Thomas Page's The Use of the Broad Sword.
Published: 1746, Norwich, UK
Use of this work is freely granted subject to the conditions of this Creative Commons Licence.
The Use of the Broad Sword.
In which is shown, The True Method of Fighting with that Weapon as it is now in Use among the Highlanders; deduc'd from the Use of the Scymitar; with every Throw, Cut, Guard, and Disarm.
Norwich: printed by M. Chase in the Cockey-Lane.
To the Right Honourable John Lord Hobart, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Norfolk, &c.
I Ventur'd upon this Address without Leave, and even without making my Design known, out of a pure Perswasion that nothing will give Offence to your Lordship which arises from the Sincerity of a Heart warm in the Service of my Country; how weak soever may be the Head that conducts those Intentions. I've made this Essay towards Teaching the Use of the Sword, that I might render that Weapon serviceable in the Hands of my Fellow-Citizens, which, together with them I have the Honour to wear under your Lordship's Command in the Artillery Company. And whatsoever contributes towards making that Company Useful as well as Ornamental, will be the most agreeable to your Lordship's Design in raising it.
All my Aim is to be serviceable to Society, that I may be Acceptable to your Lordship; and I am Ambitious of your Lordship's Favour, that I may be approv'd of by all Mankind.
I am with great Respect, My Lord, Your Lordship's Most Devoted and most Humble Servant, T. Page.
In the first Ages before War was a Trade, of Fighting a Science, Fury furnish'd Arms from the first Wood, or the nearest Heap of Stones; and the Club and the Sling were the only Instruments of Destruction, till Mankind, ever sagacious in Mischief, invented new Engines of Death; and as the Thirst of Power increas'd, the Art of War improv'd.
Offensive Weapons were invented, and of them the Sword for close, and the Javelin for more distant Engagements: Yet of these the Form was rude, and their Use without Method. They were the Instruments of Strength, not the Weapons of Art. The Sword was of enormous length and breadth, heavy and unweildy, design'd only for right down chopping by the Force of a strong Arm; till Time and Experience discovering the Disadvantages, by Degrees contracted its Length and lighten'd its Weight in to the more handy Form of the Scymitar; which was first invented by the Eastern Nations, and has continued to be their principal Weapon to this Day: This is contriv'd equally for Defence as well as Assault; and as before two Combatants only hack'd and chop'd each other till the weakest drop'd, so now Art was call'd in to the Assistance of Strength, and the Warrior made the Defence of his own Person his Care, at the same time he attempted the Destruction of his Adversary. And from this Period it was that Murder became an Art, and Fighting a Science: Now a Posture of Defence was contriv'd against every Assault, and a Guard against every Cut; so that Death was no longer at the Disposal of the Strong and Robust, but attended upon the Sword of the Dexterous and Skillful.
In Process of Time even the Scymitar in a long Engagement was found to be too tiresome to the Arm from its great Weight at the Point, where it was much broader and thicker back'd than towards the Hilt, and could not therefore be us'd long together without tiring the Wrist.
The Europeans have improv'd this Weapon, and invented the Broad Sword, which is a straight Blade well mounted, and (that it might fly light at the Point) balanc'd with a Basket Hilt, which is at the same time a Security to the Hand.
This has all the Advantages that can be expected from a Cutting Weapon, and as any Part of the Enemy's Body may be wounded by it, so may every Part of your own be defended by it at the same time.
The Saracens, Turks and Persians, made use of but three different Throws with the Scymitar, and one of those, only on Horseback; the other two on Foot. The first was executed thus; The Assailant Riding full Speed, and passing close by his Enemy, rais'd himself in his Stirrips, and with a home Blow sideways and backwards sever'd his Enemy's Head from the Body, unless he was dexterous enough to stop the Blow with his Sword; which for that Purpose he was to hold perpendicular, a little advanc'd before his Head. The other two Throws on Foot were level'd at the Head and Arm. The head was guarded by holding the Point of the Scymitar against the Enemy's Right Temple, and the Hilt against his Left Breast.
From these little Beginnings arose all that Variety of Throws, Cuts and Guards which have been since invented and improv'd, and which now compose the Science of the Broad Sword, and are the subject of the following Discourse.
No Modern Nation has arriv'd at such Perfection in the Use of this Weapon as the Scots: and amongst Them the Highlanders are most expert. From their Youth they are Train'd to it, and with the Addition of the Roman Target, they excell in the Roman Method of Fighting; having invented a great many Throws, Cuts and Guards, unknown to the Roman Gladiators.
Nor have they improv'd the Use only, but even the Fashion and Temper of the Weapon; for which they have been so deservedly famous, that their Swords have been purchased by all Europe; and there is no Nation but has seen Thousands fall beneath Andrew Farrarer's Blades; nor was Steel ever wrought so destructively Perfect, except in the invention of the Lancet.
The Broad Sword,
Offensive and Defensive, after the Manner of
The Broad Sword is an Offensive and Defensive Weapon, us'd now by most Foreign Nations, as well as by the Highlanders of Scotland; both in single Combat, and also in the Field of general Battle.
Its Use, with all its Advantages and Disadvantages, with its Practice in Offending and Defending, is become a Science reduced to certain Rules: to the understanding of which the following Technical Terms must be explained.
Is the manner of holding the Sword in such a Position, as will defend some Part of the Body.
To Raise the Guards.
Is to put the Sword in such a Position as will Guard one Part of the Body, and then to change it from that, to such other Positions; as will successively Guard or Defend all the other parts of the Body.
Is the external part of the Right Side of the Head, Neck, Arm, Body, Thigh and Leg.
Is the Internal parts of the Limbs on the Right Side, also the Forepart of the Face and Body, with the whole Left Side.
Is a straight Line supposed to be drawn through the Center of your own Body and that of your Adversary's; and must be the Center of Motion to your Body, and in the very Middle of every Guard, as well as of every Throw.
Is the striking at some part of your Adversary to Cut Him.
Is to Guard some Part from a Throw.
Is to receive your Adversary's Sword with a proper Guard upon the Edge of your own Sword.
Is to press upon your Adversary under the Cover of some Guard, Step by Step, with the right Foot always before; making but half Steps at a Time.
Is retiring from him under the Cover of some Guard by half Steps, the left Leg moving first Backwards, and the right drawing after it.
Is to reduce yourself to any Position or Guard from whence you have departed.
Is to step forward with the right Foot keeping the left fixt, the better to reach your Adversary.
To Lie upon the Lunge.
Is to continue in that Stradling Posture.
Is to withdraw your Body or some Limb out of the Reach of your Adversary's Throw, in stead of stopping it.
To Spring Off.
Is a quick Retreat out of the Reach of your Adversary, by leaping backward.
Sinking the Body.
Is only bending the Hams till you can Fight below your Adversary's Guards, and still be cover'd under your Own.
To Judge a Distance.
Is to know when you are within Reach of any Part of your Adversary, at which you are about to Throw; and to Throw so as neither to reach too far, nor have your Sword fall short.
Is to Offer to throw without throwing home.
Is to Stop, Throw or Recover, neither too soon or to too late.
Is to press with some Strength against your Adversary's Sword in the Fort, with the Fort of your Own.
Is that Part of the Sword Blade near the Hilt.
Is that Part nearer to the Point of the Sword.
Is any Part not under the Cover of a Guard.
Is stepping from the straight Line either to the Right of Left in a Circle, still preserving the Center of that Circle, in the Center of the Line.
Is the Time in which you play loose, or as your Judgement directs you, upon any or all the Guards, till a Cut is receiv'd or given.
The Advantages of the Broad Sword are shown in four Guards, which successively defend every Part of the Body against all Attacks that can possibly be made; and much sooner than a Stroke can be given: and at the same Time in which the Sword changes its Posture of Defence, it throws in upon every Opening and gives a Wound.
Its Disadvantages arise only from the Difficulties of Parrying Thrust in the four Positions of Guards; and therefore two Positions are borrowed from the Small Sword, and added to its Defensive Guards and Offensive Throws, which render the Weapon compleat.
Before the Use of the Sword can be Taught, it is absolutely necessary to learn a firm and erect Attitude, in the Situation and Motion of every Limb.
First, You are boldly to Face your Enemy at the Distance of at least two Feet, out of his Lunge, and standing with your Body square and Your Feet at (about) two Feet distance from each other, upon the Line A B, full fronting your Adversary; who stands at the same Time and in the same Manner upon the Line CD.
Thus standing, let the back Part of the Hilt of your Sword be held upon the Palm of your Left Hand, close to your Body, with the Blade resting on the Left Arm.
Raise the Left Hand with the Hilt of the Sword Breast high, and with the same Motion and at the same Time, advance the Right Foot from off the Line A B, unto the Line E F, at right Angles with the Line A B, setting it down at G.
And at the very Instant of moving the Leg, raise also the Right Arm about a Foot higher than the Hilt of the Sword extended on the Left Hand, and seizing the Gripe of the Sword with the Right Hand, quit the Hilt with the Left, and extending the Left Hand Horizontally a little backward, advance the Sword with its Edge towards your Adversary till its Point appear over against the Left Temple, and the Hilt over against his Right Hip, and in that Posture wait to receive his Salute. When you are perfect in this, you are to learn the Position of the Body, and the Steps that are most useful in the Exercise of the Sword.
The Position of the Body mus be very erect, its Center of Gravity kept exactly over the Left Leg, with the Right Foot a little advanc'd, that the whole Weight of the Body may rest over the Left Foot, and the Right be at absolute Liberty for Motion. From this Posture the Steps to be learn'd are as follow: the Advance, the Retreat, and the Traverse.
When the erect Attitude above describ'd is obtain'd both for Grace and Use, step forward with the Right Foot about one third of your Lunge, and at the same Time transfer so much of the Weight of your Body form your Left Leg on to your Right, as may onable you to slip your Left Foot along the Ground, (not lifting it off) up towards your Right Heel, and stopping within half a Foot thereof; at which Moment step forward again with the Right Foot, and alternately repeating the same Steps advance as far as is necessary, still preserving an erect firm and graceful Attitude through every Motion of the Advance.
The Advantage of this Step is gaining Space in the length of Ground, and pressing so upon your Adversary, as to oblige him to retreat from you unto worse Ground, or some disadvantageous Situation.
From the same erect Attitude before describ'd, transfer the Weight of your Body almost wholly from the Left to the Right Leg, so that you may be fully enabled to step backward with your Left Foot, lifting it clear from the Ground, the better to avoid any unevenesses that cannot be seen behind, and setting it firmly down about sixteen Inches backward, draw back the Right Foot within twelve Inches of the Left, but not lifting it off the Ground; and repeating these Steps also alternately, retreat as far back as you find useful.
The Advantages of this Step is by retiring either to dray your Adversary from the advantageous Ground he is in Possession of, or to gain a more advantageous Ground that lies behind you; or to avoid the Difficulties into which you are fallen, by your Adversary's pressing too closely upon you, and engaging you with superior Strength up to half Sword, and very often all these three Advantages are obtained at the same time.
This also begins from the same erectness and firmness of Posture, and is twofold viz. The Fore Traverse, and the Back Traverse. The Fore Traverse is performed in a large Circle, the Center of which is the Middle of the Line of Defence, on which Line you and your Adversary stand; such is the Line P. Q. C. H. G. in the opposite Page, and the Circle form'd by the Traverse will be, P. A. C. E. G. I. L. N. For the Right Foot being at Q. and the Left at P. the traverse is begun by stepping about with the Left Foot from P. to A. and the Right Foot immediately after from Q. to B. and then the Line A. B C. K. I. will be the Line of Defence; at the next Step, remove the Left Foot from A. to C. and then the Right from B. to D. which will make the Line C. D. C. M. L. the Line of Defence; and you wil be still faceing C. the Center of that Circle, which you are now Traversing, an the Middle of every Line of Defence; proceed also in the same Manner with the Left Foot from C to E and the Right Foot from D. to F. then will E F. C. O. N. be the Line of Defence; in the same Manner proceed to G. H; to I. K; to L. M; to N. O; and to P. Q; which is the Place from which you set out, and you will have successively the Lines G. H. C. Q. P.; I. K C. B. A; L. M. C. D. C; N. O. C F. E; for Lines of Defence; and now you are come about to the Line P. Q. C. H. G; which was the Line of Defence when you began to Traverse.
The Back Traverse
Is the counter Part of the Fore-Traverse, doing every Step backwards as in that is done forwards; as for Example, standing in the Line of Defence P. Q. C. H. G. with the Right Foot at Q. and the Left at P. begin the Back Traverse with removing the Right Foot from Q. to P. and the Left from P. to N. both in the Line N. O. C. F. E. which will then be the Line of Defence; and then by removing the Right Foot from O. to M. and the Left from N. to L. you have L. M. C. D. C. for the Line of Defence; and in the same Manner going backwards through K I, H G, F E, D C, B A, you will arrive at Q P, from whence you began the Back Traverse.
The Advantages of these two Traverses are very great, as will be explained more at large in the Action of Fighting; but their Advantages in gaining Ground may be known here: If in the Retreat you are stopt behind by a Wall, Ditch, or any other Impediment, you may by beginning either Traverse which ever you find most convenient to extricate your self with ease, and gain Ground either to the Right or Left; and if you Traverse half the Circle, it will bring your Adversary into the very same Difficulties from which you departed.
And when you are thus perfected in a graceful Attitude, firm and Strong Position of Limbs, regular Steps and Movements, the Guards may be learn'd.
A Guard, which is the Position of the Sword, whereby a Blow is warded off from any Part of the Body, has four different Names from the four different Parts of the Body, which are defended bye each of them seperately, and are thus defended by each of them seperately, and thus denominated, The Inside Guard, The Outside Guard, The Hanging Guard, The St. George's Guard.
The Inside Guard is when you stand with each Foot on the Line of Defence and hold the Point of your Sword over against your Adversary's Left Temple, and the Hilt in a Line with his Right Hip, and the Middle of your Sword cutting the Line of Defence at acute Angles, by which the internal Parts of the Limbs on the Right Side, and the fore Part of the Face and Body, with the whole Left Side, will be defended from being Cut.
The Outside Guard is rais'd when you stand with your Body square, astride the Line of Defence with the Right and Left Foot at right Angles with it, holding the Point of your Sword over against your Adversary's Right Temple, and sinking the Hilt in a Line with his Left Hip, by which the external Part of the Right Side of the Head, Neck, Arm, Body, Thigh and Leg, and secured from being Cut. In this Guard, the Position of the Right Hand differs from all other Guards, for it is to be bent at the Wrest with the back of the Hand and the Knuckels, (which are always in a Line with the Edge of the Sword) turn'd upwards and outwards, which defends the Sword Arm from the Shoulder to the Wrist, without ever moving the Sword.
From this you go to the Hanging Guard, which is thus performed, with your Right Foot step a little backward and sideways, so as to make an acute Angle with the Line of Defence, and at the some Moment raising the Elbow of the Sword Arm, and present the Point of the Sword against your Adversary's Breast, and covering your own Head, till you can see your Adversary's Face clear under your own Fort: This Guard covers the Head, Shoulders, Face and Breast, and with the Point stops your Adversary from pressing too closely upon you, and keeps him at length when he is endeavouring to come up to half Sword, and is the dernier Resort when you have retreated, or are push'd into a Corner from whence you are too weak to advance, and not enough room to Traverse.
The last Guard arises from this, and is called St George's Guard, which is perform'd by standing square across the Line, and holding the Sword a little rais'd above you own Head, parallel to your Shoulders, with the Edge turn'd upwards toward your Adversary; and is only used occasionally to stop a right down Blow aim'd at the Head of Shoulders. These are all the absolute Guards, and must be learn'd till you can raise them distinctly after each other, with a steady and erect Body, and a nimble and strong Arm; during the whole time of which the Left Hand is used as a Ballance to the Body, and by the Motion of which the Center of Gravity is kept over the standing Leg; as in the Inside Guard, by the fore Foot's being advanc'd, the Center of Gravity would be thrown too forward, if the Left Hand's being extended backward did not bring it over the Left Leg.
In the Outside Guard, the Left Hand is held before and close to the Body below the Navel, to bring the Center of Gravity perpendicular over the Middle of the Line, at the Ends of which the Feet are plac'd at right Angles with the Line of Defence: The same is done in the Hanging, and St. George's Guard.
When you are perfect in the Attitude and Position of the Limbs, and can dexterously raise the Guards, standing on the Line of Defence, the same Guards must be practised in the Advance, Retreat, and the Traverse. And to each Step of each Motion must be pitch'd a Guard, as in the Advance, to every Step you must change from an Inside Guard to an Outside, or from an Outside to an Inside, and as you go Step by Step change the Guard for Guard, nor are any other Guards made use of in the Advance, than the Outside and the Inside; but in the Retreat every Guard is made use of in its Turn, but must be chang'd Step by Step as in the Advance, except you choose to retreat under a Hanging Guard, which is really the best, if you lie only on the Defensive, and then instead of changing at every Step, point your Sword directly at your Adversary's Breast.
In the Traverse, also the Outside and Inside, with the Hanging Guard, are made use of. The Inside can only be used to the Step of the Right Foot, but in coming about with the Left Foot you must stop under an Outside or a Hanging Guard, as you see convenient.
In the back Traverse, the very reverse of every Motion and Guard is to be observed, as in the Traversing back with the Left Foot the Inside only is to be pitch'd and in the Step with the Right Foot the Outside or Hanging is to be used; and these Steps attended by these Guards are to be practis'd and compleated before you can begin to take the first Lesson, which is This.
Lesson the First.
What is called a Lesson in the Science of the Sword, is the Manner of attacking your Enemy, or defending your self, under some one or more or those Guards which are already explain'd, and putting in practise the Rules already given; as for Example, this first Lesson teaches you to use the plain Guards, without the Advantages of Slips, Falsifies, Battering, &c. (all which will be explained hereafter) in the Manner following: With a steady Countenance looking full in your Adversary's Eyes, meet him boldly, and throw sharply at his Inside, and immediately stop an Outside, which you have no sooner received but throw again to his Inside with the utmost Vigour and Rapidity, an with the same Swiftness stopping an Outside. This is to be practis'd at first but slowly, till you are perfect in each Part of the two Throws, and then by Degrees increase the Swiftness of every Motion, till you can play A Bout upon the plain Guards perfectly; and then the same Lesson is to be practis'd over again in the Advance, the Retreat and the Traverse, till you are perfect in Offending your Adversary, and Defending your self with the Outside and Inside Guards, which will bring you to the,
The Second Lesson
Which begins where the last ends, and adds to thatXXX two former Guards, the Hanging, and the St. George's Guard; and having made use of the Outside and Inside as in the former Lesson, go directly from the Outside to the Hanging Guard, and lying a little while under that Cover, wait to see where your Adversary will Throw, which if he does not do immediately, Throw smartly at his Inside stop his Outside, recover to a Hanging again, and stopping with a St. George, Throw vigorously at his Head.
All this is to be practised slowly at first, 'till you are extreamly perfect in every Change and then play over the whole Lesson with Life and Spirit; and then as in the former Lesson, the whole is to be play'd over again upon the Advance, the Retreat and the Traverse, seperately and respectively.
These Lessons, when perfect, is what is call'd plain Playing.
Preparatory to the third Lesson is to be learn'd,
Which has been before explain'd, and is practis'd in the following Manner upon each of the Guards.
First on the Inside; When your Adversary Throws an Inside, instead of Stopping it with an Inside Guard, draw your Right Foot backward towards the Left, in the same Manner as in the Retreat, and at the same Moment withdraw your whole Body backward and Sideways to the right of the Line, letting your Adversary's Point pass by your Sword a little out of his Reach, and steping into your former Position, Throw home at his Outside, which can't but be open by his over throwing himself, which He will do the more by missing your Body, and not being receiv'd by your Sword, which he expected, to stop the effort of his Strength. This is the Slip upon the Inside. The same practis'd upon the Outside is as follows; Dray the Right Leg with the whole Body backwards and sideways a little out of the Line, towards the Left Hand, contracting your Arm a little, your Sword still in the Line, and under an Outside Guard; let your Adversary's Point slip past you, and at the same Moment reducing your Right Foot to its former Position, Throw smartly at the Outside of his Head, which will lie so forward by his over throwing himself, that he can neither recover nor stop with a Guard. The Slip is also call'd Breaking Measure.
The next Guard in which the Slip is us'd, and in which it is more proper than any of the rest, is the Hanging Guard, insomuch that every Throw that can be made at it is better slip'd than stop'd; which is done by stepping with the Right Foot quite out of, and at right Angles with the Line, and the whole Body beyond it towards the Right, so that your Adversary's Point slipping it past you, leaves his Head, Neck, Shoulders and Breast, exposed to the full Force of your Inside, Throw. The same slip without any variation is practis'd upon a St. George's Guard, as in the Hanging. Being perfect in these Slips, you begin
The Third Lesson
Thus, Meet your Adversary full with a Throw at his Inside, and not stopping his Outside, slip it as above directed, and Throw smartly at his Inside again, which if He stops recover to an Outside, and under that wait for his throwing. Pitch to an Inside, and give an Opening, slip his Throw to the Inside, throw vigorously at the Outside and retreat under a Hanging Guard. This is to be practis'd as the former, in the Advance, the Retreat, and the Traverse.
Lesson the Fourth
Advance under a Hanging Guard; Throw an Inside; Stop an Outside; Slip an Inside; Throw at the Head; Recover to a Hanging; Retreat under an Outside Guard; change to an Inside; Slip and Throw the Inside, and Outside alternately, with three Throws and three Slips on each Guard advancing one Step after each Slip. This also must be practis'd upon the Retreat, and the Traverse, which when you are perfect in, you must begin to Falsify or make Feints.
To make a Feint, as was observed before, is offering towards an Attempt to Cut without Throwing home, and may be practis'd with Success from every Guard, but is most useful on the Inside and Outside; and is thus practis'd; When you lie under an Inside Guard, change with a quick Motion towards an Outside, with all the Appearance of resolutely Throwing Home, but stop short the Moment you have past your Adversary's Sword, and returning back with the utmost Swiftness, throw Home to an Inside where he has given you an Opening, by his attempting to stop an Outside, where he expected your Throw. The Reverse of this is the Feint to the Outside. When you lie under a Hanging Guard there are three Feints in use, because from thence you have three Throws either to the Outside, the Inside, or right down at the Top of the Head; if you Feint to the Inside, return your Sword round the Point of your Adversary's, and make a Cut at the Crown of the Head.
Or if you make a Feint at the Crown of the Head from the Hanging Guard, as if you were going to make a Cut in the very middle betwixt the Outside and the Inside, you must stop short at the half Throw, and returning quick throw Home either to the outside or inside of the Head which you see open.
Lesson the Fifth.
Advance to your Adversary under the cover of an Outside; Feint to an Inside; Recover to an Outside; which will oblige your Adversary to open his Play, for he must either stand still without Motion, or make some offer at some of the three Openings you have given him; if he throws an Inside at you, slip him and throw home an Outside; and recovering the same, Feint to an Outside, and throw home an Inside.
If your Adversary should throw home an Inside, stop it, and throwing home an Outside, slip an Inside; Feint to an Outside, and with a double Feint come half way to the Hanging Guard, and from thence throw swiftly at the Crown of the Head. Practise this (as all other Lessons) at first very slow, repeating every Part often over, till you can go through the whole with Life and Spirit.
Before you come to the more loose and general Lessons, it will be necessary to know the Lunge, the Bearing the Battering, and their Uses.
The Lunge (explained before) is annex'd to every Throw except the Outside, in which it is seldom us'd to Advantage. In all other Throws it is not only useful but necessary when you play at length, but at half Sword it is never to be attempted, because it throws your whole Head and Body under your Adversary's Fort.
When you meet your Adversary, instead of covering yourself under any Guard, throw briskly at his fairest Opening, whether it be Outside or Inside, and at the same Moment of your Throw step forward with your Right Foot, so that you may reach him home in your Throw, and yet be out of Reach of his Sword, upon your recovering from the Lunge, which must be with the utmost swiftness from the Moment of giving the Cut; this is to be practis'd with every Throw in loose Playing whilst you play at length, that is with your Body wholly out of the Reach or your Adversary's Sword, yet near enough always to command the Wrest of his Sword Arm, and consequently so as to cut any Part of the same Arm with the least Step forwards.
After you are perfect in the Lunge, and can use it readily to every Throw, begin to meet your Adversary's Fort with your Fort with a brisk Lunge at the same Time, both lying under an Outside Guard, and with a stiff Arm, pressing strongly against it, slip your Fort to his Foible, holding his Sword out of the Line, which is call'd
This gives you his Head, Neck, Shoulder and Arms quite open, and at the same Time weakens his Arm, so as to prevent his stopping your Throw, which ever you use either Outside or Inside, and which must be thrown as quick as possible from your Bearing. The Reverse of this is Bearing upon an Inside.
Bearing upon the Hanging Guard is never safely to be practised, and always to be avoided, unless at the half Sword, and even there a Cut must be either given or received, before any Advantage can be made of it, and the only Advantage that can be propos'd is bearing upon your Adversary's Sword a little out of the Line and opening his Outside, though at the same time you open your own Head and inside much more, and if your Enemy be alert, he may easily slip from your Bearing, and Cut you infallibly.
Bearing is never to be used but in steady Playing, and not in the Advance, the Retreat, or the Traverse.
From Bearing you proceed to Battering, which is forcibly striking upon the Foible of your Adversary's Sword, either once, twice, or thrice, so as to beat him out of the Line, which will consequently lay him open to that Side on which you Batter. The Batter may be us'd to any Guard, but with different Success, for the Inside being by much the strongest Guard that is held, the Batter scarce ever break the Line upon it, except when your Adversary's Arm is extreamly weakened by long Play, and in the Hanging Guard by its Position the Batter is apt to slip of it. The St. George's Guard is not hurt by the Batter, because it is only used to stop a Blow, and never to lie under. The Outside therefore is the only Guard in which it can be used to any Advantage, tho' not always with the same Success; however, if it be thought useful, its Practice is to strike strongly upon your Adversary's Sword once, and if you find his Sword beaten ever so little out of the Line, repeat the Batter one, two... or one, two, three, which may very likely drive his Sword quite out of the Line, (the Outside being the weakest Guard) and give you an Opportunity of throwing at the Opening, but beware at his feeling your first Batter, that he does not slip your second, and cut you more securely than if he had slipt your Throw.
When you are perfect in every one of these five Lessons, and can readily use every Guard, Throw, Feint, and Slip, the next and most material Part of Play, and upon which the Success of each depends, is Timeing, a Term not yet explain'd, and is as follows.
Is the exact and critical Throwing in you Sword upon every little Opening, that appears between the changing of your Adversary's Guards, Posture of Body or Position of Limbs. For no Change can possibly be made, either in the Sword, Body, or Limbs, without giving a transient Opening, easy to be hit by a sharp Eye and quick Hand; besides that Opening that is always left, and must be so when the Change is compleated; as for Example/
When you stand full guarded under an Inside, you have a clear Opening left on the Outside; and so under whatsoever Guard you lie, its Opposite is always open: Now besides this, whenever you change, as from an Inside to an Outside, there is a transient and temporary Opening of the Wrist, Arm, Breast, Face and Head, in the very middle between your Guards that is, in the middle of your Change from the Inside to the Outside, and when your Sword is properly in neither; now successively throwing upon this Opening whilst your Adversary's Sword is changing from the Inside, and yet not got fully to the Outside, is called Timeing an Inside. Thus throwing into the Opening which is made by changing from an Outside to an Inside, is called Timeing an Outside; and Throwing in to that Opening which is made in changing from the Outside which is made in changing from the Outside to the Hanging, which lays open the Ribs, Hip, Thigh, and under part of the Arm, tho' but for a Moment, is call'd Timeing the Hanging Guard.
In changing from the Hanging to the St. George's Guard, all the Parts of the Body below the Throat and the inside of the Sword Arm are expos'd, and taking the Advantage of that Opening is call'd Timeing to a St. George. This is the Practice of Timeing upon the plain Guard, and must be put in execution in advancing, retreating, and traversing, every Step of which gives the Openings more evident than when you are Stationary; besides other Openings arising from the changes of the Center of Gravity, which is continually altering by the Motion of every Step.
Timeing also is of the greatest use in the Defensive Part of the Science, and is the quick and judicious Charge of your Sword from one Guard to another, in order to cover an open Part which is attack'd; and doing it so as to stop your Adversary's Sword full in the Line is call'd Timeing a Guard; for if you let his Sword pass the Line before you Stop it you can't avoid being Cut, and must give several new and defenceless Openings.
By these few Particulars the Usefulness of Timeing may partly be perceiv'd, but is Necessity and Excellence can never be thoroughly known till you come to play loose; and then so many Openings will plainly be seen upon every Change and Motion, that you will loose with regret such fair Opportunities of Cutting before you become a compleat Master of Timeing, which is not only necessary in Throws and Guards, but even in Stepping, Advancing, Retreating, Travelling, and Lunging; for if each Step of these be not exactly Timed with the Change of your Sword either from one Guard to another, or from a Defensive Guard to an Offensive Throw, or back from a Throw to a Guard again, you will by every step give fresh Openings, and may be cut twice before and after your own Change; and the Advantages and Disadvantages of Timeing will be shewn at large when you came to the loose Lessons, but before they are begun it will be necessary to teach the two Methods of Cutting the Leg, and the Disarming upon an Outside.
A Throw at the Leg is us'd only in single Combat, and is, if you go home, a disabling Throw. It's Practice is, in the first Method, to receive an Inside, and instead of throwing an Outside, step a little forwarder, sinking your Body at the same time you transfer your Weight from the Left to the Right Leg, bring the Point underneath your Adversary's Sword, and throwing swiftly at the Calf of his Leg, spring back as from a Lunge, under the Cover of a St. George's Guard. This Throw, tho' extreamly safe in itself, is never to be us'd to a Master of Timeing, for if he slips his Right Leg backwards and sideways cross his Left Leg, an Time you either to an Inside or an Outside, which he chooses, will cut you either in the Head or the Arm. The second way of going down to the Leg is by much the safest of the two, and is done by sinking the Body very low at half Sword under a St. George's Guard, make a Feint to the Leg, recover to a St. George, give an Opening at the Head, and at the same time Feint to the Leg again, but stoping fully with a St. George go swiftly down to the outside of the Leg, and spring off as before.
The Disarm upon the Outside (though there are others) is by much the best, safest, and the most in use of the Scymiter; and is, for that reason, commonly call'd the Turkish Disarm; and is thus perform'd.
Receive an Inside full, at the same Time stepping forward with the Right Foot to the half Lunge, change to the Outside; and in the Change, bear your Adversary's Sword out of the Line; and in the same Instant step nimbly about with your Left Foot up to your Adversary's Heel, and seizing the Shell of his Hilt with your Left Hand, quit your Bearing, and with your Point fixt to his Breast force the Sword from his Hand; which he must quit or stab himself upon your Point.
These are the single Lessons and the very Grounds of the Science of the Broad Sword, and a loose lesson is no more than these Grounds variously repeated, and these Principles differently combin'd; so as to make an easy Transition from any one Part of a regular Lesson to that of another as your Judgement shall best direct you, to offend your Enemy, or as necessary may oblige you, to defend yourself. And thus it is either in single Combat in publick Battle, that each of these Principles may be indifferently us'd as your Adversary presses upon you or you upon him.
The Gladiator upon the Stage is very exact in these Lessons, and generally plays an exact round of them with little or no Variation: But the Highlanders in the Field make use of but a few of those Principles; but having another Instrument of defence turns his Sword chiefly to the Offensive Part, the outside and inside Throws are the Principle Offensive Uses of his Weapon; whilst he receives every Cut from his Adversary upon his Target which is a Shield fixt upon his Left Arm.
In the Field of Battle and in promiscuous Combat his first Principle is to attack and not to be attackt, and his Attack begins at all Times with a full Throw at the outside of the Sword Arm; which if he misses, instead of changing to an Inside, he makes a push at the Navel with the Point of his Sword, but not going home, is ready to slip his Adversary, who will infallibly throw at that wide Opening he has given to his Head and upper Part of his Body; and if he succeeds in the Slip, with a full Lunge he throws an Outside to his Adversary's Neck, which for the most Part severs the Head from the Body: But if his Adversary makes no Attempt to throw at the Opening, he returns to his push in reality and stabs him a little above the Navel; which will oblige his Adversary to lower his Sword and give him that Opening at his Head and Neck which he in vain attempted before, and which he will now be sure to hit and for the most Part split the Scull.
The Highlander has nothing regular in Field Attacks and generally chop Right down to an Outside; or with a swinging and low Inside they endeavour to let out the Bowels, whilst every Part of his own Body is cover'd under a Target. In single Combat he aims at nothing more than disabling his Antagonist which he commonly does by chopping him across the Wrest within Side the Sword Arm, which he does in the following Manner; HE runs up boldly to half Sword, receives an Outside, and changing with his Adversary, drops his Blade below the Hilt upon the inside, draws the Edge of his Sword cross his Adversary's Wrest and springing backward saws it at the same Time.
This is all that is necessary till you come to play the loose Lessons, which is the next thing to be taught.
To play looseis to make use of all or any of the Guards, Throws, Traverses, Advances Retreats of other Offensive and Defensive Postures or Positions above Taught and described, or any or all of the aforesaid Lessons as your Judgement shall best direct you, both to offend your Adversary and defend yourself.
It is in short a Critical Application of the former Rules to the Disadvantage of your Enemy. A Specimen of which take as follows.
Loose PlayingSpecimen the First
Advance briskly up to your Adversary under the Cover of an Outside, and Throwing an Inside but not home, receive an Outside, just sufficient to open your Adversary's Play; if he throws an Inside at the Opening you have given him, slip it, and Throwing home an Outside, recover the same: Feint to an Outside, and having thrown an Inside home, receive an Inside with a full Stop, and throwing home an Outside, and going half Way down to the Leg stop an Outside again, and from thence going as quick as Lightning down to the Leg, spring off.Specimen the Second
Advance towards your Adversary changing at every Step so as to come to an Inside when you Encounter, from which Feinting to an Outside, Throw smartly an Inside; which, if rightly Tim'd, will be a sure and disabling Cut on the Wrest; from which batter an Outside, and Throwing home an Inside stop an Outside; then doubling an Inside, recover the same, and from thence changing to an Outside, step forward and stop an Inside, and from the Stop go swiftly to the Leg, and Spring off.Specimen the Third
Meet your Adversary cover'd under an Outside; Change to an Inside; and when your Adversary throw, slip him and Throw home an Outside. ----- Bear an Outside and Time an Inside, Pitch to a Hanging and stop with a St. George, from which Throw swiftly an Inside, and recovering the same bear an Inside, stop an Outside and Throwing home an Outside at the Head stop an Inside and Throwing an Inside at the Thigh, spring off.Specimen the Fourth.
Advance under an Outside, and just before the Encounter lay yourself open to an Inside wide, and Stamping strongly with the Foot Ha----- Ha----- As soon as your Adversary moves Time an Inside, and Throw your Outside wide open, again stamping Ha----- Ha-----. Stop with an Outside, and throwing an Inside at the Thigh recover an Inside; then slip and Throwing an Outside, step with your Right Leg cross the Left and step an Inside, and bringing about the Left Leg as in the Traverse, Throw an Outside, recover the same, Feint to an Inside, and Throwing an Outside at the Ribs, spring off.
These are the general Rules, and these the Arts which have been improv'd for many Years by considerable and successive Additions, till the Grounds of the Sword are become demonstrable; and arise from the following Principles, which have been reduc'd to Practice.Principle the First.
A Body is said to be in Equilibrio when the Center of Gravity is in its Center of Magnitude; or when both are Perpendicular over its Base, that Body is in its firmest Situation, for then any Part of it can be mov'd round that Center without falling: And in this Position it is that the Swordsman uses all his Limbs with the greatest Freedom and Activity, and yet with the greatest Strength and Firmness, whilst he preserves this Equilibrium, and whilst his Right Hand is varying the Center of Gravity every Moment by continually Throwing from Side to Side and guarding every part successively; the Left is its Counter Ballance, and by moving Diametrically Opposite, preserve the Center of Gravity in the Center of Magnitude, and both still perpendicular over the standing Foot.Principle the Second.
Two Lines Parallel to the Line of Defence of Tangents to the Surface of the Combatants Body's are the Bounds of every Throw and every Guard, not can the Sword be mov'd any distance beyond those two Lines but it must leave the Body unguarded; and a Guard held beyond either of those Lines for exposes the Body in general without defending any particular Part.Principle the Third.
The utmost Force and Strength of a Man is exerted in straight Lines and at right Angles, thus every Throw is made perpendicular to the Part aim'd at, which the Swordsmen have called Carrying a true Edge.Principle the Fourth.
Action and Reaction are the same, and always equal to each Other; an upon this Principle every Guard was contriv'd, and every Stop executed, as for Example:
The Inside Guard stops an Inside Throw in the same Direction in which the Throw is made, and with a Resistance exactly equal to the Force, for if it was less the Sword would be beat back upon the Defendant, and if it was greater, the Assailant's Sword must recoil; either of which would be equally disadvantageous to the Defendant, who from the very instant of stopping his Antagonist's Sword is supposed to change, recover or throw Home.
When the Rules, Lessons and Instructions already taught, are perfectly learned; there are many other artful Throws which safely Cut the Adversary, yet not commonly known or taught by every Master; but have been the peculiar Inventions of two the eminent Men in the Science; and kept inviolably secret by the very few to whom they have been imparted; and are commonly called Finesses, because they are of all the most artful, and certain Ways of wounding and disabling, some of which are as follow.
This has its Name from bringing your Adversary under the certain Cut of your Edge, and disabling him at a Time when he not only thinks himself not in Danger, but imagines he has a fair Opportunity of cutting you down. The Method of this.
In the midst of loose play, when you have try'd your Adversary's Skill, ans seen where his principal Art lies; carefully avoiding to open your own Play, and lying cautiously upon the Defensive; of a sudden Advance briskly up to half Sword under Cover of an Outside Guard; and with your Fort upon his Foible looking steadily at his Eyes, bear him strongly and widely out of the Line, this brings him in to the certain Dilemma of being Cut either in the Throat or the Inside of the Wrest which he pleases; for by bearing off him so far and wide an Opening on the Inside, which exposes your whole Person so evidently to his Throw that he will certainly attempt it. When therefore you find him beginning to disengage, by moving only your Wrest disengage with him, and without stopping his Inside or even attempting it, meet the inside of his Wrest with the Edge of your Sword, as smartly as the spring of your Wrest will give you leave, and sawing at the same Time. But if he neglects to disengage attempt an Inside Throw, you must turn your Wrest upwards and inwards at the same Time that he is born out of the Line, and you at half Sword, and his Throat will be quite expos'd and open within the reach of your Sword, therefore with the same Spring if your Wrest as before, lodge your Edge in his Throat, and Retreating saw it.
The second is a leading Ambuscade, and is a Catch contriv'd to cut the Head: When your Adversary begins to Bear you, resist not his force but yield to it a little as if your Arm grew weary and whilst he follows your bearing, yield to him again, till by degrees you draw him out of the Line, and which exposes his Head, then Feint to the Leg and Throw at the Head.
The next is called Gormon's Throw, and is that Cut by which he disabled most Men he fought at the very first Encounter.
He plac'd himself in an Attitude very different from any hitherto mention'd, and very different from any practis'd before his Time.
The Center of Gravity resting over his left Foot, with his left Knee a little bent, his right Foot and advanc'd about Six or Eight Inches, and his Body leaning to the right Side, he rais'd the left Arm with his Hand as high as the Top of his Head; and extended almost streight, and drop'd the Right Hand with the Hilt as low as he could reach towards the Ground and outwards, he waited to receive his Adversary; who seeing him so expos'd advanc'd, and with a full Throw, expecting to cut him, but found himself receiv'd upon the Point and Edge of the Sword by Gormon's timeing his Throw, and with a Spring of his Right Arm raising his Sword and cutting him under the Hilt from the Elbow to the Wrest.
The Highlanders Method of using the Sword.
We come now to the Method us'd by the modern Highlanders, Fighting with the Sword which is founded upon the Rules and Lessons already given; from which it differs only by making use of a Target upon the Left Arm, as was before observ'd; by the Addition of which, the Guards made by the Sword are often omitted, except the Outside, and the Blow is received upon the Target, and several Throws that are dangerous in the single Sword are here us'd with Safety as every Throw on the Inside, below the Middle of the Body; all which at the single Sword will lay entirely Open to be cut whilst here you lie cover'd under a Target, the use of which is the following Manner.
Arm'd with a Sword and a Target being upon the Left Arm, advance to your Enemy with a square Body, and always under an Outside Guard, with your Target advanc'd a little before your Sword, and in a Direction levell with your Adversary's Breast, ready to receive any Throw that he shall think fit to give; but wait not for it, it being safer to attack than be attacked, let your first Throw be an Inside betwixt your Adversary's Target and the Sword; which if he receives upon the Target, recover an Outside, and pitch immediately to a Hanging, but dwell not a Moment upon it, but from that (which here is design'd only to give a Swing to your Arm) throw home an Inside at his Left Ribs underneath his Left Elbow, which will be open'd by your pitching to a Hanging, and by his raising a Target to cover his Head which will otherwise be expos'd to be cut.
With the Target the cuts at the Leg are differently made than without it, for under Cover of that it is safe to go down to either Outside or Inside, without receiving a Throw first.
When two or three Throws have been made without Success, with your Body still square (that is your Legs crossing the Line of Defence at right Angles) and full facing your Adversary, drop both your Target and Sword as low as your Waste, your Sword still within your Target,and in that Posture lay your self open and wait for your Adversary's Throw, which when he makes, receive it not upon the Target, but upon the Fort of your Sword; and at the same Moment by pushing your Target against his Hilt, drive his Sword sideways and downwards out of the Line, by which his Head will be expos'd defenceless; at which you may safely Throw, because his Sword will be held down by your Target, and his Left Arm and Target will be held down by his own Blade.
Another infallible Method both of Defence and Offence is, advancing briskly to your Adversary under an Inside Guard, receive his Outside upon your Fort, and at the same Moment instead of throwing an Inside, step briskly about with your Left Foot as in the Traverse (half a Circle at least) which will bring you under his Fort; and with your Target, which will be then under his Hilt, throw up his Sword and Arm, that you may have a free Passage for your own Sword, which you have lower'd and shortned in your coming about; and with a sudden Push slanting upwards, thrust in the Point between the Ribs on the Right Side, which commonly finishes the Affair.
These are the Principle destructive Methods of Wounding in Modern Use; and when executed with a quick and a strong Arm, and directed with a sharp and steady Eye, seldom fail of Success, except where an alert Adversary is more steady at Defence than your Hand at Throwing: In the last two Cases indeed, no Defence is practicable, if you suffer your self to be lock'd in the first, or to be clos'd upon the last; but how easy is the Defence in either, when in the first, only by stepping into the Back Traverse, you at once free your Sword, and by returning to your Posture may wound your Adversary, and be cover'd under your Target; and in the last Case, by retreating as he comes about with his Left, you put your self out of the Reach of his Target, and much more out of that his Sword, whilst he lies wholly expos'd on his Left Side to your Inside Throw, how artfully soever, or how strongly soever it be made; but the same Weapon which makes the Attack, is capable of preventing the Wound.