The art of fencing is most ancient, and was discovered in the times of Nino, King of the Assyrians, who, through use of the advantage of arms, was made monarch and patron of the world; from the Assyrians the monarchy passed to the Persians; the praise of this practice, through the valor of Ciro, from the Persians, came to the Macedonians, from these to the Greeks, from the Greeks it was fixed in the Romans, who (as testifies Vegetius) brought to the field masters of fencing, whom they named “Campi ductores, vel doctores” which is to say, guides, or masters of the field, and these taught the soldiers the strikes of the thrust and the cut against a pole. — Ridolfo CapoFerro
Continuing the work with Kevin Maurer’s translation of Sebastian Heußler‘s text from 1615, I gave another rapier and dagger lesson last night. The first part of Heußler’s rapier and dagger section establishes progression for working with rapier and dagger. At a high level, I read it as:
Defense against simple attacks, using a dagger parry
Defense against feints (two dagger parries)
Single Feints around the dagger
Second Intention type actions (he seems to classify them as feints)
This is all pretty rough, and there seems to be plenty of nuance in the text, but it will do for now. One pattern that the text establishes is that, following offensive actions (ie, simple attacks, or feints) you should recover defensively, engaging your opponent’s weapon in either the inside or outside line, depending on where your initial attack was targeted. This way, you are prepared to defend against the opponent’s immediate attack, either by counterattacking with the sword only, or by parrying with the dagger and counterattacking with the sword.
While this lesson is based on what I have been reading in Heußler, I changed a lot of things around, mostly because my student and I are opposite handed and some things don’t make quite as much sense that way.
(Student invites in a guard of third with the dagger held back near the chest) From the instructor’s invitation in third, straight thrust to the low line (hand in second in third, low and to the outside), close the line with the dagger over the right arm.
From the instructor’s invitation in second, straight thrust to the high line (hand in second), close the line with the dagger under the right arm
As the instructor attempts to engage in third, disengagement to the low line (hand in second in third, low and to the outside), close the line with the dagger over the right arm
As the instructor attempts to engage in second, disengagement to the high line, close the line with the dagger under the right arm
Same as 4, but the student recovers with an engagement in third. As the instructor attacks with a disengagement, the student counterattacks (time thrust) in fourth
Same as 5, but the student recovers (following the time thrust) with an engagement in fourth. As the instructor attacks with a disengagement, the student parries with the dagger over the right arm and hits to the low line (hand in second in third, low and to the outside)*
(Student invites in a guard of third, with the dagger held near the guard pointed to the right) As the instructor attacks with a straight thrust, the student parries upwards and to the left with the dagger and hits to the low line with the sword
Same thing, but the instructor attacks with a feint. The student attempts the same parry as before, misses, and then parries either under or over the right arm and attacks with the sword**
(Instructor invites in a guard of third, with the dagger held near the guard). The student feints to the outside of the dagger, then disengages under the dagger and hits with the hand in second, closing the line with the dagger under the right arm.
Same as 9, student recovers to a engagement of third and counterattacks in fourth, recovers to an engagement of fourth and parries with the dagger over the arm while hitting in the low line.
As the instructors changes to an invitation in the high line, the student makes a short attack (not intending to hit) then recovers immediately (attempting to draw the instructor’s attack) and then parries over the right arm with the dagger and hits in the low line.
From the instructor’s invitation in third, three straight thrusts, end of lesson.
* In Heußler’s text, this hit would be made to the instructor’s outside high line with the hand in fourth. However, since we are opposite handed, this attack would be easily defended with my dagger, so I’ve modified it to go to the instructor’s low line.
** If the parry is under the arm, the attack should be high, if it is over the arm the attack should be low. In practice, we had some difficulty switching between these – we’ll work it out in future lessons.