Guys from the AEAA in Spain doing some sparring with spears. I’m not sure what system they’re using, but I can see that it has a lot in common with English quarterstaff, in principle, so it’s cool to watch.
First, I want to applaud Cotto and Pacquiao for a great fight – I was rooting for Cotto, but Manny earned the win.
Second, some great rapier drill videos from Tom Leoni after the jump.
I’ve gone out to this Tampa WMA group a few times, now, and I’ve had a ton of fun. Each person is at a different level in the different weapons they practice, but everyone seems eager to learn and serious about sticking with the historical art.
Recently, I happened across an article about Swetnam by William E. Wilson, pitched as a short introduction to Swetnam’s fencing. Mr. Wilson’s collection of online resources were a huge help to me when I began learning about HES, and I own his book on rapier fencing.
Despite Wilson’s contributions to my own education, I have to call him out on this article – he makes the same mistake as Aylward did in 1956! In only the second paragraph of the article, he writes “Unfortunately for Swetnam, it appears he did not know of the lunge which was being taught at the time by some Italian Masters (Capo Ferro for one).”
Because Aylward’s book is listed as a reference, I assume that Wilson found the false information in this otherwise trustworthy source, but I am still confused. In the rest of the article Wilson goes on to outline Swetnam’s teachings in-depth. He certainly could not have gotten this information without actually reading the treatise – so how did he miss the lunge?
Last time, I provided a quote that made it clear that Swetnam advocates the lunge. I will go ahead and provide a second one this time:
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. [emphasis added]
Here, Swetnam not only advocates the lunge, here, but he also gives a drill to improve your lunge. I also find it amusing that he sees the same problems with his students’ lunges as we find throughout the world of fencing today.
Tom Leoi taught a class at WMAW called “Drill to Fight.” Fortunately for us, video was captured, and you can (should) go see it here.
It’s a great class on learning Italian rapier.
Ken Mondeschein has done us all the favor of translating Agrippa’s fencing treatise!
You can buy it here, and anyone who is interested in rapier in any form should buy this book. It is only $20, which is a phenomenal price for an english translation. The Thibault translation is currently selling for about $40, Meyer for more than $50, and Tom Leoni’s fabulous Fabris translation appears to be over a hundred dollars not what it’s out of print – I believe it was about $50 new.
Agrippa’s treatise is shorter, but it is just as important as (in some ways more important than) Fabris’ or Meyer’s works.
Yesterday I started what I hope will become a routine, and took two of my friends out to introduce them to English swordsmanship and quarterstaff, with a focus on Swetnam. One of them worked with me in the early days of my Italian rapier work (we were far too influenced by sport fencing), and the other has some sport fencing experience.
This is both a blessing and a curse. They know what a lunge is, have experience manipulating their bodies for an antagonistic purpose, and are comfortable holding a weapon. They also drift into incorrect guards and put far too much weight on their front feet.
Overall, this is exciting, and I plan to use our practice sessions to tie together my bits and pieces into a coherent, cohesive understanding of early 17th century English fencing.
I went back to sport fencing for the first time in a while, and had a lot of fun with sabre. I got to teach some beginners and bout some folks I haven’t fenced in a long time. I did come away sporting a bruise on my clavicle, which is very unusual for me – I don’t bruise easily.
All said and done, it was a good time, and I think I’ll be back next week.
Paul Wagner has posted some excellent video on Silver’s swordplay. It should be very useful when considering the context of Swetnam’s work and even, I suspect, Swetnam’s play at the “backe sword,” though I have done little research there, myself.
Also, over on SFI, Martin Janicina has posted a great video of some of Fabris’ rapier plays. The video provides great contrast with Swetnam’s teachings – he would have disapproved of the close measure in which Fabris fights. Swetnam also does not cavazione or disengage in the Italian fashion – instead he uses motions like Silver (try 0:24 into the Silver vid).