The First Part:

(13) Of the Two Hand Sword

The two hand Sword, as it is used now a days being four handfuls in the handle, or more, having also the great cross, was found out, to the end it should be handled one to one at an equal match, as other weapons, of which I have entreated. But because one may with it (as a galleon among many galleys) resist many Swords, or other weapons: Therefore in the wars, it is used to be place near unto the Ensign or Ancient, for the defense thereof, because, being of itself able to contend with many, it may the better safeguard the same. And it is accustomed to be carried in the City, aswell by night as by day, when it so chances that a few are constrained to withstand a great many. And because his weight and bigness, requires great strength, therefore those only are allotted to the handling thereof, which are mighty and big to behold, great and strong in body, of stout and valiant courage. Who (forasmuch as they are to encounter many, and to the end they may strike the more safely, and amaze them with the fury of the Sword) do altogether use to deliver great edge blows, down right and reversed, fetching a full circle, or compass therein, staying themselves sometimes upon one foot, sometimes on the other, utterly neglecting to thrust, and persuading them-selves, that the thrust serves to amaze one man only, but those edge blows are of force to encounter many. The which manner of skirmishing, besides that, it is most gallant to behold, being accompanied with exceeding swiftness in delivery, (for otherwise it works no such effect) it also most profitable, not properly of itself, because men considering the fury of the sword, which greatly amazes them, are not so resolute to do that, which otherwise they could not choose but do. That is, either to encounter the sword in the middle towards the handle, when it carries small force, or else to stand far off, watching whilst the sword goes, and is carried compassing in his great circle, being of the compass of ten arms, or more, and then to run under it, and deliver a thrust. And these two ways are effectual, when such men are met withal, who are exercised to enter nimbly and strike, or such as dare, and have the spirit and courage, to set, and oppose themselves single against the two hand sword, even as the single two hand sword adventures to oppose itself against many. Neither is this thing to be marveled at, for in these our days, there be things performed of greater activity and danger. And there be some which dare do this with the sword and round Target, but yet they are not resolute to strike first, but will receive and sustain the blow, with the round Target, and then enter and thrust, this truly betokens great courage and activity, although not such is required in this behalf.

This much concerning that, which appertains to the defense of circular blows, of the two hand sword, when it endeavors to oppose itself against many. And forasmuch as men have, and sometimes do use, both in the lists and other places, to fight single combats, one to one with the single two hand sword, I will also declare my opinion touching the same.

(13.1) Of the Manner How to Handle the Two Hand Sword in Single Combat

To those, who would cunningly handle the Two hand Sword in single combat, it is principally necessary that (as in other weapons) they be practiced and have the skill, to use the one hand aswell as the other, and they both be active in body, and strong in the arms, which are required in the managing of each weapon. And farther it is requisite that they carry the principles of this Art, surely fixed in their minds and memories, by means whereof they may become bold and resolute, in as much as they have to do, either in striking or defending.

They ought furthermore to consider, how the two hand sword is used, and how it ought to be used.

Touching the first, All men use to deliver thrusts, aswell as edge blows, down right, and reversed, with both hands to the Sword which way albeit, it be profitable in the bestowing of edge blows, as being the better able to sustain the Sword, yet in the discharge of thrusts it is hurtful, for it causes them to be much shorter, then they would be, if in the beginning, they were forcibly delivered with both the hands, and then by taking away one hand from the cross, they were springed as far forth, as the pommel hand, foot, and all the body of that side, may be stretched out. For, being discharged in this manner, if they hit home they make great passage, and if they be voided, yet the Two hand sword may be quickly had again, by the retiring of a pace,
and of the hand and arm, placing the other hand there where it was, and so settling in the low ward. Therefore, when one finds himself to stand at the high ward, (the which at the two hand Sword, is framed, either with the right side towards the enemy, either with the left, in either of which ways, the arm would be borne aloft, and far off from the body, causing the point somewhat to bend both towards the ground and the body, to the end it may defend both the length of the body, and cover it in a manner thwarting or crossing, it being so far off from the sword.

Farther, in this ward, the hand that is towards the enemy, must take hold fast of the handle near the cross, and underneath, the other hand above, and near the pommel. I say standing thus at the high ward, he may either deliver a thrust, either a down right blow of the edge.

The thrust is discharged (as soon as the enemy's sword is found) as far in the beginning as he may with both arms: Then, taking away the cross hand, he shall force it farther on with the pommel hand, as much as he may stretch it forth, always in the discharge, increasing a slope pace. And the thrust being thus delivered, he shall presently retire his said pace, and return his hand again to the cross, settling himself either in the high or low warde. But if he would deliver a down right blow with the edge which I counsel him not to do, because he may easily be struck under it, he shall first discharge a thrust with both his hands, and then increasing a pace, shall turn the said downright blow, stretching out the arm as much as he may. In the delivery of which blow, if he meet with the enemy's sword, he shall take away his hand from the cross, and stretch out the pommel hand as much as he may, with the increase of a pace. And farther, turning the said hand which holds the sword upwards, to the end, to lengthen the thrust, he shall drive, and force it on, and  presently retire himself in the manner aforesaid.

(13.2) Of the Defense of the High Ward at Two Hand Sword

The low ward, shall be the defense of the high ward, and it may be framed with the right foot before and behind, in such sort, as the said high ward, the which shall be declared in his proper place.

Therefore, regarding to place himself for his defense in the low ward (and that directly contrary to his enemy, that is to say, if the enemy stand with the right foot before, to put his left foot foremost, and as the thrust or downright blow comes) he shall encounter it without, and as soon as he has found the enemy's sword, he shall void his cross hand, and increase a pace, and therewithall deliver a thrust, with the pommel hand, as far as it will stretch out. The which thrust will easily speed, if the enemy come resolutely in delivering of his blow: for he shall come directly to encounter the point of his sword, with that part of his body which increases forwards. Thus much for the defense of the high thrust.

The downright blow may be warded, if whilst the enemy's sword is in his compass, he nimbly deliver a thrust under it. or else, if he would encounter it, (as soon as he has so done) he do void his cross hand, and with the increase of a pace, thrust as far forth as the pommel hand will stretch out.

(13.3) Of the Hurt of the Low Ward at the Two Hand Sword

Because the broad ward in handling of this weapon is painful and unsure, I leave speak thereof, and come to the low ward, which is framed two ways, to wit: either with the right or with the left foot before, and in either way, one may strike both within and without. Within, is rather to ward, then to strike: for the enemy that stands without, has the greater advantage. Finding himself therefore within, and bearing the sword firmly, he shall force and drive on a thrust, as far as both arms may stretch out together, increasing a pace and settling in the low ward, if he do not speed.

But finding himself to stand without, and as soon as he has found the enemy's sword, he shall deliver a thrust, first, at the length of both arms, then, voiding the cross hand, increase a pace and deliver it out at uttermost length of the pommel hand, and immediately after the thrust, retire his hand and pace, staying himself again in the said low ward.

(13.4) Of the Defense of the Low Ward at the Two Hand Sword

It is a general rule, that the true defense of all blows is the low ward. Therefore, when one stands thereat, if there come a thrust without (because it is necessary in this case to stand within,) he shall do no other then encounter the enemy's sword, and thrust his arm forwards, to the end he may void it from his body, and farther retire his foot more backwards, and as it were, in a compass, thereby the better saving his body from hurt.

But if the thrust come within (by reason whereof he should stand without) as soon as the enemy's sword is encountered, he shall deliver a thrust with both his hands, and then voiding his cross hand, he shall deliver it strongly with his pommel hand, with the increase of a pace. And this thrust does safely speed. Neither is it to be doubted, that by holding the sword with one hand, the enemy may take holdfast thereof, for he has enough to do, to retire himself, and ward the thrust, neither can he perform so many things in one time.

Released: November 09, 1998
Last modified: March 22, 2008