97. How a man by private practice can obtain strength of body therebyΒΆ

If nature had bestowed strength upon men (as many believe) in such sort as she has given sight, hearing and other senses, which are such in us, that they may not by our endeavor either be increased, or diminished, it should be no less superfluous, than ridiculous to teach how strength should be obtained, than it were if one should say, he would instruct a man how to hear or see better than he does already by nature. Neither albeit he that becomes a Painter or a Musician sees the proportions much better than he did before, or by hearing learns the harmony and conformity of voices which he knew not, ought it therefore be said, that he sees or hears more than he did? For that proceeds not of better hearing or seeing, but of seeing and hearing with more reason. But in strength it does not so come to pass: For it is manifestly seen, that a man of ripe age and strength, cannot lift up a weight today which he cannot do on the morrow, or some other time. But contrary, if a man prove with the self same sight on the morrow or some other time to see a thing which yesterday he saw not in the same distance, he shall but trouble himself in vain, and be in danger rather to see less than more, as it commonly happen to students and other such, who do much exercise their sight. Therefore there is no doubt at all but that a mans strength may be increased by reasonable exercise, And so likewise by too much rest it may be diminished: the which if it were not manifest, yet it might be proved by infinite examples. You shall see Gentlemen, Knights and others, to bee most strong and nimble in running or leaping, or in vaulting, or in turning on Horseback, and yet are not able by a great deal to bear so great a burden as a Country man or Porter: But in contrary in running and leaping, the Porter and Country man are most slow and heavy, neither know how to vault upon their horse without a ladder. And this proceeds of no other cause, than for that every man is not exercised in that which is most esteemed: So that if in the managing of these weapons, a man would get strength, it shallbe convenient for him to exercise himself in such sort as shall be declared.

For the obtaining of this strength and activity, three things ought to be considered, to wit, the arms, the feet and the legs, in each of which it is requisite that every one be greatly exercised, considering that to know well how to manage the arms, and yet to be ignorant in the motion of the feet, wanting skill how to go forwards and retire backwards, causes men oftentimes to overthrow themselves.

And on the other side, when one is exercised in the governing of his feet, but is ignorant in the timely motion of his arms, it falls out that he goes forwards in time, but yet wanting skill how to move his arms, he does not only not offend the enemy, but also many times remains hurt and offended himself. The body also by great reason ought to be borne and sustained upon his foundation. For when it bows either too much backwards or forwards, either on the one or the other side, straight way the government of the arms and legs are frustrated and the body, will or nil, remains stricken. Therefore I will declare the manner first how to exercise the Arms, secondly the Feet, thirdly the Body, Feet and Arms, jointly:

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