Tom Leoni Video

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.

Advertisements
Published in: on October 1, 2009 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Videos

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).

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Symposium Poster

This is a copy of the poster as presented at the UR Symposium at my Uni.

Symposium Poster

It’s roughly 2ft by 3ft, PDF.

Below is the handout that went along with the poster. It includes several quotes from the original publication, so you can see where I was pulling the illustrations from.

Swetnam handout

Edit: A few people have commented that they cannot open the files. You should be able to see the poster here.

.

Symposium Abstract

I am submitting my thesis for my university’s Undergraduate Research Symposium. This is my abstract:

Fencing in Seventeenth-Century England:

A Visual Study of Joseph Swetnam’s Treatise

In early modern England, there existed a simultaneous eagerness to embrace Italian humanism and a reluctance to abandon England’s own established culture.

A microcosm of this cultural tension can be found in English fencing treatises of the turn of the 17th century, particularly Joseph Swetnam’s “Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence,” published in 1617.

My thesis is that Swetnam imitated Italian forms, but applied the imported practices to his English context, resulting in a fundamentally English martial system.

My approach is to provide Swetnam’s manual the additional illustrations he desired, that were so typical of Italian codices of the time. Visually representing Swetnam’s fencing positions allows us to see the Italian flavor more clearly. We can see that visually and statically, Swetnam’s system greatly resembles the Italian methods, although in motion and principle it more greatly resembles the English martial tradition.

Twelve different positions are illustrated to match Swetnam’s descriptions, and they include offensive, defensive, and guard positions.

“Paradoxes of Defence” and “Brief Instructions upon my Paradoxes of Defence” by George Silver (1599) are used as examples of English fencing tradition, and “Lo Schermo, overo Scienza D’Arme” by Salvator Fabris (1606) is used as a benchmark of contemporary Italian tradition.

Published in: on February 23, 2009 at 1:13 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Finding Swetnam’s True Guard – Fabris Plate 60

This plate is, I think, the most similar of Fabris’ plates to Swetnam’s true guard.

Plate 60 - "...a third of sword and dagger, which should be formed with the weapons joined..."

Plate 60 - "...a third of sword and dagger, which should be formed with the weapons joined..."

Fabris shows a guard in which your dagger is held on level with your cheek – Swetnam says “…keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke.”

Fabris’s guard shows the weapons joined: “the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower;”

The body is bent forward, with both shoulders presented toward your opponent: “and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other,”

The forward heel here is roughly in line with the middle of the back foot: “the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote,”
Like Swetnam, Fabris shows that the fencers “Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward,”

.

The most serious differences are these:

Swetnam says “Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint,” and he goes on to say “likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger,”

Fabris shows both fencers looking over their blades and with right arms bent. In a typically Italian fashion, the point is much more of a threat to the opponent than in Swetnam’s guard, which is essentially a straightening and lowering of the right arm, with a slight change in dagger placement.

.

Published in: on January 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , ,

Finding Swetnam’s True Guard – Fabris Plate 59

The next plate that resembles Swetnam’s True Guard is plate 59:

Plate 59 - "...an angled third..."

Plate 59 - "...an angled third..."

Unlike plate 57, there’s not much in the text uniting this stance with Swetnam’s. Fabris does suggest using the dagger to parry with the dagger and riposte below it in third – something that Swetnam also mentions.

However, Fabris spends most of his time talking about how difficult it can be to parry an attack coming in at this angle – something that I do not recall Swetnam ever touching upon.

If this plate had any influence on Swetnam, it would have been as a plate – not an idea. The actual stance is fairly reminiscint of Swetnam’s, with a straightened sword arm and fully extended dagger. Fabris keeps his traditional right foot forward, but also with the left shoulder squared toward the opponent – not standard in Italian fencing (See Capo Fero 4 years later).

I have always imagined Swetnam’s stance as more verticle – something that Eric Meyers also commented (on my post about Fabris plate 57). Swetnam instructs one to “holloweth thy bodie,” while Fabris’ stances feel more like leaning than hollowing to me.

Swetnam’s true guard again for reference:

Keepe thy rapier hand so low as the pocket of thy hose at the armes end, without bowing the elbow joint, and keepe the hilt of thy dagger right with thy left cheeke, and the point something stooping towards the right shoulder, and beare him out stiff at the armes end, without bowing thine elbow joint likewise, and the point of thy Rapier two inches within the point of thy dagger, neither higher, not lower; but if the point of thy rapier be two or three inches short of touching thy dagger, it is not matter, but if they join it is good; likewise, keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger, and bowing your head something toward the right shoulder, and your body bowing forwards, and both thy shoulders, the one so near thine enemie as the other, and the thombe of thy rapier hand, not upon thy rapier, according unto the usual fashion of the vulgar sort, but upon the naile of thy fore-finger, which will locke thine hand the stronger about the handle of thy rapier, and the heele of thy right foote should ioyne close to the middle ioynt of the great toe of thy left foote, according to this Picture, yet regard chiefly the words rather than the Picture.

Carrie the edge of thy rapier upward, and downward, for then thou shalt defend a blow upon the edge of thy rapier, by bearing thy rapier after the rule of the Backe-sword, for this is the strongest and surest carriage of him.

.

Published in: on January 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , , , ,

Finding Swetnam’s True Guard – Fabris Plate 57

1/13/09

The Bluffer’s Guide to Swetnam offers a modern English interpretation of Swetnam’s true guard:

Keep the rapier hand low, below waist level, and the arm straight. Hold the dagger in line with your dagger-side cheek, the arm straight and the point close to the sword point, two to three inches apart.

Keep the points high, make sure you can see the opponent between them. Hold your head a bit to the swordside with your body forward. You should have your shoulders square on.

Don’t put the thumb of the rapier hand on the blade, but on the nail of the forefinger.

Your sword foot is forward, and the heel of it should be in line with the middle joint of the toe of the off foot.
Carry the sword with the edge up and down, you parry with the edge.

Allen Reed has suggested that Swetnam largely based his practice upon Fabris’. Following are some images from Fabris’ treatise that I have found to bear some similarities to Swetnam’s description of the true guard.

Plate 57 - "...another kind of second guard with the feet parallel and apart."

Plate 57 - "...another kind of second guard with the feet parallel and apart."

Fabris, as translated by Leoni, says:

Here is another kind of second guard with the feet parallel and apart. The body is bent forward with the chest squarely facing the opponent. The arms and weapons form an oval, and the weapons are held high to protect the head. Against this guard, the opponent can only attack between and underneath the blades. The chest is held squarely facing the opponent’s point.

Fabris also advises on our response to the opponent’s attack when we are in this guard. For the most part, he says that a void with a counter in opposition is the way to go from here. This part is not very Swetnam-esque, but the guard itself is, in many ways.

Swetnam says:

…keepe both your points so high as you may see your enemie clearly with both your eyes, betwixt your rapier and dagger…

Or, as Fabris puts it,

…the weapons are held high to protect the head. Against this guard, the opponent can only attack between and underneath the blades.

But wait, there’s more! Fabris says:

This guard is very effective against cuts, since the head is well protected on either side,

And Swetnam, similarly:

The reason that your points should be so high as you may see your enemie plainly and clearly under them, is for a sure defence of a blowe,
Fabris offers this as one of many possible guards, but Swetnam’s is the “true guard.”

Fabris offers this as only one guard of many, but to Swetnam, this is the “true guard.” Swetnam, being an English master in England, explains why a guard that protects well against cuts to the head is important:

…it is the nature of an Englishman to strike with what weapon soever he fighteth with all, and not one in twenty but in furie And anger will strike unto no other place but onely to the head, therefore alwaies if you fight with rapier and dagger, yet expect a blow so well as a thrust…

.

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , , , ,