ALbeit Wepons aswel offensive as defensive be infinite, because all that whatsoever a man may handle to offend an other or defend hemselfe, either by flinging or kepinge fast in his hand may in my opinion be tearmed Weapon. Yet notwithstading, because, as I have before said, they be innumerable so that if I shold perticularly handle everie one, besides the great toile and travaile I should sustaine, it would also doubtles be unprofitable, because the principels and grounds which are laid downe in this Art, serve only for such weapons as are commonlye practised, or for such as happely men will use: and so leaving al those which at this present make not for my purpose, I affirme, that amongst al the wepons used in these daies, there is none more honorable, more usual or more safe then the sword.
Comming therefore first to this weapon, as unto that on which is grounded the true knowledge of this Art, beeinge of reasonable length, and having edges and point, wherein it seemeth to resemble everie other weapon, It is to be considered, that forasmuch as it hath no more the two edges and one point, a man may not strike with anie other then with these, nether defend himself with anie other then with these. Further all edg blowes, be they right or reversed, frame either a circle or part of a circle: Of the which the hand is the center, and the length of the sworde, the Diameter.
Whereupon he that would give either an edg blow in a great compasse, either thrust with the point of the sword, must not onely be nimble of hand, but also must observe the time of advatag, which is, to know when his own sword is more nere and readie to strik then his enemies. For when the enemie fetcheth a compasse with his sword, in delivering his stroke, at the length of the arme: if he them perceive himselfe to be nerer by halfe an arme, he ought not to care to defend himselfe, but with all celeritie to strike. For as he hitteth home first, so he preventeth the fal of his enemies sword. But if he be forced to defend him selfe from anie edge blow, he must for his greater safetie and ease of doinge it, go and incounter it on the halfe sword that is hindermost: in which place as the enemies sword carrieth lesse force, so is he more nere at hand to offend him.
Concerning thrusting, or the most perilous blowes of the point, he must provide so to stand with his bodie, feet and armes, that he be not forced, when he wold strik, to lose time: The which he shal do, if he stand either with his arme so forward, either with his feete so backward, either with his bodie so disorderly, that before he trhust he must needs draw back his arme, helpe himself with his feet, or use some daungerous motion of the bodie, the which when the enemie perceyveth, he may first strik before he be stroken. But when a man standeth in due order (which shall hereafter be declared) and perceiveth that there is lesse distance from the point of his sword, unto his enemie, then there is from his enemies sword unto him, In that case he must nimbly force on a strong thrust to the end he may hitt home first.
FOR asmuch as the Effects which procede from the legth of the sword, are not in everie part thereof equall or of like force: It stands with reson besides the declaration of the cause, that I find out also the propertie and name of ech part, to the end everie man may understand, which are the parts of the length wherewith he ought to strike, and which the parts, wherewith he must defend.
I have said elswhere, that the sword in strikinge frameth either a Circle, either a part of a Circle, of which the hand is the center. And it is manifest that a wheel, which moveth circulerly, is more forcible and swift in the circumference then towards the Center: The which wheel ech sworde resembleth in striking. Whereuppon it seemeth convenient, that I divide the sworde into fower equal parts: Of the which that which is most neerest the hand, as most nigh to the cause, I will call the first part: the next, I wil terme the second, then the third, and so the fourth: which fowerth conteineth the point of the sword. Of which fower partes, the third and fowerth are to be used to strike withal. For seeing they are neerest to the circumference, they are most swift. And the fowerth part (I mean not the tip of the point, but fower fingers more within it) is the swiftest and strongest of all the rest: for besides that it is in the circumference, which causeth it to be most swift, it hath also fower fingers of counterpeize therby making the motion more forcible. The other two partes, to wit, the first and second are to be used to warde withall, because in striking they draw litle compas, and therefore carrie with them but smal force And for that their place is neere the hande, they are for this cause strong to resist anie violence.
THE Arme likewise is not in everie part of equall force and swiftnes, but differeth in everie bowing thereof, that is to saie in the wrist, in the elboe and in the shoulder: for the blowes of the wrist as they are more swift, so they are lesse stronge: And the other two, as they are more strong, so they are more slow, because they performe a greater compas. Therefore by my counsel, hee that would deliver an edgeblow shall fetch no compasse with his shoulder, becaus whilest he beareth his sword farre off, he giveth time to the warie enemie to enter first: but he shall onely use the compas of the elboe and the wrist: whcih as they be most swift, so are they stronge inough, if they be orderly handled.
HAving before said and laid down for one of the principels of this art, that the streit Line is the shortest of all others (which is most true.) It seemeth needfull that I make demonstration thereof. And further having suggested for a troth, that the blow of the point is the streight strook, this is not being simplie true, I think it expedient before I wade anie further, to shew in what maner the blowes of the point are stroken circulerly, and how streightly. And this I will straine my self to performe as plainly and as briefly as possibly I maie. Neither wil I strech so farre as to reason of the blowes of the edg, or how all blowes are stroken circulerly, because it is sufficiently and clerely handled in the division of the Arme and sword.
Comming then to that which is my principall intent to handle in this place, I wil shew first how the arme when it striketh with the point, striketh circulerlie.
It is most evident, that all bodies of streight or long shape, I mean when they have a firme and immoveable head or beginninge, and that they move with an otherlike head, alwaies of necessitie in their motion, frame either a wheel or part of a circuler figure. Seeing then the Arme is of like figure and shape, and is emmoveably fixed in the shoulder, and further moveth onely in that parte which is beneth it, there is no doubt, but that in his motion it figureth also a circle, or some parte thereof. And this everie man may perceive if in moving his arme, he make trial in himselfe.
Finding this true, as without controversie it is, it shal also be as true, that all those thinges which are fastned in the arme, and do move as the Arme doth, mustneeds move circulerlie. Thus much concerning my first purpose in this Treatise.
Now I will come to my second, and wil declare the reasons and waies by which a man strikinge with the point striketh straightly. And I say, that when soever the sworde is moved by the onelie mocion of the Arme, it must alwaies of necesitie frame a cirkle by the reasons before alleaged. But if it happen, as in his motion make a circle upwardes, and the hand moving in the wrist frame a part of a circle downewards then it wil com to passe, that the sword being moved by two contrarie motios in going forwards striketh straightly.
But to thentent that this may be more plainlie perceived, I have framed this present figure for the better understading whereof it is to be known, that as the arme in his motion carrieth the sworde with it, and is the occasion that beeing forced by the saide motion, the sworde frameth a circle upwards, So the hand moving it selfe in the wrist, maie either lift up the point of the sword upwards or abase it downwards. So that if the hand do so much let fal the point, as the arme doth lift up the handle, it commeth to passe that the swords point thrusteth directly at an other prick or point then that it respecteth.
Wherefore let A.B. be the circle which is framed by the motion of the arme: which arme, if (as it carrieth with it the sword in his motion) it would strike at the point D. it should be constrained through his motion to strik at the point B. And from hence procedeth the difficultie of thrustinge or striking with the point. If therefore the arm wold strik directly at the point D. it is necessary that as much as it lifteth the hadwrist do move it self circulerlie downward, making this circle AC & cariyng with it the point of the sword downewardes, of force it striketh at the point D. And this would not so come to passe, if with the only motion of tharme, a man should thrust forth the sword, considering the arme moveth onelie above the center C.
Therefore seing by this discourse it is manifest that the blow of the point, or a thrust, can not bee delivered by one simple motion directly made, but by two circuler motions, the one of the Arme the other of the hand, I wil hence foreward in all this work tearme this blow the blow of the streit Line. Which considering the reasons before alleaged, shall breed no inconvenience at all.
MOst great is the care and considerations which the paces or footstepps requier in this exercise, because from them in a maner more the from anie other thine springeth all offence and defence. And the bodie likewise ought with all diligence to be kept firme and stable, turned towards the enemie, rather with the right shoulder, then with the brest. And that beecause a man ought to make himself as smal a mark to thenemie as is posible, And if he be occasioned to bed his body any way, he must bend it rather backwards then forwards, to thende that it be far of from danger, considering the bodie can never greatly move it self anie other waie more then that and that same waie the head maie not move being a member of so great importance.
Therefore when a man striketh, either his feet or his arme are thrust forwards, as at that instant it shall make best for his advauntage. For when it hapneth that he may strongly offend his enemie without the increase of a pace, he must use his arm onely to perfourme the same, bearing his bodie alwaies as much as he maie and is required, firme and immoveable.
For this reason I commend not their maner of fight, who continually as they fight, make theselvs to shew sometimes litle, sometimes great, sometimes wresting themselves on this side, sometimes on that side, much like the moving of snailes. For as all these are motions, so can they not be accomplished in one time, for if when they beare their bodies low, they would strike aloft, of force they must first raise them selves, and in that time they may be stroken. So in like maner when their bodies are writhed this way or that waie.
As concerninge the motion of the feete, from which grow great occasions aswell of offence as defence, I saie and have seene by divers examples that as by the knowledg of their orderlie and discreet motion, aswel in the Listes as in common fraies, ther hath bin obtained honorable victorie, so their busie and unrulie motion have bine occasion of shamefull hurts and spoils. And because I can not laie downe a certein measure of motion, considering the difference betwene man and man, some being of great and some of litle stature: for to some it is comodious to make his pace the length of and arme, and to other some half the length or more. Therefore I advertise everie man in al his wards to frame a reasonable pace, in such fort that if hee would step forward to strik, he lengthen or increas one foot, and if he would defend himself, he withdraw as much, without peril of falling.
And because the feet in this exercise doe move in divers maners, it shall be good that I shew the name of everie motion, to thend that usinge those names through al this work, they maie the better be understood.
It is to be knowen that the feete move either streightly, either circulerly: If streitly, then either forwardes or backwards: but when the move directly forwards, the frame either a halfe or a whol pace. By whole pace is understood, when the foot is carried from behind forwards, kepinge stedfast the forefoot. And this pace is sometimes made streight, sometimes crooked. By streight is meant when it is done in the streit line, but this doth seldome happen. By croked or slope pace is understood, when the hinderfoot is brought also forewards, but yet a thwarte or crossing: and as it groweth forwardes, it carieth the bodie with it, out of the straightline, where the blowe is given.
The like is ment by the pace that is made directly backwardes: but this backe pace is framed more often streight then croked. Now the midle of these backe and fore paces, I will terme the halfe pace: and that is, when the hinder-foote being brought nere the foorefoote, doth even there rest: or when from thence the same foote goeth forwardes. And likewise when the fore-foote is gathered into the hinder-foote, and there doth rest, and then retireth it selfe from hece backwards. These half paces are much used, both streit & croked, forwards & backwardes. And in like sorte, halfe paces forwardes & backewardes, streight and crooked.
Circuler paces, are no otherwise used than halfe paces, and they are made thus: When one hath framed his pace, he must fetch a copaise with his hinder foote or fore foote, on the right or lefte side: so that circuler paces are made either when the hinder-foot standing fast behinde, doth afterwards move it selfe on the lefte or right side, or when the fore-foote being setled before doth move likewise on the right or left side: with all these sort of paces a man may move everie waie both forwardes and backewardes.