Afterblows in the real combat: five myths about

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Afterblows in the real combat: five myths about

Postby Vitus » 15 Jul 2019 10:24

As we know, delivering afterblow was a common practice in the medieval and early modern combat: during the battles or the skirmishes, but also during duels. Nevertheless, several diffused opinions concerning the afterblow, are questionable:

1) Afterblow resulted just from pour fencing (?) (and in particular: the mistake of the attacker, who was opening himself for returning blow)
— NOT ONLY!
The fact the afterblow used to be common was caused not only by the mistake of the attackers, but also by the determination of the wounded combatant. An injured man is often inclined to stop fighting despite of being physically fully able to continue…But many fencers intentionally made up their mind to go fighting. That is why many fencers were ready for the immediate riposte after being hit, preferable when the opponent blade was still lodged in their bodies. So also the determination of wounded man played the crucial role… (especially if he received the thrust, which rarely had an immediate effect)

2) The mutual death was the worst result of the combat (?)
— FALSE!
In the military context, mutual death meant eliminating one the enemies, so it was always better than just being killed. In the duel context, it depended… If the cause was not so serious it could be true. In the duel to first blood, the afterblow was even contrary to the honour rules. However, in duel to the second or third blow it was different. If the opponent created the danger for those you loved (also in the juridical duel) , the mutual kill was not the worst outcome.

3) Afterblow aimed at the mutual death (?)
—FALSE!
Delivering afterblow you usually were not sure if your wound was mortal or not. You could die several seconds after, but you could also eventually survive despite of wounds. I red the relation on the rapier & dagger duel. The first attacker stabbed the opponnent twice in the neck: with the rapier and with the dagger. But the risposte of the stabbed guy was immediate... With the dagger, he mortally stabbed twice in chest the surpriced first attacker who did not expect the counterattack of "the ghost". if that weren't enough, the guy stabbed in neck eventually survived, as the blades missed his trachea...

4) Afterblow always came from the strive for revenge (?)
— FALSE!
In many cases, you were supposed to deliver the afterblow, in order to support your comrades, who will continue fighting after your probable death. In the duel, you were supposed to fight as long as possible (unless you were stopped by the seconds) until your body or the body of your opponent collapse. So continuing fight despite being seriously wounded, you demonstrated your courage and determination to defend your honour.

5) The fencing masters instruct us how to guard against afterblows (?)
— NOT ONLY!
They also instruct how to deliver them. Such advice did not appear often in the texts, also because in this way the author admitted that the recommended tactics could fail. Nevertheless, in some places the masters recommended openly to deliver the afterblow, as for example P. Mair (basing yet on the medieval sources) , in three subchapters on the mixed weapons combats. The fencers deliberately prepared themselves to deliver the afterblow in case of being hit. You would not like to be paralysed or show dismay in such case, but to give the resolute riposte (to at least prevent the opponent form walking away unscatched; or to even save your life if you were lucky).
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To avoid the afterblow the attacker had to release the sword sticking in the opponent's body
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Last edited by Vitus on 25 Jul 2019 18:27, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 15 Jul 2019 20:27

Your image is a really funny "paraphrase" of the original. :wink:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/An ... ientia.png

Camillo Agrippa: Trattato Di Scientia d'Arme (1553), Plate H
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Re:

Postby Vitus » 16 Jul 2019 15:06

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Your image is a really funny "paraphrase" of the original. :wink:

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/An ... ientia.png

Camillo Agrippa: Trattato Di Scientia d'Arme (1553), Plate H



Thanks a lot for adding the original picture... I am wondering if the guy threre, has still any chance to deliver the afterblow?

What I want to underline is that there are two perspectives in the afterblow issue (as it was also demonstrated in the excellent text by Matt Galas On the Afterblow): the attacker's perspective and the defender's (or counterattacker's) perspective. In our discussions we usually tend to consider exclusively the former. Perhaps we even feel ashamed to root for the injured guy who is delivering afterblow, or to identify ourselves with him.... Nevertheless, historically fencers did not fell ashamed to prepare themselves to deliever afterblows in their rugular training. And many masters did not feel ashamed to instruct you to deliver the afterblow rith away if you fell the hostile blade piercing your body....

Perhaps nowadays, some of us tend to think that afterblow does not make part of fencing of the proper sense (related with "defence"), but it is just the "act of revenge". But I dissagree with such view... In this context, it is worth reminding that effective afterblow did not mean necessairly the "mutual death", as in many cases you could incapacitate/kill the first attacker and survive despite being injured.


I like also another picture, attatched below. The attacker in bent over, apparenly to avoid the afterblow, whereas the stabbed guy, though has already the expression of agony in his face, do not want to give up...
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Re: Re:

Postby Ulrich von L...n » 17 Jul 2019 14:12

Vitus wrote: I am wondering if the guy threre, has still any chance to deliver the afterblow?

To be honest, I don't know, it depends on so many factors. Very unlikely.

Vitus wrote:...the stabbed guy, though has already the expression of agony in his face, do not want to give up...

In the second picture the stabbed guy is basically dead, not once, but twice. It would be interesting know the actual source of this picture, and also a detailed description, if we have one.
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Re: Re:

Postby Vitus » 19 Jul 2019 15:03

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Vitus wrote:...the stabbed guy, though has already the expression of agony in his face, do not want to give up...

In the second picture the stabbed guy is basically dead, not once, but twice. It would be interesting know the actual source of this picture, and also a detailed description, if we have one.


The piclture comes from Fabris manual. He adviced to "pass all the way on to the body" after having hit.

So the stabbed guy is not dead yet... He would willinly jab back the opponent with his dagger, with the dying breath. That is why the winner is so bent over to deny the dying guy this last satisfaction …

I found very similar picture in Heussler, who apparently followed Fabris in this point. But here the winner is taking rapier in his left hand and his poniard is not visible.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 19 Jul 2019 20:19

Vitus wrote:So the stabbed guy is not dead yet... He would willinly jab back the opponent with his dagger, with the dying breath.

I'm not a surgeon, but it seems that the stabbed guy is in a really bad shape; his life expectancy should be counted in seconds, not in minutes. It is very unlikely that he could use his rapier, also his left arm is blocked by his opponent left shoulder, and his dagger is also blocked, but it isn't clear to what extent.

Also it is worth noting the amount of blood dripping from his wound (or wounds).
One would assume if we seem such amount of blood while both blades are still in his torso, that would mean only one thing: the rapier went through his aorta.
Last edited by Ulrich von L...n on 20 Jul 2019 08:06, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:

Postby Vitus » 19 Jul 2019 22:57

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Vitus wrote:So the stabbed guy is not dead yet... He would willinly jab back the opponent with his dagger, with the dying breath.

I'm not a surgeon, but it seems that the stabbed guy is a really bad shape; his life expectancy should be counted in seconds, not in minutes. It is very unlikely that he could use his rapier, also his left arm is blocked by his opponent left shoulder, and his dagger is also blocked, but it isn't clear to what extent.

Also it is worth noting the amount of blood dripping from his wound (or wounds).
One would assume if we seem such amount of blood while both blades are still in his torso, that would mean only one thing: the rapier went through his aorta.


You are probably right that the stabbed guy has probably less than one minute of life. But the intention of Fabris was to underline that after delivering the thrust you should be alert until the end, as the dying opponent can always hit you back... That is why, on the picture, the combatant who is just dying is juxtaposed with the victor who still makes a great effort to defend himself...

Moreover, being run through you could consider the matter of honor try very hard untill your body collapse, and the adrenaline rise could help you stab back even some seconds before falling into the night.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 20 Jul 2019 08:05

Vitus wrote:But here the winner is taking rapier in his left hand and his poniard is not visible.

Regarding the second picture (Heussler) I disagree.

The only (visible) poignard in the picture belongs to the winner. Otherwise the left arm of the stubbed guy would be too long for a human. Also we can clearly see the fingers gripping the dagger, it is a right hand.
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Re:

Postby Vitus » 20 Jul 2019 09:04

Ulrich von L...n wrote:
Vitus wrote:But here the winner is taking rapier in his left hand and his poniard is not visible.

Regarding the second picture (Heussler) I disagree.

The only (visible) poignard in the picture belongs to the winner. Otherwise the left arm of the stubbed guy would be too long for a human. Also we can clearly see the fingers gripping the dagger, it is a right hand.


Actually yes, it is different than in the older picture.... :) Before I was thinking that the winner stabbed his opponent with the poniard in the lower parts of the corpus and the visble poniard is of the dying guy (as in the Fabris' picture).... But if the visible poniard belongs to the guy who is bent over, where is the poniard of guy stabbed with rapier?
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