Part Two: Of the Defenses
Chapter 1: Of the Common Guard and Movements of the Arm and
49. Considering that defense is the most useful of skills I should treat of it before offense, but without first giving at least an idea of the form of the simpler attacks, we would lack cases for applying the defenses, and examples of its practice, I must begin with the movements of the arm and sword, of the agile wrist, and those which I call formations.
Finding Initial Measure
50. To begin the material of this part, nothing comes before choosing the distance which one must stay from their opponent; Therefore, if you are each in the right stance, hold the sabers with arms fully extended so that they make a straight line from the shoulder to the right hand and the points of the sabers touch the shells (lamina 3. Figure 4.). This distance, which we call proportion (defensive) is represented in lamina 2, letters A.Q.
The Common Guard
51. To finish this movement we call choosing the distance, step first to assert the offensive stance (§36) with the arm slightly bent, the hand perfectly covering the grip and the thumb and index finger playing a little on the shell: The guard at the height of the median plane (Lam. 1, fig 2, numbers 3 & 4); the point at the height of the opponent’s mouth, the cutting edge directed toward the ground and the left hand held back so it is protected from the cuts of your own saber or that of your opponent; all of this is represented in fig. 5, let. A, lam. 3; this skill is called asserting the common guard in the stated stance.
52. If your contrary takes the position explained, assume the same guard in the waiting stance (§36, and fig 5, letter B). What we call the Inside is understood to be everything from the right shoulder to the left in the front, and what is from shoulder to shoulder in the back is called outside: this is without the weapon, it is affirmed in part, that which is to the left of the shoulder is to the inside, that which is to the right is the outside. The part that guards the head is called high, that which guards below is called low.
Positions of the hand
53. For the good formation of attacks and removals it is necessary to know the phrases that I will use in this doctrine. I call it Third Position when the armed hand is held low, palm facing down with the blade of the sword horizontal and the edge to the right. Fourth position is where the hand is placed palm up or looking at the sky, and the saber blade is held horizontally with the edge to the left. When, in any of these positions, the hand turns so that the blade does not become horizontal or perpendicular to the common guard and it is not between one or the other, it is called half position in Third or Fourth. These positions combined with the formations that I will put below form the defensive part, therefore I will trust in the steadfastness of repeating them many times.
Methods of Freeing the Blade
54. When you have to form any free offense, it is necessary that the weak of your sabre be dominated by the strong of your opponent’s; since freeing it is nothing other than removing the weapon from that domination, which is done either passing the point from one side to the other from below, or above the enemy’s guard, or by removing the point. The first and second of these operations precede all of the thrusts and some of the cutting blows: the last always goes to the cut.
55. It should not be understood by virtue of these notices, that I am going to treat upon the execution of attacks, as this chapter has no other object than the agility of the arm for the good teaching of defense, less will be done regarding all of the offenses, the lunge or choosing the defensive measure, essential circumstances for the execution, these I defer for the third part of this treatise. This course shall begin with the formation of cuts.
Movements of Formation and Movements of Execution
56. All of the wounds, whether cutting or thrusting are divided into formation and execution: I call formation the movement which is done with the sword, from any guard or position to put it in a disposition to direct it to the point we are trying to hurt. The formation is complete when the sabre, to reach the attack-able place does not require more than a straight line for the thrust and cuts without any obstacle; whose path constitutes the execution.
Free Diagonal Cut
57. Position in the common guard and the stance for the attack, add the enemy sabre on its outside part, turn the hand to the half-third position and bend the arm sufficiently for the point of the opposing sabre so that it passes in front of your face, raise the guard to the height of the superior plane, up to the line with the right shoulder, and in the position of half-fourth. Extending the arm from here without lowering the guard and facing with the edge the direction of the diagonal 8, 5. plate 1. figure 2., execute a diagonal cut. Freeing your sabre by the point from the other, until the guard is in front of the shoulder, we call formation, and from here to the end of the movement to cut, execution. Note that in any cutting wound the sabre passes in the execution of the point where the lines terminate.
Free Diagonal Reverse Cut
58. When the two combatants are in the common guard and the enemy adds his sabre to the inside line, then turn the hand in half-fourth position and bend the arm the precise amount to release the point of your own sabre from the other, take it in front of the face until it is in front of the left shoulder, with the guard at the height of the superior plane in third position so that the edge of the weapon looks at the right diagonal of the face of the enemy (plate 1, figure 2, numbers 7.6) and from here, extend the arm with the hand in the position of half-third as said, and forming a straight line from the point of your sabre, and the place of the wound with the guard and the right shoulder, you will execute a diagonal reverse to the face. The vertical cuts and reverses differ from the previous ones in that to guide the vertical A, it is necessary when in the execution to keep the sabre with the edge directed toward the ground when in the guard position.
General Rule Regarding Movements to Profile or Square
59. Note that all of the attacks executed from the inside line of the enemy must be accompanied by the motion to profile, and those executed from the outside, with the motion to square; more, all of The wounds of the edge, which form from the outside are called cuts and those executed from the inside are called reverses.
General Rule Regarding Order of Operations in Movements of Formation
60. Take note that for the formation of all of the attacks, immediately begin by taking the guard to the height of the shoulder, whether it is to wound with the cut or with the point. In the execution, be careful that the guard is at the height of the mouth in all the attacks directed to the points comprising the distance from the nipples to the supreme plane; and those heading from the nipple to the lowest plane, they must form a straight line with the the shoulder, arm and sabre to the point of the injury.
Diagonal Cuts and Reverses to the Body or Thigh
61. All of the formations that follow are also begun from the common guard. The diagonal cut to the side is formed as described in the treatment of the diagonal to the face, with only one difference that their execution will be on the line 6.3, plate I, figure 2 and the diagonal reverse to the side is formed like the diagonal to the face; but its execution will be on the line 5.4 of the same figure. The formation of the cut and reverse to the thigh 4, E: and 3, F is the same as explained previously. But the execution will be done by lowering the arm to the corresponding lines. The same warning applies with respect to the execution on lines F, I, and E, 2, compared with the others.
Half Cut and Half Reverse
62. If from the common guard, the enemy adds their saber to your outside line, subjecting with their strong the weak of their opponent’s so much that its tip goes beyond their right vertical and lower than the shoulders, uncovering the high line, in consequence, as the one who is subjected you will turn your hand to Third, bending the arm to put your guard close to your left shoulder and at its height; and from here you will pass your sabre over that of your enemy, and extending your arm with vigor direct a horizontal cutting wound to their neck, this is called a half-reverse. If the engagement is in the inside with the same subjection, turn the hand to Fourth and bend the arm to join the guard to the right shoulder, direct, over the enemy’s sword a horizontal cutting wound to the neck, extending the arm vigorously, and there will be executed the half-cut.
Free Thrust of Fourth
63. All the cuts and reverses explained to here have been have been seen to be formed by the point of the sabre. The attacks that follow are formed below or above the guard. For example: assume the offensive stance and the common guard (Paragraph 51), if the opponent engages his sword on the outside having assumed the defensive stance (Paragraph 52), free or pass the point underneath to the inside and pass it to the height you had before, turn your hand to Fourth and direct a thrust to their right side above the breast leaving our hand a little bit higher than the superior plane and covering the left vertical with the guard. This wound is called the free thrust of fourth.
Free Thrust of Third
64. Assume the offensive stance and the common guard, if the enemy engages their sword to the inside to wait, free or pass the point below to the outside, turn the hand fully to third position, raising it to the height said in the previous attack, and covering the right vertical with the guard, extend well the arm, direct the point to the shoulder of your opponent; this is called free thrust of third.