Historical Swordplay Archive

  • This is a translation of the section concerning how to draw the sword in Henri de Sainct Didier's Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). More sections of the text will be translated as time allows. The translation is based on the transcription of the copy in the Library of the city of Blois (available at Bibliotheque Virtuelles Humanistes) made in 2010 by Olivier Depuis for l’Association pour la Recherche et le Développement des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens. All amendments to the text made in the transcription have been assumed and are not noted here.

    Sainct Didier’s Six Basic Strikes

    This is a translation of the section concerning how to draw the sword in Henri de Sainct Didier's Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). More sections of the text will be translated as time allows. The translation is based on the transcription of the copy in the Library of the city of Blois (available at Bibliotheque Virtuelles Humanistes) made in 2010 by Olivier Depuis for l’Association pour la Recherche et le Développement des Arts Martiaux Historiques Européens. All amendments to the text made in the transcription have been assumed and are not noted here.
  • This is a translation of the section concerning how to draw the sword in Henri de Sainct Didier's Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). More sections of the text will be translated as time allows. The importance that Sainct Didier gives to drawing the sword is a puzzle that I believe is only resolved when the illustrations are considered literally. All the draws start with the opponents facing each other, feet together and hands on hilts. This does not suggest to me a military application but a civilian and social setting, whether a judicial duel, duel of honour of friendly competition.

    Sainct Didier’s Drawing the Sword

    This is a translation of the section concerning how to draw the sword in Henri de Sainct Didier's Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). More sections of the text will be translated as time allows. The importance that Sainct Didier gives to drawing the sword is a puzzle that I believe is only resolved when the illustrations are considered literally. All the draws start with the opponents facing each other, feet together and hands on hilts. This does not suggest to me a military application but a civilian and social setting, whether a judicial duel, duel of honour of friendly competition.
  • This is my translation of the defenses and counters outlined in Day Two of Giovanni Dall'Agocchie’s On The Art of Fencing. I’ve simplified and condensed drastically to discover the basic bio-mechanic movements behind the the vast catalogue of Italian terminology. Bolognese scholars are free to think this post sacrilege.

    Table of Defenses Actions in Dall’Agocchie

    This is my translation of the defenses and counters outlined in Day Two of Giovanni Dall'Agocchie’s On The Art of Fencing. I’ve simplified and condensed drastically to discover the basic bio-mechanic movements behind the the vast catalogue of Italian terminology. Bolognese scholars are free to think this post sacrilege.
  • <p>I’ve finished Days One and Two of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s On the Art of Fencing and I’ve got some notes and observations to share. And I’ve got to say I’m terrified of making my little contribution to the field public given the amount and depth of study others have put into the Bolognese tradition.</p>
<p>I’m just a simple swordsman and I reckon that learning from the sources can give me an edge over others I bout with. This may mean I look at the tradition from a slightly different angle and it may help beginners unravel some of its intricacies.</p>
<p>The  […]</p>

    Notes on Dall’Agocchie’s Days One and Two

    I’ve finished Days One and Two of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s On the Art of Fencing and I’ve got some notes and observations to share. And I’ve got to say I’m terrified of making my little contribution to the field public given the amount and depth of study others have put into the Bolognese tradition.

    I’m just a simple swordsman and I reckon that learning from the sources can give me an edge over others I bout with. This may mean I look at the tradition from a slightly different angle and it may help beginners unravel some of its intricacies.

    The […]

  • <p>I’m about to embark on a review of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s 1572 fencing treatise “Dell’Arte Di Scrimia” (The Art of Fencing) and it terrifies me. Not because the text is difficult or unapproachable but because there’s already been so much research and practice of the Bolognese tradition that I doubt whether I can add anything to that body of work. My approach, however, may be a little different.</p>
<p>I’m not so much concerned with re-creating the style as it was but understanding how I can use what Dall’Agocchie can teach in my own practice. How, for instance, does he propose I  […]</p>

    Next: Giovanni Dall’Agocchie

    I’m about to embark on a review of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s 1572 fencing treatise “Dell’Arte Di Scrimia” (The Art of Fencing) and it terrifies me. Not because the text is difficult or unapproachable but because there’s already been so much research and practice of the Bolognese tradition that I doubt whether I can add anything to that body of work. My approach, however, may be a little different.

    I’m not so much concerned with re-creating the style as it was but understanding how I can use what Dall’Agocchie can teach in my own practice. How, for instance, does he propose I […]

  • <p>This is a translation of the essay at the front of Henri de Sainct Didier’s The Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). I have not translated the epistolary verses or any more of the text at this stage. This is a task for someone with more time available than I currently have available to me.</p>
<ul>
<li>The Secrets of the Single Sword – General Essay</li>
</ul>
<p>The translation is based on the transcription of the copy in the Library of the city of Blois (available at Bibliotheque Virtuelles Humanistes) made in 2010 by Olivier Depuis for l’Association pour la Recherche et le  […]</p>

    Henri de Sainct Didier’s General Essay

    This is a translation of the essay at the front of Henri de Sainct Didier’s The Secrets of the Single Sword (1573). I have not translated the epistolary verses or any more of the text at this stage. This is a task for someone with more time available than I currently have available to me.

    • The Secrets of the Single Sword – General Essay

    The translation is based on the transcription of the copy in the Library of the city of Blois (available at Bibliotheque Virtuelles Humanistes) made in 2010 by Olivier Depuis for l’Association pour la Recherche et le […]

  • <p>I’ve been reviewing my notes on both the sidesword and dusack techniques shown in Joachim Meyer‘s Art of Combat and a couple of key principles stand out. Master these and you’ve got the core of the single sword style he taught. This post outlines the core principles in a format from which a lesson plan could be developed.</p>
Core Principles
<p>Forget all the talk about the multitude of postures and cuts. The key is that you cut to attack and, for the most part, cut to defend.</p>
<p>Cuts are either vertical, horizontal or diagonal whether from above or below. When  […]</p>

    Learning Sidesword Fundamentals

    I’ve been reviewing my notes on both the sidesword and dusack techniques shown in Joachim Meyer‘s Art of Combat and a couple of key principles stand out. Master these and you’ve got the core of the single sword style he taught. This post outlines the core principles in a format from which a lesson plan could be developed.

    Core Principles

    Forget all the talk about the multitude of postures and cuts. The key is that you cut to attack and, for the most part, cut to defend.

    Cuts are either vertical, horizontal or diagonal whether from above or below. When […]

  • <p>The dusack is a remarkable weapon. It’s traditionally made of wood or leather (although some metal examples are known) and was used as a training weapon the the German schools of swordsmanship and the town guard in Eastern Europe to quell hordes of drunken revelers. The dusack fighting system outlined in Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat (1570, tr. J. Forgeng) is bone-breakingly fast.</p>
<p>My question has always been where on earth did such an unusally shaped weapon come from? Then I stumbled across this.</p>
<p>Dusacks in Pennsylvania? Gangs of militant Amish keeping the law with quaintly decorated wooden swords?</p>
<p>The  […]</p>

    The Dusack’s Agricultural Origins

    The dusack is a remarkable weapon. It’s traditionally made of wood or leather (although some metal examples are known) and was used as a training weapon the the German schools of swordsmanship and the town guard in Eastern Europe to quell hordes of drunken revelers. The dusack fighting system outlined in Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat (1570, tr. J. Forgeng) is bone-breakingly fast.

    My question has always been where on earth did such an unusally shaped weapon come from? Then I stumbled across this.

    Dusacks in Pennsylvania? Gangs of militant Amish keeping the law with quaintly decorated wooden swords?

    The […]

  • <p> </p>
<p> This post marks the end of my investigations into A Tract on the Single Sword of Henri de Sainct Didier (1573), another member of Club 1570. I’m presenting here my notes on his sidesword technique (PDF) for public appraisal. Any and all feedback is gratefully appreciated.</p>
<ul>
<li>Summary of Henri de Sainct Didier’s Sidesword Lessons (PDF)</li>
</ul>
<p>My initial thoughts were pretty much correct. The text is a series of lesson plans rather than a coherent sword combat system. Sainct Didier is all about training young courtiers rather than warriors.</p>
<p>There’s little in the way of description of the stages of  […]</p>

    Summary of Henri de Sainct Didier’s Rapier System

     

    This post marks the end of my investigations into A Tract on the Single Sword of Henri de Sainct Didier (1573), another member of Club 1570. I’m presenting here my notes on his sidesword technique (PDF) for public appraisal. Any and all feedback is gratefully appreciated.

    • Summary of Henri de Sainct Didier’s Sidesword Lessons (PDF)

    My initial thoughts were pretty much correct. The text is a series of lesson plans rather than a coherent sword combat system. Sainct Didier is all about training young courtiers rather than warriors.

    There’s little in the way of description of the stages of […]

  • <p>I’m well known for my support of bouting and tournaments within the historical fencing community. If you are unwilling to test your skill at arms in a competitive environment, you need to find another hobby or, at least, drop the pretense of studying a martial art. However, for all the fantastic effort being put into making tournaments work at the moment, there’s a number of factors which I believe have not been considered or not properly thought through.</p>
<p><strong>The Approach</strong></p>
<p>In the German longsword schools, this is known as the <em>zufechten</em>. The fault can almost certainly be laid at  […]</p>

    Thoughts on Historical Fencing Tournaments

    I’m well known for my support of bouting and tournaments within the historical fencing community. If you are unwilling to test your skill at arms in a competitive environment, you need to find another hobby or, at least, drop the pretense of studying a martial art. However, for all the fantastic effort being put into making tournaments work at the moment, there’s a number of factors which I believe have not been considered or not properly thought through.

    The Approach

    In the German longsword schools, this is known as the zufechten. The fault can almost certainly be laid at […]

  • <p>There’s a lot of talk about at the moment about whether what we do is a martial art, martial sport, historical reconstruction or something else. To my mind, all of these missing the point and fail to address the most basic question – why use swords at all? There are three answers that I can see. </p>
<p>Modern schools of historical swordsmanship grew out of the thirty year old movement to reconstruct lost aspects of the western martial heritage and this remains the foundation of the practice. There’s still a huge amount of debate about what various masters meant by what  […]</p>

    Why swords?

    There’s a lot of talk about at the moment about whether what we do is a martial art, martial sport, historical reconstruction or something else. To my mind, all of these missing the point and fail to address the most basic question – why use swords at all? There are three answers that I can see.

    Modern schools of historical swordsmanship grew out of the thirty year old movement to reconstruct lost aspects of the western martial heritage and this remains the foundation of the practice. There’s still a huge amount of debate about what various masters meant by what […]

  • <p>Scott McDonald, principal of the Australia College of Arms and convenor of Swordplay 12, dropped this on the Queensland Living History Federation‘s facebook page. I was planning on posting about this but he beat me to the punch.</p>
<blockquote><p>Puck Curtis, one of the world’s most respected historic swordplay researchers, will as part of Swordplay’ 12 present for the first time in public never before seen in English instructions on Spanish Sword and Dagger combat. His formal workshop scheduled for Friday 7th September will cover this material over 6 hours.</p>
<p>Puck will be available on Saturday and Sunday to run impromptu </p></blockquote> […]

    Puck Curtis will be at Swordplay 12

    Scott McDonald, principal of the Australia College of Arms and convenor of Swordplay 12, dropped this on the Queensland Living History Federation‘s facebook page. I was planning on posting about this but he beat me to the punch.

    Puck Curtis, one of the world’s most respected historic swordplay researchers, will as part of Swordplay’ 12 present for the first time in public never before seen in English instructions on Spanish Sword and Dagger combat. His formal workshop scheduled for Friday 7th September will cover this material over 6 hours.

    Puck will be available on Saturday and Sunday to run impromptu

    […]
  • <p>While I haven’t finished with Henri de Sainct Didier yet, I’ve started reading the dussack chapter of Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat. It starts with a brilliant series of exercises which can be applied to any single-handed cutting sword technique. These are my notes on the drills with all the original terms retained. If you can, get a copy of the text and practice this stuff.</p>
Drill 1: One Line – Half and Full Cuts
<p><strong>Version A</strong>: Half cut into Longpoint while stepping forward with right foot. Gather left foot while transitioning through hanging guard to cut again. Do  […]</p>

    Meyer’s Dussack Drills

    While I haven’t finished with Henri de Sainct Didier yet, I’ve started reading the dussack chapter of Joachim Meyer’s Art of Combat. It starts with a brilliant series of exercises which can be applied to any single-handed cutting sword technique. These are my notes on the drills with all the original terms retained. If you can, get a copy of the text and practice this stuff.

    Drill 1: One Line – Half and Full Cuts

    Version A: Half cut into Longpoint while stepping forward with right foot. Gather left foot while transitioning through hanging guard to cut again. Do […]

  • <p>The Australian College of Arms (ACA) runs an annual gathering in September of historical and period swordsmanship which brings together competitors and participants from all over this wide brown land. Swordplay 2012 is destined to be the biggest and best.</p>
<p>This year Swordplay 2012 features the return of Puck Curtis from the Destreza Translation and Research Project to run a workshop in Spanish rapier fencing.</p>
<p>There’s Skill-at-Arms tourneys in three weapons systems this year: longsword, rapier and sidesword.</p>
<p>As always, there’s plenty of opportunities to meet other who share your passion for swords, fencing and history.</p>
<p>If you’re not at  […]</p>

    Here Comes Swordplay 2012

    The Australian College of Arms (ACA) runs an annual gathering in September of historical and period swordsmanship which brings together competitors and participants from all over this wide brown land. Swordplay 2012 is destined to be the biggest and best.

    This year Swordplay 2012 features the return of Puck Curtis from the Destreza Translation and Research Project to run a workshop in Spanish rapier fencing.

    There’s Skill-at-Arms tourneys in three weapons systems this year: longsword, rapier and sidesword.

    As always, there’s plenty of opportunities to meet other who share your passion for swords, fencing and history.

    If you’re not at […]

  • <p>I’m really beginning to like the dussack and reckon that Joachim Meyer has got it right when he says that it’s the basis of all single-handed sword styles. It’s an unforgiving weapon which is blade-heavy, unweildy yet strangely elegant. If you can make this thing work, you can master any cutting weapon.</p>
<p><em>(Gratuitous self-promotion: I make dussacks that seem to work well in sparring. Email me for details.)</em></p>
<p>The one thing the dussack does is to teach you how to move with the weapon. Being so unbalanced, it is impossible to control in a nice manner. You need to step  […]</p>

    A Little Dussack Lovin’

    I’m really beginning to like the dussack and reckon that Joachim Meyer has got it right when he says that it’s the basis of all single-handed sword styles. It’s an unforgiving weapon which is blade-heavy, unweildy yet strangely elegant. If you can make this thing work, you can master any cutting weapon.

    (Gratuitous self-promotion: I make dussacks that seem to work well in sparring. Email me for details.)

    The one thing the dussack does is to teach you how to move with the weapon. Being so unbalanced, it is impossible to control in a nice manner. You need to step […]