1994, 2000 Richard J. Orli   -  Credits

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Di Grasse - His true Art of Defense

The First Part - The Basics








Parry - defensive use of weapon to block thrust or cut. Modern term adopted from the post 1660 French school jargon. Di Grasse's translator uses "break", "ward", "block", "encounter" and other words for parry.
Block of attack to outside high line (back).

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See other illustrations of Blocks in BASICS.

Below, the thwart, or sloping step forward.DaggerThwartS.avi (89090 bytes)


Stop thrust= attack into an attack


Time thrust. Rather than parrying first and hitting on riposte second, try to parry while hitting at the same moment. Timing is extraordinarily critical - the slightest error is fatal.







The following sections offer advice on how to attack and defend when either you or your opponent is a given position. This is conceptually not unlike a manual of chess openings.

Moves from a set position are important, but are not the entire picture. The rhythm of the exchange must be mastered. The skill of exploiting an indecisive clash is a significant mark of mastery.


VI. The Means of Defending

.T hree means defend against all attacks from either point or edge. The first is the parry - your weapon opposes the opponent's. The weapon you use can be a sword, dagger, a stick, your hat, your hand - because a soldier and gentleman must master defense, not just how to use a particular tool such as a rapier. Besides, one can not always be armed as one would prefer.

But the parry is not always the solution - especially as it is often practiced and taught today. Particularly dangerous is the habit of retreating while parrying - caused apparently by a lack of confidence in the parry's ability to control the opponent's attack. # Problems caused by withdrawing include:

The greater likelihood of your being hit by (or near) the point, and so take a stronger, more dangerous, blow.

To strike you must first take a step back to where you were before. This takes so much time that you risk counter attack and give your opponent an opportunity to defend.

I advise stepping into a cut, with the left foot taking a sloping step forward. Thereby, the attack's measure will be misjudged, and the cut can be taken close to your opponent's hilt, where it has less power. In addition, by stepping forward, you can strike in the same instant. This manner of defense is so sure and quick, I use it above all others. ##

The second way to defend is useful primarily against a cut with a great compass (broad arc) - or when the cut is being prepared with a pull back of the hand. This defense requires a sudden thrust with the point, Most attackers will perceive the danger and back off.  If they choose to continue, you will henceforth find that they weaken as opponents, by reason of the blood which goeth from them. *

The third means of defense is the void, in which the body is taken away from the line of the attack. This is seldom used alone, but rather used with an opposition with the weapon as described in the first means of defense, or as part of a timing attack as described in the second means above. If used alone, the idea is to move enough to let the opponent's weapon slip past, while hitting simultaneously with your weapon.

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VII. Application of Method

.I n the sections to follow I will address the most practical and useful attacks and defenses practical for each ward. Every conceivable bad attack or weak defense is not discussed. These techniques were selected largely based on two principles that always hold true: 1) In the Attack: Trust to the Thrust. 2) In the Defense: Trust to the Thrust against the preparation or into a wide cut

The End of the First Part

The Second Part - Attack and Defense Tactics

and Opening Moves from each Ward of the Several Weapons








# Post 1660 small sword technique encourages retreating while parrying. The default rapier technique is stepping to the side.

A parry is not static, but a movement that first defends then shifts to an attack (riposte). Beginning students are taught "parry 4" as a position, but the expert understands that the position is a transition phase with the objective of not just defense, but control of the opponent's blade.


## The advice is sound, but not for the timid.


*Attack into an action, to forestall a weak or indirect attack with a strong direct thrust. In modern jargon, this is an attack into the preparation or stop thrust depending on circumstances.


Miyamoto Musashi (Japanese near-contemporary) on fixing the eyes: Some schools have one fix their eyes on the sword, others on the hand, others on the face or eyes. But if you fix your eyes on anything other than a man's heart your spirit can become confused. The gaze must include perception which is strong, and sight which is weak; perception includes the enemy's spirit, the terrain, changes in advantages. In single combat you must not fix the eyes on details and neglect important things.