Rus Articles Journal

How the European fencing developed? Part 2

In spite of the fact that the term “rapier“ arose in Spain, in 15 - 16 centuries the Italian masters were “legislators of fashion“ in fencing. Exactly here textbooks of fencing were published in considerable quantity.

To be fair I will note that textbooks appeared also in Spain , but in far smaller quantity. Besides, the Spanish fencing (destrez) reflected in textbooks fine differs from Italian and other schools. Its basis - difficult system of movements on circles, chords, radiuses with in details worked doctrine about steps and distances. Very much simplifying: fighters in narrow and high racks moved on the parties and chords of the imagined circle at a long range. The weapon in an outstretched arm went to a face of the opponent. Was considered that the correct movements allow to avoid blow and to carry out own attack as soon as the opponent tries to approach or will open the line of attack. This system, quite working, was a pereotyagoshchena the difficult geometrical calculations and theorizing which was very complicating training. Nevertheless Spaniards had reputation of dangerous fighters. So, perhaps, practical training so was not burdened by theoretical and philosophical calculations.

Military fencing of Spaniards, most likely, had a little general from destrezy. The Spanish school longer than others kept an originality. Karransa (1582) textbooks, Narvaesa (1600, 1612, 1625) and Thibaut (1628) represent the methods which became archaic by the 17th century. Though here everything is not so unambiguous. “Archaic“ Spanish methods advanced more “progressive“ Italian school in something. The fighter could be armed with one blade (but not two) and therefore settled down rather sideways, than frontally, unlike the Italian rack. Besides, Spaniards paid more attention to protection by both a blade, and movement, seeking to be displaced from the line of attack and most to attack sideways from the opponent`s blade. The emphasis on protection by a blade appeared in France in the second half of the 17th century again.

It is considered that a number of the principles of a destreza remained in the fencing on navakha which was actively developing after a ban on carrying swords by not noblemen in the 18th century. The Italian school formed the basis of that fencing that we know. Gradually the blade was shortened and facilitated, Dag was replaced by shorter and easy dagger (which did not keep the return successful fellow as it is possible to see sometimes at cinema). And gradually, by the 17th century, functions and protection, and attacks passed to a sword. Nevertheless the unaided hand long time continued to be used for protection and captures. And of course, methods of hand-to-hand fight, in particular blows by an unaided hand, a handle and proud the weapon and cutting were as required applied. By the way, technically the sword can be used as the lever for vyvedeniye from balance though I do not know whether used it thus. However, need to apply hand-to-hand technicians (except parryings and captures of the weapon), in fact, means that the fighter did not manage to realize the fencing skills.

Fencers from all Europe went to study to Italy and Italian masters taught not only in the country. In the 17th century European “center“ of fencing moved to France.

The French style also formed the basis of modern fencing. It seems, French masters 2 - y half of the 17th century extended attack, having brought it to perfection (and sometimes to absolutely the uncomfortable extremely stretched position). At the same time fencing was formed as system in modern understanding. Approximately till the 17th century in textbooks it is possible to see rather a set of favorite methods of this or that master. There was no uniform classification of provisions of the weapon and protection, there was no special system.

Approximately in 2 - y to a half of the 17th century kolyushche - the cutting rapier begins to be forced out by a sword. Shorter and easy, it usually was cut and had no edges that allowed to be protected effectively by a blade, having refused the weapon for the left hand. However, protection by an unaided hand remained for a long time, as well as evasion by a body. Protection by a hand, by the way, are very effective also in fight by the easy weapon. Ukhoda and biases were applicable in real fight, in unexpected skirmish where also opponents could be a little, and the distance of the beginning of fight could be shorter than habitual fencing. And here in an open duel, duel (a prototype of modern sports fight) their advantage with increase of speed of work as a blade is doubtful.

And even about protection. Long time in fencing the principle of stesso tempo , unities of protection and counterattack dominated. The Italian schools of a rapier preferred to be protected not so much by the weapon how many to carry out counter attack “to speed“. Protection and attack were sought to be combined in one movement. Putting a prick, (“strong“) part of the weapon, closest to a handle, sought to reject the opponent`s blade at the same time. This action is called opposition. It turned into modern fencing, and in 16 - 17 centuries was a basis of bases.

At the beginning of the emergence the pricking rapier won at rubyashche - the pricking sword in maneuverability: any swing on blow opened the fighter for a prompt prick. In fight by a rapier against a rapier the considerable attention was paid to protection by movement, and moved not only on a straight line, but also to the parties, and also evaded the movements of the case.

With relief and increase of mobility of a blade such tactics became more and more risky. The emphasis began to be placed on more reliable protection by the weapon. It became more important not to pass a prick, than to put own, there was a new principle of dui tempi : protection and counterattack in two speed, division of the protective and counterattacking actions. Weapon weight allowed to be protected surely now (even from several consecutive attacks), instantly turning into counterattack.

Gradually there was a classification of equipment, its reduction to a common denominator. Racks, movements, protection coordinated in uniform system.

Reading A. Perez`s novel - to Reverta “The teacher of fencing“ remember searches by the hero of “perfect blow“. It quite corresponds to reality, here only the hero lagged behind the times for about 300 years. 16 - The 17th centuries - time of crown receptions, confidential the technician and searches of “ideal blow“. In 1860 - x years fencing became long ago science where all possible courses were “painted“.

It is possible to tell that at the end of the 19th century the technical arsenal of fencers differed from modern a little. Progress was connected with transformation of fencing into sports discipline. With disappearance of threat of life fencing became more spectacular, risky, high-speed.