Methods and practice of Elizabethan swordplay by Craig Turner

By Craig Turner

Featuring interval drawings and prints of swordplay, this e-book examines and compares 3 Elizabethan fencing manuals written in English earlier than 1600: Giacomo Di Grassi’s His real Arte of protection (1594), Vincentio Saviolo’s His perform in Bookes (1595), and George Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence and Bref directions upon My Paradoxes of Defence (1599).

More than a technical handbook on swordplay, this booklet explores the impression of a brand new type of violence brought into Elizabethan tradition through the discovery of the rapier. The authors research the rapier’s effect at the a variety of social periods, the conflict among the normal English fencing masters and people embracing the hot type, the becoming trouble with unregulated dueling, and the widespread references to rapier play within the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

As manufacturer Joseph Papp notes in his foreword, it is a publication that "makes a distinction in performance."

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Sample text

His sole purpose is to reveal the underlying principles and practices of "this Art, and reduce the confused and infinite number of blows into a compendious sum and certain order: The which principles being but few, and therefore easy to be known and born away, without doubt in small time, and little travail, will open a most large entrance to the understanding of all which is contained in this Art" (Jackson 7).  His intent was to break down swordplay, particularly the new Italian rapier style, into logical units—a scientific approach.

Di Grassi does not exclude cutting attacks, but he does emphasize thrusts as more efficient.  Di Grassi says that the best cutting motion will tend to stay in front of the fence's body, providing protection and quicker response time.  Surprisingly, close observation of a thrusting motion reveals that the arm arcs slightly up or down—depending on whether the fencer is starting from low ward (guard) or high ward—while the point of the sword arcs in the opposite direction in order to keep going forward.

Di Grassi seems to favor this ward above the other two because the fencer may attack, defend, or simply "watch for the enemy's coming" in relative safety (Jackson 53).  Defending against the underhand thrust is a relatively simple parry.

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