Sainct Didier’s Footwork

This is a translation of the section concerning how to step correctly 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.

Translating Sainct Didier is heavy going. Not only am I not a professional (or even really an amateur) French interpreter, making sense of a text more than 400 years old in a language which I understand well enough but in which I’m not particular fluent is very difficult. Add to this Sainct Didier’s writing style, which can be charitably described as excruciating. I’m used to reading in Middle English and Early Modern English and was once quite well read in Latin (although I’ve forgotten plenty of it). However, Sainct Dider often defeated me. I’m sure that he was trying hard to sound more educated than he actually was.

In this section, he demonstrates the basic footwork for his exercises. This consists largely of stepping off the line of attack in both offensive and defensive situations.