Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Psychology of Fencing: Things to Consider


There are many psychological factors which have a great influence on your fencing. These need to be considered when you are fencing. Before the bout there are aspects which you should take into account, but there are also factors which will impact during the bout. It is important that these things are considered. This blog is more of an introduction to the idea of the psychology of fencing and will introduce some of the aspects that should be considered. It is important to realise that not all of the aspects will be considered here, but it will touch on some important points for consideration.

Before a bout there are various things that should be considered. The preparation before a bout with an opponent is important and there are advantages that can be gained before a person steps out on to the field. Some of these things are quite simple and are often overlooked by fencers. The usual thing is that people tend to throw their armour on and then go onto the field. For the more experienced fencers, these other aspects may come normally, but for others, they may not be so natural and thus must be considered as to what needs to be done, rather than just appearing on the field in a state of semi-readiness.

Information can be gained about the opponent before the bout which can be of great use. Observe the opponent in previous bouts if you are able to, the skills that they use will tell you something about them. Do they rely on the same techniques each time? Is there any restriction that they have placed upon themselves due to this preference? What gaps does this leave?

The handedness of the opponent is also important as this will change how the opponent should be apporached. Are they left-handed or right-handed? This is one that is often forgotten. A left-handed opponent may be able to close certain lines less easily than a right-handed opponent and will approach the opponent differently to a right-handed opponent.

The weapons that the opponent chooses to take upon the field is important as this will give you some ideas about the options that they have. This needs to be considered in relation to the weapons that you have chosen to take out on the field. It is not necessary to change your choice in order to match them. This is especially the case if their combination is less comfortable with you. You should take the weapons that you are most comfortable with.

What are they wearing? Will their clothing slow them down? What about footwear? Will it restrict their foot movement? Boots will tend to restrict a person's footwork, where as shoes will tend to leave them more free to be able to move about. What does their clothing tell you about them? Does it look well-fitting? This will affect how they will be able to move. The condition of their equipment can also tell you somethings about your opponent.

Listen to the announcement of your opponent, are there any titles or positions that have been announced? This can give you some idea of their skill level, and sometimes how to approach the opponent. You should not be frightened if the opponent has impressive titles as everyone has the ability to beat any opponent as long as they use their skills properly.

Purely physical aspects of the opponent can also tell you things about them. How tall are they? How long are their limbs? How is this in proportion to their weapon? You should go an introduce yourself to your opponent. The simple handshake can tell you something about their strength, and can also allow you to compare yourself to them physically.

Warming up is useful, fencers will stretch and warm their muscles up before the bout. In some instances this is all that they will do, but this leaves a great deal that is not done. Warming up on the physical side should also be the movement of the weapons allowing you to see how they will move and how to follow from one action to another. You should also be considering how you will respond to the actions of the opponent. Pushing all of this to the forebrain will allow you much easier access to it during the bout. The movement of the weapons around will also assist in the mental preparation for the bout, which is also important. The bout before you are supposed to take the field, you should take some time to yourself in order to be able to prepare properly. This is important in order that you are able to relax and prepare properly.

Relaxing in fencing has a great benefits that can be attained through its use. This particular aspect covers various things which have already been discussed, but also adds some more into the discussion. Having the ability to relax will allow you to move more freely and do a great deal more. It is important that you consider this both before you take the field and also while you are on the field and engaged with your opponent.

Being able to relax comes from self-confidence. This confidence must be placed in your own abilities as they are the ammunition that you take into the encounter. Remember all the work that you have put in to get you as far as you have, be confident in the ability that you have and that you know how to respond to the actions of the opponent. It is important that this does not grow to over-confidence lest this blinds you to the true ability of the opponent and also inflates your own to a situation where it is of no use to you. This confidence in your own ability will allow you to relax more easily.

Tension is important, but it must be tension used at the correct moment, rather than tension that has been built up. You need to be able to use and release the tension whenever you need to. An excess of tension will be detriment to you. This tension needs to be considered not only of the body but also of the mind. If you are tense in your mind you will end up tense in your body. A tension of the body will lead to a restriction in movement and a slowing down of the actions that you are making due to the muscles already being tense.

One of the places where this tension can most easily be seen is in the on guard stance. If you are hunched over, your muscles in your shoulders are already working as there is tension in them. This will restrict the movement of your arms. If you stand up properly and broaden your chest, the tension in your shoulders will be released. In a proper standing up position you will also be able to breathe more easily which means that you will have more energy.

Breathing is important. Breathing gives more oxygen to the muscles which allows them to move more freely. Breathing can also be used to relax yourself. This can be done before and even during the bout. Before, you should take relaxed breaths, breathe as deeply as you can. During the bout, you should take the time to breathe and relax and release tension. In order to do this you should break off from your opponent and out of distance, then take some deep breaths and relax yourself. This will allow you to release tension in your mind and your body.

One of the key ways in order to relax when fencing is to enjoy the encounter. If you are at training doing bouting, you are there to learn about yourself and your opponent. It does not matter if you are struck so long as you learn something from the encounter. If you do, you win. Your focus needs to be on the bout itself and not any prize or reward that may or may not come afterward. You should be focussed on the skills that you are using and the skills that the opponent is using. In a tournament or examination you need to be aware of your opponent and deal with what they throw at you. You need to deal with what is in front of you and enjoy what you are doing. This will allow you to relax. You need to consider what is truly on the line in the encounter. Each bout is the matching of the skills of two fencers against one another, and this is how they should be approached. It is a chance to explore your own skills and demonstrate what you have learnt. In order to truly relax you need to enjoy the encounter between you and your opponent, with this relaxation you will be able to do a great deal more.

The psychology of fencing is important for any person who participates in it, but it is often not considered by the fencers. It is important that you do consider what is going on in order to understand it better and be prepared for what may come. The points which have been raised are things to consider. This in no way covers all of the aspects that you should be aware of, but is designed to highlight some to be thought about. Fencing is both a set of physical skills but also a set of mental skills. These need to be combined in order that you are the most effective that you can be. The psychology of fencing is something which is often pushed to the side by some, but it needs to be considered as it is of great importance.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Displacement as Effective Defence


One of the simplest defences in fencing is not to be where the attack of the opponent is delivered, as such this blog will be about the use of voids and other forms of displacement as a form of defence. Performed effectively the use of displacement of the fencer can be an extremely effective form of defence and can also set up for a counter-attack while the void is being executed. There are various considerations that need to be made when using this form of defence and these aspects will be discussed in this blog.

Voids or displacements can be used effectively both as a form of defence and also to set yourself up for an effective counter-attack. Voids can be extremely simple or quite complex in their execution, and various forms of displacement will be discussed. The simplest form of void is the retreat, in this the distance is increased between the combatant and their opponent so that the attack is avoided by a simple increase in range. This is one of the basic forms of footwork that is taught in the early stages of learning how to fence, but surprisingly enough, it is often forgotten as a simple form of defence against the opponent's attack. All of the tools available to the fencer should be used in order to be effective.

Displacements can be very simple, as in the retreat, or quite complex as in the form of the inquartata or volte as it is called in French. A simple movement of the body can be used in order to avoid an attack, or this can be combined with the use of the feet in combination with the body movement. It is important that both forms of avoidance are considered for their effectiveness and how they can be most effective in their execution. Each element must be considered in order or them to be efffective.

As in all parts of fencing, timing and distance are of great importance, and this also applies to the use of the void. If one of these elements has been percieved badly then problems can occur. With regard to distance it is important that in the use of the retreat, for example, that the distance is increased enough that the opponent's attack does not still strike its intended target. Distance is also important that the correct part of the body is moved a sufficient distance out of the way of the attack. Timing is also of equal importance in this situation. The combatant must use the correct timing in order for the void to be effective when it is used. The fencer must wait for the attack to come and only move at the last minute to ensure that the defence is effective. This is the same with all forms of defence. Particular to the void, an early movement can allow the opponent to change their direction and still strike the fencer with the same attack. Without the awareness of these particular principles and how they apply to the use of the void, the void will be substantially less effective.

In order of simplicity, after the retreat comes the body or part void. This is a simple movement of the body part out of the way of the opponent's attack. This is most commonly performed with attacks to the limbs, but can also be effectively used to move the torso away from the opponent's attack. In the defence of the limbs it involves simply moving the limb out of the way. For the body in involves bending the body out of the way of the opponent's attack. This can be performed without the feet moving. Simple movement of the body or part is useful especially where the the sword or the off-hand cannot be reach or be moved quickly enough to defend the intended target. These movements can also leave the fencer's sword in position to deliver a counter-attack against the opponent while the void is being performed. A slightly more complex version of this movement involving slight movement of the feet is the stop hit. In this the body is displaced while a counter-attack is delivered against the opponent.

Inquartata is the Italian term, and volte is the French term, these actions are actually the same thing, but have terms associated with the language being used. This action is a combination of the use of the feet and the body in order to displace the combatant in order to avoid the opponent's attack. In the use of these techniques it is useful to keep the point on-line as this gives the fencer access to a counter-offensive option while the action is being performed. The full version of the volte is a radical movement of the feet and body in order to displace from the opponent's attack, but there is a smaller movement that can also be used effectively. This defence is the half-inquartata or demi-volte. This involves a simple movement of the rear foot behind the front foot in order to turn the body away from the opponent's attack. Once again, as in all cases of voids the weapon should be kept on-line in order to be able to counter-attack. The more complex motion of the feet and body is the full version of both. This is a larger movement of the rear foot behind and across, ending up almost perpendicular to the front foot. This results in a greater movement of the body due to the greater movement of the feet.

The footwork in all forms of the inquartata and volte are the vital element which ensures a greater success of this particular action. The movement of the feet should be simple, as in all forms of footwork. One of the greatest mistakes in the performance of this technqiue is that the body is used to move the feet into position, the opposite is actually what should happen. The movement of the feet moves the body. The body may be moved some in order to increase the effectiveness of the technique, but it must be primarily the movement of the feet that creates the effect. Balance must be maintained in this technique, as in all others, and this is achieved by effective use of the feet and the correct maintenance of the centre of gravity over the middle of the feet. Being unbalanced during or at the end of this technique can leave you vulnerable to your opponent's following attack.

The length of this blog belies the use and effectiveness of this particular technique. It is not one that should be glossed over in any way whatsoever. A fencer with effective voids who has practiced them well and has a good application of timing and distance can actually successfully defend himself without any consideration of the use of the sword or the off-hand. This leaves the weapon free for counter-offensive actions against the opponent. Serious consideration should be made by the fencer about the use of the void. Even if it does not become the primary defence of the fencer, it can seriously enhance the fencer's ability to avoid an opponent's attacks. Of course, most effectively, the void can actually be combined with other forms of defence to be even more effective. Practice and research your displacements and you will become a much more secure fencer.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Saviolo: Part II: Practical Elements


This is part II of my blog on the subject of Vincentio Saviolo. With the background set, and the principles in place, it is now possible to delve more deeply into the system which was developed by Saviolo. It is important that the principles are laid out first and understood in order to understand the practical side of the system. There will be elements that will be left out of this discussion as they serve no purpose in going into them in detail in the discovery of Saviolo's method of fence. Thus it will be those elements which are essential to his system that the detail will be centered upon.

Externally Saviolo's system is simple, but when you examine it in more detail, the hidden complexities emerge. As with the previous part it is important to start with the principles, or in this case the basic elements before moving on to the more complex aspects of the system. First is starting with Saviolo's wards.

The first ward the Saviolo teaches is a teaching ward, simple as that. It is designed to place the student in the correct position in order that they have all the elements in place. This is important as it places the student in the correct position for applying the techniques that follow.
“I come therefore to the point and say, that when the teacher will enter his scholler, he shal cause him to stand upon this ward, which is very good to bee taught for framing the foote, the hand, and the body:”

Without teaching this ward the student will be unprepared to perform the following wards and to understand how they are used. Once the student is able to place himself in the correct position, it is then possible to move on to the combat ward which Saviolo advises for use in combat. Once again, it is important to stress that the first ward is purely a teaching ward and designed to teach the student the correct position for their body.

The second ward is Saviolo's combat ward. This is the one that he advises for use in combat against an opponent. It should be noted that this ward carries through many of the same elements as found in the teaching ward, thus it can be seen that one is based upon the other. If we examine Saviolo's description of his second ward, these elements can easily be seen.

“Therefore if the maister desire to make a good scholler, let him begin in this sorte, causing his scholar to place his right legge formoste, a little bending the knee, so that the heele of his right foote stand just against the midst of his left foote, holding his swoord hand close on the outside of his right knee, with his swoorde helde in shorte, least his adversarye should gaine the same, ever keeping the poynte directlye on the face or bellye of his enemye, and the maister shall dispose of him selfe in the same manner, as well with his foote as with his poynt.”

As in the first ward the right, or sword side leg is placed forward, with the knee bent slightly. This is the same as the teaching ward. This is the same with the position of the feet and demonstrates how the first ward teaches the student where to place themselves. The hand position with the weapon held in close and the off-hand extended means that it is the off-hand that will be used for the primary defence against the opponent rather than the use of the sword. The withdrawal of the weapon also denies the opponent blade engagement from the out-set. As with many of the masters, the point is directed against the opponent in order to threaten them and also to place in in a posiiton to attack. This is Saviolo's primary combat ward.

The third ward has two purposes, and it is important to realise them in order to be able to use the ward properly. The primary reason for the third ward is in order that the combatant is easily able to perform a lunge, or stoccata at length as Saviolo calls it. From this position, the combatant is also prepared to perform a punta riversa. This is a ward in the truest sense as it is a position from which an attack is made rather than a static defence. In many ways this position should not be adopted but moved through.

“I will not faile in anie part to make you understand the excellencie of this third warde, which notwithstanding is quite contrarie to the other two. Because that in this you must stand with your feet even together, as if you were readie to sit down, and your rapier hand must bee within your knee, and your point against the face of your enemie: and if your enemie put himselfe upon the same ward, you may give a stoccata at length betweene his rapier and his arme, which shall bee best performed & reach farthest, if you shift with your foot on the right side.”

This ward differs in its foot position from the other two as they are quite close together. The hand position is very similar to the previous two wards as it is withdrawn in order to deny blade engagement from the enemy. The position of the feet clearly demonstrate that it is a preparation for the use of the back foot to push the combatant forward in the performance of an attack. Saviolo's "stoccata" at length" will be discussed in more depth in a later section of this part.

Saviolo's system is entirely based on the use of the sword in conjunction with the off-hand. All of his techniques are based on the premise that the hand is the primary defence against thrusts, and the sword is more of an offensive object rather than defensive. This particular idea transfers and follows through to his rapier and dagger which follow the same principles, using the dagger in the off-hand as defensive and the sword as offensive in most situations. The entire system revolves around the use of the off-hand parry, void with movement off-line and the stoccata in offence against the opponent. Clearly the only difference in the use of rapier and dagger is that there is a dagger in the off-hand. This results in a system which, from the outside, is extremely simple. This simplicity of purpose is demonstrated in the forms of attack also.

In offence while the stoccata is the primary attack, there are others. In Saviolo's system the attacks are simplified to four thrusts and three cuts. This makes for a very simple system. To start with the cuts, there are three, the mandritta, the riversa and the stramazone. The mandritta is an attack which, for the right-hander, is delivered against the opponent's left side. The riversa is the reverse of this and is delivered agains the right of the opponent. Saviolo does not discriminate amongst the angles at which the blow is delivered, merely the direction. The stramazone is a cut delivered with the tip of the weapon, and there are no directions supplied. In this the reader is left to make their own decision as to where the blow should be delivered against the opponent.

Saviolo uses four thrusts, two which are simple thrusts, and two which require the use of footwork. The two which are simple thrusts are the stoccata and the imbroccata. The stoccata, Saviolo's preferred attack, is delivered against the opponet from a low position to a high position. This means that this is a rising thrust. It is usually delivered below the opponent's hilt, but its targeting is not restricted at all. The imbroccata is a descending thrust, as such it is delivered from a high position to a low position. This is usually delivered above the opponent's hilt, and the most likely targets are the head and upper body, though the targets are, once again not restricted. The punta riversa, like the riversa as a cut attacks the right side of the opponent. This is performed with a sloping step forward and to the right of the opponent. The other thrust with movement is the long stoccata.

“stoccata at length betweene his rapier and his arme, which shall bee best performed & reach farthest, if you shift with your foot on the right side.”

The long stoccata, or "stoccata at length", or lunge is an explosive extension of the arm and body designed to quickly deliver the point of the weapon against the opponent when at increased distance. This particular technique allows the combatant to strike the opponent at longer range than with just using the simple stoccata. This is a technique which needs to be delivered suddenly and without warning.

“if you would deliver a long stoccata, and have percieved that your enemie would shrinke awaie, you may, if you list, at that verie instant give it him,”

This is a technique which until very recently was thought to be restricted to the treatises of later period masters such as Giganti and Capo Ferro. Clearly the technique is clearly demonstrated in Saviolo's treatise. This leads on to the advanced techniques which are present in Saviolo's treatise but not explicitly described.

The beat parry and beat attack are forms of swordplay which are considered either very simple or very advanced, depending on who is discussing them. Saviolo uses the beat parry in many instances in order to both defend and also create an opening in the opponent. The best example of this is as such;

“when you finde his point long, you maie breake it aside with your swoorde,”

This is essentially Saviolo stating that if they give you their sword by extending it toward you, you should beat the sword to the side. This simple technique opens the opponent up to an attack. While the technique seems simple as just smacking the opponent's blade away, there is some care that should be taken in its performance.

“let him beware that he doo not beate aside his teachers weapon toward the point, because he shoulde be in danger to receive a thrust or stoccata either in the face or belly.”

What Saviolo is saying is that you should not beat the opponent's sword too close to the point because this will not have as great an effect as beating it lower on the sword. He actually states that the beat should be done against the opponent's weapon toward the tip, but not too far up. This demonstrates a clear understanding of this particular technique. The other advanced techniques take a little more interpretation on the part of the reader.

It has been claimed by some that Saviolo's system is extremely simple and that he does not use any advanced blade techniques, merely relying on beating the opponent's sword out of the way or waiting for the opportune moment to strike. This is actually quite false and if the treatise is read properly it will be noted that there are more advanced techniques of the blade present.

“but rather passe on him with your point above his sword, turning wel your hand as in an imbroccata,”

This is a clear description of the use of a bind. The sword is passed over the opponent's blade and then the hand is turned downward against the opponent's blade. The simple blade contact along with the turning motion would result in the control of the opponent's blade and thus a bind against the opponent's sword. Another example of an advanced technique present in Saviolo's manual is the pressure glide. This technique, as with the bind, is not explicity demonstrated or presented, merely the technique is within the text leaving the reader to interpret what Saviolo is saying.

“thrusting with the point of his Rapier at the belly of his teacher, turning readily his hand that the fingers be inward toward the body, and the joint of the wrist shall be outward.”

Both elements of the pressure glide are present in this description. First, there is the thrust pushing toward the opponent, and then there is the contact of the blade with the turning of the hand to increase the pressure on the opponent's blade. This turning action of the hand and wrist results in a displacement of the opponent's blade and thus an opening in the opponent's defence, the exact reason for the performance of a pressure glide and the exact method also. This demonstrates the complexity of Saviolo's techniques which are hidden within the simple system which is immediately present.

There are three schools of thought present in Saviolo's treatise, the Italian, German and Spanish. It is only through the combination of the principles of each one of these schools that we are able to understand the manual in its entirity. Each one of the elements present enhances the system and allows it to deal with different approaches. It is also important to realise that the system is based on those principles highlighted in the first part of the discussion and without these founding principles it is impossible to understand what Saviolo's aim was and how he meant to achieve it through his system. Each one of these principles adds something to the system and allows it to be complete under the theory which surrounds fencing. It is important to understand these principles in order to completely understand the system.

The practical elements which have been highlighted in this part describe a system which is based on some very simple techniques for the base elements of the system, but these hide the complexity which is somewhat hidden within the system. In this way Saviolo's system is complexity within simplicity. The basic elements need to be understood first in order to realise what the system is based upon, only then is it possible to apply the more complex aspects of the system in a combative situation.

This discussion of Saviolo's treatise, the practical elements anyhow, has been designed to highlight the system which was developed by Saviolo and presented in his treatise. Further to this it is important that the main understanding of the system can only really be gained by a study of the period manual itself. Secondary sources, such as the information supplied here, can assist with this understanding, but only through reading the manual itself is it possible to really understand the system. This blog has been designed to introduce this particular manual to the readership in order that a better understanding of Saviolo may be gained.



Saviolo, V. (1595) His Practice in Two Books

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Saviolo Part I: Principles


First, I must offer an apology to all my modern and classical fencing readers as this particular blog is more aimed at the Renaissance fencer in the readership. Saviolo is a master of particular interest to myself as his method appealed to me. I will be presenting in this blog some of the research that I have made on Saviolo giving some information about his method and how it was applied. Various points will be made about this particular system which will be of interest to various people, and I hope that the information present will be of interest to my various readers. All of the references in this blog come straight from Saviolo's treatise.

Vincentio Saviolo is a master of the Renaissance period, more specifically he is one of the Elizabethan period. He taught in London and held a school at Blackfriars, which is on the south bank of the River Thames. Of especial note is that the same region held a theatre which was sold to William Shakespeare. Of particular interest to me is that the chap who sold the property to Shakespeare was a chap named Henry Walker. Saviolo published his own Treatise "His Practice in Two Bookes" in 1595, and his name is present in the works of George Silver who was a contemporary of Saviolo.

Saviolo's treatise is a composite treatise encompassing principles from three different schools of thought brought together to form a single system. This in and of itself makes Saviolo's technique interesting and of note to the Renaissance fencer. The treatise and the information contained within is presented as a discussion between a master and his student. In this particular case it is Saviolo talking with his student Luke. Unlike many manuals the principles are not presented singularly but are presented within the text as a practical representation of what a person should do against their opponent. There are some which are elicidated simply, but for the most part they are within the discussion between the master and the student.

The three schools of thought from which Saviolo draws his information are the Italian, Spanish and German. Each one of these is used for a particular application and then are combined together to form the overall system. The Italian school is present in Saviolo's use of the thrust, and more to the point, the dominance of the thrust over the cut in the use of the rapier. The footwork is primarily circular in order to gain an advantage over the opponent due to the angle of one opponent to another, thus presenting principles present in the Spanish school. Finally, the method of cutting presented by Saviolo is designed to defeat the opponent while defending at the same time and also before the opponent has time to respond, thus presenting elements from the German school. This makes for what should be a very complex system. Externally the system is quite simple, but internally once deeper reading is made of it, the hidden complexity within the system is exposed.

In order to understand both the simplicity and complexity of the system presented by Saviolo, it is first important to examine the general principles upon which the system is based. The first of these principles is about entropy and emotional control. Entropy is using only the amount of energy that is required in order to achieve an objective, in this particular case it is to defeat the opponent.
“this I would advise you, when you would make these passages, or put your weapon under your enemies, that you doe them not in vaine nor without some advauntage.”
This passage states that the combatant should not perform actions without gaining some advantage over the opponent. The energy of the combatant is thus maintained and not used for actions which would not gain him some advantage. In achieving this particular principle, the combatant will have a larger store of energy and thus will be able to last longer against the opponent than if he used energy to perform actions which did not achieve something. One place where this can be present is in the use of fury in order to defeat the opponent, thus Saviolo warns against this.

“Wherefore as well in this ward as in the other, take heede that you suffer not your selfe to bee blinded and carried awaie with rage and furie.”
When a combatant is enraged, they lose the ability to reason and thus make decisions to their advantage. This particular aspect will mean that control is lost over the use of the weapon and thus over the situation and this can easily lead to the combatant being struck by the opponent. It is important that the combatant go into the combat "cold" and not be taken away by anger or similar emotions in order that they are able to maintain control over themselves.
“In this sorte the saide scholler shall learne to strike and not be stricken, as I alwaies advise the noble-men and gentlemen whit whome I have to deale, that if they cannot hit or hurt their enemy, that they learn to defend them selves that they be not hurt.”
To strike and not be struck is the principle on which all fencing is based, and in the case of a real combat using sharp weapons it is of great importance. Saviolo is instructing the combatant to ensure that if they are not able to strike their opponent without being struck themselves then they should not attack. This is a principle of great importance to all fencing, and is what we should all base our fencing upon. It is not optimum for the fencer to strike the opponent while being struck themself. Thus the guard against the opponent should always be maintained, even in offence. It is no suprise that this particular principle is present in Saviolo's treatise.
“Moreover, you must observe just distance, which is, when either of you stand in such place, that stepping forward a little, you maye reache one another,”

All forms of fencing are based on two basic principles, timing and distance, and neither can be denied. In all cases the correct distance between a combatant and their opponent must be observed. In the case of Saviolo, this correct, or "just" distance is a distance at which the opponent may be struck with only a simple movement of the feet and an extension of the arm. This particular distance is common amongst fencing treatises. Saviolo cautions against the combatant coming too close to the opponent as well, and then makes note of another important principle which will be discussed next.

“Moreover, hee must beware of coming too much within his just distance, because if he hit his adversary, hee may bee hitte againe by his adversarye: wherfore I will teache you how to offend and defend in the same time.”
Timing is the other half of the equation so to speak. Distance and timing work both separately and together and the ignorance of either by the combatant is done at their peril. Saviolo discusses time throughout his treatise, but is never particularly specific about what each time is and how it functions. He presents the elements of time as part of the description of the execution of the action he is describing. This is an important note to make as it demonstrates how important principles may be hidden within the text when not explicitly presented.
“At the same time that the scholler removeth his foote, the teacher shall play a little with stirring of his body, and with his lefte hand shall beat away his schollers rapier from his right side, and shall remove his right foot behinde his left striking a crosse blow at the head.”
With the essential more academic principles of Saviolo's system presented, it is now possible to move on to more practical matters with regards to the information which is presented in his treatise. Not all of the practical elements will be presented as some of them are taken for granted and do not really aid in this particular discussion. These more practical elements of Saviolo's treatise will be left for Part II of this discussion which will be presented in my next blog, along with a final wrap-up of the information which has been presented over both.



Saviolo, V. (1595) His Practice in Two Books