1994, 2000 Richard J. Orli   -  Credits

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Di Grasse - His true Art of Defense

The First Part - The Basics



With the left foot leading, the right hand is near and above but behind the cheek.














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Puncta Reversa (reverse thrust)-  What Saviolo calls a variation of the low Ward. This Ward is in many ways contrary to the others. Stand with the feet near together, as if ready to sit down. The right foot is only moderately in front of the left. The Rapier handle must be within the knee, point against the face of your adversary. A variation has the handle without the knee.

The puncta reversa on the defensive is explained as follows: If you are attacked first with a thrust (stocatta), don't try to parry (for he may have the advantage). Turn the knuckle of your hand to the right side chest level and let your point be right upon the belly of your opponent with the arm fully extended. Shift the left foot back, then move the right foot, bend the left foot such that the heel of the left is in line with your right instep, a half pace back. In this way, you may hit without Danger.

Silver's Four Governors:

1. The first governor is judgment which is to know when your adversary can reach you, and when not, and when you can do the like to him, and to know by the goodness or badness of his lying, what he can do, and when and how he can perform it.

2. The second governor is measure. Measure is the better to know how to make your space true to defend yourself, or to offend your enemy.

3. 4. The third and forth governors are a twofold mind when you press in on your enemy, for as you have a mind to go forward, so must you have at that instant a mind to fly backward upon any action that shall be offered or done by your adversary.

This last item is very similar to Mushai's no conception, no design philosophy.


IV. Of Wards

.T he first ward achieved on withdrawing the blade from scabbard is the high ward - right hand above and in front of the right cheek, and point angled toward the opponents face. The obvious attack from here is a long thrust above hand.

If the point is too high, the enemy can close underneath, if too low, the enemy can beat down your blade too easily.
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The second ward is the broad or wide ward. The arm is stretched back so widely,that it seems to leave your body open - but in truth it does not. Although the hand is well away from the body, the point is directly in line.

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                           The Broad Ward

The low ward, base ward, or lock ward is more strong, sure, and commodious than any other ward, and from which one may more easily strike, ward and stand, and with less pain. The hand should be near and outside the knee, and the point should be raised. The blade should be carried crooked over somewhat to the left side. This is superior to variations taught by other schools, wherein the arm is carried well out in front. In that position, one would have to draw back before the strike, or else strike very weakly.

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Figure 6. The Low Ward


The high ward is similar to the modern Parry 5 or Prime, but the point is angled toward the opponent's face.




Left arm always forward! Chest to opponent. Stance is more open and like a boxer's stance than modern (post 1660) practice.



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Broad Ward, Left Lead. My stance is too wide here.

Saviolo's open ward is similar to the broad, but with the chest toward the opponent, rather than twisted away (closer to modern guard in three with the left arm forward).

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Low Ward, Right Lead







Saviolo's favorite Short or Close Ward is somewhat different from any of di Grasse's: The on guard position is with the right foot leading, the weapon's guard on or near the hip, the chest toward adversary, and no engagement of the blades.

"In this ward you must be sure not to put yourself in danger by carrying your weapon long. Your opponent can strike upon your weapon, and upon you with great speed, and master not only your weapon but you. To close near enough to find your weapon, he must come close enough to risk being hit."

Saviolo on the use of the left hand: I advise all to learn to break trusts with the gloved left hand. But even without a glove, it is better to hazard a little hurt of the hand, and master the enemy's sword, than to give the enemy the advantage by parrying with your sword.