di Grasse
His True Art of Defense

Americanized, abridged and interpreted by Rick Orli

The First Part - The Basics 1

The Second Part - Attack and Defense
Tactics and Opening Moves from each Ward of the Several Weapons 13

VIII. Single Rapier 13

IX. Rapier and Dagger 14

X. Rapier and Cloak 16

XI. Sword and Buckler 18

XII. Sword and Square Target 21

XIII. Sword and Round Target 23

XIV. Case of Swords or Rapiers 25

XV. Two-Handed Sword 27

XVI. Staff Weapons - bill, partisan, halberd. 28

XI. Staff Weapons - Pike 30

The Third Part
Deceits and Falseing of Blows and Thrusts 33

The Forth Part

How a Man by Private Practice may Obtain
Strength of Body Thereby 39

Index 40

The Second Part - Attack and Defense Tactics

and Opening Moves from each Ward of the Several Weapons

VIII. Single Rapier

he high ward of the Single Rapier

The truest and surest blow is the trust above hand. First draw your left foot near your right foot, and lunge as forcibly as you may, ending in the low ward. If your opponent dodges right, immediately follow with a slash right to the head.

To draw the left (rear) foot near the right is to "steal a pace".

In modern fencing, the default response to an attack is a retreat. In Rapier, it is to move to the side or sloping diagonally forward or back. Note also that by pivoting the body as part of a side or diagonal movement, the rapier can close the line of the original attack without actually having to move the rapier arm. Indeed, that would be considered the best type of parry.

To "Void" means not being where the blow is aimed.

To defend against the same, stand in the low ward, encounter the edge of the sword to push it right and step sloping forward with the left to void to your opponent's Right. Keep the point down toward the enemy so that he would impale himself if careless.

To defend against a cut, I have spoken of the stop thrust. Because I know that some timid souls out there might prefer to defend themselves first, another way is to parry with the edge. Then, thrust to the face while stepping with your left foot circularly to your right. This places your body behind your weapon and is secure because it attacks while it defends. This move is also called a reverse thrust.

The circular step moves the body away from the line of the attack while re-orienting the body to the opponent's new position. Also known as a demi-volte or quart. A volte continues the circular motion toward the opponent in an attack.

The reverse thrust keeps the point in line or extending while your body falls away.

The broad ward of the Single Rapier

The most sure and principal blow from this ward is the thrust underhand. Draw the left near the right foot, lunge, and settle in the low ward.

To defend against the same, stand in the low ward, and do a simple parry since the attack has no advantage to hit home first.

The low ward of the Single Rapier

Any move is possible from this ward, but there are no special advantages in thrusts from here. The special tactic of this ward is one of the defensive.

To defend against a thrust, parry inward and traverse to the right by stepping broadly back with the left (rear) foot. Then lunge and thrust solidly from this new angle.

Parry inward = the modern Parry 4 (if high line, or 7 if low line).

IX. Rapier and Dagger

dagger is most convenient as a companion weapon to the Rapier. The role of the dagger, by reason of its shortness, is defending the left side down to the knee. In contrast, the rapier can defend both the right and left, including below the knee.

The dagger can parry any cut if the parry is taken against the rapier's 1st and 2nd parts (the half nearest the hilt). Do not attempt to parry a cutting attack at the strongest part of the blow (3rd and 4th), for the dagger is too weak. But if you boldly encounter an attack toward the hand, you can stop not only a rapier but any weapon, no matter how heavy, with only a single dagger.

The dagger was part of everyman's every day dress.

Figure 8 Rapier and Dagger

Do not use both rapier and dagger together (as a cross), even though this is often used by men who erroneously believe this is secure. This method bonds both weapons, and two moments of time are required to recover a weapon and strike.

Silver and Saviolio allow the cross.

One advantage of the dagger is that an attack with the edge of the rapier can be done more safely. The principle danger - exposing yourself while the cut is in preparation - is moderated by the defensive power of the dagger. However, I still counsel no man to accustom himself to give blows with the edge.

Dagger parries work best as a bind or slide rather than a beat. The objective is usually to gain a measure of safety by taking control of the opponent's rapier for an instant . Beats may be more likely to result in a double kill.

The dagger should be strong, easily drawn from the sheath, and not excessively long. For best advantage hold it with the arm stretched forward and pointing toward the enemy, so that you will be able to find the enemy's sword a great deal before it hits you. Either the edge or flat can be toward the enemy. If you wish to benefit from a dagger with special blade-catching guards, you must use the flat.

The left side, knee and above is the part which the dagger ought to defend. When the attacking point or edge comes on the left side, beat it from that side with the dagger. Use the Rapier for defenses on the right. To do otherwise takes two motions, and the hit may land before the parry is completed.

The High Ward of the Rapier and Dagger

The ward can be right leading (first) or left leading (second). The second requires greater time in the attack, since the point is more distant, but has the advantage of lending the force of the whole body behind the blow.

The basic attack from the first is the lunge with the thrust, completing in the low ward. The basic attack from the second, left leading, is a forcible thrust with the pass lunge. Restrain the urge to cut, since it is too easily parried with the dagger and counter attacked.

To defend while in high ward, take a slope pace to void the body away from the line of attack while you parry. If you are parrying with the dagger only, you must often lunge toward the enemy, and as you find the enemy's sword strike with your rapier underneath. If parrying with a rapier, slope pace away, but as soon as the parry connects attack the forehead with the dagger while maintaining control of the enemy's rapier with your own.

If you do a slope step and cross parry, stay the enemy's rapier with your dagger, and attack with your rapier underneath with a lunge or pass.

Don't do the cross parry, but if you must this is when.

The Broad Ward of the Rapier and Dagger

The basic attack is again the thrust. Be sure, when possible, to beat away the point of the enemy's sword with your dagger as you attack.

In defense, again take the slope pace. When parrying with the rapier only, riposte to the face, and follow the lunge with the rear-foot to lengthen the thrust and to stay on balance.

The Low ward of the Rapier and Dagger

While it is always a disadvantage to strike with the edge, from the low ward it is possible to make quick small cuts that are less likely to open you to a dangerous counter attack. However, I still advise against even this sort of edgeblow, resolve instead to discharge thrust after thrust.

This ward with the right foot behind is strongly defensive, but less suited for the attack. While a thrust delivered with a full pace (pass) is powerful, it is a long time in coming and so can be easily avoided or warded. To attack, therefore, place the right foot to the fore. Thrust either directly at the face, or with a beat followed by a thrust.

Reverse = thrust or cut from the left side. Straight, direct, and right all mean blows from either the right side or overhead.

Since a thrust high to the face often opens the defender as he wards, you may have an opportunity to continue with a slope pace to the left, and reverse at the legs.

X. Rapier and Cloak

he next most commonly available weapon a gentleman will have at hand, after the dagger, is the cloak. Here I will discuss it in straightforward use. I will complete my discussion of the art of the cloak in the treatise on Deceit.

Handling the Cloak

The cloak's use is determined by its length, size, and flexibility. Flexibility, and not strength, is indeed the hallmark of the cloak. One trusting to the strength of a cloak by wrapping it about the arm to absorb a strong right cut will prove himself a fool. One must use the length and flexibility of the cloak, and with that any blow can be warded.

Cloak - more general term for outerware, may be sleeved.

Cape - usually sleeveless garment with a hood.

Mantel - sleeveless outerware without a hood. Characteristically worn over left shoulder.

At this period, these garments may be short - to the waist - or long to the knees.

Take the cloak by the collar or cape, and wrap it at most twice about the arm. Make sure your left leg is not leading when warding a hit, for the cloak will only absorb a blow if there is distance - anything solid immediately behind it (like a leg) is in peril if you are trusting it to stop a blow.

Edgeblows delivered high should be warded with the sword, since lifting the arm and a heavy cloak high is as violent as it is perilous. This is so because the arm is exposed, and you risk blinding yourself by your own cape.

Figure 9 The Rapier and Cloak

There are two ways to wrap the cloak: by the collar or cape as described above, or, as it often falls out in practice, by grabbing one side as it is taken off the shoulder, and turning it once or twice about the arm.

With the second method of folding, the cloak is usually longer. Therefore, when striking, it is often best to take half-paces (fencing steps), since with the whole pace (a pass, or walking step) the risk of entangling the feet is great. Either way, the danger of tripping yourself should be guarded against. This is not a problem when warding, however, since your motion is often away, and tired arms lift heavy cloaks better when danger presses.

Three wards apply with the cloak as well. The first is the high ward, and particularly deserves its name here, since the cloak is also almost at chin level.

The High Ward of the Rapier and Cloak

From the high ward, the edgeblow should be delivered without any motion of the feet. The Reversa should be done with a full pace (pass). The enemy's parry should be followed with and stayed by the cloak, while a thrust is delivered underneath.

In defense against the high, the thrust should be taken with a void, left foot moving behind and to the right, while hitting the face in a reverse thrust. If the enemy's sword is encountered without, then step forward with the cloak and encounter the enemy's sword with it. Thrust with a lunge underneath.

Reverse thrust = arm goes forward as the body goes back.

Parrying with the cloak while hitting, without a void, has little certainty and great peril in it, and yet if well done is excellent. Great acuity and deep judgement is needed, for as the enemy's point approaches, you must wait until it is just within the hand's reach, and then beat it down with the cloak while delivering a blow yourself.

The Broad Ward of the Rapier and Cloak

From the broad ward, I recommend the following sequence. First thrust while sliding the rear foot in a circle to your right, then cut, then thrust with a lunge. Attacks may often be effectively stopped by a counter attack to the left thigh.

The Low Ward of the Rapier and Cloak

If the opponent is in the low ward, do not cut (since this may be easily warded and counter attacked), but thrust only. Use the cloak to occupy the enemy's sight while you steal a half-pace on him. Then take another half-pace, and strike with a forcing action on the sword.

Forcing action = glase or froissment.

XI. Sword and Buckler

he buckler is often at hand (being easy to carry, and having service at night as a lantern carrier) and is commonly used. The buckler is not only a weapon of warding - it can be used to strike as well.

Allegedly, the term swashbuckling came from the sound of 'Prentices in London swashing their sword against their buckler as they walked. Or, it may just come from the meaning of "swash" : to flourish.

Bucklers are the size of a dinner plate, usually metal, sometimes made of wood and leather.

The Form of the Buckler.

The buckler is small and round, yet it must shield something much bigger and differently shaped - the whole body. When you understand how it can be used to accomplish this feat, you will also better understand a key principle of all defensive weapons.

The principle is one of geometry. Attacks start from a single point - which may be the eye, the hand, or the tip of the sword. From that single point, all potential lines of attack follow roughly a cone. The smallest obstacle placed close enough to that point of origination will foil the attack.

For example, imagine your little sister with garden hose, and the water spraying out in a cone at you. If you hold a fairly large umbrella right next to your body, perhaps much will be protected, but perhaps your head and legs will still be sprayed. If you hold the umbrella at arms-length, closer to the source, you may totally protect yourself. If you were close enough to the nozzle, even an object as small as your hand will deflect all the spray back.

If you imagine the sword to be the same as a stream of spray, you will see that a small obstacle pressed close to your opponent's hilt - such as a buckler - can block all direct avenues of attack easily. The only way for your opponent to get around is the contort his body to attack from the side or underneath, which places him at a disadvantage.

(The original obscure example seemed to hinge on the scientific fact as then understood that vision depended on "beams" emitted from the eyes).

A useful feature of a buckler is a small ring of iron securely attached to the center of its face. The ring should have a small gap between it and the surface of the buckler, for its purpose is to catch the point of your opponent's sword. The catching is done rather by chance than by any deliberate measures.

Another useful optional feature is a spike of sorts that can make the buckler a more potent offensive weapon.

Buckler Handling.

To effectively cover yourself, you must hold the buckler as far off from the body as your arm can stretch. Always move your arm and buckler together, as one entire and solid thing, never bending, and always keeping the flat toward your opponent.

The first advantage of this is that your arm is always fully covered, being always directly behind the buckler.

The second is that all cutting attacks will be encountered close to your attacker's hilt (the first and second part), and so with less force.

The third advantage is that all thrusts are more easily warded, for the buckler will leave only slightly open the head and feet. The head can be covered with the slightest upward motion of the buckler. To bypass your buckler, your opponent will have to move or contort to a disadvantageous position from which to strike. I recommend that the sword, not the buckler, be used to parry any attack directed against the feet.

Figure 10. Defence with the BucklerThe High Ward of Sword and Buckler

Defending against a cut is so easy with a buckler that I will limit my discussion to the thrust.

When starting with the left (foot) leading, attack on the pass (full pace) with as much force as can be mustered. Then, settle into a low ward.

Attack from a right leading position by first stealing a half-pace, and then lunge strongly. Finish in the low ward.

Steal a pace = Moving the rear-foot close to the front foot, to deceive your opponent about the distance.

The low ward is well suited for defense against high thrusts. I recommend lunging with the left foot, taking the opponent's sword with the buckler or sword. If close enough, as is often the case, you can deliver the "mustachio" - a blow to the face with the buckler. Follow up with a lunge right and thrust underneath.

The Broad Ward of Sword and Buckler

It is important to not cut from this position, because the sword is far off from the body and the cut cannot be done with force while retaining balance. Using the thrust, steal a half-pace and lunge right. Recover in the broad ward.

To counter this, stay in the low ward, opposite the buckler. Slip right and thrust (counter attack) along the line of attack.

Slip = move diagonally away.

Pass lunge = full pace, followed by an increase of the left foot.

The Low Ward of Sword and Buckler

With left leading, pass-lunge right between the sword and buckler. Finish in low, right leading.

With the right leading, you can attack either within or without. From without, engage the blade, pass left lunge. Do this not to avoid the opponent's blade, but to close with the buckler to close off your opponent's line of attack. Finish with a pass lunge right.

Within = between the adversary's rapier and his breast.

Without = between the adversary's rapier and his back.

From within, use the same approach, but thrust still more strongly with a lunge. Trap the opponent's sword between your sword and buckler. Finish with a thrust.

To counter this attack, start at the low Ward. When attacked on the pass (Right behind), slip and time thrust. Against the lunge, whether from within or without, do a slope pace with the left foot, and a high thrust, and your opponent's very concentration on his attack will result in self-immolation on your point.

Attempt to hit while parrying - one motion (time thrust).

Within is likely Parry 4, Without is likely Parry 3 .

XII. Sword and Square Target

he target is a most ancient weapon used first only in warfare, not for man-to-man fights. However, it has today found a thousand uses. The square target is commodious and profitable because its virtues include many shared by both the buckler and round target.

Some are inclined to bear the target close to their breast, which is an error. To take best advantage of the target's form and function, adopt an open stance with your left foot to the fore. Hold the target with your arm nearly fully stretched out, somewhat open, at an angle such that the upper left point is at face level, the lower right point is on line with your right hip. You should be able to see your enemy on either side of the high point. You should not carry the target too low, which will slow you ability to defend against head attacks. The target held in this way can, by the slightest motion, defend your entire body above the knees. The rapier should be used to defend against lower attacks.

The word used at the time for what marksmen aim at is "mark".

A target is usually made of wood and leather, but is occasionally made of metal.

Figure 11 The Sword and Square Target

The High Ward of the Square Target

To attack from the high ward, first steal a pace straight, and then lunge left (with left foot, drawing the right foot behind). Angle your sword over and down to bypass the defender's target, finishing your thrust with a lunge right.

The best counter to this is to beat the point away strongly with the target, then lunge left, then finish with a lunge right as you deliver a thrust underneath. Generally, adopt a low ward when warding a thrust above hand.

The Broad Ward of the Square Target

To attack from the broad ward, rely first on the fast direct thrust, as the heaviness of the target may slow a ward enough to leave an opening. To strike at or in the low ward, approach as near as possible, beat away the opponent's sword with a lunge left, and thrust. If short of the mark, strike home with a lunge right.

To best oppose these attacks, stand at the low ward. As the opponent starts to attack, counter attack below both your and the opponent's target, with a strong right lunge.

The Low Ward of the Square Target

Attacking from the low ward is difficult, but there are two strong possibilities. If your point is within (to the right of your opponent's sword), with the right foot before, pass with your left foot, try to pin your opponents sword between your target and his, and thrust strongly at the thighs while lunging right. If you start with your right in the hind, pass lunge in the same way, but if you miss force your way and run by the enemy to safety.

If without, beat your opponent's sword to the right with your target while lunging left, then lunge with your right foot directly at the opponent, thrusting at the face.

To counter, stand at the low ward. Counter attack with a thrust while lunging left, try to pin your opponents sword between the two targets, and strike home with a right lunge either above or below.

XIII. Sword and Round Target

erfect because of its circular form, the round target is so steeped in antiquity that I must restrain myself from digressing into mathematics or historiography, and focus on my purpose. The history of the target is so long, however, that many means of using it have been practiced. One practice is resting it on the thigh, as if in this art (in which only travails and pains are available) a man should seek rest and quiet. Or, holding it with the arms bent close, near the chest, as if one were behind a safe wall of great size and strength.

Of the manner of how to hold the round target.

To hold the target so that it may cover the whole body without hindering vision, bear it edge-first toward the enemy, arm nearly straight. Holding the arm bent both tires the arm and tends to obstruct sight. Do not keep the target close to your body; there the target only covers an area its own size, leaving the head and belly open. In the way suggested, the left side is already covered, and the least motion to the right with the target will cover any blow above the knee.

The round target is about a yard in diameter, usually made of wood with a leather cover, and sometime out of metal. It is also usually concave, and has a strap for the hand and another just before or after the elbow.

Figure 12 Sword and Round Target

The High Ward of the Round Target.

The target is such great and sure defense, that no edgeblow can be expected to penetrate without the help of your own target. Thrusts are very uncertain as well. The best strategy is to first steal a pace, gathering upon the enemy as near as possible without danger. Thrust forcibly, and if you should penetrate past the circumference of the target, pass left, crash into the enemy's sword and target with your target, drive home a thrust with a straight right lunge. If your opponent reacts to this by lifting his target, continue as before, but thrust from underneath.

"Gathering" up to measure in an offensive posture is dangerous, as retreat is difficult. It creates a moment of opportunity for the defender to launch an attack into your preparation

To counter this, start at the low ward, and counterattack by a similar sequence. Drive first left with a slope pace, closing with the enemy's sword and target, finishing with a thrust and a right lunge. The slope pace makes this counter attack safer because it takes you outside the line of the original attack.

The Broad Ward of the Round Target

It is difficult to hit from the broad without using your target to beat away your opponent's sword. Therefore, be sure to do that first, and follow with the general strategy described above for the high ward.

To counter this, try first not to allow your sword to be beaten off. Stay in the low ward.

The Low Ward of the Round Target

I strongly recommend finding the enemy's sword with your own, to pin it between your sword and your target. Thrust with great speed with a right lunge, driving in with the target as well.

To counter, do not suffer your sword to be found by your enemy's weapons. Further, respond to an attack by taking a slope pace forward, and discharge a thrust underneath.

XIV. Case of Swords or Rapiers

owadays the use of two swords or rapiers is common in the schools and lists alike, although they are not used for war. While dexterity in the left as well as the right is of use in all weapons, it is crucial with the Case of Rapiers. Each rapier ought to be handled equally and indifferently, each one as apt to strike as defend. Do not profess this Art until you are much practiced and exercised therein, or you will find yourself utterly deceived.

The case consisted of two identical light and short (30-34 inches) rapiers, kept in a single double scabbard.

How to handle two Rapiers

Both can strike at the same time but this dangerous technique should not be used. Just as the single sword must strike and defend, so too must the double swords in turn.

Figure 13 The Case of Rapiers

The High Ward at two Rapier

It does not matter which foot leads, but the hind rapier is aloft, and the fore is below, (as a low ward is framed). At the two rapiers the high ward is the most perfect and surest. Execute the thrust with the pass lunge. Whenever possible find your enemy's sword with the lead (low ward sword) with a beat or bind as a precursor to the attack. As you finish the attack, the attacking sword settles in the low ward, and the now hind sword raises to the high position. If your opponent has retreated, it is ideal to follow without hesitation with another attack, this time with the arm now raised in the high ward.

To counter, stay to your enemy's left (without) in low ward, and allow your point to be found with the beat, (for it is of less hazard to you from without, if you also move to the left with a slope pace) and time your thrust to strike at that precise moment as you take the slope lunge to the left.

The parry is strongest if the point is well raised, as you will thereby use the fort of the blade in defence. Respond to the beat on your blade, which will likely be weak, with a strong downward beat of your own hind sword, backed by a strong straight pass lunge.

Slope lunge to the left = Left foot 45 degrees forward and to the left.

The Broad Ward at the two Rapiers

The approach is similar to that of the High ward. First attempt to engage or beat the opponent's fore rapier with your own, so that it is momentarily controlled, and deliver a strong thrust to the thigh off a slope pass lunge.

To defend, stand at the low ward, left leading. The right arm and hind (right) foot should both be open and wide. When attacked, take a slope pass step with your right foot (45 degree angle forward and right), to void your left from the enemy's line of attack. Practice as well with the right foot forward, stance reversed.

The Low Ward at the two Rapiers

Attacks within have one blow, attacks without have two. If your point is within (between your opponent's swords), with the right foot before, pass lunge with your left foot, try to engage and force your opponents sword with your left, and thrust strongly below while lunging right. The threat of your attack will force your opponent to attempt to defend himself with his hind rapier, so your attack is relatively safe.

If without, beat your opponent's sword to the right with your lead sword, then slope pass lunge with your right foot to the left, thrusting at the head or breast. Or, thrust with the lead rapier with a slope pass lunge, and continuously follow with a thrust below from your second rapier (that is now in the fore) with a direct lunge. This latter attack is very aggressive, but can overtake any retiring defender.

In defence, I most strongly advise voiding by a very sloped (steep angle) lunge or traverse, and delivering a thrust at the enemy's face. Be sure to always keep one sword's point within, and to keep both weapons somewhat apart, to avoid having both trapped at the same moment.

XV. Two-Handed Sword

he chief virtue of the two-handed Sword is that one may be used to resist many swords or other weapons. In war, it is placed for the defense of the ensign. In civil life, it may be carried in a city to forestall an attack by a mob or band of thieves.

The great weight and length of the weapon requires great strength and size by the wielder. Since the wielder may be expected to encounter many foes at once, a valiant and stout courage is also necessary.

Against a group, the swordsman must fight with great fury and speed, and must keep the blade in constant and unpredictable motion, with both down-right and reverse cuts, and shifting weight from one leg to the other. The key is the strength of the great edge blow, for it has the strength to encounter many, while a thrust can only capture the attention of one.

The two-handed sword actually has enough hilt to allow four large hands to wrap around it, is 4.5-6 feet in length and also has a characteristic cross guard. It should not be confused with the hand-and-a-half or bastard sword can be wielded with two hands.

Down-right = Direct blow delivered from the right side or overhead.

Figure 14 Two-Handed Sword

Only two effective counters exist. First, rush in as the cut sweeps past. Second, close to take a parry close to the attacking blade's hilt, where the force of the blow is weaker. Both strategies require great resolution.

How to handle the two hand sword in single combat.

While thrusts are not recommended in group fighting, in single combat thrusts are essential. A common error in handling is the use of two hands in delivering a thrust, which causes the blow to be shorter than needed. I recommend taking away one hand at the moment the thrust is delivered, especially the leading hand, and thrusting with the pommel hand on the pass or lunge. If the attack misses, control can be quickly recovered by retiring a pace and replacing the hand, settling into the low ward.

I do not recommend delivery of a right cut, since one is open to a strike below during its execution. A possible sequence incorporating a cut is to first thrust with both hands, and then cut from the thrusting position while lunging.

Against both the high ward and low ward, adopt a low ward for defense. I do not recommend use of the broad ward with the two-hand.

From both the high and the low ward, the basic attack to rely on is the thrust as described above.

XVI. Staff Weapons - bill, partisan, halberd.

esigned originally to reach and take down heavily armored horseman, these have long shafts and good steel heads. A mighty cut can rend any armor or cleave a sword.

While heavy, these weapons are easier to handle and quicker than one might expect.

Six motions are possible - toward head, feet, right side, left side, forwards, backwards. The last is an offensive threat if the weapon has a reverse hook.

The weapon should be borne in the middle of the shaft, with the heel of the shaft low and the point at face level. The lower half to heel should be used to ward blows and thrusts.

Figure 14 Halberd

The qualities of the partisan is best seen against pikes. Against a pike, the lower half should beat the point aside. Step in to the void created, and strike down as forcibly as possible to cut the pike (or anything else).

Against another staff weapon, the thrust is much preferred to the cut. Cuts with a bill or halberd are slow because of their weight and the circumference of the blow, and so can be avoided or stepped into by the nimble. Four wards are possible, three with the point up and forward, one with the point back.

1 Point low, hind (right) arm lifted up.

2. Point high, hind arm borne low.

3. Point and shaft level.

4. 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 first false, so that you will be in a more protected position as you thrust home.

The last 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.

The 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.

I recommend the low ward, hands well apart, point directly at the enemy's throat. Adopt the reverse of the footwork orientation of our opponent. Rely generally on the direct thrust delivered with proper timing.

The most useful other attack is beating upward, trying to entangle the enemy's weapon, and strongly lifting up (using you rear hand as a pivot). As you lift, quickly pass-step inward. Strike the opponent with the heel, and finish with an edge blow that is a pivot (cut using your hands and forearms, not shoulders). A pivoting edge cut is the fastest and most nimble.

The heel of the pole arm should have a metal point.

If your opponent is lifting your weapon, the proper response is to step in even more quickly, and hit with your weapon's heel, finishing with a pivoting blow.

If entangling, another option is to change hands (increasing reach) and step back, while cutting down and to the side.

With a straight thrust, timing is everything. Anytime the opponent's point is off line, particularly while cocking back for a beat, or passing through a beat, you must quickly deliver a thrust.

Figure 15 Bill, Partizan, Halberd

XVII. Staff Weapons - Pike

f weapons of the staff, the pike is the most plain, most honorable, and most noble. Among renowned knights and great lords this weapon is highly esteemed both for its lack of deceit and for the strength, valor and deep judgement required to handle it. Its use requires a most subtle and delicate knowledge of times, motions, and a ready resolution to strike - qualities not resident in the average man.

In single combat, two incorrect and one correct means of carriage are used. Some who value ease and comfort would have the pike borne in the middle; this is dangerous. Others, strong of arm but weak of heart, hold it by its heel- this cannot be sustained, and is weak on both offense and defense. The best place is an arm's length from the heel, with the rear grip firm (palm down), and the front grip loose so as to allow the pike to shift forward through it. The fore arm is used to support the pike, the hind arm is used to control it and drive it home.

The two most important wards: first, point up and heel down - the low ward; second, point at waist level, heel up - the high ward. The third ward, straight and level, is very effective against the first two - but against an opponent also in third ward it is too likely to result in a double/mutual kill to be safe.

You are also safer from a mutual kill if you are in high ward and your opponent is in low, or vice versa.

Pikes are used on guard duty at the "cheek" position, hand holding the shaft about a foot from the point, resting on the hip.

Anything that will result in a mutual kill must be avoided, since it will increase the chance of your personal death.

Figure 16 Handling the Pike

The basic attack: first beat off the enemy's pike without letting your point stray from the line, and thrust firmly.

The basic defenses: beat away the point with the heel end, and immediately thrust back; or, thrust strongly if your opponents point deviates from the line as he cocks for or over strikes his beat.

In defense, timing is everything because you have no special tools but distance and the shaft of your pike. Remember that the objective is not to strike and be struck, but to strike and remain without danger.

Figure 17 Compass of the Pike

The End of the Second Part

1. Keep the point in line, and within easy striking range of the opponent

2. To save time, use few motions as directly as possible.

3. Time of Advantage is a moment of opportunity during which a strike may be safely delivered.

4. The Rapier is long and lightweight , designed primarily to thrust. In 1550, it was a light and long broadsword variation that kept getting lighter year by year. By 1650 new rapiers had become so light that blades often broke, leading soon to blades forged with a triangular cross-section.

5. Di Grasse's text is uncharacteristically rambling in this section, and has been

substantially reorganized. - ed.

6. Some of the material of this section that explained proper form and body dynamics

of the lunge and pass has been moved to the footwork and offense section

Continue to Part 3 and 4 - Falses


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