The Thyrde Dayes
Discourse, of Rapier and

IMAGES:  Two duelists on guard in the third ward of rapier and dagger.


Luke. I know not certainly, whether it hath been my earnest desire to encounter you, that raisde me earlier this morning than my accustomed houre, or to be assertained of some doubtfull questions, which yester-night were proposed by some gentlemen and my selfe, in discourse of armes: for they helde, that although a man learne perfectly the dritta, riversa, the stoccata, the imbroccata, the punta riversa, with eche severall motion of the body, yet when they hap to come to single fight, where the triall of true valour must ende the quarrell, they utterly forget all their former practises. Therefore I would request of you, (if you so please) to know your opinion, whether in single fight a man can forget his usuall wardes, or use them then with as much dexteritie and courage as he accustomed in play.

V. It is very likely, that many are of this opinion, for there are fewe or none that in cause of quarrell when they come as we tearme it to buckling, but suffer themselves to be overcome with fury, and so never remember their arte: such effect choller worketh. And it may be some being timerous and full of pusillanimity, (which is ever father to feare) are so scarred out of their wits, that they seeme men amazed and voide of fence. Or some may be taken in the humor of drinke; or with divers other occasions, that may enfeeble their understanding. And by these reasons well may they forget in fight, what they learned in play: but in them in whome no such effectes are predominant, neither are assailed with such accidentes, they behave themselves discreetely, and are not distempered with any such perturbations: and besides this, I have seen many that being fearfull by nature, through dayly practise have become couragious, and alwaies so continued. Neither is it possible, but in practise he should obtaine courage and encrease his valour more then before.

L. But to what end doe you teach such skill, if it be scarse secure, and hard to performe.

V. To this I answere, that this vertue or art of armes is proper and behovefull to everye one for their lives, because that no man on earth, but hath had or hath in presence some difference or contention with some of his companions, which most commonly is decided by fight. To them that are of an hautie courage, this skill addeth advantage: to them whose nature is fearful, the use of weapons extenuateth a great parte of feare: and these, both the one and other, ought as much as in them lyeth, to avoide all cavilling, and such disordered speeches as procure contention: but especiallye, let such men take heede, to whome nature hath not given a valorous spirite: as for others, whose courage is hot, it importes them very much, to have great skill in their weapon, for being over-mastered with heate and courage of their harts, if in managing their armes they want s skilfull dexteritie, they soone spoyle themselves: for through wante of knowledge, they come to be overthrowne, where rather it behoveth them with advisement and discretion, not onely to spy their own faults, and soone to amend them, but also through his enemies over-fights, to take his owne advantage.

L. True it is I confesse what you hae saide, for sure, who so wanteth courage, must of necessitie forget his cunning. But tell of curtesie, were it that a man were to combate, and through brevitie of time it were not possible to be perfect in the depth of his knowledge, what order would you take, to instruct him that he might be safe and dangerles.

V. I wil tell you, I would acquaint him with one only warde, which amongst all other is the best for fight, to him who will understand it: of which I meane now to entreate, to the end I may enstruct you in it, that being throughly practised in that onely warde, you maye combate securely. Therefore to make my scholler perfect in that manner of lying, I would place him with his lefte foote and dagger before, extending his bodye fare, and I also would lye so, then would I have him traverse towards my left side, and I circularly would passe with my right foote, thrusting a stoccata either at his face or brest.

L. And what shall the scholler doe then to defend himselfe, and offend you?

V. Whilste I thrust my stoccata at him, and that I passe about towards his lefte side, in that moment that I parte from him and thrust, hee shall likewise in that counter-time passe circularly towards my left side, and then shall thrust a stoccata at my brest or face, winding his body upon his left side.

L. And how will you save yourselfe?

V. In that instant, wherein both my selfe and he doe passe thrusting at me in that counter-time, if I be not very prompt, with the motion of my bodie, hee maye easilie strike me in the brest or face: therefore whilest that I thrust at him and he at me, I will break it with my Dagger from my lefte side, turning the pointe either high or lowe, according as hee thrustes, and I would helpe my selfe with drawing my body backwards, and in that time I would carry my right foote towards his lefte, and then would I thrust an imbroccata above his Dagger.

L. And what can he doe?

V. Hee shall doe the like, guiding his right foote towarde my left, and shall breake my imbroccata outwarde from his lefte side, and thrust an imbroccata at mee above my Dagger, and I wil retire aside, as I have tolde you in the former wardes, and make at him with a dritta, or riversa, or an imbroccata with the dritta, as in the others.

L. I am of this minde, that whosoever would performe this warde, had neede to be perfectlie instructed and throughly exercised, and that he be of good knowledge: for certainly this I thinke, it is an excellent ward for him that knowes to doe it well, but very dangerous for a raw scholler or imperfect. And if you would mamifest some lying to counter-check this warde we have spoken of, I should thinke my selfe highlye beholding for such a favour.

V. Observe this firste, if you were in fight, to use this ward, and that your enemie in like sorte should garde him selfe with the same lying: marke this cheefely and first how hee beares his weapons and his bodie, high or lowe, and how hee holdes his Rapier and Dagger, and according to his lying, assaulte and offer to him. Therfore in the encounter that you shall make, charge him towardes his lefte side, keeping your selfe safelye in your warde, and have this regarde, to keepe your poynte within his. And if he lye high with his bodye and Dagger, keepe your poynte under his Dagger handle, and thrust your stoccata at his breste: but if you see him lye with his Dagger lowe, thrust an imbroccata at his belly with great celeritye, or at his face, avoiding with your right foote circularlye towardes his lefte, turning quickly your body upon your lefte side, in manner of an halfe wheele: but it behoves you to be verye readye, otherwise, in staying in your passage, if hee avoyde in that counter-time, hee maye put you in danger of life: the like is, if you passe directlye, you are both in danger of death: or if you should passe directlye, and hee keepe himselfe in safe warde, or that he avoide in compasse, he may well save him and endanger you. Therefore finding your enemie in this warde, ever observe to carrie your selfe in compasse.

Moreover, if you assaile your enemie with this warde, and hee lye with his right foot formost, if hee holde his rapier far from him, you may directlye take his pointe, keeping your dagger long out, and your bodie lowe: and if he thrust either above or belowe, keep your Dagger ready to break his thrust, and offer home to him upon the lefte foote, or passe towards him with your right foote, as you shall finde best. And in your caricado see if you can commaund his swoorde with your Dagger, either from your lefte or right side, and then thrust your stocceta or punta riversa. If you see him lye displaied, followe him, bearing your Dagger within his sword, and you maie well thrust your stoccata either at his face or breast: or else make a passata resolutelie, wheeling halfe about, keeping your selfe presentlie in a good warde, upon your right foote.

Moreover, in this warde you maye easilie give him a mandritta or riversa upon his legge, or you maie use a caricado upon his right side, keeping your warde, and carrying well your bodye, that the halfe of your right foote garde your lefte heele, and guiding your body directly upon your left side, make forwarde directly upon his right foot, thereby to commaund his swoodre, and then may you strike him upon the lefte foote. Againe, if you see hee keepes his Dagger pointe upon you, thrust a stoccata at his face: if you finde him not well commanding his point, charge him upon his right side, bearing the dagger long, and break his thrust outwards, offering your stoccata at his face or brest. Likewise, if you see he commaund not his point, and being advantaged upon his right side, you maye with great readines put your pointe under his swoord, lifting your swoord hand and your dagger, when in the mean time you may give him a stoccata or imbroccata, and be master of his swoorde with yours and your Dagger. And in charging him upon his right side, you may give him a riversa upon his legge.

Againe, if hee offer a mandritta at your head, in the lifting of his hand advance your selfe with your right foote, and receive it upon your Dagger, giving him a stoccata at his brest or face: so if hee thrust a riversa at your head, you shal lift up the point of your Dagger, & receive it on your dagger & sworde, & in the same time thrust an imbroccata at his belly, or else taking the riversa upon your Dagger, you shall give him another upon the legges, or a stoccata in the belly. Likewise, if your enemie shall give you a mandritta upon the legge, you shall nimbly passe circularly with your right foote towards his lefte side, for so hee cannot offend you, and you may hit him either in the belly or face.

Moreover, if your enemie thrust an imbroccata above your Dagger, you must readilye passe with your right foote before he retire with his point, and you may well hit him in the face, breast, or legges. Again, if when you charge him towardes his right side, you see his point be farre out and somewhat high, keepe your bodie uppon your lefte side, and lie lowe covered in your ward, bearing your dagger at the length of your arme, keeping good measure: and in your cariage, make shew to put by his Rapier with your dagger, and sodainly fal your point under his sword, traversing with your right foot round, turning your bodie uppon your right side, & so thrust your stoccata at his face or breast. And if he hold his point high, you may charge him directly with his point, for if hee thrust either above or below, in the time of his thrust advaunce your left foote, extending your dagger, and by that advancing hee shall loose his point, and you maie hit him with a dritta or riversa at your pleasure. And if he thrust at you, and you passe about with your right foote, then you maie likewise hit him.

L. Truly you have given mee to understand excellently of this ward: but let me intreate you to teach me how I maie defende my selfe if one assaile mee in that ward, and how I may best offend my enemie, keeping my right foot formost.

V. I have told you many things concerning this ward, if you know how to doo them and practise them. Besides there bee diverse other thinges which I cannot shew you with speaking: but for this time it will bee sufficient if you can perform what I have declared. And I will tell you: if you lie with your right foote formost, and he keepe his left foote forwarde, according as you marke his lying, so do, charging him either on the lefte or right side. And although you hit him not, and that he passe upon his right foote, doe you but change your bodie to your left side, lifting up the point of your poniard, firming your hand on your right knee, so shall you be master of his sword, and maie easily strike him, and the more fierce he is, the more shall you commaund his weapon and endanger him: neither can hee strike you either withi or without your dagger, or on the legges. And if you see he keepes his dagger winding towardes his right side, thrust a riversa at his face, so that your point may enter in the midst of his dagger, and sodainly recoile, and if he likewise parte, turne your bodie, as I have tolde you, upon your lefte side, and as you see him lie, so guarde your selfe, bearing your bodie on which side you thinke best.

And surely beleeve mee, the first warde I taught you of Rapier and dagger, is absolutely the best both against this and anie other kinde of lyings. Therefore I woulde wish you to learne it perfectly, and exercise it thoroughly, that if occasion happen, you may be both skilfull and well practised. But take heede of one fault, which many incurre, who if in plaie they receive one or two stoccataes, they inforce themselves to give one or be revenged. But this is neither fit for a scholler, nor orderlie, since in plaie we shuld behave our selves friendlie, both to learn and passe the time, and also to exercise ourselves in stirring our bodies, and use this arte for the right effect. Wherein wee ought especiallie to avoide choer and anger. For where occasion happens to fight, in deede, rapiers are not as foiles, which cannot doo much hurt, but a small pricke of a Rapiers pointe maie either kill, or at the least maime. So that in anie wise avoide so daungerous an oversight. And if you happe to wound your enemie, though verie smallie, yet by the fight of his blade, hee being kindled with furie, shall both enfeeble his strength, and fall from his right bias. Therefore I wish you take good heede, and if you see your selfe apte to incline to such a faulte, amende it, and learne perfectlie to defende your selfe well, to the end that if perhappes you cannot hurt your enemie, either for that he surpasseth in skil, or you want strength, yet you maie avoide danger of beeing hurt yourselfe, which will bee both honorable and profitable to you, considering that even the verie first thrust is sufficient to ende the whole controversie. Therefore bee heedfull and wise, and remember I have tolde you soundly for your owne safetie.

L. I assure you I will followe your advise, which I see grounded on such reason, as everie wise and reasonable man ought to followe it, estraunging himselfe from all furious fellowes, who thinke to purchase honour by running headlong on their death. Therefore will I sequester my selfe from their acquaintance. But I praie you prosecute and go forward with the rest of this ward.

V. Sithence I see you conceive such pleasure in it, I will proceede on and goe forward a little farther. Manie there bee which exercise this warde uppon theyr lefte foote, but therein they differ. Therefore it importes to bee well instructed in the diversitie: for if your enemie lie in that warde, and y ou uppon your right foote, and he beare himselfe and his Dagger highe, charge him towardes his lefte side, and in the approche, see you parte with greate readynesse with your right foote towardes his left, and speedilie thrust you a stoccata in his belly, & in the thrusting, look you ender under his arme or hande, turning your bodie on the right side, and the back side of your sword hand toward your left. If he hold his dagger low, charge him towards his left side with your right foote side-waies, and thrust either a stoccata or imbroccata, as you shall thinke best, above his dagger, and for your owne safegard, turne your bodie upon the right side. And if you see him lie displaide, carrie your bodie on your right side, and traverse to his lefte, and then thrust your stoccata betweene his sword and dagger.

Moreover, you maye thruste your stoccata either at his face or breast, but doo it with greate promptnesse, and in the same time recoile with your left foot drawing after your right, and be quicke in the retire to recover your rapier, that if your enemie make forward, you may be readie againe to thrust: therefore be quicke and vigilant, otherwise if in your thrusting you be not readie, in that selfe same time your enemie maie well hit you: but retiring with your feete, and escaping with your bodie, you shall shunne all daunger. Againe, if you finde his rapier point hight, charge him lowe upon the left foot, and directlie with your dagger at his Rapiers point, bearing your Dagger as I have taught you: so you maie thrust either at his face or brest without retiring, but being sure to lie wel in your ward, for in the time whilest you retire or withdraw your feet, you shall be in danger, but keeping that ward sure, you are without perill, for whether hee thrust above or belowe, you beeing in that ward are safe, and more ready to winde your pointe above or belowe his dagger, or you maie give him a mandritta on the legs: neither can he hurt you in his circular or turning, if he should so recoile. Againe, if you see himlie upright, lie you so likewise, but ever keep your Dagger readie, and you maie feigne a stoccata at his face, and whilest he goeth about to breake it, winde your pointe quicklie under his dagger, and wheele with your bodie halfe compasse, avoiding with your right foote side-waies, as I have tolde you. And if hee charge you lowe and lie open, comming directlie on your pointe, give backe your bodie a little, and thrust a riversa or stoccata like an imbroccata, and readilie remove with your right foot backward: or if hee lie as manie doe, with his sword upon his dagger crosse-wise, you may redilie thrust him in the face, and retire backeward towards his lefte side. Againe, in that maner of lying, you maie charge him towardes his right side, and thrust a stoccata at his face, betweene his Rapier and Dagger, ever remembring that your sword passe by the middest of his Dagger, and give him a riversa in recoiling backward towards his right side. And if you fortune not to hitte him, and that he passe upon his right foote, doe you but change your bodie to the lefte side, lifting up your poinard, and holding your hand firmelie on your right knee, so shal you be master of his swoorde, and maie easilie hit him: and the more fierce he is, the more you shall commaund his weapon, and mangle him, neither can he strike you, either within or without your Dagger, or with a dritta or riversa upon the legges. Againe, if you see him holde his dagger with the point turning to his lefte side, thrust at his face a riversa, guiding your pointe to ender in the middest of his dagger, and soddenlie recoile: and if he likewise parte, doe as I have alreadie tolde you, winding your bodie well upon your lefte side: if you finde him lying open, use your caricado toward his right side, and lye loew in your warde, carrying your bodie on your lefte side, bearing your Dagger out at length, as I have taught you in the first warde: but let your hand beeing directly with your knee, turne with your bodie, and in this manner you maie offer a thrust: and if hee thrust first, beare your dagger readie to defend your selfe, and your rapier to offend him. But in this be very heedful, as I have often tolde you, neither elevate nor abase your dagger hand, nor beare him over the one side or the other, for if your enemy have good skill in his weapon, and withall a readie hand, he may easilie beare his pointe compasse and hurt you: or many times feigne a thrust to deceive you. Therefore be alwaies advised to keepe your hand firme, not abasing or lifting up your pointe, or turning your wrist on the one side or other: and if he thrust at you, you maie well readilie both defend your selfe, and offend him.

Moreover, if he abase his point, lie in your lefte foot warde, and use your caricado upon his right side, and if hee thrust either an imbroccata above your Dagger, or a mandritta at your head, removing his right foot, turne readilie your bodie on your right side, lifting up your Dagger, and turning your wriste. Againe, if you finde his pointe farre out, charge him in your left foot ware towards his right side, and charge him with your Dagger close to his sworde, and letting fall your pointe under his, you maie easilie thrust a stoccata or imbroccata, but ever keepe firme your Dagger hand, and lift not up your bodie, and in breaking his thrust toward his left side, you maie give him a riversa either in the brest or on the legs. Besides this, many more practises there be, which with good exercise of body, and readines of hand, might easilie be effected. But because it groweth somewhat late, and our discourse hath lasted so long, I will take my leave of you, retiring my selfe to dispatch some busines before my going home.

L. I am infinitely beholding unto you for these good instructions, and to morrow I wil meete you, to understand somewhat more, for my farther skil, and avoiding of idlenes.

V. God be your guide, and to morrow I will expecte you.