Hope's New Method of Fencing
Use of this work is freely granted subject to the conditions of this Creative Commons Licence.Contents | Dedication | Advertisement | Poem | Introduction | CHAP. I. | CHAP. II. | CHAP. III. | CHAP. IV. | CHAP. V. | CHAP. VI. | CHAP. VII. | Postscript
Of the Advantages that the Hanging-Guard hath over all, or most of the other Guards.
By reason of its sloping Position, which takes in almost the whole length of the Body, the lower Parts thereof, particularly the Belly and Thighs, are better Defended; and consequently, a Man is not obliged to sink so low upon this Guard, for the Defence of those Parts, as he is necessitat to do upon most other Guards; in which the Position of the Sword is quite contrary, to wit, either streight and in a level, or pointing a little upward.
I have alwise found upon the Ordinary Guards, the lower Parts of the Body most difficult to defend, and that for two Reasons: First, Because upon these Guards, a Man stands for the most part pretty straight; and when Thrusts are given in upon those lower Parts, as very commonly they are, then he must either keep his Sword-hand very low, to make the Parade, or Cross, which exposes him much to Thrusts above the Sword, if his Adversary should make a Feint beneath it; or he must, as the Thrust is coming home, slop his point to make a Cross, which taking up a considerable time, renders his Parade slow, and thereby makes him more liable to receive the Thrust. Secondly, The upper parts of the Body are in some measure, naturally defended with Cartilages, Grissles, and Bones, so that a weak or spent Thrust will not easily pierce them, even altho' a Man should not defend at all; whereas the lower parts of the Body, have no such Natural Bulwark, but consisting chiefly of soft Membranes and Entrails, are easily pierced, by reason of the small Resistance they make: As also, the Thrusts of most people, when at a stretch, fall low, so that where one Man is wounded in the Trunck of the Body, many are wounded in the Belly or Thighs.
THESE very Reasons, were the Cause of my so much Recommending, in The
Scots Fencing Master, etc. the sinking low upon the ordinary Quart-Guard;
for upon that Guard, I found the lower parts of the Body to be so
much exposed, and so difficult to defend, most people in Assault
receiving Thrusts in them, that to make a good Cross for their Defence,
there was a necessity either to sink low, and to keep the Sword-Hand
but a little above the Right Knee, which is but an uneasie, altho'
most secure Posture, upon that Guard; or otherwise to alter the
but to what Posture, I did not at that time know, not having fallen
upon the usefulness of this Guard I now Recommend; so that the sinking
low, supplying that defect of the Ordinary Quart Guard, I did alwise
practise it my self, and recommend it to others; and I still do so, when
a Man resolves to Play from the ordinary Quart Guard, but
willingly passes from, and dispenses with the not making use of it, when
he shall take himself to this excellent Hanging Guard; which because
of its sloping Position is most safe, defending thereby easily, all the
|Lower parts, without constraining the Body to a low and
Posture, which upon the ordinary Quart Guard was in a manner
absolutely necessary, and at that time a very considerable Improvement.
THE Defensive part of the Art of the Sword, or Parade, being most difficult, and the Pursuit or Offensive Part most easie; the keeping this Guard, quite renverses that, by rendering the Defensive Part more easie, and the Offensive more difficult: Which New and extraordinary Alteration, is no small advantage to the Art.
THE Defense of all Weapons, consists in the Cross they make with the Adversary's Weapon, when he is giving a Thrust or Blow; so that the greater the Cross is, the more sure, is not only the Parade, but the Slower the Thrust or Blow, either made against a Guard, or after a Parade which makes such a great Cross; for that which upon ordinary Guards, makes the offensive part easie, and the Defensive difficult, is the great uncertainty, of Parrieing variety of most quick and subtile Feints, which a Man is encouraged to make, by reason of the extraordinary conveniency and ease, he finds in disengaging upon the Pursuit; and which is occasioned by the small Cross, that is made by the two Weapons upon the Parade. To obviat which is the general Direction of all good Masters, (especially the French, who neither make much use of Binding, nor of the Contre-Caveating Parade) when they would have their Schollars to prevent, and put a stop to their Adversary's Feints; to order them, upon their Adversary's making of such Feints, immediately to Baisser La Pointe, as they term it, or to slop their Sword's point; the only sure Defence, and Preservative upon the ordinary Quart and Tierce Guards, in place of the Contre-caveating Parade, against multiplicity of Feints; and which is a kind of imitating unawars, this excellent and useful Posture: For as I said, the more streight and level the Sword is kept, with more ease are the Feints made; because of the great readiness a Man finds to disengage, by reason of the small Cross that is made betwixt the two Weapons.
FOR upon those Guards, the two Angles made by the Weapons, and which respect the Adversaries, are very acute or sharp; as you may see in the Plate, at the Scheme in the middle thereof, where the two Lines, A B, and C D, represent two Swords crossing one another, as upon an ordinary Quart or Tierce Guards, and by their Cross make Angles E, and F, respecting the Adversaries, acute or sharp; and consequently the two lines or Swords, make but a small Cross.
AND it is a Mathematical Demonstration, that the nearer an Angle, made by two streight Lines, or which is equivalent, by two Swords, approaches to a right Angle, the greater is the Cross made by those two Lines or Swords; because the Arch included betwixt them, is so much the larger: And the further it is from making a right Angle, keeping still within the quarter of a Circle, the more acute or sharp it is, and so likewise makes the smaller Cross; because the Arch included is so much the less; and consequently the disengaging, is thereby made the more quick, as the Arch is in smallness; which is the cause of the Pursuit, either from, or against such Guards, being a great deal more easie, than if the Cross approached nearer to a right Angle, and the Arch consequently larger.
BUT to make this a little more plain and intelligible, observe narrowly the abovementioned Scheme, which represents Six Lines or Swords crossing one another, two whereof, A G and C H, represent the posture of this Guard I am discoursing of: Now it is evident, that the two Angles M and N, made by the crossing of these two Swords; and which respect the Adversary's Sword-hands A and C, approach nearer to right Angles, than the Angles K and L, made by the Swords A G and C I; because the Arch betwixt 10 and P, which is only 10 Degrees; and consequently, if the Sword C I were to thrust at the Point or Hand P, it would have a shorter way to make to hit it; or could more easily disengage, to Thrust at the Number 10 above P, because of the smallness of the Arch betwixt 10 and 10, whereby its Thrust is made more short and consequently more quick, and so would come sooner Home, than that made by the Sword C H; because the Arch betwixt 30 and P, containing more Degrees, viz 30 is larger than the Arch betwixt 10 and 10, which is only 20, and therefore comes nearer to a right Angle, whereby the Thrust of C H will be longer and consequently slower in performing, than that made by C I: But if the Sword C O were to Thrust at the Number 10 above P, it would still be a longer a coming home, and consequently the Thrust slower and so more easily Parried; because the Cross it makes upon the Sword A G forms a greater Angle, being 65 Degrees, which s 25 Degrees more; the other Angle being only 40.
I know, that most Thrusts form a part of a parabolic Curve, not an exact Arch of a Circle; therefore, it is only for the more ready understanding of my Demonstration, that I call the Line which a Sword makes in Thrusting, a part of the Arch of a Circle, and that I might thereby more easily form my Scheme.
HAVING thus demonstrat, that the greater the Cross made by the two Swords is, so much the longer, and consequently so much the slower is the Thrust given against such a Guard, because of the largeness of the Arch included betwixt them, or the great way the Sword offending, hath to make before it can make its designed Mark, which is what I chiefly intended, I shall now give one Reason more, why all Thrusts made against this Sloping-Guard, must be more slow, than Thrusts made against Guards with a level or high point; and that is, the Natural Tendency all Peoples Sword-hands have to fall low in Disengaging or Thrusting, and the great difficulty they have after Disengaging to Thrust high.
All who have the least knowledge in Fencing, know the truth of this Assertion; which being granted, it will then follow, that upon all the ordinary Guards with a level or high Point, the disengaging beneath the Hilt of the Adversary's Sword being more easie, it will consequently be more quick by reason of the Sword's Point, being obliged, in disengaging, to Fall or Sink; whereas upon this Guard, the hand being necessitate to raise the Point in disengaging, in place of letting it fall, it makes it more difficult, and consequently the Thrust more slow, as may be proven by the preceeding Scheme.
FOR, suppose the sword C D, which is in the posture of an ordinary Tierce or Quart-Guard, were to Thrust at the Point P, and were but ten Degrees from it; and likewise that the Sword C I upon this Hanging-Guard, were but as many Degrees from that same Point; I say that by the Natural Tendency and Inclination of the Hand, the Sword C D would hit the Point P sooner than the Sword C I which keeps this Sloping-Guard, even altho' the Thrusts were to be performed by the same Person: And there can be no other Reason given for it, but that in Fencing, the Thrust that is performed by raising the Hand or Point, is alwise found to be slower, than that wherein the Hand or Point must a little Fall or Sink.
AND this is also the Reason, why the common Thrust in Quart or within the Sword, is more quick and difficult to Parie, than that given in Tierce or without and above the Sword; this is known to be true by all who frequent the Fencing-Schools; and I never heard any other Reason pretended to be given for it, but this Natural Tendency and Disposition of the Sword-hand, rather to fall as to rise, either in Disengaging or Thrusting: By all which, I think I have made good the Second and very considerable Advantage, this Hanging-Guard hath of most of the other Guards; which is the Renversing in a manner the whole Art, by rendering the Offensive part or Pursuit more slow, and consequently more difficult, and by that very Reason of its slowness, the Parade or Defence more easie.
I am very sensible, that the slowness of the Pursuit against this Guard,
occasioned by the greatness of its Cross, and for which I so much
recommend it, will be by some Persons made a great Objection against it;
Because say they, a Man cannot attack his Adversary with so much certainty
of Excecution, as he can do upon other Guards; but as this can very
easily be answered, so resolving to set down all the Objections together,
that can be made against it, I shall defer the answering of this, until
I come to discourse the rest; for it being a common thing, to start Objections
against anything that is new, I am resolved to answer the best I can, what
may be said against this Guard, being fully perswaded, that the
redounding from it, will very far counter-ballance, any Objections can
be made against it, even by the most Prejudged, and Critical Masters, whom
I intend, if possible, to convince and satisfie, that so great and general
an Improvement, and of such Advantage to Persons of all Ranks, may not,
for lack of being supported both by Art and Reason, be neglected by those
who Profess to Instruct our Youth, in the Defence of their Honour
PARADES against all the Lessons of the Sword, both Back-Sword and Small-Sword, are easily deduced from this Guard, they being reducible to Two.
THE Posture of other Guards, by reason, as I have said, of the small Cross they make with the Adversary?s Sword, renders the Parade not only uncertain upon them, but also the Positions of the Sword, in performing it, more numerous, so that for different Lessons, a Man is necessitate to use different Postures in his Defence; for upon those Guards, the Sword being presented almost level, and streight towards the Adversary, there are generally four Opens for a man to Thrust at; to wit, without and above the Sword, and without and below the Sword, towards the Right-side; and within and above the Sword, and within and below the Sword, towards the Left-side; so that to defend the various Lessons, that may be Play?d upon all those Opens, a Man is necessitate to use different Positions of his Sword, sometimes with the point high, and sometimes low; as also the great opportunity his Adversary hath, to make Feints upon those Opens, makes his Parade still the more uncertain, and that because of the Conveniency his Adversary hath, of easily and quickly Disengaging, by reason, as I have already proven in Advantage II. of the small Arch his Adversary hath to make in performing his Thrust.
WHEREAS, in using this sloping Posture with the Sword, there being a great Cross made with it, almost from Head to Foot, there are only two Sides exposed to Thrust at, viz. without and below the Sword towards the Right-side, and without and above the Sword towards the Left, which renders his Parade a great deal more certain, than upon the other Guards; the whole Motions he is to make for his Defence against all kinds of Thrusts, being reduced to Two, that is, moving his Sword hand, a little (without altering its position) either towards his Right-side or his Left; to his Right, when the Thrust is given without and below the Sword, and to his Left, when it is given without and above the Sword: So that all the Lessons that can be play?d against this Guard, terminating in those two Thrusts, it follows of consequence, that there needs no more different Positions, nor motions for the Parade, than these two, which are but half the number, and a great deal more certain, than those used upon the ordinary Demy Quart and Tierce Guards.
AGAIN, for parieing the Blows of the Back-Sword, nay of any other
edged Weapon whatsoever, such as the Pole-Ax, Lochabber-Ax,
Halbard, or Quarter-Staff, the position of the Sword,
and motions of the Hand, are the very same; and altho? it is not possible
for any Man to ward off with one hand, a full disharged Blow, of any of
these two-handed Weapons I have named, because of the great Force they
carry along with them in delivering it, yet it still shows the excellency
of this Posture for a general Defence; that altho? a Man hath not
the strength, to Parie and put by those violent Stroaks with one
hand, yet he shall alwise meet with the Adversary?s Weapon, when he is
delivering a Blow; which makes it clear, that it is only for lack of strength,
that he cannot ward it, but is necessitate to receive it, because of his
being overpowered with its Force; and which signifies nothing at all against
the usefulness of this Posture, because if his one Hand, had strength
equivalent to his Adversary?s two, it would certainly ward and defend him.
BECAUSE of the great Cross this Guard makes upon the Adversary?s Sword, it is a most safe Guard against all Ignorants and Ramblers, who Thrust alwise irregularly, and for the most part at a distance from the Sword.
NOTHING hath been a greater reproach to the Art of Fencing, than the unexpected success many ignorants have had, over such as pretended to a considerable share of Skill in this Art; and altho? it is evident, that a compleat Sword-Man, especially such an one, as is exactly Master of the Defensive part will be very rarely, if at all, baffled by any (even the most foreward and irregular) Ignorant; yet it cannot be denied, but many who have got the Character of Sword-Men; how deservedly I shall not say, many indeed passing for such, who do not in the least deserve that Character; I say it cannot be denied, but many such persons have had the misfortune to be worsted, when they have engaged, with Ignorants of a forward and resolute Temper.
AND the only reason that can be given for it, is the deficiency and imperfection of their Parade; for it hath been hitherto the great misfortune of this Art, to be chiefly designed for Offending, altho? the very word Fencing, as I have shown in the Introduction, does in my Opinion chiefly imply Warding or Defending. And there are at present few Fencing Schools, wherein this does not visibly appear to be their chief Design; there being scarcely a Lesson given, wherein the Scholar shall not be ordered to push or discharge, perhaps, half a Dozen or half a Score of Thrusts before he is desired to Parie one.
NOW, when it is the Fate of such a person to appear in the Field, his dexterity in the Pursuit prevails with him to take himself to the Offensive part, as upon the other hand, the insufficiency of the Ignorant?s Defence, obliges him likewise to take himself to the Pursuit; so what can in reason be expected from the Engagement of such two Persons, but continual Contre-Temps, and exchanged Thrusts; both which would have been certainly prevented, to the great Reputation of both the Art and Artist, had he been obliged, when at the Fencing School, to apply himself more to the Parade.
AND even in that Case, as the Art is now commonly Taught, there is a great Defect in the Method of -Parade, as I have demonstrate, by reason of the small Cross it makes upon the Adversary?s Weapon; whereas this Guard, making not only a greater Cross upon the Adversary?s Sword, but also in a manner securing, upon one side, the whole length of the Body, it follows of consequence, that upon that very account, it must be a more secure Parade, and better defence against the Thrusts of all Ignorants, than any other ordinary Guard or Parade whatsoever.
FOR as I said, the Thrusts of Ignorants are not only irregular, but generally given at a distance from the Sword, and upon the lower parts of the Body; now, the ordinary Parades in Demy-Quart and Tierce, making but small Crosses, it is not possible for them, to meet so easily with the Adversary?s Sword, and to ward his Thrust or Blow, as it is for this Guard, which not only easily Recounters the Adversary?s Sword, and so opposses it, but also makes a considerable Cross, almost from Head to Foot; whereby not only the Ignorant Thrusts above the Sword, but also his stragling and irregular Thrusts or Blows, at the lower parts of the Body or Thighs, and which are the most dangerous, are more certainly warded and defended.
IT is also a most convenient Posture, when a Man comes to be attacked
in the dark; because without altering the Position of the Sword-hand from
he may perform the Contre-caveating Parade; by which circular Motion,
he will seldom fail to meet with, and cross his Adversary?s Sword;
a conveniency much to be valued in a Dark or Mid-night
By all which it is evident, that this Guard is one of the safest,
and most secure Guards, that can possibly be made use of, against
Ignorants of all Constitutions, even from the most Cold and Slothful, to
the most Forward and Resolute Pursuer.
THE Art of Sword, is by this Guard rendered a great deal more easie to be acquired, by reason of the Pursuit being reduced to very few Lessons.
CERTAINLY the fewer Directions are required, for the perfecting a Man in any Art; and the fewer Rules it can be reduced to, by so much the sooner, and with greater ease, will a Man be made Master of it; which Advantage is likewise to be found, by the constant practising of this Guard; for there being but little variety of Play, either from or against it, it follows, that there can be but few Lessons; and the fewer Lessons there are, the sooner will a Man be made Master of them, and so consequently of the Offensive part; so that I dare venture to say, that any Man of an ordinary Disposition, Agility, and Vigour, shall in six Months time, acquire a sufficient Dexterity, for the defence of his Person, whereas by the ordinary Method of Teaching, a Man cannot be perfected, under at least, two or three Years assiduous Application and constant Practice: A very long time indeed for a Gentleman to attend! who are not to make it their Profession and Imployment, but only to acquire a competent Skill and Address, for the defence of their Honour and Persons: And no doubt, this tediousness of the common Method, hath rebuted a great many Gentlemen, who would have been otherwise very great Sword-men.
FOR upon the Guards commonly Taught in the Schools, there is
a great variety of Lessons, that can be Played either from them, or against
them so that for a Man to be dexterous in performing them, it requires
a long and constant Practice, otherwise he shall never execute them, with
that Life and Vigour that he ought; and altho? I cannot deny, but that
most of the Lessons may possibly be Play?d both from and against this Hanging
Guard, yet they they do not so naturally agree to it, as a very few,
which I shall hereafter recommend; upon which account it is, that a Man
can be made a great deal sooner perfect in the Art upon this Guard,
than upon any other; and that not only in the Pursuit or Offensive part,
as I have been saying, (and which as I formerly said, I do not, strictly
speaking, allow to be the true Art of the Sword, that indeed chiefly
consisting in the Parade) but also in the Defensive part, which
is indeed the true Art; by reason of the great Cross it makes
with the Adversary?s Sword; and by simple and easie Motions, that in Parieing,
are to be performed by the Hand; so that if Certainty in the Parade,
and being exposed to few and slow Lessons, can in any measure
recommend a Guard, or Parade, then they needs must this Guard,
which is indeed also a Parade, and that one of the very Best, and
most Secure that I know of.
ANY Man who uses this Guard Dexterously, may with a great deal of more ease and certainty, save both his Honour and Life, than he can possibly do, using any other ordinary Guard; upon which Account alone, it is highly to be valued and preferred.
IT were certainly a very great piece of kindness done to the Young Gentlemen, in an age wherein Rencounters and Drunken Scuffles are so frequent; if some Method could be fallen upon, whereby they might, in a manner, certainly both defend their Lives, and save their Reputation and Honour, when in an Occasion: for such a Notion have People got now a Days, of this Word Honour, that a Man dares scarcely suffer a wry Look, or anything like a frown, let alone threatening Words, but he must immediately, either Resent it, by demanding Satisfaction in the Field, or suffer the Reproach of passing for a Coward; and yet in both those Cases, how unlucky, at best is a Man Circumstantiat:
FOR if he sit with the Affront, without duly resenting it, he infallibly losses his Reputation and Honour, by being repute a Cully; and if he go to the Field, to take Reparation for the Injury and Affront done to him, then in saving his Honour, he not only hazards his Life against his Adversary, which no Good Man will decline; but which is indeed hardest of all, in saving of his Life, by Mastering his Adversary, he runs a great risque (without a Pardon) to loss it by contravening the Laws; so that, what way soever his Fortune turns, he is at a great disadvantage and loss; because in being overcome by his Enemy, he runs the hazard of being Killed; and Mastering him, of being Hang?d.
WHAT shall a Man of Honour do then in such a Juncture? For Fight he must to save his honour; and whether he vanquish, or be vanquished, without a Pardon, as I said, it comes much about one; for let him behave himself never so well, or ill, he still runs the hazard of Dying; and that either by the Weapon of his Adversary, or by the Sentence of the Judge: A hard and cruel necessity indeed, upon any Man of Resolution and Honour!
Hard Fate of Man! who either, if he flyes,
Hopeless of e're retriving Honour lyes;
Or if he Vanquish, still expects to find
The Stroak of Justice, or Remorse of Mind.
Now, altho? there be no great difficulty in such a Case, to determine which side a Man of Honour ought to embrace; there being few Gentlemen of any Spirit and Mettal, who (notwithstanding of the many severe Laws against Duelling) will not rather venture the gaining of the Gallows, by appearing with Sword in Hand in the Field, than the losing of their Reputation and Honour, by declining the Appeal; yet were it not much better for them, that they could with some measure of Assurance, affirm, that by their Skill, they are so much Masters of the Art of Defence, that without some very extraordinary Accident, they are in a mannner certain, either to overcome their Enemy, or at least to save both their own, and their Adversary?s Life.
I shall not positively assert, that any Guard, or Parade made use of, even by the most dexterous Sword-man, can infallibly promise this; but this I will affirm, that if there be any Guard of the Sword, that is capable of yielding this Benefit to a Man, I am fully perswaded ?tis this in Seconde I am discoursing of, and Recommending; for by reason of the great cross it makes with the Adversary?s Sword, it renders not only all Pursuit more slow, and consequently the parade against it more sure, and certain; also by that great Cross which is made, there is a fair opportunity frequently offered to either side, to inclose or grapple, when ever they shall please, and that with very little or no hazard, of receiving either a Contre-Temps, or an exchanged Thrust.
MUST it not then be acknowledged by all, that here is a very great Improvement of the Art, and that this Guard in Seconde, above all others, is highly to be valued and preferred? Sure it cannot possibly be denied, by any Thinking & Considering Person, especially by such as have the least knowledge, of the looseness and openness of most of the other Guards, and the great difficulty and hazard, that a Man is exposed to, in attempting to close and Command upon them.
May this singular Advantage then, of this Hanging-Guard, so recommend
it, as that all who have their Honour and Life at stake, may make boldly
use of it; if not as a certain, yet at least as a most probable
Method to save both; which in all Engagements ought to be their chief Aim
and Design; not only as good Christians, but as Men of true Generosity
IT is a Natural Guard, all Ignorants or Naturalists, generally taking themselves to it, so soon as they offer to present their Swords; but particularly when they offer to defend themselves:
IT is a received Maxim, that Art ought never to Thwart, or cross Nature, but rather to encourage and assist her, if possible, in her own Natural Road and Means; and I may say, it were a very happy thing, if in all Arts and Sciences, we could as easily trace her, and concur, in our assistance, with her Designs to preserve us, as we can do in the Art of Fencing: But to observe the common Method of Teaching the Art of Defence, hitherto made use of in Schools, one will be apt to think, that either Nature points not out to us, any such rational way for our Defence, or otherwise, that the Generality of Fencing-Masters are deaf to her Admonitions, and so prepossessed with their old Rote, and that rather than let her have the Honour of it, they will prefer and make use of other unnatural Postures, and awkward and constrained Motions, the Product and Effect of their own Fancies and Invention; whereby the Persons, and Lives of many young Gentlemen, are, as I have said, upon an Occasion, mightily exposed and endangered; I say, a Man is ready to conclude, from their Practice, that they rather intend to do this, as to give Ear to her, in the Natural Method she discovers to us for our Defence; and which, when known, ought certainly to be encouraged and improven.
Now, that Nature makes an offer of this Hanging-Guard to all Persons, who never had any other Posture, I may say obtruded or forced upon them, by Art; I appeal to all, as well Artists as others; for I would gladly know of any Man, what other Posture he has ever observed any person, who was never at the Schools, to take himself to,when he hath been to engage; and if he has not alwise observed such Persons, especially upon their Defence, to make use of this Posture, with the Hand in Seconde, and the point sloping towards the Adversary's Thigh: If this be so, as to my certain knowledge it is, why ought we not to follow and improve Nature, when she offers so easie, and so secure a Posture, for our Defence?
LET Artists then for the future, take this one Lesson, at least from
Naturalists, and let them practice, and improve this Natural Posture,
atho' used by Ignorants; so shall they have the Benefit, not only of a
better Defence, for the security of their Persons, but also have the Honour
to defeat such Ignorants, at their own Weapons, and with their own homely
and natural Posture, which so far from diminishing, will as I said,
for the future, as well mightily secure the person of the Artist, as improve
and increase the Reputation of the Art, and this new Method of Teaching.
As it is a Natural Guard, so it is a General Guard, both a-Foot and upon Horseback, against either Rapier, Shearing-Sword or Back-Sword.
ALTHO' all the preceeding Advantages I have been discoursing of, are very great and considerable; yet if I can make it appear, that this last Advantage is peculiar to this Guard, this alone is sufficient to recommend the practice of it, even altho' all the other were false, or totally struck out, and rejected.
AND indeed when I consider, how frequently I have seen such as pretended to be Sword-men, baffled and confounded, for lack of a general Defence, against either a Thrust or Blow, it puzzels me to determine, whether or not it were not better, for a Man, not to Fence at all, as to be ignorant of, and not know how to use a general Defence against all Weapons, as well edged as pointed; for how strangely out of Countenance does a Man look, when in the place of a Thrust that he expected, and prepared to Parie, after the common Form, he is saluted with a sound and firm Blow over the Head? or instead of a Stroak, which he fancies was designed against him, he is suddenly and unexpectedly whip't thorow the Lungs? And this for not understanding to Parie both Blow and Thrust.
I know it will be urged, that without making use of this Guard, a Man may prevent that inconveniency, of being surprised by either a Thrust or Blow; by making himself Master of both Parades, as well that against the Back-Sword, as that against the Small.
THIS I grant; but then it cannot be denied, but that it will cost him a considerable Time and Practice, to become Master of both Arts; which very few Gentlemen have the patience to acquire: Whereas, in the using of this Guard, the Defence of both Weapons are joined in one; for both Thrusts and Blows are, upon this Guard, Paried after one and the same manner, and with the same very position of the Hand, as you may see in Advantage 3d, so that whether a Mans Adversary give in a Thrust, or discharge a Blow, it comes much about one, for he defends both with the same ease and dexterity; which except upon this Guard, cannot (without being Taught both the Arts) be dexterously and exactly be performed by any Man.
AGAIN, when a Man comes to engage with his Sword upon Horseback, how strangely is he put to it, if he has not been acquainted with the particular Postures, and Defences most useful and proper in such a Juncture? which to my certain knowledge, few People are at the trouble and charges, to be instructed in, altho' I must say, as necessary a part of Defence, as any a Man can possibly be Taught.
NOW the making use of this Posture, removes all that difficulty; for without the least trouble, it naturally leads a Man to a Defence upon Horseback, as well as a-Foot, either against a Rapier, Shearing-Sword, or Back-Sword; so that I may venture to alter the Proverb a little, and say that here, without any difficulty, fit per pauciora quod frustra fiers potest per plura.
SEEING then, this Posture is not only a Natural Guard, but a General One too; how willingly should we all embrace the Advantages it offers to us, and endeavour by any means, to bring so good and safe a Guard in request, as may not only be a means, to bring so good and safe a Guard in request, as may not only be a means to save our Reputation and Honour, without much exposing of our Persons; but if they are briskly and vigourously attacked, can even very easily defend them, and that not only a-Foot, but also upon Horseback, against all single Weapons whatsoever.
I could have insisted, not only much longer upon each of these Advantages I have named, but could also mention several others, that really belong to no other Guard, save this alone: But as I design, to be as brief upon each head as possible, so those few Advantages I have slightly discoursed of, will be to any judicious and considering person, a sufficient proof of the great Benefit all persons may reap, by an assiduous and frequent Practice of it; without which, tho' a Man should write like an Angel, it would signify nothing, but be so much Labour to no purpose, and as the beating of the Air.
For it is in writing of Fencing, as it is with all other practical Arts, which have been already both Fully, and Learnedly Treated of in Print: There are many Books of the Art of War, Evolutions or Drilling of Men, Riding, Fencing, and even of Dancing, of late; all which are excellent in their kind; but then it is not only the Reading of them, will make them useful; for I never heard of either a good General, Ingineer, or Horseman, made so only by Book: It is then the reducing, of the good Directions of such curious Books to practice, that render them useful, as well as diverting: And that also, after a Man hath been well grounded by a Master, and not the simple perusing, nay, nor even getting by heart the Substance and Marrow of such Books, altho' most useful, as I said, in their kinds, that will make a Man Master, of any of those practical Arts.
All then I can promise, is to lay down easie and good Rules, for a safe and true Method of Fencing, which we in this Age stand so much in need of; and to recommend to you, the putting them in practice: for when a Man comes to the Field, he is not to make use of his Book, but of his Sword; and it is his hands which must then put in excecution, what both his Judgement hath before hand digested after reading, and practice accustomed his Body and Nerves to; so that altho' I had said a great deal more, of the Advantages flowing from this Guard, yet it would have been but to little purpose, seeing it is only Practice not Discourse, that can make a Man perfectly sensible of, and Master of them: I shall therefore proceed, to the chief Objections that can be made against it.