Yesterday marked the first of the new round of Lionsdale Rapier Practices. We’re having them at my house in conjunction with A&S nights. Because our space in the back yard is limited, and there’s only the one set of flood lamps, we’ll be sticking to slow work until there is enough light to fight safely by.
This is part of an ongoing project to summarize and provide SCA focused commentary on The Schoole of the Noble and Worthy Science of Defence by Joseph Swetnam, published in 1617.
For links to the other sections of the Swetnam Project please go here.
I am using this facsimile: http://tysonwright.com/sword/SwetnamSchooleOfDefence.pdf for the project.
This chapter is about how to use Joseph Swetnam’s manual. However, there are the usual digressions. It’s a good chapter. I’m finding the slow transition from philosophy of combat into theory of combat interesting.
Chap. VI. Diverse reasons or introductions to bring thee the better unto the knowledge of thy weapon
Had a great first practice back. I am not currently allowed to fight more than about 15 minutes of slow work at a time, but as I was using my new sword that was probably a good thing.
First: I had forgotten how heavy a double wide was. On the other hand it’s much harder for my opponent to push me out of the way. It’s also significantly longer.
Well I tested out some of Saviolo’s style last night. I worked on the following aspects:
- High: Prima& Unicorn
- Low: Right and Left
- Hand parries
- Compass steps
- Punta Riversa
- Fendente Stramazone
I am not a Saviolo scholar, I just worked on it a bit and am attempting to put what I read into practice. Some of this may be wrong or I may have been preforming them wrong, but that’s just part of learning.
I currently have a lack of both time and money, which makes it difficult for me to attend more than my local practice for fencing. What I do have is a lot of time for reading while on the train. So, similarly to what I did when I decided to learn more about bread making I picked up some books.
The first one had very little to do with rapier: Warrior to Soldier, 449-1660. It’s a history of warfare in England from the Saxons right through to the New Model Army. It’s a great overview for anyone in the SCA with an English persona. It helped me to understand the rapiers position in England, as that of a day to day sidearm. I knew that it wasn’t a military weapon, but to see the evolution of the military sword and armour was very enlightening. Though the rapier came to prominence in England, the decrease in armour was actually because of the firearm. I always figured that firearms in general brought about the change in armour, but it wasn’t actually until the advent of the musket (which at the time was so heavy it needed a prop) that armour became useless. The first muskets allowed a half trained man to kill someone in the heaviest armour who had been trained from childhood. Although new armour was designed that could withstand a musket shot, it was so heavy that it required a man to be on horseback, and slow. It was useless on the ground, and couldn’t be used to protect the horse as it was too heavy. So if the cavalry had the bulletproof breast plates on their horses were still vulnerable, and the musketeers just aimed for the horses instead. The armour was so heavy that people refused to wear it. They would rather wear little armour and be fast.
Had a great two practices this week. I’m sore and a bit bruised, but none the worse for wear.
The first practice was Lionsdale’s Wednesday practice. It went really well. It was our first day indoors, the hard packed dirt is amazing on the knees. It lets you practice a bit harder without the knee pain that I get occasionally from lunging too much on concrete. We started out with a bear-pit to warm up, as we’re all getting ready for the fall tournament season and shaking off the dust from war fighting. I haven’t fought in a tourney since Sir Eddies, and I”m planning on fighting this weekend, so I needed the practice.
With the bear-pit I started working on the semi-refuse guard that we were taught a few weeks ago. It seems to work well for defence and fits in perfectly with my current style. It’s very aggressive while allowing me to defend quickly. I was still having some issues with controlling my opponents blade, but not too much.
After warming up with just the three of us (Sebastian, Alejandro, and myself) a fourth person got there, Cion. He’s working on getting authorized, so we decided to test him out on the basics. We had him teach us how to stand, how to lunge, cut, and Parry. He taught us how to use a dagger, a shield, and a baton. We didn’t work on cloak, as we didn’t have one with us that day. He’s doing pretty good. Then we quizzed him about the rules for different things like engagement, holds, melee, and weapon requirements. He’s got most of those down too. That just left combat. So we started a four man bear-pit to test him out. He seems safe, though we haven’t tried unsafe activities against him yet, which is a major portion of the auth test, dealing with others mistakes.