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At the end of Giovanni Dall’Agocchie’s On The Art of Fencing (1572), there’s a wonderful aside in which he explains the basics techniques he’d teach a complete fencing newbie who must fight a duel of honour in thirty days. In this post, I want to point out the similarities with the single sword system of Dall’Agocchie’s contemporary, Joachim Meyer, whose Art of Combat (1570) includes an extensive chapter on use of the rapier.
I can’t summarise Dall’Agochhie’s essential actions better than has already been done by Steve Reich (Nova Assalto).
Dall’Agocchie proposes to teach the prospective duellist only one of […]
I've finally come to the end of my explorations of the rapier chapter of Joachim Meyer's Art of Combat (1570). I'm presenting here my notes on Meyer's rapier system (PDF) for public appraisal. Maybe I've learned something new about his rappers technique. Maybe I'm on the wrong track entirely. Thoughts, comments and criticism is, as always, greatly appreciated.
I’ve found a rather nifty set of rules for rapier tournaments by RedStar Fencing in Chicago. Of the many points of interest is that this rules set has come out of a modern fence club rather than an historical fencing school. Even more amazing is that all the cumbersome and artifical modern electronic scoring kit is not required.
Before I get stuck in, here’s a copy of the rules: Lancet Fencing Modern Rapier Rules (PDF)
The first thing I like about these rules is their simplicity. There are priority (head and sword arm) and non-priority (everywhere else) target areas. If […]
It’s September and that means Swordplay 11 is just around the corner. In fact, it’s on in less than a week. Yay!
Obviously, all historical fencers in Australia know about Swordplay but there’s bound to be a poor benighted few who haven’t heard of it. Swordplay is an annual event run by the Australian College of Arms which brings together schools of swordplay and historical fencing from all over the country in order to chat, compare notes and, of course, cross blades. It’s been going for a few years now and leaping from strength to strength. You won’t find three […]
One recent development has been playing on my mind of late: the height of pedestal on which we place the masters of the various historical fencing techniques we study. In our collective hero-worship no one seems to have considered that the masters’ techniques either just plain don’t work or work only in a limited set of circumstances. This type of hagiography does not to advance our understanding of historical swordplay nor does it provide a useful basis for the future of the sport.
The context in which a particular master wrote is the key piece of information missing from the […]
What happens when you face an opponent who read my last post and is standing in front of you in Straight Parrying or, to a much lesser extent, Iron Gate? What do you do?
Meyer is not particularly clear on this point but, as he says, he gives a range of examples from which the reader is supposed to deduce the principles at work, many of which will be familiar from the section on the longsword or from other schools of rapier play. He says in general that “ you should not go out more than a hand’s breadth to […]
How should we deal with the problem of double hits in historical fencing bouts? A double hit is when two fencers strike each other at the same time and generally means that they have both forgotten the first rule of fencing, “don’t get hit.” They’ve also forgotten the basic techniques of whatever tradition they study. If they were using sharp blades instead of blunts, the result would be what is known in the trade as “two dead idiots.”
(I know lots of folks are against competition in historical swordplay. That’s beside the point. The scoring system serves here only to […]
This is a puzzle that occupies more and more of my time. What sort of community should we build? What approach should we use? What does the future look like?
To my mind, an historical fencing community must be able to handle every style of sword use from I.33 (written in 1295) to smallsword (ending roughly 1850). That’s more than 550 years of the evolution of personal armed combat. The basic problem is how can – and indeed should – one community represent this diverse a group of fencing techniques.
There are three basic approaches that existing groups have come […]
This post is part of my continuing efforts to understand the rapier techniques expounded by Joachim Meyer in his Art of Combat (1570). I’ll summarise forty-odd pages of text into one(-ish). It covers his sword alone techniques. I’ll look at sword and dagger another time.
Meyer insists on keeping the right foot forward (for the right-handed swordsman) and the stance is very forward weighted. This makes the front foot a pivot point around which the rear foot moves, generally off-line in the opposition direction to that from which an attack is received.
There are three types of posture. […]
Let’s face it. Fencing is a dead activity. At no time in my life will I ever be called upon to fight a duel, let alone a duel with swords. As a combat art, fencing is a technique without a purpose. So, other than to be pretentious (which is an end in itself) why do I learn, study and practice the fighting styles of a bunch of dead white dudes?
I’m going to discuss this problem through an analogy to languages (another passion of mine, by the way). In this way, I hope to diffuse some of the emotion that […]