Monday, October 31, 2005

Swetnam Fencing 1: Single Rapier Guard and Inside Parry

I've mentioned Joseph Swetnam a few times before. He was a prize-fighting fencer in England in the late 16th century, and he published a fighting manual in 1617 called Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence. I'll be teaching a class on this style at the upcoming Kingdom Fighters' Collegium, so I prevailed upon Hawk to assist me with a few pictures the day after our Halloween party.

Joseph Swetnam was a cautious man, at least in some ways. He advocates fighting an opponent from as far away as possible. In fact, he considers "true distance" to be about twelve feet.

As you might imagine, it's rather hard to go on the offensive from "true distance", so much of Swetnam's technique is defensive, striving to gain control of an opponent's blade during their approach and then delivering a riposte. For example, if your opponent attempts an "inside" thrust to your body, you can easily move your hilt from right to left to parry the attack. This move also tends to create an opportunity for you to grip your opponent's blade with your free hand. Swetnam doesn't actually mention this hand parry, but I consider it a good measure.

From this position, you can step toward your opponent and counter-thrust while keeping his blade under control.

I'll be adding more pictures and discussion over the next few weeks as I prepare for the Collegium, but I don't want to throw too much into a single post. Besides, it grows late here, and I have to work for a living.

Part 2

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