Sadly my hubby and I came home from Dragon*Con with a horrible case of con crud and I unfortunately had to cancel my Silver’s Gryps and Closes class which I had planned for Academy of the Rapier/Atlantian University the following weekend.

To make a long story short though, my revised paper,The Mannr of Certaine Gryps, (upon which the class in based) has been uploaded to the site and is now available on the Research page.

 

 

I need new rapier armor.  I made a doublet and a pair of Venetians last year but I need at least two more doublets, a couple more pairs of trunkhose, and a jerkin or two.  So for inspiration I’ve started going through my copy of De Gheyn’s The Exercise of Armes.  The treatise is about training foot soldiers on the handling of such weapons as muskets, pikes, and calivers and as an added side benefit it is beautifully illustrated with over an hundred images of early c1607 dress.

 

Even if you aren’t interested in soldiering during the time period it makes a great resource for garb.  The variety of decoration, styles, and garments included in the images of the soldiers is a wealth of ideas.  You can see a few examples here in this post.  Once I’ve settled on my inspiration plates I will post them here with fabric samples for you guys.

I had meant to post this yesterday but I didn’t get it out before we got into the car to head for Atlantian University.  I decided to combine this weeks fitness and fighting post because this weeks post are both kinda introductory and I thought they would complement each other.

Fitness

I have posted before in the past about my efforts to get healthy and fit but they always sorta fell flat.  I would do alright for a week or two (sometimes as many as 4) but then something would come up (I’d get sick, we’d go out of town, there would be a birthday/wedding/shower) and I would fall off the wagon and then spend the next 2 or 3 months wondering what the heck happened.

Last December I decided I was going to rededicate myself to fitness.  Since it was the holiday season I started slowly-just working on making it to the gym twice a week.  That went pretty well.  After Christmas I started focusing on what I was eating.  I tried a few different things but in April I settled back on Weight Watchers which has always helped my focus on better eating and exercise habits.

Right now I am hitting the gym twice a week, fencing practice at least once a week (trying to make twice a week a regular thing and not a pipe dream), and running once or twice a week.  I’d like to start hiking in Umstead at least once a week again now that it’s nice.

Currently I’m down about 15 pounds and about half way to my goal of being down 30 pounds by the end of August (ambitions but I think doable).

The thing I want to focus on this next week with jazzing up my weekly weight routine.  It’s gotten a little stale after 7 months.

Fighting

So my fighting.  As part of getting healthy I am refocusing on my fighting.  I had been in a bit of a slump where I wasn’t enjoying it as much but that seems to have turned around sometime around Gulf Wars and now if I don’t get to fight at an event I’m pretty bummed.

I’m kinda rusty but the rust has been falling off over the past month or two.  Right now I’m trying to find a new way to challenge myself.

Originally posted July 22, 2010

Di Grassi believed that fencing was more firmly rooted in footwork than in anything else. It was necessary to provide balance and to help a fighter put force behind his blows.

Stance

In his treatise, Di Grassi recommends that a fighter stand with his body “stable” and turned towards the enemy. A fighter should make himself as small a target as possible and if he must bend his body, he should take care to bend away from the enemy. When a fighter strikes he should either advance or thrust forward as soon as it is to his advantage to do so. You should always carry your body so as to make yourself firm and immovable. Don’t make any unnecessary movements. Don’t skip or leap. Rather keep your feet on the ground and make firm and unwavering movements. Always strike or defend in one or half a motion and be careful to keep foot and arm movements together.

It is important that a fighter maintain his stability because without stability he is vulnerable not only to attack but also to grappling. He is especially susceptible to being thrown off balance or to the ground by his opponent and in such a position he would be extremely vulnerable to attack and mostly likely unable to defend himself. That’s part of why a fighter shouldn’t skip or leap about. Such action can seriously affect his stability.

It’s nearly impossible to have a stable, strong stance when you’re leaping through the air. A fighter should strive not to make any unnecessary movements because they waste time and energy and you may inadvertently place yourself in a disadvantageous position. Di Grassi also touches on a fact that he discusses many times in his work: striking or defending in one or half a motion. It is important to attack and defend in as few motions as possible. Doing so conserves time, motion, and energy. Also, elsewhere in his treatise Di Grassi demonstrates with an illustration how attacking in two times rather than one opens a fighter up to attack from his opponent. Thus it’s especially important to make you attacks and parries in as few movements as possible. Preferably a fighter should be able to attack and defend himself at the same time as this provides the most security against attacks from ones opponent.

Movement

When moving your feet you should always take care to “frame a reasonable pace.” If you want to strike you should advance or increase one foot. Conversely, when defending you should retreat or withdraw one foot, taking care not to put yourself off balance or fall.

Di Grassi does not specify what distance is to be considered a reasonable pace. Instead he explains that since all fighters have different body types a given distance, which might be “reasonable”, or comfortable, for one fighter would not be for another fighter. Thus, since everyone’s “reasonable pace” will be different, fighters should take care to figure out the distance that is comfortable for them.

The feet move straight or circularly, forwards or backwards, in a half or a whole pace. A whole pace is made when the back foot is carried forwards in front of the front foot without moving the front foot. The whole pace can be made in a straight pace or a slope (crooked) pace, however Di Grassi notes that a fighter seldom performs a straight whole pace. In a slope (crooked) pace the back foot is still brought in front of the front foot, but this time it is placed at an angle so ass to carry the body out of line of the attack. A whole pace can also be made backwards, but usually only as a straight pace. A half pace is a transitional movement and is made when the back foot is brought even with the front foot and left there or then moved forwards. When preformed backwards, the front foot is moved even with the back foot and left there or from there moved behind the back foot. A circular pace is made when the front or back foot is moved to the right or left in a compass motion. This can also be made as a half or whole circular pace. A whole circular pace is also commonly known as a volte and demi volte is also another common term for the half circular pace.

A big benefit of the movements Di Grassi outlines in his treatise is that they not only move the body through a fight but many of them also void the body out of line of attack. This is especially true for the slope and circular paces. A fighter can use these movements to not only secure a more advantageous position from which to launch his attack but he also adds an extra layer of protection to his own body at the same time. This provides a fighter more weapons for his arsenal and additional methods that he can use to both attack and defend himself at the same time, a strategy that Di Grassi advocates over and over again.

The agreement of the hands and feet

Di Grassi felt very strongly that the strength of the right hand came from the right leg. Similarly the left leg is the strength of the left hand. This theory is known as the agreement of the feet and hands. By this logic, the force of a blow should come from the legs. Because of this, the position of the arms should agree with the position of the legs. For example, if the right leg is behind the body then the fighter should stand so that the right hand is behind the left.

You can put a lot more force into your attacks by using your legs and hips than you can by using just your arms. Your leg muscles are generally larger and stronger than those of your arm and your hips can generate quite a bit of force just from torque. This additional force would be invaluable if you found yourself on an actual field of battle where life and death truly hung in the balance. In such a situation you need all the additional force and strength for you attacks that you can generate.

Closing thoughts

A fighter needs a solid foundation in order to be successful and good footwork is a big part of that foundation. Di Grassi understood that and spent several pages of his treatise discussing proper stance and movement. We can learn a great deal from his methods and much of it can benefit not only our fighting but also our own studies of the Arte of Defense. His thoughts on stance and stability are invaluable and have wide applications to both fighting and study. Similarly his thoughts on attacking and defending in time and his use of body voids are especially beneficial to fighters interested in applying their studies in real world combat.

*This article is a 2009  revision of an earlier article that I wrote in 2006.

 

*Originally posted November 9, 2010

This is a transcription that I did from a passage of The Third Book of Of Honor and Arms that I thought might make interesting reading for a [Saturday] morning.  I took the liberty of modernizing some of the language in hopes of making it easier to read.  If anyone would like it in the original please feel free email me.  My contact information can be found on the about page.

Reference: Author Unknown. The Booke of Honor and Armes. Published by Richard Jones. 1590. Available from http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home. Downloaded Sept. 2007

What Sorts of Men Ought not to be Admitted to Trial of Arms

Because the trial of arms is the realm of the gentleman and gentility itself is an honorable state it is not fit that any person of base or mean condition (i.e. any ungentlemanly person) should be admitted into that realm.  Just as judges of civil trials will often reject the testimony of an infamous witness, so to should a man of mean or base quality be disallowed from accusing an honorable man.  After all, how can such a man charge another of a crime when he himself has committed an offence against his own reputation?

1.       It has therefore been determined that no man having committed treason against his prince or country should be admitted.

2.       Also any man who has had intelligence or conference with the enemies of this prince or who having been taken by his prince’s enemies chooses to remain with them even if he has the means to return to his prince’s service.

3.       He who becomes a spy for the enemy, takes an oath against his prince, or takes his prince’s money and leaves before serving his full time.

4.       He who abandons the army of his prince and flees to the enemy, or who after having been discharged goes to the enemy during a skirmish or fight.  He shall be reputed as infamous and as a traitor.

5.       He that abandons the ensign of his prince or captain or that either during the day or night maliciously departs from the place of his charge about the prince’s person or in camp.

6.       All thieves, beggars, bawds[1], victuallers[2], excommunicated persons, usurers, men banished from the army, and every other man engaged in an occupation or trade unfit and unworthy of a gentleman or soldier.

7.       Finally, whosoever is defamed of any notable crime or who is by law not allowed to bear witness.

These are the men who should rightfully and lawfully be disallowed from challenging any gentleman or soldier and should also be abhorred by every honest person.  If a man of good reputation should fight with such person be besmirches his own character in doing so.  However, if a gentleman would refuse a challenger on these grounds he must confidently know that this man has been condemned for such crimes or at least he has been condemned for crimes so notorious that the repulsed party cannot deny it.  It should be known though that if any man of such infamy were to be challenged by a gentleman or a soldier, he may not himself refuse, unless after the challenge the challenger commits some infamous act which must be observed by both parties.

Citation: Unknown. The Booke of Honor and Armes. http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home. (1590) p.30-32


[1]Bawd: a person dealing in the prostitution industry.

[2] Victualler: a person licensed to sell alcoholic beverages.  Also used to refer to the landlord of a public house or similar establishment

It took me longer than I would care to admit (although I am posting it…) to clean my armour after Gulf Wars but I finally finished cleaning, re-bluing, and waxing everything last weekend.  It still needs to be polished though.  I’m hoping I will be able to get that done tonight or Friday night before Baronial Practice Sunday.

This time I used a new bluing agent.  It was much stronger than the gun blue I was used to using and while it did give a much nicer blue I didn’t account for the stronger reaction when I waxed my armour so I didn’t put enough wax on the pieces to effectively stop the bluing process.  So I had to clean the pieces again Tuesday night.  All that considered though I think it still looks pretty good and I don’t think I will need to strip everything off and clean and blue it again.  We’ll see though.

I’ve spent the last several evening putting the final touches on my latest article for Foundations.  I’ve enjoyed expanding my sewing horizons with this project but I am looking forward to finishing up some commission stuff once I get it turned in.  I am on schedule to turn the article in by Friday and the commission stuff should all be done and delivered by the end of the month.  Since I won’t be going to Pennsic I think I’ll spend my August making/finishing 3 new sets of rapier armor (the one I started for myself a couple months ago, one for my sweety, and one as a gift) for Atlantian 30 Year.

My new position has been keeping me incredibly busy.  It’s just about all I can do to get take out on the way home before stumbling into bed.  But it’s worth it and I’m really enjoying my new job.

Keeping up with my marshalate responsibilities has been taking up most of my copious free time but I’m sure things will be lightening up pretty soon.  I know I still owe you guys pictures of my Venetians (I promise they are coming!) but I’m already moving on to my new doublet.  Practice last week just reaffirmed that I’m really tired of not having my spaulders for C&T and my old fencing doublet is just too old to make adding points to it worth it.  So I really need to finish my new one. :)  Maybe I could finish start the alterations for my other doublet that I mentioned last month (or the new mending I picked up at Sapphire Joust…).  Two new doublets!?!  I don’t think I’d know what to do with myself.

Sorry for being so quiet these past few days.  I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather since Monday but I did want to give you guys an update.

This past weekend Wistric, Letia, and I piled in the car and headed up to St Pyr’s (a small local collegium) in Black Diamond.  It was a small, quiet event and I had an excellent time.  I taught the C&T Marshal 101 class to a larger group than I was expecting and spent the rest of the day enjoying Grettir’s I.33-Liechtenauer Symposium.  I thoroughly enjoyed his class and will be linking to his class notes once he’s had a chance to post them online.

I think the highlight of my day though was Letia’s now infamous creek incident but since I teased her fairly mercilessly on the drive back I will refrain (for now) from teasing her online. :)

Sunday was fighter practice and the baronial meeting.  I did some teaching, worked on some C&T, stayed for the meeting, and all in all had a great time.  We even went out for sushi with friends afterward.

In other news I spent last night working on my upcoming Foundations Revealed article.  So far I’m ahead of schedule but I need to make sure I stay that way. :)  I’m also working on getting my recreating Elizabethan bodies tutorial up on the website by the end of the week.

I know.  I’ve been totally slack about keeping up with these things.  Honestly I haven’t had much to write about practicewise.  If I made it out I was usually late, forgot my contacts, or suffered from some other issue or distraction.  Thankfully though daylight savings time finally switched over a few weeks ago so as soon as I can find where we put the Flip after Gulf Wars I can start taking video at practice again.

This week I made it out to not one but two practices.  I know that’s not a big deal for some folks but I’ve only rarely done more than one practice in a week even if that week also included Baronial Practice.  I was a little worried I wouldn’t have the energy for two practices back to back (Wednesday and Thursday) but once I got going I realized that wasn’t going to be a concern.  Today I’m only a little tired.  It’s a good, satisfied tired so I think I’ll keep this up.  Plus the light patina I acquired over January and February are now mostly gone so that’s kind of gratifying to see.  Sadly though I still can’t see in the dark so I’m probably going to have to make 8pm-ish my personal cut off unless there is space to fight directly under the lights.

More later.  Tonight I have some more work to do on my upcoming Foundations Revealed article and there are some software updates for the site that I’ve been putting off that I need to take care of.