21. How to Defend with the DaggerΒΆ

Said elsewhere that the left side of the person is that part which the dagger ought to defend, that is to say, from the knee upwards: the lower parts together with the right side ought wholly to be warded with the sword.

Considering the dagger, that which is to be done therewith, it is to be noted, that for great advantage, it would be held before with the arm stretched forth and the point respecting the enemy, which although it be far from him, yet in that it has a point, it gives him occasion to bethink himself.

Now whether a man ought to hold his Dagger with the edge or flat towards the enemy, it may be left to judgment of him that handles it, so to use it, as shalbe most for his advantage. I have seen some, who bear it with the edge towards the enemy, alleging this to be their advantage, that as they encounter the enemy’s sword (which comes with the edge or point) in the first or second part thereof, and therewithall do increase a pace forwards, of force the hand turns and places the edge of the Dagger there where the flat was first: So that they are to drive the enemy’s sword far from them without any great trouble, because each little motion in the first part of the sword causes very great variety in the point, from which principally proceeds the hurt. In which case, it shalbe very profitable to have a good large Dagger.

low ward with dagger and rapier

There be other some, whom it pleases to carry their Dagger with the flat towards the enemy, using for their defense, not only the Dagger, but also the guards thereof with the which (they say) they take holdfast of the enemy’s sword : and to the end they may do it the more easily, they have daggers of purpose, which beside their ordinary hilts, have also two long sterts of Iron, four fingers length, and are distant from the dagger the thickness of a bowstring, into which distance, when it chances the enemy’s sword to be driven, they suddenly strain and holdfast the sword, the which may come to pass, but I hold it for a thing rather to be imagined then practiced, the case so standing, that in the heat of fight, where disdain bickers with fear, little does a man discern whether the sword be in that straight or no. And when he is to premeditate and mark, endeavoring and striving in his lively judgment, he must advise himself to perform it with exquisite knowledge and perfect discerning of the enemy’s motions, his nearness and farness, and to resolve himself to strike by the shortest way that may be : for there hence springs the victory.

Let every man therefore hold his dagger with the edge or flat towards the enemy, as it shall most advantage him, or as he has been most accustomed. True it is, that by holding the edge towards the enemy there is this advantage to be gotten, that with the dagger he may strike with the edge, which he may not do the other way. But let every man hold it as he will, yet he ought to carry his arm stretched out before him, with the point in the manner aforesaid, to the end he may find the enemy’s sword a great deal before it hits his person.

Besides this, he ought to observe for an infallible rule, that when the point or edge comes on the left side, he must beat it from that side with the dagger. And in like sort defending himself with the sword, to drive it from the right side, for doing otherwise : that is, if he force the blows given on the left side outwards on the right side (forasmuch as the enemy’s sword has by that means two motions, the one crossing, which is already given, the other straight which the enemy gives it, continuing the one with the other) it may be, that in the straight motion, it may hit the person, before that (by the thwart or crossing motion) it be driven quite outwards. Therefore all blows shalbe beaten outwards toward that side or part of the body which is least to the end it may sooner avoid danger. And those blows that come on the right side must be beaten towards the right side: and those on the left side must in like manner be voided from the same side. Now, as concerning the fashion of the Dagger, thus much is to be said: that it would be strong, able to bear and encounter the blows of the sword: (indifferently long) that it may be quickly drawn out of the sheath somewhat short : and those that are of the middle size would be chosen.

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