Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Open to public view.

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Jan 2014 07:41

Alex,

No, unfortunately the German book (1894) isn't downloadable here, in Hungary.

And just a short clarification: there are two - completely - different books (co)written by von Arlow
- the first, written in 1894, is about KuK Army system (Hoch-Tierce),
- the second, written in 1902, is about the Italian sabre fencing.
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 28 Jan 2014 07:54

That said, there is a huge hole in Italian fencing books from the end of the 17th century until the beginning of the 19th century, so I suppose it could be something from the 18th.

Could be, or what is even more likely: Viennese fencing master Hartl just invented something new and gave it a nice fantasy name: Neapolitan fencing, IIRC he also taught stage fencing both for male and female students, so this might inspired him. BTW a dagger in icepick position looks really good and dramatic on stage, but as far as I can tell based on my limited fencing experience with two weapons, it isn't the best position during free fencing.
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 30 Jan 2014 07:19

Alex,

Have you seen any other book(s) about the Austrian Hoch-Tierce (Hoch-Terz) fencing style?
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 31 Jan 2014 00:47

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
That said, there is a huge hole in Italian fencing books from the end of the 17th century until the beginning of the 19th century, so I suppose it could be something from the 18th.

Could be, or what is even more likely: Viennese fencing master Hartl just invented something new and gave it a nice fantasy name: Neapolitan fencing, IIRC he also taught stage fencing both for male and female students, so this might inspired him. BTW a dagger in icepick position looks really good and dramatic on stage, but as far as I can tell based on my limited fencing experience with two weapons, it isn't the best position during free fencing.


No, it really isn't particularly useful in icepick position as a parrying implement. It wouldn't shock me if it's just made up nonsense. I just haven't seen anything in the literature that suggests such - and it certainly wasn't included in the very, very simple system I learned from my late master, that he learned from Santelli in the early 50s.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 01 Feb 2014 13:58

At first I thought: "Wow! Santelli, a sabre and a parrying dagger: what a combination!" Only after reading your post the second time I have realised that you are talking about his son, Giorgio and rapier & parrying dagger. Nevertheless it would be interesting to know more about the way the Santellis used a dagger while fencing with an épée (or a rapier).

Just a sidenote:
In an article James A. Keating, probably the knife fighting guru said: "Well martial artists are always trying to discover and make up new stuff, but bullshit, this stuff has been around for hundreds of years and has been improved on since. Put on a damn fencing mask, forget about your goggles and mouthpiece and anything else and put on a decent glove and then get the Santelli parrying daggers (or flexi-daggers), and damn, that's everything that a knife-fighter would ever want to train with".
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 01 Feb 2014 14:22

Chris,

And another, unrelated question. Ages ago in HEMA 'surviving'? topic you mentioned:
The guard of 3rd is used in bouts a fair amount, while in Radaellian sabre, the guard of 2nd is strongly preferred, with 3rd/4th being reserved almost exclusively for the lesson. I was trained to use, and fence from both 2nd and 3rd, but with modern blades being what they are the preference is for a post-1884 style 3rd in modern-classical Italian and Italo-Hungarian sabre. Having said that, I fence from 2nd guard almost exclusively with the heavier curved sabres, as it makes a great deal more sense than with the car antenna blades. Form of equipment has a great effect on functionality.

What is the advantage of 2nd guard with a heavier curved sabre (I assume the weight is somewhere between 600-700 g)?
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 02 Feb 2014 19:34

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Chris,

And another, unrelated question. Ages ago in HEMA 'surviving'? topic you mentioned:
The guard of 3rd is used in bouts a fair amount, while in Radaellian sabre, the guard of 2nd is strongly preferred, with 3rd/4th being reserved almost exclusively for the lesson. I was trained to use, and fence from both 2nd and 3rd, but with modern blades being what they are the preference is for a post-1884 style 3rd in modern-classical Italian and Italo-Hungarian sabre. Having said that, I fence from 2nd guard almost exclusively with the heavier curved sabres, as it makes a great deal more sense than with the car antenna blades. Form of equipment has a great effect on functionality.

What is the advantage of 2nd guard with a heavier curved sabre (I assume the weight is somewhere between 600-700 g)?


With the heavier blade, guard of 2nd makes it easier to move between parries 2nd/5th/1st, which, for Radaellian sabre, should be the three primary parries, being that they offer the largest selection of blows/ripostes, and the passage from one parry to another requires not as much movement of the hand to cover a great deal of target. It also keeps the point on target, and with the heavier weapons the point really is noticeably faster than the chambered cut or molinello, and really helps keep the opponent at distance. The point is ready for the feint, and the feint of a thrust has greater effect on the opponent, particularly at the face, and is often used to open up a line for a nasty molinello or chambered cut.

With the lighter blades, the point or cut isn't appreciably faster either way, and the blade moves with great speed in any direction, changes direction much more easily, and so on. The much lighter and faster blades make it much more difficult to protect your arm in the extended guard of 2nd as well, and the 2/5/1 parry system can leave the arm a bit exposed, particularly if you have whippy blades, poor directors or judges, or an electric box that simply takes any blade contact with target at all and calls it a touch, regardless of edge position or power of impact. 2/5/1 can also be especially susceptible to feints with the lighter blades, e.g., feint to head and then cut the forearm during the parry by just rotating the wrist a little and smacking it into place - since those blades change positions so quickly.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 02 Feb 2014 19:45

Ulrich von L...n wrote:At first I thought: "Wow! Santelli, a sabre and a parrying dagger: what a combination!" Only after reading your post the second time I have realised that you are talking about his son, Giorgio and rapier & parrying dagger. Nevertheless it would be interesting to know more about the way the Santellis used a dagger while fencing with an épée (or a rapier).

Just a sidenote:
In an article James A. Keating, probably the knife fighting guru said: "Well martial artists are always trying to discover and make up new stuff, but bullshit, this stuff has been around for hundreds of years and has been improved on since. Put on a damn fencing mask, forget about your goggles and mouthpiece and anything else and put on a decent glove and then get the Santelli parrying daggers (or flexi-daggers), and damn, that's everything that a knife-fighter would ever want to train with".


Basically, rapier and dagger, as I learned it via my late maestro, who learned from G. Santelli, probably somewhere between '49 and '55 or so, was essentially 4 parries with the dagger (2/3/4/4 low), guard in 2nd with the rapier, dagger more withdrawn and in something of a 3rd guard, Parries as for sabre, 1-5. Cuts as typical for sabre. Rapier and dagger can be crossed for parry of cut to head. Generally, the rapier parries to the outside of the rapier, the dagger parries to outside of the dagger and between the weapons, but may also be used to parry between the weapons. Dramatically more thrusts than cuts. From speaking to some Dr. Gaugler's students, they got much the same thing through their side of the system - so I suspect this was probably something done at scuola magistrale as a bit of a fun exercise. We never did it enough to be particularly good at it - but enough to get the general sense of it. We saved it for dreary weekend afternoons when nobody felt particularly motivated to do real work, or needed a break.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 03 Feb 2014 08:26

Chris,
Thanks for the additional background information. Currently I'm re-reading your article
From Radaelli to the Present.
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 09 Feb 2014 06:32

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Chris,
Thanks for the additional background information. Currently I'm re-reading your article
From Radaelli to the Present.


Glad to see people are still finding it useful. Most of the information in there, is in the introductory materials to my book, though the book expanded on it somewhat. I've gotten a lot of additional information since then, and while it is still accurate, I'm pleased that the additional information seems to support my deductions and suppositions, on top of the hard facts I already knew.

For example, I wish I could have included some notes on Radaelli's service in the Monferrato Cavalry, and some discussion of Pecoraro-Pessina's book contents, not to mention discussion of Masiello's thoughts on cutting with the sabre, particularly in his cavalry sabre book - and also the much more interesting introduction in Del Frate's 1868/9 original book for Radaelli's school. It actually speaks to what is required for basic sabre training for troopers in the cavalry, and what is used in addition to round the system out into a full course on sabre fencing. Radaelli/Del Frate are very much in agreement on that. Essentially, the 6 molinelli, advance/retreat/lunge (though Masiello omits the lunge), 9 (6 in Masiello's case) parries, chambered cuts and the simple sforzi (which Masiello uses to teach the chambered cuts), and then cut, parry, and riposte drills, make up the basic course of instruction for a cavalry trooper, prior to actually learning to do all those actions on horseback. For a complete course in fencing, the feints and actions in tempo, and compound parries get added in.

Pecoraro-Pessina show essentially Radaellian sabre, but with cuts reduced in size, and with blades greatly reduced in weight, in their 1912 book - which was printed two years after they took over the school after Parise's death. They mention that none of what they're doing is new, but rather just acknowledging a long existing situation.

This would have been fantastic material to have and include. Sadly, it simply wasn't available at the time.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 11 Feb 2014 07:42

The basic course for a cavalry trooper:
Essentially, the 6 molinelli, advance/retreat/lunge (though Masiello omits the lunge), 9 (6 in Masiello's case) parries, chambered cuts and the simple sforzi (which Masiello uses to teach the chambered cuts), and then cut, parry, and riposte drills, make up the basic course of instruction for a cavalry trooper,...

It makes sense to exclude lunge for cavalry troopers, and to reduce the number of available parries.

BTW could you clarify the term "compound parries"?
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 11 Feb 2014 07:52

Krisztina Nagy has translated an interesting appendix of a Hungarian fencing booklet (1895).

"An interesting article, allowing some insight into the debates and approach of the fencing world - and especially the situation of Hungarian sabre fencing sport in the 19th century. It appeared as part of the appendix of the book Hungarian Sabre Fencing as Female Physical Exercise by Norbert Sztrakay, 1895, Pátria (viewtopic.php?f=22&t=19141&p=309443).

The text is highly informative regarding the principles that formed fencing around that time, and I find it also useful for connecting the puzzles of modern HEMA to the very actual and alive disputes and outcomes of ages of the living history of fencing, that to us, might appear as parts of an amazing tradition.

Fencing existed as a form of dueling or combat, and also developed as a separate art and sport on its own right those days in Hungary - supported by the attempts to lessen the dangerous dueling incidents. If we look around only in Hungarian literature, we can find great number of articles, debates, treatises both on fencing and dueling, or rules and actual, daily problems connected to either of them, and realize how deeply this sport and art was planted in Hungarian national identity as well. Fencing was also an integral part of the military, and fencers on pistes were usually also soldiers.

The first paragraphs of the article talk about the underlying principles of certain, today obviously discernible approaches of tournament regulations. The next, main topic of the text talks about a phenomenon that modern HEMA does not encounter in its original form at the moment, but has always been an essential part of fencing - the approach to and authority of fencing masters, the profession of the most renowned coaches, who carried the traditions and science of fencing through history, and their relations to their students and to the world.

I have to say, much has not changed, 'there is no new thing under the Sun' - of course, if we are talking about the principles and the essence of fencing, most central principles of coaching and the unique nature of fencers. As I understand it now, the outward things and many characteristics of a living tradition are always influenced by the actual age, trends, preferences in behavior, politics and diplomacy, rules and weapon characteristics… and I think this article gives an amusing picture of it's own time, along with some points that are worth remembering for fencers of all times.

The translation is incomplete at the moment, the missing part is a letter about the allegedly most sadly ridiculous state of the organizational background and 'disgrace' of Hungarian fencing those days…

Full article translated by Nagy Krisztina."
http://gesellschaft-lichtenawers.eu/tsc ... match.html

PDF: http://gesellschaft-lichtenawers.eu/tsc ... encing.pdf
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 12 Feb 2014 05:04

Ulrich von L...n wrote:The basic course for a cavalry trooper:
Essentially, the 6 molinelli, advance/retreat/lunge (though Masiello omits the lunge), 9 (6 in Masiello's case) parries, chambered cuts and the simple sforzi (which Masiello uses to teach the chambered cuts), and then cut, parry, and riposte drills, make up the basic course of instruction for a cavalry trooper,...

It makes sense to exclude lunge for cavalry troopers, and to reduce the number of available parries.

BTW could you clarify the term "compound parries"?


By that I mean the circular parry (which Radaelli calls the yielded parry (parata di ceduta)) and the counter-parry (parata di contro) which are a species of molinello in the opposite direction of usual, used at extreme close range, where the circular/yielded parry would be obstructed by the opponent's body. E.g., A makes a molinello to the head from the left (passing through parry of 1st and targeting B's internal head, just a few degrees diagonal from vertical. B parries 5th and ripostes to A's internal cheek. A remains in the lunge, and could parry simple 4th, but decides he'd prefer to parry 1st. He can try to parry a circular/yielded 1st, but that is likely to end up late and with his blade caught against the inside of B's body, so instead, he makes an action that is like reversing the course of his original molinello, but stopping in 1st parry.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Ken Mondschein » 13 Feb 2014 05:48

Chris: The sword and dagger you describe doesn't sound too different from Lacaze/Dubois (which I just finished translating). I'm guessing it spread around; certainly there's footage of Nadi fencing with Lacaze.

BTW, I talk about Hartl and his ladies in this article (and there's a photo):

http://historicalfencing.org/papers/Mondschein%20-%20Other%20Wild%20West.pdf
Ken Mondschein
Private
 
Posts: 20
Joined: 25 Sep 2008 20:12

Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Chris Holzman » 13 Feb 2014 17:58

Ken Mondschein wrote:Chris: The sword and dagger you describe doesn't sound too different from Lacaze/Dubois (which I just finished translating). I'm guessing it spread around; certainly there's footage of Nadi fencing with Lacaze.

BTW, I talk about Hartl and his ladies in this article (and there's a photo):

http://historicalfencing.org/papers/Mondschein%20-%20Other%20Wild%20West.pdf


I don't doubt that - and no, it doesn't appear too different to me from what Nadi was doing - though he was undoubtedly doing a better job of it than I ever did.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 14 Feb 2014 08:30

From The Other Wild West article:
Sabers in the nineteenth century were true cut-and-thrust weapons, heavier and stiffer than the
modern ones, weighing and handling more closely to their historical antecedents than to the
featherweight modern electrical saber. Barbasetti himself remarked "the [Italian] sabre... is but a
modification of the ancient épée with two cutting edges, and continues without interruption the
traditions of this weapon
."[12] In the context of its use in a Germanic country, anything from to an
old-style dueling saber to a schläger might have been used. Most likely, the weapon was
weighted for the cut, not the thrust, even though the épées used in that day were heavier, albeit
better balanced, than their modern sporting counterparts. If the women and their teacher, a
Professor J. Hartel, were truly using sabers, it was no doubt because, to their minds, there was
virtually no difference, and no viable alternative. However, the photo above seems to show foils,
which offers the possibility that the picture was staged, or that reporter was mistaken, and the
ladies perhaps fenced sword and dagger in the French manner, as Angelo showed in his famous
eighteenth-century treatise.

Hartl was the best-known Viennese fencing master in the last decades of the 19thC, died in 1906, according to Gerentsér's book (1944). Maestro Gerentsér wrote that Hartl's fencing system (method) was the low tierce system, and he had many followers. Hartl participated at several fencing exhibitions (academies) in Budapest (Hungary), even fencing competitions of masters, with several wins under his belt. He gained worldwide fame with his female fencers, among them Metterknecht sisters who visited Budapest in 1895, and later the USA.

It seems that Gerentsér made a small mistake. We know that there was a well publicized fencing exhibition by the Hartl team in Budapest a decade earlier, in 1884. And they were in the USA in 1888.
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 14 Feb 2014 08:57

The picture of Hartl's team from 1888 isn't staged, detailed contemporary accounts from Hungarian newspapers (1884) are unanimous about foil, foil and dagger displays (peculiar fencing system with a dagger in icepick position, called Neapolitan fencing, AFAIK it is Hartl own invention, later copied (?) by some Hungarian fencing masters, I saw absolutely the same foil & dagger position in Samu Chappon's book (1911)).

Regarding Barbasetti's opinion on the origin of sabre from ancient épée (rapier?) I have very serious doubts about it. Just look at this chart, depicting the development of the hilt of Polish sabres:

sabre_chart.jpg
sabre_chart.jpg (59.81 KiB) Viewed 9570 times
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 14 Feb 2014 09:08

Some notes to the above chart:
Przed = before; before 1600.

Also the title of the first column (West) and the third (East) should be interchanged, because currently the West column shows nice Ottoman hilts or the hilt of Karos sabre (Hungary, 9-10thC), of definitely Eastern origin, and the East column - nice European (Italian?) hilts.
Emil Barta
Nullo modo, amice.
User avatar
Ulrich von L...n
Colonel
 
Posts: 1409
Joined: 24 Nov 2011 13:05
Location: Hungary

Re:

Postby Chris Holzman » 15 Feb 2014 07:31

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Regarding Barbasetti's opinion on the origin of sabre from ancient épée (rapier?) I have very serious doubts about it.


I suspect there is a little hyperbole in there. The Italian fencing masters of the last couple generations seem to have basically held the general opinion that if you combine the cutting methodology of the sabre, and some of the parries, with the thrusting methodology of the spada, you have essentially arrived back at the Italian rapier. My maestro certainly viewed it that way, and I've heard similar opinions expressed by some of the graduates of the late Dr. Gaugler's program. Not that you've suddenly exactly recreated some specific 17th century master's system, but that you're basically in the general vicinity. I think that is perhaps where Barbasetti was going with it. I suspect he knew quite clearly that the weapon itself was of Eastern origin, as he appeared to be quite well read, given the history in his foil book.
--
Chris Holzman
Moniteur D' Armes
"[T]he calm spirit is the only force that can defeat instinct, and render us the masters of all our strengths." -Capt. Settimo Del Frate, 1876.
Author of "The Art of the Dueling Sabre".
Chris Holzman
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 220
Joined: 17 Mar 2006 20:44

Re: Early history of the modern fencing: sabre, ...

Postby Dave Long » 16 Feb 2014 11:25

A comment relating to the decapitation photo, from the early first century and referring to the aftermath of a cavalry encounter:
Titus Livius xxxi.34 wrote: id metum pigritiamque incussit; nam qui hastis sagittisque et rara lanceis facta vulnera vidissent, cum Graecis Illyriisque pugnare adsueti, postquam gladio Hispaniensi detruncata corpora, bracchiis cum humero abscisis, aut tota cervice desecta divisa a corpore capita patentiaque viscera et foeditatem aliam vulnerum viderunt, ...

"for men who had seen the wounds dealt by javelins and arrows and occasionally by lances, since they were used to fighting with the Greeks and Illyrians, when they had seen bodies chopped to pieces by the Spanish sword, arms torn away, shoulders and all, or heads separated from bodies, with the necks completely severed, or vitals laid open, and the other fearful wounds, realized in a general panic with what weapons and what men they had to fight."

I am not sure how reliable Livy may be, however: he is writing about events which took place a good two centuries earlier, and the spanish falcata to which he seems to be referring doesn't —to my eye— look very different from the greek kopis which Xenophon had much earlier recommended as a cavalry arm. At any rate, the trope would seem to be an ancient one...
User avatar
Dave Long
Staff Sergeant
 
Posts: 192
Joined: 30 Oct 2011 19:18

PreviousNext

Return to General Historical Martial Arts

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baidu [Spider] and 8 guests