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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A Good Practice

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.

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 3:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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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  
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Exciting News

The Freifechter Guild is sponsoring the first Southeast HEMA Alliance event in Tallahassee, FL.

It sounds as though the event is exclusively focused on German arts, especially those of Meyer, but it should be interesting nevertheless. Mike, who has commented here, will be one of the instructors. He’s worked with folks I know in the past, so I know he’s been part of Florida HEMA for some time. I’m hoping to attend and compare notes, maybe get to meet some of the other folks doing HEMA in the SE.

Check out the site or this SFI thread for details.

Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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An Interesting Blog

Bill Carew of Collegium in Armis has a fairly new blog about “Longstick.”

In this case, “longstick” is just a term for, well, long sticks, generally used with 2 hands for combative purposes. Bill is posting tidbits about a wide range of longstick systems. They’ve been interesting so far – perhaps Swetnam’s staff will get a highlight at some point.

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update and Current Projects

So, with my undergraduate thesis complete, where does my Swetnam research stand?

I do have one more illustration from the thesis to post here – if you’re interested, get in touch with me – there’s a lot of information and analysis that goes along with the images – I’d be happy to send you a copy of the thesis.

I’ve been working to expand my understanding of early modern English fencing, mainly by learning Quarterstaff as taught by Silver, Swetnam and Wylde. I’m using a wonderful video from Paul Wagner as the basis of our personal program, and supplementing it with the primary sources.

The staff work has already contributed greatly to my understanding of English fencing – it is the same system as the swordplay, but more clearly deliniated.

I hope to continue deepening my knowledge indefinitely, and I would like to use all of this as the basis of some post-graduate research. I talked with the folks at WMAI about publishing an article based on my Swetnam work, but they felt the article was not practical enough for their publication. I’d still be interested in writing a more practical Swetnam article for them, but we’ll see how that goes. The editor, Scott Baltic, recommended that I instead submit it to the Journal of Western Martial Arts.

JWMA has not updated for almost a year now, however, and I’m not sure yet whether I will submit anything to them. Any thoughts would be welcome.

Published in: on August 6, 2009 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Passage

A Passage

A Passage

From Swetnam:

The second opportunity to passe upon your enemie you have, if your enemie to carrie the point so low as your girdle stead, or thereabouts, then you must step in with your left foote, and with your dagger strike awaie the point of his Rapier, and with the same let your Rapier passe unto his bodie, as beforesaid, I meane both at one time.

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Published in: on July 5, 2009 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Slippe

A Slippe

A Slippe

From Swetnam:

Now if your enemy doe charge you with a blow, when as you see the blow comming, plucke in your Rapier, and let the blow slippe, and then answer him againe with a thrust, but bee carefull to plucke in your rapier to that cheeke which hee chargeth you at, so that if the blow doe reach home, you may defend him according unto the rule of the backsword.

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Published in: on June 9, 2009 at 2:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Crosse Parry

Crosse Parry

Crosse Parry

From Swetnam:

…the other high guard is to put your rapier on the out-side of your dagger, and with your dagger make a crosse, as it were, by ioyning him in the middest of your rapier, so high as your breast, and your dagger hilt in his usual place, and to defend the thrust, turne down the point of your rapier suddenly, and force him downe with your dagger, by letting them fall both together: this way you may defend a thrust before it come within three foot of your bodie; and this way defendeth the thrust of a staffe, having onlie a rapier and dagger,

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Published in: on May 17, 2009 at 7:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Lunge

The Lunge

The Lunge

From Swetnam:

To observe distance, by which is meant that thou shouldest stand so far of from thine enemy, as thou canst, but reach him when thou dost step forth with thy blow or thrust, and thy foremost foote and hand must goe together, and which distance may be twelve foot with a rapier, or with a sword four foote ling, and yet thy best foote which should be the hindermost foot of a right handed man, should bee mored fast and keepe his standing without moving an inch.

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Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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