is hot. For example: I have known a gentleman hurt in rapier fight, in nine or ten places through the body, arms, and legs, and yet has continued in his fight, & afterward has slain the other, and come home and has been cured of all his wounds without maim, & is yet living. But the blow being strongly made, takes sometimes clean away the hand from the arm, has many times been seen. Again, a ful blow upon the head or face with a short sharp sword, is most commonly death. A full blow upon the neck, shoulder, arm, or leg, endangers life, cuts off the veins, muscles, and sinews, perishes the bones. These wounds made by the blow, in respect of perfect healing, are the loss of limbs, or main=ms incurable forever. And yet more for the blow. A full blow upon the head, face, arm, leg, or legs, is death, or the party so wounded in the mercy of him that shall so wound him. For what man shall be able long in fight to stand up, either to revenge, or defend himself, having the veins, muscles, sinews of his hand, arm, or leg clean cut asunder? Or being dismembered by such wound upon the face or head, but shall be enforced thereby, and through the loss of blood, the other a little dallying with him, to yield himself, or leave his life in his mercy? And for plainer deciding this controversy between the blow and the thrust, consider this short note. The blow comes many ways, the thrust does not so. The blow cones a nearer way than the thrust most commonly, and is therefore sooner done. The blow requires the strength of a man to be warded, but the thrust may be put by by the force of a child. A blow upon the hand, arm, or leg is maim incurable, but a thrust in the hand, arm, or leg is to be recovered. The blow has many parts to wound, and in every (one) of them commands he life, but the thrust has but a few, as the body or face, and is not in every part of them either. Of the difference between the true fight & the false. Where- in consists ( the Principles being had with the direction of the four Governors) the whole perfection of fight with all manner of weapons 14 The true fights be these. Whatsoever is done with the hand before the foot or feet is true fight. The false fight are these: whatsoever is done with the foot or feet before the hand, is false, because the hand is swifter than the foot, the foot or feet being the slower mover than the hand, the hand in that manner of fight is tied to the time of the foot or feet, and being tied thereto, has lost his freedom, and is made thereby as slow in his motions as the foot or feet, and therefor that fight is false. Of evil orders or customs in our English Fence schools, & of the old or ancient teaching of weapons, & things very necessary to be continued for the avoiding of errors, and reviving and continuance of our ancient weapons, and most victorious fight again 15 There is in my opinion in our fence schools an evil order or custom in these days used, the which, if it might stand with the liking of our Masters of Defence, I think it necessary to be left. For as long as it is used, it shall be hard to make a good scholar That is this, at the single sword, sword and dagger, & sword and buckler, they forbid the thrust, & at the single rapier, and rapier & dagger, they forbid the blow. Either the are both together best, or the thrust altogether best. If the thrust is best, why do we not use it a t the single sword, sword & dagger, & sword & buckler? If the blow is best, why do we not use it at the single rapier, rapier & poniard? But knowing by the art of arms, that no fight is perfect without both blow and thrust, why do we not use and teach both blow and thrust? But however this we daily see, that when two met in fight, whether they have skill or none, unless such as have tied themselves to that boyish, Italian, weak, imperfect fight, they both strike and thrust, and how shall he then do, that being much taught in school, that never learned to strike, nor how to defend a strong blow? And how shall he then do, that being brought up in a fencing school, that never learned to thrust with the single sword, sword & dagger, and sword and buckler, nor how at these weapons to break a thrust? Surely, I think a down right fellow, that never came in school, using such skill as nature yielded out of his courage, strength, and agility, with good downright blows and thrust among (them), as shall best frame in his hands, should put one of these imperfect scholars greatly to his shifts. Besides, there are now in these days no grips, closes, wrestlings, striking with the hilts, daggers, or bucklers, used in fencing schools. Our plowmen will by nature will do these things with great strength & agility. But the schoolmen is altogether unacquainted with these things. He being fast tied to such school-play as he has learned, has lost thereby the benefit of nature, and the plowman is now by nature without art a far better man than he. Therefor in my opinion as long as we bar any manner of play in school, we shall hardly make a good scholar. There is no manner of teaching comparable to the old ancient teaching, that is, first their quarters, then their wards, blows, thrusts, and breaking of thrusts, then their closes and grips, striking with the hilts, daggers, bucklers, wrestlings, striking with the foot or knee in the cods, and all these are safely defended in learning perfectly of the grips. And this is the ancient teaching, and without this teaching, there shall never scholar be made able, do his uttermost, nor fight safe. Again their swords in schools are too long by almost half a foot to uncross, without going back with the feet, within distance or perfectly to strike or thrust within the half or quarter sword. And in serving of the prince, when men do meet together in public fight, are utterly naught and unserviceable. The best length for perfect teaching of the true fight to be used and continued in fence schools, to accord with the true statures of all men, are these. The blade to be a yard and an inch for men of mean stature, and for men of tall statures, a yard and three or four inches, and no more. And I would have the rapier continued in schools, always ready for such as shall think themselves cunning, or shall have delight to play with that imperfect weapon. Provided always, that the schoolmaster or usher play with him with his short sword, plying him with all manner of fight according to the true art. This being continued the truth shall flourish, the lie shall be beaten down, and all nations not having the true science, shall come with all gladness to the valiant and most brave English masters of defence to learn the true fight for their defence. The grounds or Principles of true fight with all manner of weapons 16 First judgement, lyings, distance, direction, pace, space, place, time, indirection, motion, action, general and continual motion, progression, regression, traversing, and treading of ground, blows, thrusts, falses (feints), doubles, slips, wards, breaking of thrusts, closings, grips, & wrestlings, guardant fight, open fight, variable fight, and close fight, and four governors. The wards of all manner of weapons 17 All single weapons have four wards, and all double weapons have eight wards. The single sword has two with the point up, and two with the point down. The staff and all manner of weapons to be used with two hands have the like. The sword and buckler, and the sword and dagger are double weapons, and have eight wards, two with the point up, and two with the point down, and two for the legs with the point down, the point to be carried for both sides of the legs, with the knuckles downward, and two wards with the dagger or buckler for the head. The forest bill is a double weapon by reason of the head, and therefore has eight wards, four with the staff, four with the head, four of them to be used as with the staff, and the other four with the head, the one up, the other down, and the other(s) sideways. The names and numbers of times appertaining unto fight(ing) both true and false 18 There are eight times, whereof four are true, and four are false. The true times are these: the time of the hand, The time of the hand and body, The time of the hand, body, and foot, (and) the time of the hand, body, and feet. The false times are these: The time of the foot, the time of the foot and body, the time of the foot, body, and hand, (and) the time of the feet, body, and hand. Thus have I thought (it) good to separate and make known the true times to the false, with the true wards thereto belonging, that thereby the rather in practicing of weapons a true course may be taken for the avoiding of errors and evil customs, and speedy attaining of good habit or perfect being in the true use and knowledge of all manner of weapons. Of the length of weapons, and how every man may fit himself to the perfect length of his weapon, according to his own stature, with brief reasons wherefore they ought to be so. 19 To know the perfect length of your sword, you shall stand with your sword and dagger drawn, as you see this picture, keeping out straight your dagger arm, drawing back your sword as far as conveniently you can, not opening the elbow joint of your sword arm, and look what you can draw within your dagger, that is the just length of your sword, to be made according to your own stature. The perfect length of your two handed sword is, the blade to be the length of the blade of your single sword. To know the perfect length of your short staff, or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage and perfect lengths, you shall stand upright, hold the staff upright close by your body, with your left hand, reaching with your right hand your staff as high as you can, and then allow to that length a space to set both your hands, when you come to fight, wherein you may conveniently strike, thrust, and ward, & that is the just length to be made according to your stature. And this note, that these lengths will commonly fall out o be eight or nine foot long, and will fit, although not just, the statures of all men without any hindrance at all unto them in their fight, because in any weapon wherein the hands may be removed , and at liberty, to make the weapon longer of shorter in fight(ing) at his pleasure, a foot of the staff being behind the back most hand does no harm. And wherefore these weapons ought to be of the lengths aforesaid, and no shorter, than the long staff, morris pike, and such like weapons over and above the perfect length, should have great advantage over them, because he may come boldly and safe without any guard or ward,to the place where he may thrust home, and at every thrust put him in danger of his life, then can the long staff, the morris pike, or any longer weapon lie nowhere within the compass of the true cross, to cross and uncross, whereby he may safely pass home to the place, where he may strike or thrust him that has the long weapon, in the head, face, or body at his pleasure. Of the lengths of the battle axe, halberd, or black bill, or such like weapons of weight, appertaining unto guard or battle. 0 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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