Egerton Castle - The Principles of the Sword

From Schools of Masters of Fencing by Egerton Castle, 1885.

I'm rather impressed with myself that the "principles" I puzzled out for myself from reading 16th century sword play are pretty much identical.

"The 'time', 'distance' and 'proportion' of the early Anglo-Italian masters of the sixteenth century are still as much as ever the first notions to be grasped. They are now called 'time', 'measure' and 'guard."

"The very first principle of all fencing is obviously to keep the proper 'measure,' namely, to keep out of easy reach when on the defensive, and conversely, never to deliver an attack without being within striking distance."

"The next principle is to keep proper 'time,' namely, first, to reduce the motions of weapon and body to the strictly necessary, both in number and extent, so as to employ the least possible time in attack and parry."

"Secondly to balance those motions carefully with the adversary's in order to seize at once the least opportunity and to reduce the number of chance hits to a minimum."

"A man is said to be on guard when, holding his drawn weapon in front of him, he is in such a position as to be able to deliver every possible attack and come to every possible parry with the least expenditure."

"The definition of guard introduces the questions of 'lines,' 'engagement,' and 'position of the hard.' These three factors determine the nature of the guard, as they do also that of all attacks and parries"

"A man may be said to be engaged in a particular guard in a given line when the relative position of his weapon to that of his adversary's is such as to defeat all attacks in that line unless some means be taken to displace the guard and force an entrance."


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