Rus Articles Journal

How the European fencing developed? Part 1

Probably, methods of application of the weapon arose at once as soon as the weapon appeared. It is normal: people remembered the weapon methods of application which brought a victory again to use.

Images fencing in Ancient Egypt are known, the Roman gladiators fenced (we will speak about Europe, without concerning the Far East). But, seemingly, fencing art of gladiators of Rome (legionaries were not trained in fencing) sank Into oblivion together with them.

In the beginning we will try to clear what to consider as fencing. I will express quite subjective opinion that fencing is an art of maintaining an individual duel with the weapon. From this point of view, it is impossible to call the majority of military systems of knowledge of the weapon fencing. In a close system it is more important harmonious actions, than actually fencing art. It is more important to hold a system, to maneuver group, actually actions by the weapon can be quite primitive. In fact, fencing arose as civil art. One of the first spheres of its application - God`s custom of court, that is the duel urged to find out correctness of one of participants.

Duels (both individual, and group) and were widespread among Scandinavians.

The technology of conducting fight is defined by weapon parameters. In 14 - 15 centuries to knights there was no special need to be able to battle without armor. And here among citizens this art developed.

It is important that early technicians of a duel almost did not assume use of a blade for protection. In old textbooks on fencing (fekhtbukha) are protected by a blade if in hands a two-handled sword. It is logical: than still to be protected if there is no board? Besides the two-handled sword was also intercepted for a blade, it is similar to a spear, and used for performance of wrestling receptions. In other cases the sword (and later a rapier) was used together with a board. The board gradually decreased in sizes, turning in a bakler - a small fist board. The first mention of it in a fekhtbukha belongs to the end of the 13th century, bakler of a century to 16 were actively applied. Of course, a bakler owing to very small size - the weapon civil, boards in the war were more often used. But the bakler was suitable for carrying in the city. It was used both with a sword, and with a rapier.

It seems, the rapier is for the first time mentioned in the second half of the 15th century. As opposed to a sword, the name “espada ropera“ is translated as “a sword for a suit“. It is possible to understand it doubly: and as the weapon for carrying with a civil suit, and as the weapon for fight without armor. Probably, history of what we understand as fencing now also begins with a rapier. Its main difference from a sword consisted in strengthening of the pricking qualities. It was possible to cut with the Renaissance rapier, but its sizes, weight and balance were optimized for drawing pricks. A rapier - the weapon purely civil, intended for a duel. In the battlefield existence of an armor gave injections a narrow long blade quite senseless. Besides at a high lethality of the getting wounds their stopping action is small that on duels quite often led to mutual murder or, at least, to mutual wounds.

In the 16th century with the Italian competitors Englishman George Silver polemizes (“Paradoxes of protection“, 1599). Fencing on swords was widespread in England longer than others, and Silver points to high risk of rapier fencing, and also on low (in comparison with blow) the stopping action of a prick.

The exit to the foreground of a prick leads to basic revision of equipment. The prick gets further; demands far smaller, than blow, efforts - therefore, the movement manner in general changes. Rather easy, balanced on a handle rapier allows to maneuver quickly a weapon tip, finding gaps in protection.

The equipment was improved gradually. In early rapier fencing there was no concept of protection of that sense as we understand it now. Modern athletes fence on shorter and easy blades, modern protection by a blade are heritage of the French school of fencing on swords of much later time. The fact that it seems self-evident now was not obvious at 15-16 centuries at all.

It is necessary to consider that upon transition from rubyashche - the pricking sword to the pricking rapier everything changed: from a way of deduction of a sword before movements. Long time the rapier was used mainly together with a fist board, a dagger, dagy (a heavy dagger or a small sword), a raincoat. In - the first, this heritage of “a sword era“ when functions of attack and protection were distributed on different hands and was required time for transition to a new manner of conducting fight. In - the second, the long blade was quite bulky.

Besides a board or a dagger, actively used protection by movement, evasion with simultaneous counter attack. Were able to be protected by a blade, of course, but all manner of conducting fight significantly differed from modern. And of course, were protected by an unaided hand. There is nothing improbable here: the blade had no britvenno - fine edges, and the hand was protected by dense clothes. The brush protected by a glove allowed capture for a blade and disarmament.