|© 1994, 2000 Richard J. Orli - Credits
||Di Grasse - His true Art of Defense
Deceits and Falseing of Blows and Thrusts
true art does not contain deceits, except perhaps indirectly to conceal one's true
movement and intention. The essence is to strike in as little time as possible, and then
always being well warded. Deceits, falsings, and slips increase the danger, because time
is used to create the false move, time that can be exploited by an astute enemy. Of
particular danger is a deceit that will confuse your opponent into thinking that you are
not attacking when in fact you are; this embolds him to counter attack, increasing the
chance of a double kill.
Deceits are of two sorts:
False attack - drawing a parry or dodge, followed by striking at the newly open area by
either disengaging the first weapon or by striking with a weapon in the other hand.
With the Single Sword falses are almost infinite - thrust, cut, high low, within ,
without. False high, strike low; false within, strike without: any combination is
possible. The blow is different from the false only by intent. It is a common error to
strive to encounter the weapon, and focus on that objective without regard to time or
advantage. This tendency can be taken advantage of.
I do not see how to practice a deceit with the dagger which is not openly dangerous.
One approach is to widen the position of the dagger as a "discovery" or probe,
provoking your opponent to move. In my opinion, these sorts of falses ought not to be
used. A wise practice of the true art is to first safely defend yourself; second, attack
the enemy. These false moves do neither against a skillful opponent.
One strategy to be used in only the most desperate cases is to either feign throwing
the dagger against your opponent's face or to do so indeed. Your opponent may ward by
lifting up his arms or retiring, in which event one may step in nimbly, and safely hurt
To seize the enemy's sword, do not first cast away your dagger, as I have seen it often
practiced. Do it dagger in hand, whether against an edge blow or thrust. At the instant of
a parry with your sword, place the dagger close to the opponents point and force outward.
This can easily disarm your opponent (or get yourself killed).
To deceive your opponent with the cloak, it is necessary to know the many ways it may
serve, how to skillfully fold it about the arm, and how to take advantage of its size. It
is necessary to know how to defend, attack and hinder the opponent. It is important to
understand as well that not all techniques rely on wrapping the cloak about the arm.
The cloak is usually used about the arm, but is also useful when worn normally. When
challenged and fight is inescapable, but you are not armed, take both sides of the cloak
as near to the collar as possible, draw it over your head, and throw it at your enemy's
face. Entangled and blinded, he may be thrown down, or disarmed. You can take advantage of
a cloak which your enemy wears by taking hold of the cloak near the collar (best with one
hand), and turning it into a noose ("ginne") which can be violently hauled. A
punch to the face is a good follow through.
The cloak may be flung with the edge. When at the low ward, point back and to the left.
False a reverse to the left, and fling the cloak toward the face with the edge following
with a strike.
Bucklers and Targets
The buckler, square target, and round target are sufficiently similar that they are
well discussed together. All three should be born in the fist, the arm stretched out
forwards. This is true even of the target, which though too heavy and large to be carried
in the fist only, even with the rear strap in place it is carried much as a buckler would
be. All three are used for the same sorts of falses - largely defensive. However, one
difference is that the round target is excellent at warding both cuts and thrusts, the
square target excels at warding cuts, and the buckler, though excellent against thrusts,
is unsure against cuts (which may glance off, or flip over the buckler), and requires the
aid of the sword.
Respond to a high false by pressing in with the shield and thrusting below. Respond to
a low false by warding with the back edge of your sword, followed by your own immediate
cut to their knee without any other movement on your part.
If your opponent uncovers a part of his body to invite a strike, you must judge
carefully. If your sword is closer to his body than his weapon, and your shield is close
on hand to defend against his sword, the opportunity may be real and you should drive your
strike home first as resolutely and nimbly as possible. But, if you truly strike where
there is no possibility of a hit, you will lose much time and place yourself in grave
danger. In that case, a false may be a suitable move.
Two Swords or Rapiers
Again the range of falses is limited only by the imagination. Each weapon can either
attack or defend, or both can attack or defend at the same instance. One weapon can false
and the other attack, or the same weapon can first false then thrust true. I won't try to
list all possibilities. One thing that always hold true is that the fore sword is the
first choice for defense against both falses and resolute blows.
A rule worth adhering to is keeping at least one weapon pointed right at the enemy at
all times. This is more likely to encourage him to try a false so that you will create an
opening. You can then take advantage of the opening your enemy makes and time he loses by
falsing. To use this opportunity you must have deep judgement: knowing the intent of the
false and the part of the enemy likely to be exposed, and striking through the opening in
the shortest and safest way.
A very strong and direct way of striking is to false with the fore sword not once or
twice, but several times in several ways - now high, now low, sometime thrust, sometime
cut - to blind and occupy both of your opponent's swords. When opportunity presents,
strike home with the hind weapon on the pass.
The hind sword is of little use for false attacks, because it is too distant to force a reaction. The best that can be done is to drive forward resolutely with the hind sword on the pass, and as the enemy moves to defend, hit with the same sword an area uncovered by the attempt to ward your first attack (with a disengage or coupe). The same sword must be used, because the sword that was in the fore will now be in the rear, and would be to slow to hit since it would need to be accompanied by another pass or lunge.
My rule for safe falsing is to use one of the following:
- false with the fore sword and hit with the same on the lunge or pass
- false with the fore sword and hit with the hind on the pass
- false with the hind sword and hit with the same on the pass.
In sport or play you can take up any posture you please. But it is more gallant to
behold and more commodious to take the same stance as your opponent. This symmetry makes a
false that will busy both of your swords less likely. I recommend standing every way as
the enemy does and ward his false blows with the fore sword, on contact pass on the slope
and with the hind sword thrust at an opening, for example cut at the legs. Best of all,
reverse cut across the face or arms, which takes advantage of the fact that the opponent's
fore sword is occupied (either bound in your ward or recovering), and the hind sword is
poorly positioned to cover an attack from the reverse angle.
Therefore, let every man resolve himself (as soon as he encounters the enemy's sword
with his own fore sword) to step in and strike with his hind sword. Do not stand in fear
of the opponent's hind sword as you do this, for it is always either just away from
endangering you because of your opponent's position, or it will have to be committed to
defense from your attack.
The Two-Handed Sword
Most wards in which the point is to the side or back do not facilitate a false, and the
only one worth using is the false of an edgeblow. However, after the false edgeblow, one
must continue with a true edgeblow in a circle, because the momentum of the swing will
make finishing with the thrust too difficult. Therefore, frame the false as a thrust, and
then follow through with an edgeblow or thrust elsewhere.
If you have a guard with the point more forward, such as with your arms crossed and the
point sloping to the lower left, the only way to false with the edge is to false with the
back edge, then follow through a full circle and hit on the full lunge. If you intend to
finish with the reverse, you must finish with a left lunge, if from the right or straight,
a right lunge.
Striking home with the edgeblow is effective with the two-handed sword because of its
force and power. However, it is also dangerous because it is slower than the direct thrust
of your adversary. Therefore, drive on with a thrust, not as if to false but resolutely
and far forward. As the enemy retires, follow on with an edgeblow and with a lunge, which
can be delivered with more safety.
If you thrust and the enemy takes a slope step sway, as soon as you realize that the
thrust was in vain, bring the point back up and take the high ward.
The defense against the two hand sword requires a stout heart, because the great blows
cannot be warded but must be defeated through use of timing - judging the best moment of
When your opponent tries to attack with an edgeblow, try to not encounter it, rather
back away as you anticipate the blow, and follow up with a lunge and thrust as he tries to
If you have a single sword or sword and dagger, respond to a thrust by beating it off
and retreating. Respond to a cut by attacking into the preparation with a fast lunge and
thrust; or bear the blow near the hilt (where the force of the blow is small), grab the
hilt with one hand, and strike with the other hand.
Staff Weapons - Partisan, Bill, Javelin, Halberd
Deceits or falses are easier to see through when done with these long, two handed
weapons. Therefore, I recommend the false of the thrust except in special circumstances
Four wards are possible, three with the point up and forward, one with the point back:
Point low, hind (right) arm lifted up.
Point high, hind arm borne low.
Point and shaft level.
Point up on high, with the heel forward.
The ones with the point forward require a false thrust, followed by one indeed.
Without, and delivery within; high, and delivery below; the usual combinations are
possible. I recommend that the rear foot should move circularly away from the line of the
true attack, so that you will be in a more protected position as you thrust home.
The point up on high ward is much used, especially with the bill. The use of this ward
is to anticipate the enemy's attack, ward with the heel or middle of the shaft, and finish
by lunging and delivering an edgeblow. To false: after the ward with the heel of the
weapon, start the lunge and cut, then finish by withdrawing the weapon and giving a thrust
underneath with a lunge.
The pike is a weapon void of any crooked forks, and is much more apt to show valor than
deceit. The only false possible is to thrust falsely at one mark followed by a resolute
thrust at another. Be sure to carry your hind foot (in a half circle sweep) toward the
side against which you thrust resolutely.
Defense against staff weapons
To defend against deceits by staff weapons, practice the true art. Ward false attacks
as if they were true, and attack into a preparatory move without hesitation. Do not try to
take hold of the attacking weapon, for you will likely have only one hand on it while your
opponent has two.
My final advice: if you start with the intention to false, if your
opponent does not ward you must be ready to make your false true, and hit home instantly.
The Ende of the False Arts.
Observable Tendencies include:
- fast/early reactions, sensitive to every small
movement on your part, or
- habitual actions, such as always retreating one
- falling into rhythm, or
Reacting to the position of your opponent to the
extent of copying his moves seems like bad advice, so I do not take di Grasse literally in
the broad sense. I believe his narrow point here is valid, speaking purely of defensive
position and attitude. However, an effective, winning attitude maintains the initiative
with an attacking spirit to control timing, position, and ultimately the opponent..