Chris Slee Home Page http://sleech.info Books, swords, language Sun, 25 Feb 2018 03:52:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.11 9626690 IKEA Sword Rack http://sleech.info/swords/ikea-sword-rack.html Sun, 25 Feb 2018 03:52:02 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1990 I needed a new storage solution for my swords and IKEA provided. Here’s how I did it for $45 (AUD).

Qty Part Name Article Number
1 OBSERVATOR cross-brace 101.895.48
2 HEJNE Shelf 402.878.11
2 HEJNE Post 802.866.78

 

The build is the standard HEJNE shelf build except in two aspects.

The first is the placement of the shelves. You need to put the bottom shelf at the second from the bottom of the pre-drilled holes in the uprights. The middle shelf needs to be measured against your weapons to ensure that the shelf will carry the hilts and the tips of the swords will not hit the floor. Proper placement is vital. Take some time over this step.

The second is more complicated. I found I needed to take out the middle of the three planks in the sword-tip shelf and the sword hilt shelf in order for the blades to fit. However, this left a gap which, while fine for my wider quillioned rapiers, allowed my sabre to drop through owing to its more compact guard. To fix this, I simply ripped one of the discarded shelf planks in two along its length and nailed the half-plank back into the hilt shelf. Problem solved.

All in all, for two hours work and a plate of meatballs in the store cafeteria, I think I’ve achieved a serviceable end result. But, I think I need another one.

Here are some photos.

1. All the pieces and tools required. (Gloves and forearm guard optional.)

2. The middle plank removed from the tip shelf and the hilt shelf.

3. Measuring the shelf placement against the length of some swords.

4. Adding back the ripped half-plank to narrow the gap.

5. The finished product.

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1990
The Future of Aussie HEMA http://sleech.info/swords/the-future-of-aussie-hema.html Sun, 16 Apr 2017 03:36:48 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1975 I’m going to make a prediction about the future of HEMA in Australia. I’m willing to put money on it.

Within three years, we will see a national umbrella organisation founded specifically for the purpose of running a high-level national HEMA competition. It exists solely to run the tournament and dictates the rules, weapons, protection and other entry requirements competitors must meet. The organisation will not train competitors itself but allow entry to any competitor suitably qualified under its strictures. However, it may accredit other schools and groups as providing a training program appropriate for the national competition. The organisation […]

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I’m going to make a prediction about the future of HEMA in Australia. I’m willing to put money on it.

Within three years, we will see a national umbrella organisation founded specifically for the purpose of running a high-level national HEMA competition. It exists solely to run the tournament and dictates the rules, weapons, protection and other entry requirements competitors must meet. The organisation will not train competitors itself but allow entry to any competitor suitably qualified under its strictures. However, it may accredit other schools and groups as providing a training program appropriate for the national competition. The organisation will provide permanent referees and other officials trained to administer the competition rules rather than scrambling to find people at the last minute. The entry costs – both in terms of dedication to training, insurance and fees – will be high but so will the rewards for the winners. Qualification will be rigorous and difficult. There will be corporate sponsorship but the event probably will not yet attract media attention.

A major split is coming in Australian HEMA. And I think it’s a good thing.

The community is divided. There is a small knot of people keen for hard-core, intense, high-level competition. There’s another group equally committed and focused on recovering the past and reviving the tradition of swordsmanship. On the continuum between the extremes of competition-based HEMA and art-based HEMA (for want of better terms) lie every other HEMA practitioner, interested in a mix of both in varying proportions. Because — it goes without saying — swording is just big fun.

This will happen. Within three years. But there are risks.

Art-based HEMA risks losing touch with the realities of swordsmanship. It is in danger of devolving into blindly following ideal forms, zen-like movements for their own sake without understanding their true aims and purpose. Perfecting each step, the position of the arms, the feet, the turn of the hips is the objective. No longer is it connected to the reality of swordsmanship – trying to put a length of steel into the body of another person.

Competition-based HEMA risks losing touch with the long albeit reconstructed history of western swordsmanship. Whatever works. Whatever wins the point is the goal. After all, the only rational context for swordsmanship in the twenty-first century is competition. Technique adapts to context but loses any connection with how sharps were used in lethal encounters.

Will we be forced to choose one or the other? I think the answer is a definite yes.

For a start, consider the issue of insurance: public liability, player insurance, event insurance. The re-enactor insurance that most groups take out doesn’t cut the mustard. I’m no lawyer but I can’t see it covering us for what we do. We need martial arts insurance if we’re going to continue to ratchet up the level of competition. Without it and sooner or later, someone is going to get sued and, at best, lose their house. The implications of this for weapons, protection, training, rules, allowed techniques, etc, will force the split if nothing else. Some HEMA practitioners are willing to pay the cost. Some are not.

The potential for litigation will have other impacts. For example, based on my limited layman’s understanding of duty of care, event organisers may be called on to refuse competition entry to those who are not formally trained in whatever is used in the competition. Haven’t trained longsword? You can’t enter a longsword competition. Haven’t trained grappling and throws? You cannot enter a tourney where ringen is allowed.

Sure, this is a pessimistic perspective. But is it an unrealistic view?

Is it what I personally want for Aussie HEMA? Yes and no.

Yes. I want high-level competition to develop. I want the national competition umbrella organisation to be formed. In my view, this is the only way it will happen. It will happen within three years.

But competition at this level doesn’t interest me. I’ll never enter the tourney (even if my creaking bones could pass qualification). I’m an historian who plays at martial arts but I’m not a re-enactor. My interest is in a particular slice of the history of western swordsmanship. I’m never going to use a sword in a fight and I can’t bring myself to pretend I ever will. My interest is in turning what I read in books into the practical, judicious and nuanced handling of obsolete weapons.

Facing antagonistic opponents is a large part of proving my interpretations may be correct. This is where the current inter-school “friendlies” come into play. It’s competition but with limits – formal or otherwise – on the intensity and allowed techniques and which takes advantage of a different set of rules from one event to the next – often focusing on achieving particular outcomes.

My great fear is that we may lose the wealth of diversity displayed by Aussie HEMA. Different groups each concentrating on their own section of the art and practice of swordsmanship is one of the greatest strengths of HEMA in this country. It would be a tragic loss to us all if we ever succumbed to the diseased mindset of The One True HEMA (whatever that may be).

I want the insights into the use of swords gained in this forum to feed into the high-level arena. Improvements in our understanding of the Art can only benefit the national competition.

I want the experience gained in a national competition to better inform my studies. The speed and intensity of combat, even given that it is no longer lethal in intent, provides insights what works under pressure that can not but assist in interpreting source texts.

The split is coming. And I’m looking forward to it because the tension now between the two extremes of the continuum is unsustainable.

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1975
The Rise and Fall of André des Bordes http://sleech.info/swords/the-rise-and-fall-of-andre-des-bordes.html Fri, 16 Sep 2016 00:00:26 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1961 desbordes_portraitAndré des Bordes (1582? – 1625) should be recognised by posterity as the fencing master to two dukes of Lorraine, Charles III and Henri II, and the author of a rapier treatise. However, he has gone down in history as the victim of dynastic in-fighting in the province and remains the only fencing teacher known to have been executed as a witch.

This piece provides a brief biography of the man and an account of his rise and downfall under successive dukes, including his trial on charges of witchcraft. While there is not much in it about his fencing practice, the piece makes an interesting aside allowing us a glimpse into life and political struggles in early modern France. What it shows above all is that picking a side in politics can be dangerous and sometimes fatal. Des Bordes, for all his acknowledged brilliance, is nothing more than a pawn in the hands of the mighty.

Other versions and analysis of this sad incident may be found in the following works. Lepage’s text appears to be (one of?) the first.

  • Monter, W. A Bewitched Duchy: Lorraine and its Dukes (1477-1736), Librairie Droz, Geneva, 2007
  • Briggs, R. The Witches of Lorraine, Oxford University Press, New York, 2007
  • Briggs, R. “Witchcraft and the Local Communities: The Rhine-Moselle Region” in Levack, B. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America, Oxford University Press, New York, 2013
  • Dupuis, O. “The French Fighting Traditions from the 14th Century to 1630 in Fight Books” in Jaquet D., Verelst K. and Dawson T. (eds) Late Medieval and Early Modern Fight Books: Transmission and Tradition of Martial Arts in Europe (14th-17th Centuries), Brill, Leiden, 2016
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1961
La Canne Royale: Where do I buy it? http://sleech.info/swords/la-canne-royale-where-do-i-but-it.html Thu, 16 Jun 2016 22:51:19 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1957 La Canne Royale, my translation into English of two French cane training manuals, has hit the virtual bookshelves and is available for purchase. If you are interested in the history of stick fighting or the early development of modern physical education, this is the book for you.

Check out the book’s page on the LongEdge Press website to find which online bookstores are carrying La Canne Royale.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book to whet your appetite.


La Canne holds a unique position in the development of martial arts in the nineteenth century. It was at

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La Canne Royale, my translation into English of two French cane training manuals, has hit the virtual bookshelves and is available for purchase. If you are interested in the history of stick fighting or the early development of modern physical education, this is the book for you.

Check out the book’s page on the LongEdge Press website to find which online bookstores are carrying La Canne Royale.

Here’s the blurb from the back of the book to whet your appetite.


La Canne Royale : Chris Slee : LongEdge Press

La Canne Royale : Chris Slee : LongEdge Press

La Canne holds a unique position in the development of martial arts in the nineteenth century. It was at once a weapon for self-defense taught in the boxing and savate clubs across France and Belgium as well as a tool for gymnastics and physical education. The canne was taught to the officer class in military academies and to children in public schools.

This volume presents two mid-century methods for learning the canne which encompass both these aspects of its use. Larribeau’s 1856 A New Theory of the Art of the Canne concentrates more on self-defence and introduces lessons against a mannequin as a teaching method. Humé’s 1862 Treatise and Theory of La Canne Royale centres more on the gymnastic and athletic aspects of the canne. Both provide a fascinating insight into the canne before it was codified by Vigny and incorporated into the composite English martial art of Bartitsu.


Authors: M. Larribeau, Eugène Humé, J. Renkin
Translator: Slee, Chris
Publisher: LongEdge Press
Published: 1 June 2016
Language: English
Paperback: 104 pages (15.24 cm x 22.86 cm, 0.21 kg)
eBook: ePUB, MOBI

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1957
A Duel with a Phantom Cavalier (1615) http://sleech.info/swords/a-duel-with-a-phantom-cavalier-1615.html Fri, 10 Jun 2016 04:32:49 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1954 Here’s an interesting little piece titled “The Strange Story of the Solicitous Phantom Cavalier who Fought a Duel on 27 January 1615 near Paris“[1]Original title : Histoire prodigieuse du fantôme cavalier solliciteur, qui s’est battu en duel le 27 janvier 1615, près Paris jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_1954_7_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_1954_7_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); (PDF). It fits firmly in attempts in Europe to ban duelling which, despite the heavy-hitters, both organisations and individual, engaged in the struggle failed to achieve this end until well into […]

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[Page Image] Histoire prodigieuse du fantôme cavalier solliciteur

Histoire prodigieuse du fantôme cavalier solliciteur

Here’s an interesting little piece titled “The Strange Story of the Solicitous Phantom Cavalier who Fought a Duel on 27 January 1615 near Paris[1]Original title : Histoire prodigieuse du fantôme cavalier solliciteur, qui s’est battu en duel le 27 janvier 1615, près Paris (PDF). It fits firmly in attempts in Europe to ban duelling which, despite the heavy-hitters, both organisations and individual, engaged in the struggle failed to achieve this end until well into the Enlightenment.

The movement against duelling began with the Lateran Council of 1215 which banned private duels of honour but maintained scope for judicial or court-sponsored duels to continue. The next major push to ban duelling was at the end of the sixteenth and spanning into the first few decades of the seventeenth century. Notably, Queen Elizabeth I of England and Henry IV of France tried to stamp out the practice and several noble duellists were executed on the orders of these monarchs for fighting duels. Previous kings of both countries tried as well with little success.

Most polemics against duelling discuss topics such as intergenerational feuds, breaking the king’s (or queen’s) peace, the thinning out of the ranks of the already dwindling nobility, or the breaking of the sixth commandment against murder. This document takes a slightly different tack. Duelling is caused by demons who, playing on the vanity of those people who enjoy training with weapons, convince them to fight with them in order to kill them and take their unrepentant souls to Hell.

There’s a couple of elements of this tale I particularly enjoy:

  • the demon on human guise is an unstoppable fencer who dispatches his opponents quickly and with little difficulty;
  • the idea that, much like D’Artagnan, it is not unusual for a man to be committed to multiple duels in an afternoon;
  • that the location of the fight mentioned in the tale can be easily located (with varying degrees of accuracy given the centuries).

Enjoy.

Notes

Notes
1 Original title : Histoire prodigieuse du fantôme cavalier solliciteur, qui s’est battu en duel le 27 janvier 1615, près Paris
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1954
Snippets of Sainct-Didier http://sleech.info/reviews/snippets-of-sainct-didier.html Wed, 17 Feb 2016 01:15:34 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1950 There’s two famous members of the Sainct-Didier clan. The most well known is Henry de Sainct Didier, the author of the fencing manual I’ve translated. The second, earlier one is Guillaume de Sainct Didier, a twelfth century Provençal poet.

Here are the relevant entries from the catalog of Count of La Croix du Maine’s library, published in 1584. The full title of the book is The First Volume of the Library of the Lord La Croix Du Maine, which is a general catalog of all types of authors who have written in French for the last five hundred years and […]

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La Croix de Maine 1584There’s two famous members of the Sainct-Didier clan. The most well known is Henry de Sainct Didier, the author of the fencing manual I’ve translated. The second, earlier one is Guillaume de Sainct Didier, a twelfth century Provençal poet.

Here are the relevant entries from the catalog of Count of La Croix du Maine’s library, published in 1584. The full title of the book is The First Volume of the Library of the Lord La Croix Du Maine, which is a general catalog of all types of authors who have written in French for the last five hundred years and more until today. It’s 560 pages of short articles about the books, their authors and other interesting and related snippets of information. The catalog was maintained and added to — five volumes in all — by the counts of La Croix du Maine, south of Le Mans in France, until the time of the Revolution.

This is the entry for Guillaume de Sainct Didier:

Guillaume de Sainct-Didier, gentleman, native of the region[1]pays of Velay, Provençal poet in the year 1185.

He translated from Latin into Provençal rhyme the Fables of Aesop.

He further wrote a fine treatise on fencing.[2]In this, the author appears to confuse Guillaume with Henry. There is no known fencing manual from this date or having Guillaume as its author.

He died in the year 1185 or thereabouts.

There is a very memorable meeting of things found:[3]C’est une rencontre bien memorable de ce que il se trouve that another gentleman of the same surname, of the same quality, and of the same region, having four hundred years after the death of the above-mentioned Guillaume, wrote a fencing book in Paris, ten years ago, as we shall discuss in his place.

And a little later in the catalog is his presumed descendant Henry:

Henry de Sainct Didier, Provençal gentleman, great natural philosopher and one of the most esteemed of his time, for fencing well with all types of weapons, of which he wrote a treatise in order to teach fencing, containing the secrets of the first book of the sword alone, mother of all weapons, printed at Paris the year 1573 by Jean Metayer and Mathurin Chalange, and being sold at Jean Dallier’s shop[4]chez Iean Dallier on the Pont Michel at the White Rose.

He dedicated this book to the last Charles IX.

I spoke of the said Henry de Sainct Didier here-above, when I made mention of Guillaume de Sainct Didier, particularly that between these two there is something worthy of note, namely,[5]scavoir c’est (repeating that which I said here-above which everyone may not have read) that both((l’un et l’autre)) wrote a book with the same subject or argument, namely, fencing and that both have the same surname of Sainct Didier, both gentlemen and born in the same province, and there is only the difference of time: because this Guillaume flourished the year 1174 and this one flourished and is yet living [in] this year 1584, making four hundred years between them.

He printed other books after it touching on his understanding of fencing, and further touching several other wonderful secrets[6]beaux secrets of nature, in which he uses all his time[7]tout son plaisir.

Notes

Notes
1 pays
2 In this, the author appears to confuse Guillaume with Henry. There is no known fencing manual from this date or having Guillaume as its author.
3 C’est une rencontre bien memorable de ce que il se trouve
4 chez Iean Dallier
5 scavoir c’est
6 beaux secrets
7 tout son plaisir
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1950
Cavalcabo: Easy as First, Second, Third http://sleech.info/swords/cavalcabo-easy-as-first-second-third.html Mon, 23 Nov 2015 00:00:31 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1942 You are standing in quarte or fourth, the guard for defense and waiting. You opponent changes posture into one of the offensive stances: first, second or third. What do you do? How does Cavalcabo say you defeat these aggressive guards?

You will put yourself in quarte guard making a turn to the right side of the enemy, and holding your dagger on the left side, neither too high, nor too low, you uncover the right side, so that the enemy has the opportunity to strike first.

We’ve seen this before. Stand with your weapons on one side so that you […]

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You are standing in quarte or fourth, the guard for defense and waiting. You opponent changes posture into one of the offensive stances: first, second or third. What do you do? How does Cavalcabo say you defeat these aggressive guards?

You will put yourself in quarte guard making a turn to the right side of the enemy, and holding your dagger on the left side, neither too high, nor too low, you uncover the right side, so that the enemy has the opportunity to strike first.

We’ve seen this before. Stand with your weapons on one side so that you present your opponent with, in this case, the big juicy target of your right side. This is the now very familiar idea of an invitation of posture. You want you opponent to attack this target because you have a single pre-programmed action which, from your position of strength, will devastate the opponent who has disordered him or her self by attacking. How?

If he strikes you will parry with your sword by passing on his right side, and seizing his sword with your dagger, bear him an estocade of seconde. And if he wants to caver his said sword, you will take it easily in making the same pass, and you give him a tierce protecting yourself with your dagger. 

If the opponent takes the bait, it’s simple. Give the standard response which seems to be Cavalcabo’s hallmark:

  1. Parry the attack with your sword
  2. Control the opponent’s weapon with your dagger while stepping to your left with the left foot.
  3. Put the point of your sword through your opponent’s head or torso
  4. Return to a stable guard posture and await the riposte.

What if the opponent is too smart to fall for the invitation? What if he or she just stands trying to look tough?

If he does not move, caver the sword on the right side of his and, carrying your dagger to meet it, pass in front to strike him an estocade in tierce. You can also beat his sword with yours, passing with the left foot on his right side, rescuing [securing?] yourself with your dagger. 

Cavalcabo’s preferred option is to caver your point under your opponent’s and capture his or her blade with your sword. Then turn the action into the standard response of controlling the opponent’s blade with your dagger while stepping out to the left and thrust. The alternative action is simply to beat the opponent’s sword away and use the tempo you’ve created.

But if by chance he withdraws his sword, you will show the desire to strike, so that he has the occasion to parry with his dagger. And in the same tempo that he passes, you will caver on the point of his dagger giving to him in the body.

The third situation covered in the text is your opponent backing away, withdrawing the sword so you can’t play with it. In this case,  you should provoke your opponent by keeping your sword point in his or her face, forcing them to parry with their dagger. Caver around this parry and thrust.

With what I’m going to call the “standard response” becoming so prevalent in the text, I’m really beginning to wonder whether Cavalcabo is a simple and effective principle widely applied or a one-trick pony. His influence on the development of French fencing suggests the former.

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1942
Cavalcabo: Passing? Traverse? Triangle Step? http://sleech.info/swords/cavalcabo-triangle-step.html Mon, 16 Nov 2015 00:00:53 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1937 This technique appears in various formulations so frequently in the text [1]the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_1937_13_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_1937_13_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); that it must be at the core of Cavalcabo’s teaching. In its most concise form, it is written like this:

To understand how one must attack

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This technique appears in various formulations so frequently in the text [1]the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club that it must be at the core of Cavalcabo’s teaching. In its most concise form, it is written like this:

To understand how one must attack for the best

When you want to attack the enemy, you must strike the nearest part, awaiting his riposte. Further, wanting to attack him, place yourself in quarte guard then, passing with the left foot, strike him with an estocade straight to the face, and put yourself swiftly back in seconde guard, so that by counter passing with the right foot you can give him an estocade, returning to quarte guard where, awaiting the response and from there [your enemy] going to strike you, you will parry him with your sword by passing the left foot to his right side, securing the enemy’s sword with your dagger, in order to give him a seconde.

So, the procedure is:

  1. From quarte guard, pass to the left, thrust at the opponent’s face, recovering into seconde guard.
  2. From this seconde guard, pass right, thrust at the opponent, recovering into quarte guard again.
  3. Await the opponent’s response.
  4. Parry the riposte with your sword, control the opponent’s sword with your dagger as thrust in seconde.

This appears simple enough … until you attempt to do it.

Steps 3 and 4 are easy. They’re the basic form of attack and counter-attack within this system. I find steps 1 and 2 more problematic. Maybe it’s me. “Passing” to me has always denoted moving forwards or backwards, one foot in front of the other. In other words, walking, after a fashion.

Step 1 is a thrust on a left foot pass. Ok. Got it. It’s brought me from out of distance (as stated in one formulation) into close distance. I now have the left foot forward in close distance to the opponent. Step 2 says I take another step with the right foot to put me back into quarte guard with the right foot forward.

The problem is in which direction do I step with the right foot?

It can’t be a step forward, as I imagine a pass to be. That would take me, at best, physically into the opponent. I’m not interested in grappling, which isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the text. This is rapier. I want to keep my distance and poke at the opponent like a sewing machine.

The text says “counter pass” which in French implies moving in the opposite direction. Ok. So, I pass backwards with the right foot? But the right foot is already rearmost.

This isn’t going to work. Unless …

Maybe passing means movement which is much more lateral than forwards and back. If we understand the movement as a traverse to the left in step 1 followed by a traverse to the right in step 2, things make more sense. It even makes batter sense of the position of the sword. Movement to the left, to the opponent’s right, is better protected by seconde guard while when returning to the original position we are covered again in quarte guard.

This even makes a deal of sense in terms of Villamont’s French. The word used in Villamont’s translation of Cavalcabo’s Italian (and, yes, I’m aware that we have Chinese whispers already at work here) is “passagier” which he defines in his glossary as “se pourmener ou remuer d’un lieu à l’autre” (“to stir oneself[2]Cotgrave, R. A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, 1611, gives the definition as “To walke, to stir up and downe. Ie le pourmenay. I will cours him, I will keepe him stirring.”  or move from one place to another”). There’s nothing here about movement solely in the forwards/backwards plane.

Could we extend this further and suggest that Cavalcabo intends a kind of triangle step in which we change orientation from right foot forward to left foot forward on step 1 and back to right foot forward on step 2 – much like many of the early interpretations of Joachim Meyer’s triangle stepping? This may be carrying things too far.

Notes

Notes
1 the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club
2 Cotgrave, R. A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues, 1611, gives the definition as “To walke, to stir up and downe. Ie le pourmenay. I will cours him, I will keepe him stirring.”
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1937
Cavalcabo: Plays of the Estramaçon http://sleech.info/swords/cavalcabo-plays-of-the-estramacon.html Mon, 09 Nov 2015 00:00:24 +0000 http://sleech.info/?p=1936 Cavalcabo[1]the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_1936_15_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_1936_15_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top right', relative: true, offset: [10, 10], }); delays dealing with cutting strikes until after his advice on how to use the cloak as an off-hand device. Is this a measure of the importance he places on them?

The sections on strikes are about […]

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Cavalcabo[1]the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club delays dealing with cutting strikes until after his advice on how to use the cloak as an off-hand device. Is this a measure of the importance he places on them?

The sections on strikes are about 500 words wedged between using the cloak and how to fight left-handers. That’s too much text to reproduce in full so here’s some key selections which illustrate his teaching.

For you to know how many estramaçons can be made, one can make a revers, a main droite and an estramaçon, cutting both from the right as from a revers.

The terminology should be familiar. A main droite, or right hand, is the Italian mandritto, a strike from the right side cutting downwards to the left. The revers is a reverso, a strike cutting downwards from left to right. The estramaçon is a new(-ish) term which requires a little unpacking. This is the French transliteration of the Italian stramazzone, a quick circular cut from the wrist.[2]It’s worth noting that stramazzone and Henry de Sainct-Didier’s desrober carry the same everyday language meaning of collapsing or falling. Cavalcabo used the word from his native language and thus a foreign term replaced or superseded the native one.

If someone strikes a main droite to the head, parry straight with your sword; if he strikes with a revers, parry with a revers; if he strikes a fendant (a vertical downwards strike, the Italian fendente), parry with the sword and the dagger if you have one or with the cape, for one or the other will greatly assist you to release your sword from that of the enemy’s, to more easily thrust them.

The defense against the main droite and the fendent are essentially the same and follow the same procedure we’ve seen previously: parry with the sword (a cross-parry in the case of a fendent), control the opponent’s weapon with the dagger and make a riposte. The action which differs from this general pattern is the response to a revers. In this case, Cavalcabo advises cutting into the attack with a revers of your own.

He addresses a range of specific cases but these tend to give options for how to best riposte from the defenses discussed above. There’s no need to go through them in detail as most of them appear accidental in that the specific riposte is dependent on the circumstances. For instance, if you parry a main droite low, a thrust is the best response but, if you parry it high, a revers to the opponent’s head is best.

Recollect this when you want to start your attack: you must carry a resolute point to the enemy’s face, so that he has subject [is forced?] to parry. If he does not parry, let go the botte to his face, and if he parries with his dagger, turn a main droite on the arm of his dagger or his head, you going in quarte guard to await his riposte, retiring somewhat beyond measure. And if the enemy parries with his sword, you shall make a revers on his arm or on his head by going in seconde or tierce guard waiting for his riposte.

Attacking with the cut follows the pattern we’ve seen before: make a thrust to draw your opponent out of guard so that you can attack with a second intention attack. In this case, thrust in third position (i.e.: the blade in the vertical plane). If you are parried to your outside, make a revers from the wrist. If you are parried to the inside, make a main droite from the wrist.

There’s a bunch of variant actions dicussed but they are almost all essentially the same as these. The only difference of note is that, either in attack or defense, to use your dagger to control the opponent’s blade to keep it high while you cut low, generally cutting at the opponent’s legs or perhaps making a thrust to the opponent’s belly.
That’s about it for cutting strikes. Cavalcabo obvious does not consider them overly important and it appears that, unlike in the earlier Bolognese tradition, all are downward strikes. Gone is the ridoppio, the falso manco and the falso dritto.

Notes

Notes
1 the very influential translation by Villamont from Italian to French of Cavalcabo’s Treatise or Instruction on Fighting with Weapons (1597) and a similar essay by Patenostrier, available in English translation by Rob Runacres of the Renaissance Sword Club
2 It’s worth noting that stramazzone and Henry de Sainct-Didier’s desrober carry the same everyday language meaning of collapsing or falling. Cavalcabo used the word from his native language and thus a foreign term replaced or superseded the native one.
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1936