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Swordsmanship and fencing – Order of Lepanto
Country of delivery:. Enter your postcode: optional. Send my basket. Additionally, despite the strong connection between medieval and renaissance methods, the author begins his focus only with the earliest Italian master with whom he identifies to the modern sporting forms, Morrozo of , and ignores anything prior.
No attempt is made either to reconcile or evaluate the differing and sometime contradictory styles of the various renaissance masters. Instead I got the feeling they were being minimized in favor of intentionally emphasizing their similarities to later forms i. Not surprising, clear throughout the renaissance portion of the book is the familiar mistaken theme that Western fencing is a linear development even "evolution" to some ideal modern sporting form.
A secondary premise that there is an unbroken chain of concepts and principals from one to the other is also present. There is no question that in Europe since ancient time there has always been a continual transmission of central ideals and concepts from generation to generation. As technology and societies change, there was certainly always been improvement and refinement as well as modification and alteration upon them.
But again, the idea that somehow all this was only leading up to a modern science of epees and foils is a very narrow and tenuous perspective. Given that the author is a professor emeritus of archaeology one would expect him to be somewhat concerned with the social and military conditions under which Western civilian fencing methods developed and divided. Alas, there is no discussion of them and they are entirely absent. Since when it comes to weapons, the tools used dictate what can actually be done they are certainly significant.
But what is also noticeably absent is any detailed examination of the weapons and blade forms that were actually being employed by these various schools and masters. What should be of primary interest to historical fencing enthusiasts is the significant and indisputable change in the nature of rapier blades from cut and thrust varieties to an edgeless ideal trusting form. This crucial, vital area is for the most part ignored. Again, this seems another symptom of the modern sporting perspective on the subject as opposed to a martial arts viewpoint.
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The material also fails to place in proper context the uses of slashes and cutting attacks with such slender blades. No importance is give to wounds and physiology either. This book by a modern fencer often celebrated as the foremost sport grandmaster in America today, was reportedly meant to replace and surpass that of Egerton Castle from the last such work of this scope on Western sword history.
However, it is not so much surpassing him as updating him with the same perspective. Given the ambitious title of "The History of Fencing", one would expect that from the entire 16th and 17th centuries there would be far more coverage of swordsmanship than just Italian rapier methods. But it seems that the subtitle "foundations of Modern European Swordplay" read as "sporting method" is clearly the real focus.
Renaissance Swordsmanship: The Illustrated Book Of Rapiers And Cut And Thrust Swords And Their Use
This is also reflected in the choice of reference material on weapons cited in the bibliography. Ironically, for a expert who has access to original materials in their native languages, Gaugler also cites N. It is even reported that thee author's own research into early fighting manuals was begun only failry recently in preparation for writing the book! Despite these many shortcomings in the renaissance fencing section, when viewed in greater context than foil, epee, and sabre fencing, students of historical Western swordsmanship will find the first portion of this new book very useful. My first impression upon opening the book was surprise at the fact that the amount of space devoted to each century seemed to be in inverse proportion to the importance of fencing in that century.
There are 29 pages on the 16th century, the same number on the 17th, a mere 19 pages on the 18th century, pages on the 19th century and on the 20th. As well, not only does Dr Gaugler begin, as did Castle Schools and Masters of Fence , before him, with Marozzo, but we have only the barest mention of anything that went before. Anyone without a knowledge of the scores of great masters who went before Marozzo, masters whose work Marozzo undoubtedly drew from, could be mistaken for thinking that fencing sprung fully formed from the brow of Zeus as it were in To add to this we are told in the Preface that "Since all contemporary schools of fencing in the western world are derived from Italian and French sources, focus in this work is on treatises published in those countries.
Rapier play in the other two early schools, the German and the Spanish, in fact, closely resembles the Italian model. While German rapier play drew heavily on Italian, Spanish did not. In fact the teachings of the Spanish school of rapier play are remarkably different to those of the Italian, as anyone who has studied both will attest. On the subject of weapons, one would expect in a history of fencing to see at least some discussion of the weapons, how they changed and how these changes affected fencing styles.
In the second chapter we receive another tidbit "It should be noted that the author is one of the first Italian masters to mention in his text both the practice rapier smarra and the foil fioretto. The introduction of the lighter practice weapon, that is to say, the foil, is, of course, important, since it contributed to the development of the fast and complex fencing technique we employ today Within a century modern Italian foil technique is taught in virtually all fencing schools from Milan to Palermo.
Anyone unfamiliar with historical fencing will almost certainly assume that the word foil refers to the modern sport fencing implement. A rapier foil is a quite different beast to a modern foil. Dr Gaugler should know this, and should have been aware of the confusion the name would cause. Throughout The History of Fencing there seems to be an almost conscious effort to avoid the issue of weapons and their effect on style. Without examination of the physical characteristics of the weapons, many of the developments in fencing style seem inexplicable.
A reader unfamiliar with even the basics of fencing history could be forgiven for believing that the weapons used in fencing have remained fundamentally the same since Within each chapter are sections on individual fencing masters. The basic teachings of each master are summarised. A great deal of this material is useful, particularly as much of it comes from untranslated Italian manuals. However, the material from each manual is treated in isolation.
Only rarely are techniques compared with those of other masters and interpretation of any kind is rare.
The one occasion on which Dr Gaugler ventures into analysis is in the section on Camillo Palladini pp. Dr Gaugler interprets a fencing phrase. He states Two phases of the action are shown in drawings. In the first illustration both fencers are depicted on guard with swords crossed, points up; and in the second, the action is shown completed with one fencer having run the other through.
Today we would describe this action as a beat in second in time hand position in second and thrust to the outside low-line with a cross-step forward. The first illustration show the two fencers in a low or terza ward with rapiers crossed. The second illustration shows the losing fencer having dropped his point and commenced a disengage to the inside line. The victorious fencer has his hand in seconda palm down , his forte against the forte of his opponent, his left leg forward and his point in his opponent's belly.
My first reaction upon seeing this was to ask "If this is indeed as a result of a beat then why are the two blades in contact? Double time defences are extremely rare in rapier fencing and are almost never used where a single time defence is possible. Based on the data available to me I made my own interpretation of the technique. My interpretation of the sequence was that the victorious fencer had counterthrust in single time, doing so in seconda in order to provide opposition to his opponent's initial thrust.
The losing fencer had thrust and the victorious fencer simultaneously counterthrust with opposition while passing forward and to the left with the left leg this takes him outside the line of the losing fencer's attack. An almost identical sequence is described by Vincentio Saviolo in his manual of page 20 verso also 14 verso - some of the pages, including this one, are double numbered. Saviolo described the technique as an "imbroccata in the manner of a stoccata" or in other words a blow delivered with the hand prone, nevertheless striking below the opponent's rapier hand.
I have successfully used this defence in many rapier bouts and consider it far better than the variant suggested by Dr Gaugler.
Now just to complicate matters, I sent some of my thoughts to Dr Gaugler. Apparently he was greatly offended by my tone which is a pity as Dr Gaugler has much to contribute to any discussion of rapier fencing. Anyway, Dr Gaugler replied, stating amongst other things that what Palladini intended was indeed a beat and he included the relevant passage in which Palladini does indeed use the Italian term for a beat, battere. It looks as if his interpretation was correct. This however leads me to another question. This sequence is the only rapier fencing sequence described by Dr Gaugler.
Why has he chosen one so uncharacteristic of rapier fencing as a whole and more importantly, given that he chose so uncharacteristic a move why didn't he see fit to state that it was uncharacteristic? This brings me to another point. While Dr Gaugler has a great many useful quotes from rapier fencing manuals it is immediately apparent to anyone familiar with the rapier that he has ignored or misinterpreted many techniques not still used in modern fencing. Taking, for instance Fabris Dr Gaugler appears to cover the contents of each chapter in some detail, but does he? Principles and techniques still used in modern fencing are dealt with competently.
However, in chapter six we come to a principle that is quite different to modern sport fencing practice, that of defence in single time. Fabris spends most of the chapter telling us how simultaneous defence and counterattack is more effective with a rapier than a modern fencing style parry-riposte. Dr Gaugler summarizes the bulk of this chapter in one sentence, in which he demonstrates that he has misunderstood what Fabris was teaching. So clearly Dr Gaugler assumes that Fabris is recommending a modern-style parry-riposte despite the fact that the bulk of the chapter is explaining exactly why Fabris thinks that this technique is flawed.
In chapter eight Fabris tells us about parrying with the hand. Dr Gaugler makes no mention of this. In Chapter 13 Dr Gaugler translates the word passare as advance rather than pass. This is despite the term being defined as a pass in the English language manual Pallas Armata Most martial arts instructors will emphasize the non-violent nature of this sport, but it can be tempting for children to use martial arts as a means to release pent-up frustration. The risk of cervical neck injury, from mild whiplash to quadriplegia is high in all forms of martial arts, caused by situations such as hyper-flexion of the cervical spine on landing on the mat; or lateral flexion of the cervical spine and forced shoulder depression, resulting in a traction injury to the brachial plexus and soft-tissue injury to the paraspinal muscles.
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