Swetnam’s Lunge – pt 2

Some time back, I wrote about Aylward’s incorrect assertion that Swetnam did not know of the lunge.

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.


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Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 6:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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