George Silver. Brief Instructions to my Paradoxes of Defence. London.

(11) Of the Short Staff Fight (Cap. 11)

Of the short staff fight, being of convenient length, against the like weapon.  The short staff has 4 wards, that is 2 with the point up, & 2 with the point down.

  1. At these weapons ever lie so you may be able to thrust single & double, & to ward, strike, or thrust in due time, so shall your enemy, if he strikes only upon double hand be driven of necessity, seeking to win the place, to gain you the place whereby you may safely hurt him, & go free yourself by reason of your distance, & where you shall seek to win the place upon him he shall not be able to gain the place upon you, nor keep the place from you whereby he shall either be hurt, or in great danger of hurt, by reason of your large reach, true place & distance, your fight being truly handled keeping itself from close & grip.
  2. And in like sort shall it be between two, which shall play upon the best, that is, if they play both double & single handed.
  3. If you find yourself too strong for your adversary in any manner of ward, whether the same be above or below, put by his staff with force, & then strike or thrust him from it,
  4. But if you find him too strong for you upon his blows from aloft, so that you can hardly bear them upon your ward, then when he strikes in aloft at your head, & by his main strength would beat down your staff, & so give you a hurt before you shall be able to come again into your ward.   Against such a one give a slip in the sort, suddenly draw back the higher part of your body a little & your foremost foot withal, & slip in the point of your staff under his staff, & thrust single at him, & fly out with all, so shall you be sure to hit him & go out free.
  5. If he lies aloft with his staff, then you lie with your back hand low, with your point upwards towards his staff, making your space narrow because you may cross his staff to ward his blow before it comes into full force, & then strongly & suddenly misdirect his point & so thrust at him single, the which you may do before he can remove his feet, by reason of the swiftness of your hand or fly out therewith, do this for both sides of the head if cause requires it, so shall you save both your head, body, and all parts, for your upper parts are guarded, & your lower parts far out of his reach.
  6. If he lies low with his point down, then lie you with your point down also, with your foremost hand low & your hind most hand high, so that you may cross his staff, & do all things as said in the other.
  7. If he lies upon the thrust then you lie with your space narrow lying up or down with your point in such sort as you may cross his staff, & thereby you shall be able to put or beat by his thrust before it is in full force, & then strike or thrust, ever remembering your governors.  If upon this any will object that if this is true, then it is in vain to strike, to thrust, because he that does it is still in danger, this doubt is answered in the short single sword fight, in the 12th ground thereof.
  8. If your adversary strikes aloft at any side of your head or body, ward it with your point up & making your space so narrow that you may cross his staff before it comes in full force bearing or beating down his blow strongly, back again towards that side that he strikes in at you, & out of that ward, then instantly, either strike from that ward turning back your staff, & strike him on that side of the that is next to your staff.  Or lift up your staff again, & so strike him on the head or body, or thrust at his body double or single, as you may find your best advantage ever in holding your staff, let there be such convenient space between your hands, wherein you shall find yourself most apt to ward, strike or thrust to your best liking.
  9. If you play with your staff with your left hand before and your right hand back behind, as many men find themselves most apt when that hand is before, & if your adversary upon his blow comes in to take the close of you, when you find his staff crossed with yours near his hand, then suddenly slip up you right hand close to the hind side of your foremost hand, & presently loosing the hind side of your foremost hand & put in under your own staff, & then cross or put by his staff therewith your hand take hold of his staff in such sort that your little finger be towards the point of his staff, & your thumb & forefinger towards his hands, & presently with your right hand mount the point of your own staff casting the point thereof over your right shoulder, with your knuckles downwards, & so stab him in the body or face with the hind end of your staff, but be sure to stab him at his coming in, whether you catch his staff or not, for sometimes his staff will lie to far out that upon his coming in you cannot reach it, then catch that arm in his coming in which he shall first put forth within your reach, but be sure to stab, for his staff can do you no hurt, and having so done, if you find yourself too strong for him, strike up his heels, if too weak fly out.
  10. The like must you do if you play with your right hand before, & your left hand back behind, but if you need not to slide forth your left hand, because your right hand is in the right place on your staff already to use in that action, but then you must displace your left hand to take hold of his staff, or the grip as is aforesaid, & to use the stab as is above said.
  11. If both lie aloft as aforesaid, & play with the left hand before, if he strikes at the right side of your head or body then must you cross his staff before his blow is in full force, by making your space narrow, & then strike it strongly back again towards his left side, & from that ward you may turn back your staff & strike him backward & therewith on the left side of his head, or lift up your staff & strike him on the right or left side of the head, body, or arm, or thrust him in the body, the like blows or thrusts any you make at him whether he strikes or thrusts, having put by his staff, remembering your governors.   The like order must you use in playing with the right hand foreward.
  12. But if he thrusts at you continually then ever have a special care to consider, whether he lies aloft or below, & does continually thrust at you therefrom, then look that you always lie so that you make your space so narrow upon him, that you are sure to cross his staff with yours, & put it before it is in full force, and from that ward, thrust at him single or double as you find it best, & if he remembers not to fly back at the instant when he thrusts it will be too late for him to avoid any thrust that you shall make at him.

Released: November 13, 1998 / Last modified: December 12, 2008