90. Of the falses of the two Swords: or Rapiers

These kind of weapons have so great liberty of striking or warding, and are so intermeddled the one with the other, as no other sort of weapon is, which I may compare with these. There may be framed an infinite company of wards with these weapons, and all of them sure, except two, which are framed and borne without, and are these as follows.

To bear both swords with their points backward: for this manner of warding, is as if one would of purpose cause himself to be slain: or else to bear both aloft, which a man may hardly sustain, considering the paizes of the swords are naturally heavy and tend downwards, so that the arms are much encumbered thereby. Therefore from these two which are framed without, shalbe laid down, all those which may be found and may be framed in the handling of these weapons: as for example, high wards, low, wide, altered, diminished, and all those wards which are mixed, as to frame with one sword the high ward, with the other the broad ward, and to frame the low and broad ward, the high and low ward, two low wards, and two broad wards: but yet these last two are as painful as the two high wards, and therefore shall not be used. Moreover, a man may bear one sword with the point forwards, and the other backwards, and he may further, very easily find out and practice diverse other ways, if he consider in how many ways a man may move his hands, his arms, his feet, and his whole person: for each of these motions are sufficient of themselves, to alter the ward. In all these wards, he may with either hand and sword, practice to false against the enemy, sometimes by feigning, sometimes by discovery. And this is properly belonging to these weapons, to wit, to false with one, and to strike home, either with the self same, or with the other weapon: and likewise discover with the one, and ward with the self same, or with the other, the which never yet to this day was or might be done with any other weapon. For in the handling of other weapons, that which falses, does in like manner strike home, so that of force, there are spent two times: for which consideration men hold opinion, that falsing is occasion both of great hurt, and also of loss of time. But yet this happens not in these weapons, which forasmuch as they are two, and are of equal power both in striking and defending, may be handled both after one fashion. And presupposing always that one is skillful to handle the one aswell as the other, he may discharge at self same time two thrusts, two edgeblows, both right and reversed.

But if he would exercise himself only in sport and play, he shall then continually use to strike his enemy with one, and defend his person with the other. Therefore when one deals against an enemy that has two swords, one of the which may always increase a pace, and strike either with a thrust, or with the edge, from that sword he must take heed to ward himself, for it is very forcible, and always brings great danger and peril with it: The other sword which was before, makes no increase of pace and therefore cannot strike more then the defense and strength of the arm will bear, and that is weak to strike, but yet very strong to defend: and the self same accidents and qualities, which are found to be in the enemy, are incident also to ourselves. Wherefore one finds that he stands with his right foot before, be it in any ward whatsoever, he may false with the fore sword and strike home with the same, or else he may false with his hind sword, and strike with the self same: or else after a third way, to wit, to false with the one, and hit home with the other: And this kind of false, does more properly belong to the two swords then any other, but yet he must take heed and very well remember that while he falses with the one, and would strike home with the same, that he bear the other directly opposite against the enemy. For whilst the enemy is bound to ward the false, and homeblowe of the one sword, he may come in with the other and strike, if he find any place either discovered or easy to enter: So that bearing this rule continually in remembrance, which is in the fight of two swords, to bear always the one directly against the enemy, to the intent to hinder him, that he resolve not himself to enter, he shall endeavor to false, sometimes with the one, and sometimes with the other sword, sometimes a thrust, sometimes an edgeblow, and then to drive it home, either with the same sword that falses, or else with the other. But in practice, and doing of all of this, it is required that he be of deep judgment, knowing presently upon the false, what art of the body the enemy discovers, increasing thither, and investing the enemy with that sword which is most nigh to that part, and with the which he may most safely strike.

And it is to be considered, that it is a very strong and short way of striking, to false with the fore sword either a thrust or an edgeblow, and to false them not once or twice, but diverse times, now aloft, now beneath, sometimes with a thrust, some times with an edgeblow, to the intent, to blind and occupy the enemy’s both swords, and at last when fit occasion serves, to strike it home with the hind sword: but yet always with the increase of a pace. The false which may be practice with the hind sword, is unprofitable being make without the motion of a pace, for it is so short that it is to no purpose. Therefore it cannot busy the enemy’s swords in such manner, that it may force him either to discover or disorder his body. From whence it may be gathered, that after this false of the hind sword, it is no sure play to strike either with the self same hind sword, or else with the fore sword, because the enemy was neither in any part discovered or troubled. The best thing therefore that may be done, if one would false with the hind sword, is, to drive either a thrust or an edgeblow, resolutely striking with the increase of a pace, and as the enemy moves to defend himself, to strike him with the same sword, in some place that is discovered: For he cannot strike with the other sword for by that means of the increase of the hind sword, that the sword which was before, remains now behind, So that it may not strike, except it increase a pace, and to increase again, were to spend much time. Therefore when one endeavors with the increase of a pace to force his sword within, he shall assay to strike it home, with the self same sword because as I have before said, to strike with the other were too long. Wherefore I will lay down this for a rule, in the handling of these weapons, that if a man false with the fore sword, he may also strike home with the same or with the other, so that he increase And if he false with the hind sword, he shall presently, and resolutely force the blow home with the same sword, but yet with the increase of a pace: but if he do not fully deliver it, he shall again procure immediately to strike home with the self same sword, either with a thrust, or edgeblow, be it high or low, as at that instant shall be most commodious to serve the turn.

91. An Advertisement concerning the defenses of the two Swords: or Rapiers

In sport or play one may stand every way against the enemy, to wit, if the enemy be on high, to settle himself at his ward, low or broad. But it is more gallant to behold and more commodious indeed to place himself against the enemy in the very self same foot before, and in the very same site that he is in, either high or low. For standing in such manner, the enemy may hardly endeavor with his false, to trouble or busy both swords. And moreover it must be considered, that the fore sword is that which wards both falses, and resolute blows, the which it does very easily perform: For it be borne aloft, then by the bending of the point down, it defends that part of the body, to the which it is turned. Remembering therefore these rules, which are, to stand every way as the enemy does, and to ward his falses with the fore sword, I say, where any falses or blows come: then as soon as he has warded them with the fore sword, he shall increase a slope pace, and with the hind sword deliver either a thrust at some discovered place, either a right blow with the edge at the legs, or else (which is better) shall fetch a reverse, either athwart the face, or else athwart the arms, and his blow does most easily speed: for the enemy’s fore sword is occupied, and his hind sword cannot come to oppose itself against this blow: neither may it so easily strike, because (by the increase of the foresaid slope pace) the body is moved out of the straight line, so that the enemy may not so commodiously strike with his hind sword, but that he shalbe first struck on the face or on the arms.

Wherefore, let every man resolve himself, (as soon as he has encountered the enemy’s sword with his own fore sword) that he step in and strike with his hind sword. Neither, let him stand in fear of the enemy’s hind sword: for either it cannot hurt because the body is voided (as I have said,) or else, if it may, it must presently provide to stand to his defense, and thereto is so bound, that it may do no manner of hurt.