of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence
This ARMA edition of Joseph Swetnam's 1617 treatise picks up primarilywith Chapter XII, where the bulk of the practical instruction begins. The entire book is worth reading, but for the purposes of training and research the exerpt here is sufficient. Special thanks to Steve Hick for providing the text portions of chapters XII on.
NOTE: This translation is only as reliable as is so far known and ARMA makes no claim as to its accuracy.
Being the first of any English mans invention, which professed the sayd Science; So plainly described, that any man may quickly come to the true knowledge of their weapons, with smal paines and little practice.
The First Chapter sheweth what weapons are chiefly to be learned, with many other principal notes worthy of observation.
"Because old weapons lyeth rusty in a corner, and every man is desirous of the newest fashion of weapons, especially if they seeme to be more danger to the enemy than the old, therefore it is my intent & purpose at this time to express and set downe both the true and false play principally of the rapier and dagger, and staffe, for I hold that the skill of these two weapons are chiefly and necessary of every man to be learned, for to have the use of a rapier to ride with, and staffe to walke a foote withall, for those which have the skill of these two weapons may safely encounter against any man having any other weapon whatsoever as hereafter you shall be sufficiently satisfied."
"But first a word in commendations of those two weapons, this I can say and by good experience I speake it, that he which hath a rapier and a close hilted dagger, and skill withall to use him hath great ods against the sword and dagger, or sword and buckler, and the like I do affirme of a staffe against all long weapons; my reasons shall follow anon; but first I will speake more in commendation of the rapier and dagger, note it well, for it is the finest & the comliest weapon that ever wa sused in England, for so much cunning to this weapon belongeth as to no weapon the like.."
Some Quotes From Parts I-XI
"Also they say that a man with a sword will cut off thy rapier at one blow, but I say this is a most cowardly kind of ignorance, for is a skillful man doe hold the rapier, it is not a hundred blows with a sword can doe a rapier any harme, no although they light upon him."
"For he that is well instructed in the perfect skill with his weapon although but small of stature, and weake of strength, may with a little moving of his foote or suddain turning of his hand, or with the quick agility of his body kil and bring to the ground the tall and strongest man that is."
"But I say there is great ods betwixt fighting in the field and playing in the fence-schoole, for in the field being both sober, I meane if it be in a morning upon cold blood, then every man will as much feare to kill as to be killed, againe a man shall see to defend either blow or thrust in the field then in a fence shcoole, for a man will be more bold with a foile or a cudgell, because there is small danger in either of them."
"Also, take headeth that thou strike not with thy rapier, for so thou may breake it, and bring thy self to thine enemies mercy, and it may be he will take the advantage of thee".
" and always let your eyes be on your enemies face,"
"Againe, and againe I say, strike not one blow in a fight, at what weapon soever thou fightest withall, except it be a wrist blow, and that you may aswell doe with a rapier, as with a sword, for a wrist blow consumeth but alittle time, yet better use no blow at all, but continually, thrust after thrust "
"if thou have a close hilted dagger and a rapier, I hold them more surer than a sword and dagger,"
" for a thrust with a rapier is more feareful than with a sword, and a man may feel the thrust better with a sword then with a rapier."
"Yet many are of the opinion, and will say, it is better to fight with a Sword and Dagger, then with Rapier and Dagger, the reason is (say they) with my Sword I may both strike and thrust."
p. 74 CHAP. XII.
Showeth of seven principal rules whereon true defence is grounded.
|1. A good Guard
2. True observing of distance.
3. To know the place.
4. To take time.
5. To keepe space.
7. Often practice.
The first is to learne a good and a sure guard for the defence of thy body, as when you come to the use of weapons, as hear presently after shall follow, and when thou hast thy guard it is not enough to know it, but to keep it so long as thou art within reach or danger of thy enemie.
To observe distance, by which is meant that thou shouldest stand so far of from thine enemy, as thou canst, but reach him when thou dost step forth with thy blow or thrust, and thy foremost foote and hand must goe together, and which distance may be twelve foot with a rapier, or with a sword four foote ling, and yet thy best foote which should be the hindermost foot of a right handed ma, should bee mored fast and keepe his standing without moving an inch, for then he will be the readier to draw backe thy fore foot and body into the right place of distance againe for thou must doe upon every charge, whether thou hit thy enemy or not; whereas if in stepping forth with thy fore-foot, when thou dost charge thy enemy either with bow or thrust, thou suffer thy hinder foot to dregge in after the other, then thou breaketh thy distance, and thereby endangereth thy body.
There is no way better to get the true observation of distance, but by often practice either with thy friend, or else privately in a chamber against a wall, standing twelve foot off with thy hindermost foote, and thy weapon four foote long or there about, for a good guard and distance are the maine and principal points of all.
To know th place, this may be taken in three wayes, as this, the place of thy weapons, the place of defence and place of offence: the place for the holding of thy weapons, thou shalt know when thou commest to it as I said before, but it is chiefly meant here the place offence; thou must marke which is the nearest part of thine enemie towards thee, and which lieth most unregarded, whether it be his dagger hand, his knee, or his leg, or where thous maist best hurt him at a large distance without danger to thy selfe, or without killing of thine enemy.
To take time, that is to say when opportunity is proffered thee, wither by his lying unregarded or upon thy enemies proffer, then make a quicke answer, I meane it must be done upon the very motion of his proffer, thou must defend and seeke to offend all at once, for thou must not suffer thy enemy to recover his guard, for if thou doe thou looseth thy advantage. But thou must answer him more quicker than I can speake it, for if thou loose thy answer, and charge thy enemy when he is guarded, thou giveth thy enemy that advantage which thou mightest have had thy selfe, for he which maketh the first assault doth endanger himselfe most, if he be not very expert and cunning in his businesse, otherwise a man of reasonable skill may hurt him by making a quicke answer.
To keepe space this may be conceived two wayes; the one in the space between thy enemie & thy selfe, this I call distance, and I have already spoken of it; but the space which in this place I will speake of, is to advise thee to keepe a certaine space betwixt every assault, I meane if thou charge thy enemy thy enemy either with blow or thrust, recover thy weapons into their place, and draw thy selfe into thy guard againe, and so preparing thy selfe for to defend, and likewise to make a fresh assault with discretion, but not chargeth thy enemy rashly or furiously, for hastinesse is foolishness: for if fury have the upper hand, and so you both strike and thrust, without reason and judgement, I say in such a case the skillfulest man that is, may be so well hit as he hit another.
The next is patients, and that is one of the greatest virtues that can be in a man: the Wise man saith, he is a foole which cannot governe himselfe; therefore though thou be hastie or cholericke by nature, and by crossing thou art moved unto anger; yet I say, let the bridle of Reason and Judgement so governe and over-rule thy hastie affections, that in no case Anger get the upper hand; But of this there is more at large spoken in the eight chapter. Now the last thing that I will note here, is often practice, for without practice the Proverbe sayes, a man may forget his Pater noster: for practice (with moderation) is, not onlie the healthiest thing in the world for the bodie: but it is likewise as defensive for the same. For skill to everie reasonable man is a friend, so that with moderation it be used, and so long as it remained in those of good temper; for unto such, skill bringeth no more presumption nor furie then as if they had it not: for in the field, those which I meane will use it as if they were in a Schoole, by which meanes such have great advantage of the ignorant and unskillful; for those which are unskillful, are neither certaine of their defence or offence; but what they doe is upon a kinde of foolish bolde hardinesse, or as I may say by hap-hazard r chance noddy: and therefore (gentle Reader) resolve upon skill and knowledge which follows here immediately.
The true guard for the defence,
either of blowe,
or thrust, with Rapier and Dagger,
or Sword and Dagger.
Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint, and keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke, and the point something stooping towards the right shoulder, and beare him out stiff at the armes end, without bowing thine elbow joint likewise, and the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower; but if the point of thy rapier be two or three inches short of touching thy dagger, it is not matter, but if they join it is good; likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger, and bowing your head something toward the right shoulder, and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other, and the thombe of thy rapier hand, not upon thy rapier, according unto the usual fashion of the vulgar sort, but upon the naile of thy fore-finger, which will locke thine hand the stronger about the handle of thy rapier, and the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote, according to this Picture, yet regard chiefly the words rather than the Picture.
Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward, for then thou shalt defend a blow upon the edge of thy rapier, by bearing thy rapier after the rule of the Backe-sword, for this is the strongest and surest carriage of him.
But now it is but a vaine thing to goe about to practice after my direction, except thou understand my meaning, and follow my counsel, as by works so plaine as I can, I have set downe, both before and after: for if thou observe one thing, and not an other, it will profit thee but little, and thus: if thou place thy weapons in order; and then it will be to small purpose to proceed in thy practice: againe, if thou frame thy bodie right, and thy weapons, and thy hand, and thy foote; yet if thou do not observe a true distance withall, then thy practice will be little available to thee: wherefore at the first beginning of thy practice, take a good advisement, and be perfect by often reading of this Booke, so to beginne well; for if thou hast beene used to set thy feete abroad in thy former practice, as most men doe, then it will be hard for thee to leave thy old wont.
Now, if thou wilt breake thy selfe of that fashion and practice after my rules, then will I shew thee by and by; for when thou hast my fashion, thou mayest goe to thine owne againe when thou wilt, if in trial thou finde it better.
The best way to bring thy feete to a sure standing, both for defence and offence, is when thou dost practice with thy friend or companion; at first get thy backe to the wall, and let him that playeth with thee stand about twelve foote distance, and set thy left heele close to the wall, and thy right foote heele to the great ioynt of the left foote great toe, and when thou intendest to offend thy enemy, either with blow or thrust, then steppe forth with thy right foote, and hand together, but keepe thy left foote fast moored like an anchor, to plucke home thy body and thy right foote into his place and distance againe; use this fashion but three of foure times, and it will bring thee to a true standing with thy foote, and it will be as easie to thee as any other way; whereas if thou practice in a large roome without any stoppe to set thy foot against, then will thy foote be alwaies creeping away, so that although thou wouldest refraine the setting abroad of thy feet, yet thou canst not, especially if thou hast bee used to set them abroad heretofore.
Now your bodie and weapons being thus placed as aforesaid, if your enemie strike a blow at you, either with sword or rapier, beare your rapier against the blow, so well as your dagger according to the rule of the Backe-sword, for in taking the blow double you shall the more surely defend your head, if the blowe doe chance to light neare the point of your dagger, for if you trust to your dagger onlie, the blow may hap to glance over the point of your dagger, and endanger your head, and having defended the blow double (as aforesaid) presently turne downe the point of your rapier towards your enemies bodie, as you lift your selfe; and with your thrust steppe forth also with your foote and hand together, and so making a quicke answer, you may endanger your enemie in what place you will your selfe, before hee recover his guard and distance againe, and alwaies set your rapier foot right before the other, and so neare the one to the other as thou can; and if thou be right handed then thy right foote must bee formost, if left handed, then thy left foote, and standing thus in thy guard, looke for thy advantage, I meane where thine enemie lieth most unguarded; but first thou must be perfect in the knowledge of true and perfect guard thy selfe, so shalt thou know the better where thine enemie lieth open, the thou must steppe forth with thy fore foot, and hand together, to offend thine enemie in such a place as thou findest unguarded; but so soone as thou hast presented thy thrust, whether thou hit or misse, fall backe againe to recover thy guard and distance so soone as thou canst, but stand alwaies fast on thine hindermost foote, I meane whether thou strike or thrust, and then shalt thou recover thy guard; and having recovered thy weapons in their right place, then thou must also travers thy ground so leisureably, that thou mayest be sure to have one foote firme on good ground before thou pluckest up the other; for else, going fast about, thou maiest quickly be downe if the ground be not even. Also have a speciall care that thou be not too busie in making of play, though choller or stomache provoke thee thereunto. Furthermore, in standing in thy guard, thou must keepe thy thighes close together, and the knee of thy fore legge bowing backward rather than foreward; for the more that thou holloweth thy bodie, the better, and with lesse danger shalt thou breake thine enemies thrust, before it cometh neare to endanger thy bodie; and when thou breakest a thrust, thou must but let fall the point of thy dagger, but not thy dagger arme, for some will throw their dagger arme backe behinde them when they breake a thrust; he that so doth cannot defend a second thrust if his enemy should charge againe suddenly.
The reasons of this guard.
First, the points of your weapons being closed, your enemy cannot offend you with a wrist blow, which otherwise may be strucke to your face betwixt your points: likewise, there is falling thrust that may hit any man which lies open with his points by following it into his face or breast, and thrusting it home withall: also, if you carrie your rapier point under your dagger, your owne rapier may hinder you, for by turning downe of your rapier point, to defend the bodie from your enemies point, according unto the first of the foure defensible waies, as hereafter followeth: then your owne dagger may hit your owne rapier, and so your rapier will be as it were a stumbling blocke, so that you cannot discharge your enemies thrust cleane from your bodie; and also by striking your dagger upon your rapier wilbe a hindrance unto you, that you cannot make a quicke answer, by chopping out your point presently upon your defence: for if you have anie hindrance at all, then you chiefe time of offence is spent, for before you can recover your rapier, your enemie will have recovered his guard, and he being in his guard your proffer of offence is in vaine: for if you will hit your enemie, your offence and defence must be done all with one motion, whereas if you continue a space betwixt your defence and your offence, then is your best time of offence spent, for when your enemie chargeth you, either with blow or thrust, at that verie instant time, his face, his rapier, arme, shoulder, knee, and legge are all discovered, and lie open, except the oppressor be verie cunning in recovering his guard hastily againe, or he may defend himselfe with his dagger, if he beare him stiffly out at the armes end, for in your offence the dagger hand should be bourne out so farre as the rapier hand goeth, which must be done by practice and great carefulnesse; for many when they doe make their assault, they will put out their rapier, and plucke in their dagger, thereby endangering themselves greatly: for except that the dagger arme be kept straight, and borne out stiffe, it is hard to defend either blow or thrust.
A thrust may be defended foure waies.
The first is with the dagger, onlie by turning of the point downe, and turning thy hand-wrist about withall, without bowing the elbow ioynt of thy dagger arme, but onlie turning thy dagger round, making as it were a round circle, and so presently bring up the point of thy dagger in his place againe.
Now the second defence is with the dagger likewise, but then you must beare the hilt of your dagger so lowe as your girdle-steed, and the point more upright than is described in the first picture, and your defence of a thrust, you must beare your dagger hand stille over your bodie, without letting fall the point but still keeping him upright.
The third waie to breake a thrust, is, with the single rapier; this defence will defend all thy bodie from a thrust against a rapier and dagger; and likewise it is a sure defence for thine hand, if thou have not a closed hilted dagger, when thy enemie doth proffer a thrust, plucke in thy dagger hand, and put out thy rapier arme, and beare him over thy bodie. the point blowing towards thy left side, breaking the thrust with the edge of they rapier, keeping thy point upright: but when I come to the single rapier, then you shall see it more at large.
The fourth way is to defend a thrust with both your weapons together, and that you may doe three manner of waies, either with the points of both your weapons upwards, or both downward, upward you may frame your selfe into two guards, the first is according to as I have described before, the points being close together according to the picture, so carrie them both away together against your enemies thrust breaking towards your left side; the other high guard is to put your rapier on the out-side of your dagger, and with your dagger make a crosse, as it were, by ioyning him in the middest of your rapier, so high as your breast, and your dagger hilt in his usual place, and to defend the thrust, turne down the point of your rapier suddenly, and force him downe with your dagger, by letting them fall both together: this way you may defend a thrust before it come within three foot of your bodie; and this way defendeth the thrust of a staffe, having onlie a rapier and dagger, as you shall heare more when I come to the staffe: for it is good to be provided with the best way, if suddenly occasion be offered: and so for the blow of a staffe, you may verie easily defend with a Rapier and Dagger, by bearing him double; so having defended the blow, goe in hastily upon him, for there is no standing out long against a staffe, and so likewise upon defence of a thrust you must be verie nimble in your going in within the point of his staffe, I meane as soone as your enemies thrust is passed under your Rapier arme, for that way the thrust of the staffe should goe.
Three manner of waies for the holding of a Rapier.
These are three waies for the holding of a Rapier, the one with the thumb forward or upon the Rapier blade, and that I call the naturall fashion, there is another way, and that is with the whole hand within the pummell of thy Rapier, and the thumbe locking in of the fore-finger, or else they must both ioyne at the least: this is a good holding at single Rapier.
Then the third is but to have onlie the fore-finger and thy thumbe within the pummell of thy Rapier, and thy other three fingers about thy pummell, and beare the button of thy pommel against the in-side of thy little finger; this is called the Stokata fashion, and these two last are the surest and strongest waies: after a little practice, thou maiest use all three in thy practice, and then repose thy selfe upon that which thou findest best, but at some times, and for some purpose all these kinds of holding thy Rapier may stead thee, for a man may performe some manner of slips and thrusts, with one of these three sortes of holding thy weapon; and thou canst not doe the same with neither of the other; as thus, thou maiest put in a thrust with more celeritie, holding him by the pommel, and reach further than thou canst doe, if thou holde him on either of the other tow fashions.
Againe, thou maiest turne in a slippe, or an overhand thrust, if thou put thy thumbe upon thy Rapier according as I have set it down, calling it the naturall fashion, and is the first of three waies for holding of thy Rapier; and this fashion will bee a great strength to thee, to give a wrist blowe, the which blow a man may strike with his Rapier, because it is of small force, and consumes little time, and neither of the other two fashions of holding will not perform neither of those three things; for if thou holde thy rapier either of the second waies, thou canst not turne in a slippe, nor an over-hand thrust, nor give a wrist blow so speedily, nor so strong: wherefore it is god to make a change of the holding of thy weapon for thine own benefit, as thou shalt see occasion: and likewise to make a change of thy guard, according as thou seest thy best advantage; I meane if thou be hardly matched, then betake thee unto thy surest guard, but if thou be matched with an unskillful man then with skill thou maiest defend thyself, although thou lie at randome.
The reason that your points should be so high as you may see your enemie plainly and clearly under them, is for a sure defence of a blowe, if your enemie should charge you therewith to either side he head, then beare them both double together, and having defended the blowe, presently turne downe the point of your Rapier towards your enemies thigh, and with a turning your knuckles inward, steppe forth with foote and hande together, whether you hitte or misse, retreat nimbly into your guard and distance againe.
And although I doe advise you to keepe the point of your Rapier so high, yet withall I doe warne you, that you maie have a speciall care to fall your point, and withall thrust him out, whether it bee upon choller, or upon stomake, or upon a kinde of foolish bold hardinesse, or if he make a passage upon you, or if hee doe breake distance by anie of those waies, although hee doe it never so actively, yet may you defend your selfe with your Dagger and either offend your enemie with a suddaine falling of the point, and with the same motion chop in with a thrust to that part which liest most discovered as you may quickly perceive when you see his lying.
The cunningest man that is, and if hee meete with one skillful, with whom is hee is to encounter withall, cannot before hand say in such place I will sure hit thee; no more, than a gamester when he goeth to play can say before he beginne, that he will sure win, for if he doe, he may be proved a lier if his cunning were never so food.
So that before hand you cannot determine where to hit your enemy, but when you see your enemies guard, then it is easie to judge when it is open, if thou knowest a close guard thyselfe, for hee which cannot write himselfe, can give but small judgement whether another write well or ill, and if thine enemie doe incroach within thy distance, then be doing with him betimes in the verie instant of his motion whether it be motion of his body, or the motion of his weapon, or in the motion of both together; put out thy point, but not too farre, but as thou maiest have thy rapier under command for thy owne defence, and also to provide him ready againe to make a full thrust home, in the instant of thy enemies assault, thou maiest endanger thy selfe if thy enemie doe falsifie his thrust, and therefore make your thrust short at the first, or if your enemie doe beare his points anie thing abroad, then you may fall in betwixt them, either to his face or breast, or if his fore foote stand two foote distant or lesse from the other if hee stand not close, then you may hurt him in the knee or legge, either with thrust or blow as hee standeth in his guard without anie danger to your selfe, and that is no killing place.
Likewise it is said before looke under both you weapons, if with on eye you looke over either of weapons, you will be hit one the same side, either face, head, or shoulder, either with thrust or blow before you can put up either of your weapons in his place to defend it, and his know and remember it well, it is the nature of an Englishman to strike with what weapon soever he fighteth with all, and not one in twenty but in furie And anger will strike unto no other place but onely to the head, therefore alwaies if you fight with rapier and dagger, yet expect a blow so well as a thrust, and alwaies defend the blow double as aforesaid, but if your rapier point be downe under your dagger, you cannot put him up time enough to defend a blow, but must take it single on the dagger, or on the pate, for if your skill were never so good trusting to the dagger onlie you may bee deceived by reason of the sharpnesse of your dagger, if the blow light neere the point it may glance over, and so hit you on the head, and also by reason of the shortnesse of your dagger which are now most commonly worne of all men, for I have knowne men of good skill deceived by trusting to the point, or dagger onely for the defence of a blow, the dagger is not sure to defend it.
But when you make anie plaie to your enemie whether it be offer, or answer, stop, right as a line forwards from your left foote, for if you stop halfe a foote wide with the forefoote of the straight arme as it were by rule, then you loose halfe a foote of your space betwixt you and your enemie, and if you step likewise a foote wide, then you loose likewise a foote* of advantage. For your instruction herein, when you practice in a chamber, looke what board you stand upon, you should in delivering either of blow or thrust, alwaies steps foorth with your right foote upon the same board which the left foote standeth on, for looke how much your left your fore foote wide of the straight line towards your enemie, you loose so much in your reach forward, as in your practice you maie see the triall and used often in practice in some Chambers with your friend untill you are perfect, and in your practice, keepe your left foote fast moared, that as an Anchor pulleth home the ship, so the left foote must pluck home the right foote and bodie into the right place of distance againe, or as the helme guideth the ship, even so the left foote must guide the bodie, alwaies bearing thy full belly towards thy enemie, I meane the one shoulder so neere as he other, for if thou wreathe thy bodie in turning one side neare to thy enemie then the other, thou dost not stand in thy strength, nor so readie to performe an answer, as when thy whole bodie lieth towards thy enemie.
The manners of a passage.
A Passage is to bee made advisedlie with a nimble activitie and celerity of the bodie, for hee which will go in with a passage & escape, or clear away withall, the which is very hardly to bee done if thy enemie be skillfull. and therefore in the performance thereof, thou must have great skill, much practice and good judgment, especially in observing the point of thy enemies weapon, and likewise thou must consume one iote of time in thy performance, for so soone as thou seest thy enemie beare his point steadie in anie guard, whether it bee high or low, as if hee doe beare his point aloft, then step in with thy left foote with a sudden iumpe, and clap thy Dagger under his Rapier crosse-waies, and so bearing up his point over thy head, and at the verie same instant that thou ioynest with his Rapier, then chop in with thy Rapier point withall to offend him, but thou must consume no time in staying anie space betwixt thy Defence and Offence, for thou must not make two times of that which may be done at one time, and againe, it is thy greater advantage to doe it quickly, if thy enemie doe lie in a steadie guard, but if hee keepe the point of his Rapier variable, then it is not to bee done but with the greatest danger of all.
The second opportunity to passe upon your enemie you have, if your enemie to carrie the point so low as your girdle stead, or thereabouts, then you must step in with your left foote, and with your dagger strike awaie the point of his Rapier, and with the same let your Rapier passe unto his bodie, as beforesaid, I meane both at one time.
The third advantage is if your enemie doe laie the point of his Rapier neere, or upon the ground, then step in with thy hindermost foote and crosse your Dagger overthwart his Rapier, keeping his Rapier downe, so that hee cannot raise his point before that you have hit him, and are recovered to your distance againe,
The fourth waie is you being both in your guard according to the first picture, or anie other guard according to your practice, and then faine a thrust downe to his knee, but presentlie raise your point againe with a iumpe foure foote side-waies towards the left side of your enemie, and mount up your Rapier hand withall, and put in your thrust over your enemies Dagger, into his Dagger shoulder, and so with all possible speede recover your guard and distance againe, by springing or iumping towards the left hand of your enemie, and so you fall away from the danger of his point: but in falling backe againe, your Dagger must be prepared to defend a second, or parting thrust, if your enemy should charge you therwithall immediately.
Yet there is another kinde of passage,and that is an answer upon your enemies proffer, if your enemie do offer a thrust at you, defend it with turning downward the point of your Dagger, and at the very same instant slippe in with your left foote, and put in your thrust into his bodie, for by stepping in with the left foote it goeth in strongly, that it is hardly to bee prevented.
Some that are ignorant will say that it is not proffible to defend a passage, but I say there is no devise to hit a man neither with thrust nor blow, but there is a true defence to be shewne by one that is skillful. but yet not every one that professeth himselfe to be a Fencer cannot teach true defence, but it must be such as have beene grounded in the true art of Defence by great practice, such a one it must be to teach defence.
The danger of a passage is to be prevented three waies.
The first is by an active and nimble shift of the body by falling back with the right foote, & the danger being past to change hastily upon your enemy again, but the best way is in lying in your guard according to the first picture, as your enemie commeth in with his passe suddenly upon the first motion, fall your point, and in the very same time put him out withall, and with your Dagger onely defend his passage, if it be charged at your body, by turning your point downeward, but if hee put it into your Dagger shoulder in manner of an Imbrokata, then you must not let fall your Dagger, except you leave your Rapier to be a watchman for the defence of your shoulder or with bearing them both together it may be defence.
Another defence of a passage
The single Rapier alone, being carried according unto the rule of the single Rapier, as hereafter shall be described when I come to that weapon, now if your enemie doe take the point of your Rapier, the which hee may very well doe by reason of the carriage of him, if you bee not carefull to fall your point when you see him comming in, well if he doe make seisure of your point, yet hee cannot stay your Rapier hand, but that you shall have two foote of your Rapier and the hilts at your command for the defence of your bodie, which by swerving or beating him over your bodie, towards your left side, and a little turning your bodie by falling backe with your formost foote, this is a good defence for a passage: but indeed a man must have practice, and hee as wee call them A good scholler , that is such as bee skilfull; for a passage commeth with such celerity, that one which is not used to it, cannot discern the coming of it, for there is no thrust so swift, nor so dangerous as the passage, but yet there is no thrust, no blow nor passage, but by skill and cunning it is to be defended and avoided, for a man shall discerne the coming of passage so plain as a Hawke, when shee intendeth to flie at Check, fitting upon the Pearch a man verie easily perceive by the setling of her selfe to flie, indeed it is dangerous and deadly, except you minde bee upon your businesse, for when you are at your play, you must expect a passage and false play as well as true play, or plaine thrusts, for the hurt of the passage is most dangerous of all and most mortall, for with a passage a man cannot day I say I wil hurt my enemie but a little, as you may with any other thrust, being put in at the length, I meane observing a true distance, for hee that otherwise breaketh distance may be assoone hit himselfe, as hee hit another; therefore the passage is seldome or never used in fight, although they both be never so skilfull in putting, or if one can passe, and the other cannot, but hee that can passe will be doubtful left, the other will entrap him in his owne assault, for why may not thy enemy bee as skilfull as thy selfe, once if he meete thee in the field, he sheweth himself valorous therein, and if it be thy fortune to hurt him by want of skill in a manner amongst men, hee is reported to be as good a man as thy selfe, in regard he adventured himselfe with that small skill hee had, and then in respect of an honest minde, oughtest to show him some favor, if he be not too forward, whereby hee is like to endanger thee, but yet rather hurt, then be hurt, and rather kill, then be killed, if there be no remedie.
False play at Rapier and Dagger.
You must proffer, or faine a thrust a foote above your enemie head, but presently plucke backe your hand againe, and put home your thrust which you meane to hurt your enemie withall under his Dagger arme, either unto his body or thigh, as you will your selfe, but step not forth with your foote when you faine a thrust, but with the second thrust which you meane to speed your enemie withall, let then your foote and hand goe together, for in faining it over his head, it will seeme to him that you meane to hit him in the face, so that sodainely hee will lift up his Dagger, thinking to save his face, but he cannot put him downe so quickly againe but that you may hit him as aforesaid: againe if you proffer or faine a thrust to your enemies knee, I meane moire quicke then I can speake it, thrust it into his Dagger shoulder, or to his face whether you lift, for you shall finde them both unguarded, for when hee putteth downe his Dagger to defend the fained thrust, hee cannot lit him up againe before you have hit him as beforesaid, if his Dagger arme were never so strong, nor never so ready, he must put downe his Dagger and so hee will, or else you may hit him in the breast, for no man can tel whether the fained thrust will come home or not, but hee which doth thrust it, if the defence were never so skilfull, but now the onely way to defend a false thrust, is with the single Rapier, for when that the Dagger falleth to cleare the fained thrust from the body, then the Rapier must save the upper part, I meane the face and shoulder, by bearing him over your bodie as you doe at the single Rapier, and so by that meanes the Rapier will defend all the bodie so low as your knee. By false play a Rapier and Dagger may encounter against a Sword and Buckler, so that Rapier man be provident and carefull of making of his assault, that hee thrust not his Rapier into the others Buckler: but the false play to deceive the Buckler, is by offering a fained thrust at the face of him that hath the Buckler, and then presently put it home to his knee or thigh, as you see occasion; for he will put up his Buckler to save his face, but can not put him downe againe before you have hit him, as aforesaid.
Likewise you may proffer or faine a thrust to the knee of the Buckler man, and put it home to his buckler shoulder, or face, for if hee let fall his Buckler to save below, hee can not put him up time enough to defend the upper parts of his body with his Buckler. but must trust for his defence, to his single Sword: wherefore it behooveth everie man to be skilfull in the Backe-sword. The best way to make a false thrust, is to strike it downe by the out-side of your enemies Rapier hand, but not to thrust it home, and so presently bring up the point of your Rapier, and thrust it home to his left shoulder; for if you thrust the fained thrust within the compasse of his Dagger, then it may be he will hit the point of your Rapier, in offering to breake the fained thrust; and if he doe but touch your Rapier in your first proffer, then you cannot recover your point to put home your second thrust, before hee hath recovered his guard, and so will prevent you: therefore, if you doe make a false thrust, present it without the circle or compasse of his Dagger, that in his defence he may misse the hitting of your point, then hath hee but the single Rapier to defend your second thrust, and he must make his preparation first before hand with his Rapier, if such an occasion be offered, otherwise it cannot be defended.
Now there be divers other guards to be used at the Rapier and Dagger, but most of them will aske a great deale more practice, to be perfect in, then this first guard, and yet not anie one of them more severe for defence both of blow and thrust then this first guarde is, and therefore, I doe account it the master guard of all other, yet in a Schoole, to make change of your play, the the more guard the more commendable, so they be performed with discretion and judgement: therefore I have described those which I thinke necessary, although not so at large, as hereafter you shall have them in a seconde booke, for at some times, and for some purposes, one guard may better serve then another: for change of guards may crosse come mens play, whereas if you use but one guard, may in often play be worne threed-bare, therefore learne as many fashions of lying with thy weapons as thou canst, and then in thy often practice make triall which dost fit best withall, and that repose thy selfe upon at thy most neede: for I have knowne many that could well defend themselves at one gard better then at another, although hee be a cunning teacher, yet he cannot make all his Schollers frame themselves unto true defence, all using one guard, wherefore there must be triall made; for if they Scholler be dull of conceit in one guard, yet it may be he will fit better unto another, so those which I have found by my triall and practice, to be guards of defence, I put them downe briefly as followeth, but I thinke it were good left them undone, as begunne and not end them, yet thou shalt have a taste, for by a taste men shall see what wine is in the Butte
The crosse guard.
Carry the point of our dagger upright, and the hilt as low as your girdle-stead without putting your thumbe against the blade of your Dagger, but griping him fast in your hand, and the point of your Rapier under your Dagger hand according to the picture.
Lying this in your guard, your bellie or breast will seeme to open o unguarded, so that he will make no doubt but to speede you in his first assault; but he charge you with a thrust, for your defence, if it above the girdle-stead, then carry your Dagger steady over your bodie, keeping the point upright and beare him towards your right side,but in your defence, doe not turne the point of your Dagger downewards, but presently bring him offer or making of play, if he charge you above the gerdle-stead, then defend it with Dagger, and presently steppe in with your left foote, and thrust withall unto what part of his bodie you list, bu if h charge you under the gerdle-stead, then defend it with your Rapier,striking it downeward; now you must make your selfe ready to take your time of advantage in your answering: I meane in the very motion of your enemies assault, defend and offend both with one time: if you both lie upon this guard, looking who shall make play first, then make you a short thrust, but presently clap into your guard againe, and so you shall draw him to make play, and yet be firme and ready in your guard to take your greater advantage, which must be done upon your enemies charge; for when he hath charged you with his thrust, and you defended you selfe, as before-saide, then steppe in with your left foote to answer his assault, presently upon your defence. Now if your enemy lying in this guard, and will not make play, then the best advantage which you have of your enemy, is charging him (in a manner) as it were with a wrist or a dropping blow to his face, breast, or knee, putting it in slope wise, by turning your knuckles inward, and when it is lighted on the place which you determine to hit; then thrust it home withall, and this thrust being put in slope wise, is the best thrust to hit him which lieth in the crosse guard, and the defender must be ready and nimble with his Dagger for his defence; or a fore-right plaine thrust, it is with more ease defended by him which hath the perfectnesse of his guard, then it is by lying in anie other guard.
Now if your enemy doe lie this crosse guard, you may proffer a fained thrust at his breast, and presently put it into Dagger shoulder on the out-side of his dagger arme: this false thrust may be defended with a quicke bringing backe of the Dagger againe: but then the defender must not over carry his dagger to defend the false thrust, yet hee must carry him against every offer.
Another defence belonging to this guard is lying in this crosse guard, if your enemy charge you under the gerdel-stead with a thrust, strike it by with your Rapier, but letting fall your Rapier, by letting fall your Rapier point towards the ground; but if it come above, the defend it with our Dagger, as before, but do not carry your Dagger above a halfe a foote; for if you over-carry your dagger, you may be endangered by the the false play. Againe, if you make the first proffer, and your enemy lying in this guard, then, so soone as you have made your thrust at him, presently let fall the point of your Rapier to the ground-ward, lifting up your Rapier hand , and defend his answer with your Rapier, by striking it outward, I meane towards your right side, for your Dagger will not defend your enemies answere so well as your Rapier, especially upon this guard.
Many have had a good opinion of the stokata gard, but (in my minde) It is more wearisome unto the bodie, and not so defensive for the body, As the first gard following the first Picture; my reasons are these, the hilt nd rapier being borne so farre back behind the bodie, it cannot defend a blow, for the blow will light before you can beare out your rapier to beare the blow backsword-way, as it should be done, neither can the rapier defend a false thrust, and a false thrust must be defended with the Rapier onelie: Also the point of the Rapier being borne so lowe as this guard restraineth them, the face and breast lieth open, or else into a single defence which is not sure; therefore keepe two strings to thy bowe, it is safe riding at two anchors a head, but if a man were put it to an extreamitie, then it were better to have a loase then no breade, better to defend it single, then to take it on the skinne, and so I will with words describe this guard, and some other.
The Stokata guard
You must (if you will frame your selfe into this gard) keepe the Dagger point out-right, and so hie as your cheeke, and your Rapier hand so farre backe, as something low as yuo can, and your feete three foote distance at the least, and this guard manyProfeesours doe reach as the chiefe and maister guard of all other; Now the reasons which they shew to draw men into this guard, is first say they, the ehad bowing backe, then the face is furthest from danger or a thrust or blpw: now to answere this aaine, I say, that although the face e something further from the enemie, yet the bottome of the bellie, and fore leg is in such danger, that it cannot be defended from one that is skilfull; and to bee hurt in the bellie is more dangerous then the face, whereasss if thou frame thy guard according unto my direction following the first Picture, then shalt thou finde that thy bellie is two foote (at the least) further from danger of a thrust, and so is the foote likewise, and the leg safe and out of danger both of blow and thrust: and now thy face will seeme to be, and is the neerest part towards thine enemie, but then thou hast thy dagger being in his right place, nearest unto thy face, readie to defend him: againe, hee which standeth abroad with his feete, will alwaies be in jealousie of his fore leg, the which must be defended by plucking him up nimbly at every blow and thrust, and yet that will not surely defend him from a thrust, but admit you do defend the leg by plucking him up, then doe you loose your time of answering your enemie, which should bee done in the same time which you plucke up your leg, and before you can come in againe with you answer, your enemie will have recovered his guard and distance againe: There are many other guars, some of then I will touch alittle, and some of them I will leave untill an other time: there are three high guardes, but it likewise crosseth all other guards, and it followeth in this maner.
Keepe your thumbe long wayes upon the blade of your Rapier according unto the naturall Arte; the common holding of the vulgar sort, and your feete so close together, as you can and the hilt of your Rapier so hie as your cheeke, bowing the elbowe-ioynt of your Rapier arme, and your Dagger hilt so lowe as your gerdle steade, and beare the point of your Dagger upright, and the Rapier point on the in side of your Dagger, both close together, looking under your Rapier, and beare out your Dagger at the armes end, without bowing your elbow ioynt, and if your enemie charge you with a thrust, carrie the thrust with your Dagger toward the right side, keeping the point of your Dagger upright, not turning him in your defence this not that way, but beare him steady over your body, and so you may defend any maner of thrust: for if you beare your dagger (as aforesaid) your enemies point will passe cleere under your Rapier arme, but-having once defended, in the very same motion you must lift up the hilt of your Rapier. and turning your knuckle upward, and withall. turne your point downe into your enemies rapier shoulder, stepping foorth with the right foote and hand together, your defence and offence must be all done with one motion. Now if your enemie charge you with a blow, you are as readie to defend it double on this guard as in anie other: but if thou charge thine enemie, or make the first assault, prepare thy defence for the Rapier shoulder, by carrying thy Dagger over thy bodie, keeping the point of thy Dagger upright. This defence is good to bee used against a left handed man likewise.
Now he which is well experimented in this guard hee will fine it verie dangerous for offence to thine enemie, and defensive for thy selfe, above all other guardes, especially of thou have discretion to lie at watch discreetely, and to take thine opportunities and advantage, when thine enemie proffereth anie kinde of play upon thee.
The carelesse or the lazie guard
Lay thy point of your Rapier upon the ground a foote wide of your left side overthwart your bodie, and let the hilt of your rapier rest upon your right thigh, and your dagger under your rapier about a foot forward of the hilt, and so leaving your whole belly or brest, will seeme a verie faire baite for your enemie to thrust at, but when hee chargeth you with a thrust, your defence must bee by the lifting up of your Rapier point, with your Dagger, throwing him over towards your right side, but lift not up your Rapier hand in the time of your defence in anie case, for so it may endanger the face, but so soone as you have turned it cleere over your bodie with both your weapons as aforesaid (it may be done with one of them, but not so sure as will both together) then upon your defence recover your point hastily againe and chop him in with an over-hand thrust, turning your knuckles upwards into his right shoulder where you may easily hit him if you bee quicke in taking your time before hee recover his distance, or get out of your reach. This is no painefull guard, but verie easie and quickly learned, and it is verie sure guard to defend any manner of thrust, now upon this guard if your enemie doe falsifie a thrust upon you by offring it at breast or face, whereby to make you lift up your weapons, thinking to hit you beneath with a second thrust by reason of your lifting them up to save the other parts the which you must doe but fayling of it above, bring downe your Dagger quickly againe to defend below the second thrust.
The fore-hand guard at Rapier and Dagger.
Put thy Rapier hand under the hilt of thy Dagger, alwaies keeping the point of thy Rapier something variable, and yet something directly about the girdle-stead of thy enemie, and the point of thy Dagger in a manner upright, or a verie little leaning towards thy left side, and both thy Dagger and thy Rapier hilts together, and both so low as thy girdle-stead: those being guarded, if thy enemie doe charge thee with a thrust, carrie thy dagger quicke over towards thy right side, and make a present answere by chopping out the point of thy rapier, and so hastily into thy guard againe, expecting a fresh charge.
Beare out both your armes right out from your bodie stiffe at the armes end, and a foote at the left a sunder, and turne both the Rapier and Dagger hilts so high as your brest or hier, leaving all your bodie open, or ungarded to seeme to, and when your enemie doth charge you with a thrust, strike it with your Dagger towards your right side, and withall answere him againe with an over-hand thrust unto his Dagger shoulder, but you must keepe your thumb upon the blade of your rapier, so then shall you put in your thrust the more steddier, and the more stronger.
The names of the
chiefest thrusts, which are used at
Rapier and Dagger, with the manner how
to performe them.
A Right Stock, or Stockada, is to bee put in upwards with strength and quicknesse of the bodie, and the guard for the putting in a stoke is leaning so farre backe with your face and bodie as you can, and the hilts of your Rapier so neere the ground, or so low as you can, but of this guard I have spoken sufficiently alreadie.
A slope Stocke is to be make unto your enemies breast, or unto his Rapier shoulder, if hee doe looke over his Rapier, but in putting it in, you must wheale about your Rapier hand, towards your left side turning your knuckles inward, this thrust being put in slopewise as aforesaid, will hit thy enemie which lieth upon the Crosse-guard, or the Carelesse-guard, or the Broad-ward, when a right Stocke or plaine fore right thrust will not hit.
An Imbrokata, is a falsifying thrust, first to proffer it towards the ground, so low as your enemies knee, and then presently put it home unto your enemie Dagger-shoulder, or unto anie part of his Dagger-arme, for hee will put down his Dagger to defend your fained thrust, but cannot recover his Dagger againe before you have hit him in the Dagger arme, Shoulders of Face, whether you will your selfe, for in proffering this thrust, there is no waie to defend the upper part, the Dagger being once downe, but onely with the single Rapier, and except a man doe expect it, it cannot be so defended neither.
An other thrust called a Reverse
A reverse is to be make, when your enemie by gathering in upon you, causeth you to fall backe with your right foote, and then your left foote being foremost, keeping up your dagger to defend, and having once broken your enemies thrust with your dagger, presently come in again with your right foote, and hand together, and so put in your reverse unto what part you please, for it will come with such force that it is hard to be prevented.
A thrust called a Mountanto
The Mountanto is to be put in with a good celeritie of the bodie and in this manner, you must frame you guard when you intend to charge your enemie with this thrust, beare your Rapier hard upon, or so neere the ground as you can, lying verie low with your bodie, bowing your left knee verie nere the ground also, and either upon your enemies thrust or in lying in his guard you may strike his rapier point towards your right side with your dagger so that is may passe cleere under your rapier arme, and with same motion as you strike his rapier, sodainely mount up your rapier hand higher then your head, turning your knuckles upward, but turne the point of your Rapier downwards over his Rapier arme into his breast or shoulder, and you must be quicke in the performance of this thrust, and likewise nimbly you must leape out againe. This thrust must bee put in by the stepping forward of your left leg: now if you use this thrust more then once, your enemie will expect your comming a loft with him as you did before, but then out it in the second or third time underneath, and you shall hit him about the girdle-stead, and so because at this time I will not bee over tedious I leave to speake of maie other thrusts.
The best way for the
holding of a Dagger, either to breake
blow or thrust, and foure waies bad as followeth.
First, if you hold your dagger to high, you may be hit under the Dagger-arme.
Secondly, and if to low, you may bee hit over the Dagger-arme, either in the arme, shoulder or face.
Thirdly, & if you beare your dagger too much towards your rapier-shoulder, then you may be hurt on the out-side of the armes by bearing narrow, for so we call the carriage of him, being borne in this manner before spoken of.
Fourthly, if to side from your bodie you may bee hurt on the in-side of the arme, face, or breast: if the dagger-elboe ioynt bee crooked, then there is small force in the dagger-arme for the defence of blow, or thrust, but the dagger being borne out stiffe at the armes end, defendeth a blow strongly, as you shall heare by and by.
Foure waies naught to breake a thrust
First, if you breake a thrust downe-wards, it may hit you in the bottom of the bellie.
Secondly, if you breake him upwards it may endanger you in the face.
Thirdly, and if breake your enemies thrust towards your Rapier-side, it may hit you in the Rapier-arme.
Fourthly, or in breaking a thrust, if you let the weight of your Dagger carrie your Dagger-arme backe behinde you, then your enemie may with a double thrust hit you before you can recover up your Dagger in his pace againe.
A good way to defend a thrust or a blow.
The best holding of Dagger is right out at the armes end, and the hilt even from your left cheeke, and the point compassing your bodie, I mean bowing towards your Rapier shoulder, and when you breake a thrust, turne but your hand-wrist about, letting fall the point of your Dagger downe-ward, but keepe out your Dagger-arme so stiffe as you can, so shall you bee readie to defend twentie thrusts one after another, if they come never so thicke, and likewise you are as readie for a blow; whereas if you fall your arme when you breake your thrust, your enemie may hit you with a second thrust before you can recover your Dagger in his place to defend it, for a thrust goeth more swifter then an arrow shot out a bow, wherefore a man cannot bee too ready, nor too sure in his gard; Now both for defence and Offence of everie blow and thrust, thou must turne thy knuckles up-ward. or down-ward, in-ward or out-ward, alwaies turning your hand according to the nature of the guard, that you frame your selfe unto, or according as when you see your enemies guard, then you must determine before you charge your enemie either with blow, or thrust, in what manner to turne your hand in your Offence or Defence, sometimes after one manner, and sometimes after another, as both before and hereafter shalbe sufficiently satisfied more at large
The true guard for the single Rapier.
Keepe your Rapier point something sloping towards your left shoulder, and your Rapier hand so low, as your girdle-stead, or lower, and beare out your Rapier hand right at armes end, so farre as you can , and keepe the point of your Rapier something leaning outwards toward your enemie, keeping your Rapier alwaies on the out-side of your enemies Rapier, but not ioyning with him, for you must observe a true distance at all weapons, that is to say, three feete betwixt the pints of your weapons, and twelve foote distance with your fore foote from your enemies fore foote, you must bee carefull that you frame your guard right, now you must not beare the Rapier hand-wide of the right side of your bodie, but right forward from your girdle-stead, as before-said.
The Reasons of this guard.
In keeping your point something sloping or compassing your face, your enemie cannot offend you with a wrist blow, which if you keepe your point directly upright, you may verie easily bee hit in the face.
Begin guarded as beforesaid, if your enemie discharge a thrust at you, carrie your Rapier hand over your bodie towards you left side, keeping your point directly in his pace untill you have defend your enemies assault, then presently after let fall the point of your Rapier, turning your knuckles inwards, and discharge your thrust at your enemies thigh, or bodie, as you see occasion.
There are likewise many other guards to be framed at single Rapier, as that one of the short Sword is a good guard at some times, and for some purposes, if a man be perfect in it, by skill and practice aforehand, as heereafter you shall see the manner thereof more at large, when I come to that weapon.
Now another fashion is, by holding your left hand upon the blade, and so with the strength of your forefinger and thumbe of your left hand, you may breake your enemies thrust cleere of your bodie, by turning of your rapier point downe-ward or up-ward accordingly as your enemie chargeth you; and then charge your enemie againe with a quicke answer.
Now another is, by standing upon the Stocke, readie to choppe in upon your enemies assault, but must turne in your left shoulder to your enemie nearer then the right, onelie to be as it were a baite unto him, but when he doth thrust at you, wheele about your bodie, falling backe with your left foote; but withall, thrust out your rapier, and so you may hit, and defend onelie with the shift of the bodie, and you shall find that the oppressor will come upon his won death, by proffering at that shoulder, which you make shew to be open unto him: but you must not offer to defend it with your rapier, but only trust unto the shift of your bodie.
False play at the single Rapier.
If your enemie doe lie in this guard, according to this Picture then proffer or faine a thrust unto his left side, but presently plucke backe your hand, an thrust it home unto his right arme shoulder or face, for hee will carry his rapier over his bodie, to defend the fained thrust, but can hardly bring him backe againe to save your second or determined thrust, except hee be very skillful, active, or nimble: now if he doe not beare his Rapier to defend the fained thrust when you proffer it, then you may hit him with a plaine thrust a second time, if you put it home without falsing it at all.
Likewise, you may proffer or faine a thrust two foote wide of your enemie his right side, and presently thrust it home to his breast, for hee will beare his rapier beyond the compasse of true defence, by reason it will seeme unto a cunning player that your Intention is to hit him on the out side of the rapier arme, so that when he thinketh to strike your point from offending his arme, by that means hee will open his bodie, although he open himselfe but a little, yet with your second thrust you may hit him as aforesaid.
The defence of this false play.
You must be very carefull that you doe not overcarry your Rapier in the defence in anie maner of thrust, yet you must carrie him a little against every proffer which your enemie doth make: for if a man be verie skilfull, yet is he not certaine when his enemie doth charge his point upon him, and proffer a thrust, whether that thrust will come home, or no: wherefor (as I said) you must beare your Rapier against everie thrust to defend it, but beare him but halfe a foote towards the left side, for that will cleare the bodie from danger of his thrust, and so quicke backe againe in his place, whereby to meete his weapon on the other side, if he charge you with a second thrust, thinking to deceive you as aforesaid.
A slippe at single Rapier.
Now if your enemy doe charge you with a blow, when as you see the blow comming, plucke in your Rapier, and let the blow slippe, and then answer him againe with a thrust, but bee carefull to plucke in your rapier to that cheeke which hee chargeth you at, so that if the blow doe reach home, you may defend him according unto the rule of the backsword.
The defence of this slippe is to forbeare striking at all, but if you doe strike, not to over-strike your Sword, but so strike your blow as you may recover him into his place hastily againe; for in fight if you doe strike, you must forebeare strong blowes, for with a strong blow, you may fall into divers hazzards; therefore strike an easie blow, and doe it quicke, but to thrust, and not strike at all, is to thy best advantage.
Put your thumbe long wayes, or forward upon the handle of your rapier according unto the natural fashion, and your enemie lying in this guard, ioyne your Rapier according as the Picture, and so soone as you have ioyned, turne the heele of your hand upward, and your point downeward, and so bring your point, compassing under your enemies right elbow; and then with the strength of the thumb, turne it unto his breast: the like you may doe if your enemie offer to close with you at single rapier, for if hee come hastily upon you, you can not drawe out your point whereby to offend him, but by turning it in as before-said, you may hit the skilfullest man that is in his comming in: Now if hee doe defend your point below, you may by a sodaine turning up your point, thrust it him to his right side shoulder or face, whether you will our selfe.
The defence of this slippe.
If your enemie doe ioyne his weapon with yours, to close or to turne in a slippe, then make your selfe readie quickely, by putting your thumbe upon your rapier, as aforesaid, when he falleth his point towards his left hand, to fetch the compasse of your rapier arme; then fall your point the contrary way, I meane towards your left hand, so shall you meete with his weapon below againe, and this will defend your selfe, and when he raiseth his point againe, then doe you raise yours likewise into his place againe.
If your enemie doe ioyne his rapier with yours, and doe beare him strongly against you, thinking to over beare you by strength of arme, the so soone as hee beginneth to charge you strongly, beare your rapier a little against him, and then sodainely let fall your pointe so low, as your gerdle-stead, and thrust it home withall, and so you may hit him, for by letting his Rapier goe away sodainely, he swayeth away beyond the compasse of defence, so that you may hit him, and fall away againe before hee can recover his Rapier to endanger you.
A dazeling thrust at single Rapier or Backe-Sword.
Proffer or faine a thrust at the fairest part of your enemies bodie which lieth most unguarded, and then more quicker then I can speake it, thrust it in on the other side, and so changing three or foure times, and then choppe it home sodainely, and you shall find his bodie unguarded, by reason that he will carrie his Rapier or Sword this way or that way, thinking to defend the false thrust, because he supposeth them to be true thrusts: for there is no man so cunning, that kneweth if a thrust be proffered within distance, but that I may hit him, or whether it will be a false thrust, or no, the defender knowes not, and therefore he must prepare his defence against every thrust, that is proffered.
A close at single Rapier or at Backe-sword.
First, charging your enemie with a thrust aloft with an over-hand thrust, directly at your enemies face, and withall follow it in close, bearing your enemies point over your head, by the carrying up of your Rapier hand, and then may you make seisure on the hilt of your enemies Rapier or Sword, or on his hand-wrist with your left hand, and then having made your seizure of his weapon, you may then use what execution you will, I mean either blow or thrust, or trip up his heeles.
The guard for Backe-sword.
Carrie your Sword-hilt out at the armes end, and your point leaning or sloping towards your left shoulder, but not joyning with your enemies weapon, as this Picture seemeth, but so long as you lie in your guard, let there be three foote distance betwixt your weapons, but if your enemie do charge you, either with blow or thrust, carrie your Sword over your bodie against your enemies assault, and so crosse with him according to the Picture, beare also your point steadie over your bodie, something sloping towards your left shoulder; I meane the point must goe so farre as the hilt, but not turning your point the contrarie waie, but carrie both together.
I will make it plainer by and by, because I would have thee to understand it wisely, for having with a true defence defended by your enemies blow or thrust by crossing with him, or by bearing your weapon against his assault (as beforesaid) the danger being past, then presently at the same instant, and with one motion turne downe the point of your Sword, turning your knuckles inward, and so thrusting it home to your enemies thigh, but with all, steppe forth with your foote and hand together.
But there is a great observation to be had in your practice concerning the true carriage of your Sword, true, then it is hard to defend either blowe or thrust; for if you carrie the hilt of your Sworde against either blow or thrust, and doe not carrie the point withall levell, even as you lay in your guard according to the Picture; then your hand and face is endangered, but bearing the hilt and the point about a foot over your bodie towards your left side; and likewise to beare your Sword stiffe out at the armes end, without bowing or your elbows joynt: provided alwaies, that your Sword being in your right hand, you must look with both you eies on the in-side of your Sword, for then you have but one kinde of defence, so that the point of your Sword be sloping towards the left shoulder: but otherwise, if you keepe the point of your Sword upright, then your enemie hath three waies to endanger you, especiallie, if you carrie your Sword right before the middest of your bellie, with the point upright, as I have knowne some hold an opinion of that waie to be good, but I say, hee that trusteth to that guard, may be hit in the head with a sodaine wrist-blow, if his practice were never so good: and likewise both his armes are unguarded, and to bee dangered, either with blow or thrust; but if guard your selfe after my direction, then your enemie hath but onelie the left side of your head, and your legges open, and they are easie to be defended; the legge, by plucking him up, the which you must doe upon everie blow, which your enemie chargeth you withall, and with the same defend the head and bodie, carrying your Sword over your bodie towards your left side, the point and hilt both steadie, as I have before said.
Now although I heere speake altogether of a Backe-Sword, it is not so meant, but the guard is so called: and therefore, whether you are weaponed with a two-edged Sword, or with a Rapier, yet frame your guarde in this manner and orme, as before said.
An other very sure and
dangerous guard at the Backesword,
called the Unicorne guard, or the fore-hand guard
Before the Sword hilt so high as your face, keeping him out at the armes end, without bowing if your elbow ioynt, and alwaies keepe your point directly upon your enemies face, and your knuckles of your Sword hand upward; but if your enemie doe charge you with a blow to the right side of your head, then turne but your Sword hilt, and your knuckles outward, still keeping your Sword arme stiffe in his place, turning but onelie your wrist and your hand: this is a very dangerous guard to your enemie, being carried with a strong arme, for by reason that you keepe him out at the points end, being so directly in his face, that hee cannot come neare you without great danger, either of blow or thrust, but indeed if your sword be not carried out with a strong arme, the your enemie may endanger your head by striking of two blowes together, the one being strooke at the point of your sword to strick him down and the other to your head but they must bee strooke both together verie sodainelie, or else there is small danger in them, now if you are warie in watching when hee makes his first blow, sodainely plucke in the point of your sword to you, and so by the slippe his first stroake hee will over carrie him, so that if you turne an over-hand blow to his head, you may hit him before hee can recover his sword to strike his second blow, or defend himslefe lying in this long guard, you may slippe every blow that is strooke, plucke in your sword even as you see your enemie stricke and turne it over to the right side of his head.
A Close at back-sword
Lying in thy guard according unto the picture at single Rapier, and when you meane to close, lift up the hilt of thy word so high as thy cheeke, and charge thy enemie with a thrust directlie at his face, and with the same motion steppe in with thy hindmost foote, turning the knuckles of they Sword-hand inward, and so bearing thy enemies point over thy head, and then catch hold on they enemies Sword-hilt, or his hand-wrist, with thy left hand, but on his hilt is the surest to hold, and then you may either trip up his heeles, or cut, or thrust him with your weapon, and in this manner you maie close with a Rapier also, if you can make your partie good at the gripe or close, for your enemie in bearing over his Sword over his bodie to defend his face from your thrust, he there by carieth awaie his point, so that hee cannot endanger you if you follow it in close and quicke.
False play with the Back-sword.
Your enemie being in his guard, and lying at watch for advantage, you maie faine a blow a the right-side of his head, and presently with the turning of your hand-wrist, strike it home to his left-side, which being done quicke you may hit a reasonable good plaier, for he will beare his sword against the fained blow, and by that meanes unguard his left-side but at no hand must not let the fained blow touch your enemies sword, but give your sword a sodaine checke and so strike it to the contrarie-side, for if your feined blow do ioine with your enemies sword, it will staie his sword within the compasse of true defence, so that hee will be readie to defend your false blow, but otherwise if you touch not his sword hee will carrie him beyond the true compasse of defence, of the seconde blow, which you determine to hit him withall so likewise you may faine your blow at the left-side of your enemies head, but presentlie strike it home to the right-side of his head, in manner aforesaid.
Another false play.
Againe, you may ioine your sword within you enemies sword according unto the picture, but presentlie so soone as you have ioyned, strike it downe to his legge, but nimblie recover your sword in his place againe falling a little awaie withall, for so soone as you have discharged your blow, you may verie easilie before hee can endanger you recover your guard and distance: likewise you maie give a back-blow unto the right side of his head, and presentlie withall, fall downe againe with another blow unto the inside of his legge, stepping home with our second blow, for when you have made your first blow as aforesaid, it may bee your enemie will winke, and so you may hit his legge before his eies open againe, so that you do it quick, but if he does not winke, yet a good plaier will think that when hee hath defended your first blow a loft, he will not expect a blow so sodainelie as this ought to be strooke, and therefore may be hit with a second blow, yea although hee looke well to himself, and the rather that maie doth not alow in there teaching a back-sword blow to be stroken at the legge, but I say a man may give a square, or fore-hand blow to the inside of his enemies legge, and verie well recover up your sword again before your enemie can endanger you.
Standing in your guard, and your enemie charging you with a blow, pluck in your sword sodainelie, and let his blow slippe, and so soone as his blow is past, answere him againe, either with a low or thrust whether you will, but if it bee at blunt with a blow, put it right with a thrust, or by plucking in your sword, and alwaies have a care you plucke him in unto that side of f the head which hee chargeth you at, for in so doing, if his weapons point do reach home, yet you are at a guard of defence, but with this skill and a little withdrawing your bodie with all, his weapon will passe clear, for the force of his blow will overswaie his weapon, and he will so over carrie his bodie, that in a manner his backe wilbe towards you, so that with a quick answere you may but him at your pleasure or close with him if you thinke you can make your partie good at the gripe; likewise you may loose upon the crosse, by ioyning weapon to weapon, but when you have made your cloose in your first encounter, take hold on your enemies hand-wrist, or else on the hilt of your enemies weapon, for then hee cannot well offend you being but single weaponed. But to trie your man-hood, at the length of your weapon, I hold it the best fight and lesse danger to both, for there is no certaine defence in a close, then is a passage, for thy are both verie dangerous.
Your enemie lying in guard, you may strike a backe blow unto his right eare, although it light upon his sword, that is all one, for in striking it above, it may cause him to wink, or he will thinke you have don, but so soone as you have delivered your blow above, then presentlie, I meane more quicker then I can speake it, strike it, strike it downe into the inside of his right-legge, or if you doe but touch his sword in ioyning him close as the picture standeth, and so soone as you have but touched his Back-sword on the out-side, strike it done unto the in-side of the legge presentlie, yet alwaies have a care to recover your sword into his place againe for your owne defence, the which you may easilie doe, yea although you encounter with a verie skilfull man, but if you strike a plaine blow at the legge without profering it above first, as is beforesaid, then you endanger your owne head, but in presenting it above, you busie him to defend the first fained blow, so that he cannot be readie prepared to charge you with anie blow of danger before you have recovered your guard, the which you may well doe, although he answere you never so quicke.
An other verie cunning deceipt with the Back-sword.
Strike a blow to the in-side of the right leg, or foot of thy enemie, but draw it to thee, striking it it something short, and then presently strike it home againe to the left eare of a right handed man, but it must be done quicker then I can speake it, and thou shalt finde his left eare unguarded, for he will looke for it at the right side, and it were not amisse to strike it once or twice from the leg to the right eare first, for then he will looke for the same blow againe, but yet I would no have you make all your play at the legge, but sometimes to offer a blow at the one side of the head, and then to the other, so by making often change of your blow, is the best waie to deceive thy enemie.
A verie dangerous blow at Back-sword.
Thy enemie lying in this guard, soddenly plucke in the pummell of thy sword to thy breast, and with all turne thy knuckles inward, and the presentlie proffer a thrust towards thy enemies breast, but turne it over with a blow to his right eare, with the which blow thou maist hit a god plaier, if he bee not aware of it before hand, for hee must beare his sword against the thrust for the defence thereof, now if he do over carrie him never so little further then he ought to doe for his true defence, then hee cannot bring him back time enough to defend the blow before you have hit him, as beforesaid.
This blow is also good
for a Left-handed man, or
against a Left-handed man.
If you would hit a Left-handed man with this blow, then present your thrust full at his face by a sodaine lifting up the hilt of your sword so high as your head, and withall you must now turne your knuckles outward, and so soone as you have presented your thrust, presently strike it home unto the let side his head.
A false play to be used in fight at Back-sword.
Proffer your thrust tow or three foot wide of thy enemies left eare, and withall let fall thy point so low as thy enemies girdle-stead of lower, and then presently with the same motion, raise thy point on the other side of thy enemies sword, and shop it home unto his right arme, shoulder or face whether you will your selfe, for in bearing his sword over his bodie to defend the fained thrust, hee cannot well recover him backe againe to defend you second thrust before you have hit him, as beforesaid, except hee hath by much practice beene used to that false thrust before hand.
An other dangerous blow.
Thy enemie lying in his guard, strike a blow to the in-side of his right leg,, and presentlie with as much speed as possible thou canst strike it home unto his left cheeke, for he will beare over his sword to defend the first proffer, and so with-draw himselfe into his guard, so that he will be unprovided for the defence of his left side, if he struck in with a quicke hand. All manner of false blowes, flips and thrusts at what weapon soever, are to avoided and defended with the true carriage of thy weapon, as at rapier and Dagger, if a false thrust be made below, and the Rapier above. And if either blow or thrust be falsified at the Back-sword, or at Sword and Dagger, thou must beare thy Sword against every proffer. But be sure thou doe not over-carrie him, but that thou maist be quick backe againe, to meete his second blow on the other side, as bringing thy weapon into his place by practice, thou shalt finde thy selfe surely guarded as in some places in this booke thou shalt fine the defence.
After the false play at everie weapon, although I have not set downe the defence of everie slip, nor of everie fault, which had been verie necessarie: for as everie lesson on a fiddle hath a severall kinde of Offence, and Defence, but heere thou shalt finde the Defence that belongeth unto manie of them, and the rest I left out of leasure to write them, but they sahll follow in the next Impression.
The true guard for
the Staffe, which we will
Keep the point of your Stafffe right in your enemies face, holding one hand at the verie buttt end of the Staffe, and the other a foote and a halfe distant, looking over your Staffe with both your eies and your feet and and a half distance, or thereabouts, according to this picture, always standing crsse with your enemie, I meanie, if his right hand and foote be foremost, let yours be so likewise, and if his left-hand and foote be foremost, then make you your change and crosse with him also.
Now, if your enemie do charge you, either with a blow or thrust, you lying in the guard, as above showed, then your defence is this: and if charge you above the gerdel-steade, wither with blow or thrust, strike yourself against it, keeping up the point of your staffe, so high as your head; but so soone as you have defended, wheterh it be blow or thrust, presently answer your enemie againe with a thrust, and hastily recver your guard againe, and in giving of a thrust, you may let goe your fore-hand from of f your Staffe, but hold the butte end fast in one hand: and so soone as you have discharged your thrust, pluck bak your Staffe, and clap both your hands on him againe, and recover your guard; but yet stay on him againe, and recover your guard; but yet stay not long, but see whether your enemie will beginne with you, but begin with him first, with a false thrust, as anone you shall see the manner how to doe it: and when you can doe it, what neede you to stand long about that which may be done presently, and without danger?
Now if he proffer either blow or thrust unto your lower parts under your gerdle-stead, if it be a thrust, strike it awaie, by turning the point of your Staffe towards the ground, but be sure to strike it with that large compasse, that the point of your Stafffe maie pitch, not in the ground, for so you may deceive your selfe in your defence, if he charge you so lowe with a blow, then you may strike it as you do a thrust, or you may pitch the point of your stafffe into the ground two or three foote wide of that side he chargeth you at, and you may in the pitching downe of your Staffe, let goe your fore-hand that hee doe not hit him, and then all parts si defended so high as your head, so that you alwaies have a care to keepe your stafe in his right place, that is to say, if your right hand and foote be foremost, then leave all your bodie open, so that your enemie can not endanger uou on the out-side of your staffe, but if he will hit you, he must needed strike or thrust in the in-side of your stafe, and then you must defend all blowes or thrust, by bearing your staffe over your bodie towards the left side, for this we cal the Fore hand Defence, and this defence consumeth no time: but if in holding your staffe in the right hand, as beore is said, and for your guarde dow beare your Staffe over towards the left hand, then you leave your right shoulder arme or face, open and ungarded, that which must be efended backward, but you may defend twentie thrust or blowes before hand, better then one backward; for the back defence is nothing so readie, nor so certaine, as the fore-hand defence is, and therefore keepe and continue your guard, according unto the Picture, for then if he proffer a thrust on the out-side of your Staffe: you neede not to feare nor pffer to defend it, for there is no place in anie danger, but all is guarded, especiallie fron the gerdle-stead upward.
And in your defence, have alwaies a care to the true carriage of your Staffe, that you do not carrie him beyond the compasse of true defence, for feare of the false plaie: for if you over-carrie your Staffe, I meane further than neede doth require, you can not recover him againe quickly enough to defend the false. Now, if your enemie doth assault you upon the contraie side, you must change both your foote and hand to crosse iwth him, as beofre: but take head when you change, you do not come in with your hinder foote, but let him stand hirme and fall backe with the fore-most foot with everie change. And having defended your enemies assault, with a little enreasing in, answered him with a thrust, thrusting out your staffe with your hindermost hand, and stepping forth withall, with your foremost foote, and the same instant of your proffer, let goe your fore-ahnd, but after your offence presently recover your hand upon your staffe againe: now if your staffe be shorter than your enemies, then (for your better advantage) step in with your hinder foote with the answer, but at no hand, never stike one blowe with your Staffe, for he that doth lift up his Staffe to strike, may easily be hit by the defender with a thrust, for in the same motion that the oppressor doth lift up his staffe to strike the defender, may with speedie thrust hit him in the breast, and holde him off upon the point of his staffe, if the Defender thrust out his staffe with his hinder hand, especially if their staves be both of one length, than hee that striketh, cannot endanger the other with a blow, for hee that striketh, holdeth both his hands upon his staffe, untill hee hath discharged his blow, whereas he that thrusteth, hath two foote oddes of him in length that striketh, so that hee puteth out his staffe, to his most advantage, as beforesaid.
It is necessary, that hee which useth the Staffe, should have use of both his hands alike, for thereby he may the better shift his staffe from hand to hand, whereby to lie crosse alwaies with your enemie, changing your hand and foote, as hee changeth for lying the one with right hand and foote for-most, and the other with the left, then he that striketh first, can not choose but endanger the others hand, but if you cannot change your Staffe to lie crosse with your enemies Staffe: then for your defence of a blow, pitch the point of your Staffe into the ground, and let go your fore-hand, and when you have discharged the blow with as much speed as you can, answer his blow with a thrust, for the greatest secret of all most chiefly to be remembered at this weapon, is, if your enemie doe but once offer to lift up his hand to strike, then presently choppe in with a thrust at his breat, shoulder, or face, for so you may hit him as you will your selfe, so that you take your time of answering.
If your enemie strike with his staffe, hee holdeth him fast in both his hands when hee delivereth his blow, by reason thereof, he which thrusteth and looseth his fore-hand, when hee hath dischargeth his thrust or drawth in the fore-hand close unto the hinder hand which holdeth the butte end of his Staffe, and so thrust him out withall, you may keepe the striker upon the point of your Staffe, so that with his blow hee can not reach you, being equally matched in length, but must come upon his death, or danger himselfe greatly.
The high guard for the Staffe
Looke under your Staffe with both your eies, with the point hanging slope-waies downe-ward by your side, bearing out your Staffe at the arms end, higher than your head alittle according to this Picture.
In looking under your Staffe it will seeme to your enemie, that your defence is onlie for your head, then he will thinke to hit you in the body with a thrust, for the body seemeith to lie very open unto him, and if he dow charge you with a thrust, carry the point of your Staffe over your bodie close by the ground towards the other side, and having defended the thrust, turne up the point of your staffe presntly towards your enemies breast, and charge him with a thrust: againe, if your enemies charge you with a blowe at your head, lift up the point of your staffe and meete the blow halfe way, and withal, draw back your hands, for feare of endangering your fingers: having striken away his staffe, answer him againe with a thrust (as beforesaid:) Now if your enemy charge you with a blow at your side, either pitch the point of your staffe into the ground to defend it, or else change into thy low guard and so crosse with him; if your enemy do strike a full blow at your head, you need not feare neither of your hands, but by striking with your staffe to meete his blow, you shall defend it upon the middle, or near the point of your staffe, although hee doe strike purposely at your hand, yet can he not touch your hands not anyother part of your body: but upon the fefence of your body draw back your hands. Now it behoveth you to be perfect, not only in this guard, but also in changin your staffe from hand to hand, according to your enemies lying: to do well you should change, as hee changeth, sometimes the point of your staffe should be hanging downe by the right side of your body, and sometimes by the left, according to your enemies lying, the best way to amke your change , is to let your staffe slip through your hands, like a Weauers shuttle, for this is a most speedie change then to shift him after the common manner, and by a little practice you may grow perfect in it.
The best guard for a darke night at Staffe
If thou meet with thine enemie in the night, and he charge upon thee, the best means for thy defence, is presently to chop up into this high guard, except thy staff be of a sufficient length, to keep him off, with charging the point upon him, or else the third means is to trust to thy heeles, but if thou wilt trust to thine hands, then either keep him off with thy point, or else above all parts, chiefly defend thy head, which is not to be done, but only by this guard, except a man may see the blow before it do light; now thou must put thy hands a little further asunder, then thou dost for the day, that the blow may be defended, by taking him upon the staff betwixt both thy hands: if it is light at your head, as is the fashion of most men to strike at the head (as I have said before) rather than to any part of the body. Now having taken the blow betwixt your hands, withall, run in and close with him, for if you stand off at the length in fight, anie time, being in the night, it cannot chose but be verie dangerous, if you suffer him to discharge many blows, but either answer him with a thrust, or else close with him, and turn the butte end of your staffe into his breast of face, as you see occasion: now if it be in the day, or that you can see the blow before it light; if your enemie charge you with a blow at the side, meet his blow by carrying it over to the other side, & pitch the point of your staffe in the ground, and loose your foremost hand for dangering of your fingers, but hold the hinder hand fast at the butte end of your staffe. Butt now, upon this high guard you can not defend the false so well, nor so sure, as when you lie on the low guard; for it your enemie do proffer a thrust on the one side your staffe, and presently chop it home to the other side, he may endanger, nay, hee may hit a skillful and cunning player, especially if you over-carrie your staffe in defence of the fained blow or thrust.
Wherefore, if you lie on the low guard with your staffe or pike, you shall defend a thrust with the point of your weapon long before it come near you, & yet your point is readie to answer more speedily than it is when you lie on anie other guard, but he which lieth with his point of the staffe or pike on the ground, hath verie little space to his bodie, no more than the length of his arm wherein he holdeth his weapon: therefore he which suffereth a thrust to come so near, it will quicklie come to the face or bodie, yet because most souldiers heretofore have used this fashion of lying, and are not experienced in the low guard, according to the first Picture of the Staffe; but in your practice use both, you shall find the benefit thereof better; now if your frame yourself into the high guard, your staff must not be, in length, above eight foot at most, but rather shorter, for else in defending your enemies thrust, a long staffe will hit the ground, and by that means, your enemies thrust may endanger you: therefore, for this high guard, you must looke that your staffe be of that length, that you may carrie the point cleane from the ground in defending a thrust, but for the low guard it is no matter of what length your staffe be.
CONTINUE TO PART TWO