THere is no doubt but that the Honorable exercise of the Weapon is made right perfect by meanes of t wo things, to witt: Judgment and Force: Because by the one, we know the manner and time to handle th e wepon (how, or whatsoever occasion ferneth:) And by the other we have power to execute therewith, in due time with advauntage.
And because, the knowledge of the manner and Time to strike and defende, dooth ol it selfe teach vs the skil how to reason and dispute thereof onely, and the end and scope of this Art consisteth not i n reasoning, but in dooinge: Therefore to him that is desierous to prove so cunning in this Art, as is needfull, It is requisite not onelie that he be able to judg, but also that he be stronge and active to put in execution all that which his judgement comprehendeth and seeth. And this may not bee done without strength and activitie of bodie: The which if happelie it bee feeble, flowe, or not of power to sustaine the weight of blowes, Or if it take not advauntage to strike when time requiereth, it utterlie remaineth overtaken with disgrace and daunger: the which falts (as appeareth) proceed n ot from the Art, but from the Instrument badly handled in the action.
Therefore let everie man that is desierous to practise this Art, indevor himselfe to get strength and agilitie of bodie assuringe himself, that judgment without this activitie and force, availeth litl e or nothinge: Yea, hapelie giveth occasion of hurt and spoile. For men beinge blinded in their owne judgements, and presuminge thereon, because they know how, and what they ought to doo, give manie times the onset and enterprise, but yet, never perfourme it in act.
But least I seeme to ground this Art uppon dreames and monstrous imaginations (havinge before laid downe, that strength of bodie is very necessarie to attaine to the perfection of this Art, it beinge one of the two principall beeginninges first layd downe, and not as yet declared the way how to come by and procure the same) I have determined in the entrance of this worke, to prescribe first the manner how to obtaine judgemet, and in the end thereof by way of Treatise to shew the meanes (as farre forth as appertaineth to this Art) by the which a man by his owne indevoure and travaile, may get strength and activitie of bodie, to such purpose and effect, that by the instructions and reasons, which shal be here given him, he may easely without other master or teacher, become both stronge, active and skilful.
ALthough I have verye much in a manner in all quarters of Italie, seene most excellent professors of this Art, to teach in their Schols, and practise privately in the Listes to traine up their Schollers. Yet I doo not remember that ever I saw anie man so throughly indewed with this first part, to wit, Judgement, as is in that behalfe required.
And it may bee that they keep it in secreat of purpose: for amongst divers disorderlie blowes, you might have seen some of them most gallantlie bestowed, not without evident conjecture of deepe judgment. But howsoever it bee seeinge I purpose to further this Art, in what I may, I wil speak of this first part as aptly to the purpose, as I can.
It is therefore to be considered that man by so much the more waxeth fearefull or boulde, by how much the more he knoweth how t' avoid or not to eschew daunger.
But to attain to this knowledg, it is most necessarie that he alwaies kepe stedfastly in memorie all these advertisements underwritten, from which springeth al the knowledge of this Art. Nether is it possible without them to perfome any perfect action for the which a man may give a reson. But if it so fall out that any man (not having the knowledg of these advertisements) performe any sure act, which may be said to be handled with judgement, that proceedeth of no other thing, then of very nature, and of the mind, which of itselfe naturally conceiveth all these advertisementes.
That by these Rules a man may get judgment, is most cleere, seing there is no other thinge required in this Art, then to strike wiht advantage, and defend with safetie.
This is done, when one striketh in the right line, by giving a thurst, or by delyvering an edge blow with that place of the sword, where it carrie th most force, first striking the enemie beefore he b e stroken: The which is perfourmed, when he perceiveth him selfe to be more nere his enemie, in whic h case, he must nimbly deliver it. For there are few nay there is no man at all, who (perceiving him selfe readie to be stroken) gives not back, and forsaketh to performe everie other motion which he hath begun.
And forasmuch, as he knoweth that every motion is made in time, he indevoreth himselfe so to strik and defend, that he may use as few motions as is possible, and therein to spend as litle time, And as his enemie moveth much in divers times he may be advertised hereby, to strike him in one or more of those times, so out of al due time spent.
BEfore I come to a more perticuler declaration of this Art, it is requisite I use some generall division. Wherefore it is to be understood, that as in all other arts, so likewise in this (men forsaking the true science thereof, in hope peradventure to overcome rather by disceit then true manhood) have found out a new maner of skirmishing ful of falses and slips. The which because it somewhat and some times prevaleth against those who are either fearfull or ignorant of their groundes and principals, I am constrayned to divide this Art into two Arts of Sciences, callinge thone the True, the other, the False art: But withall giving everie man to understand, that falsehood hath no advauntage against true Art, but rather is most hurtfull and deadlie to him that useth it.
Therefore casting away deceit for this present, which shal hereafter be handled in his proper place and restraining my selfe to the truth, which is the true and principall desier of my hart, presupposing that Justice (which in everie occasion approcheth neerest unto truth) obteineth allwaies the superioritie, I say whosoever mindeth to exercise hemselfe in this true and honorable Art or Science, it is requisite that he be indued with deep Judgement, a valiant hart and great activitie, In which thre qualities this exercise doth as it were delight, live and florish.