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

(2) General Rules to be Observed for Weapons Usage (Cap.2)

Certain general rules which must be observed in that perfect use of all kind of weapons.

  1. First when you come into the field to encounter with your enemy, observe well the scope, evenness and unevenness of your ground, put yourself in readiness with your weapon, before your enemy comes within distance, set the sun in his face traverse if possible you can, still remembering your governors.
  2. Let all your lying be such as shall best like yourself, ever considering out what fight your enemy charges you, but be sure to keep your distance, so that neither head, arms, hands, body, nor legs be within his reach, but that he must first of necessity put in his foot(1) or feet, at which time you have the choice of 3 actions by which you may endanger him & go free yourself.
But ever remember that in the first motion of your adversary towards you, that you slide a little back so shall you be prepared in due time to perform any of the 3 actions aforesaid by disappointing him of his true place whereby you shall safely defend yourself & endanger him.

Remember also that if through fear or policy, he strike or thrust short, & therewith go back, or not go back, follow him upon your twofold governors, so shall your ward & slip be performed in like manner as before, & you yourself still be safe.

  1. Keep your distance & suffer not your adversary to win or gain the place(3) of you, for if he shall so do, he may endanger to hurt or kill you.

    Know what the place is, when one may strike or thrust home without putting in of his foot.

    It may be objected against this last ground, that men do often strike & thrust at the half sword & the same is perfectly defended, where to I answer that the defence is perfectly made by reason that the warder has true space before the striker or thruster is in force or entered into his action.

    Therefore always do prevent both blow & thrust, the blow by true space(4), & the thrust by narrow space that is true crossing it before the same come in to their full force, otherwise the hand of the agent being as swift as the hand of the patient, the hand of the agent being the first mover, must of necessity strike or thrust that part of the patient which shall be struck or thrust at because the time of the hand to the time of the hand, being of like swiftness the first mover has the advantage.

  2. When your enemy shall press upon you, he will be open in one place or other, both at single & double weapon, or at least he will be to weak in his ward upon such pressing, then strike or thrust at such open or weakest part that you shall find nearest.
  3. When you attempt to win the place, do it upon guard, remembering your governors, but when he presses upon you & gains you the place, then strike or thrust at him in his coming in.(5)

    Or if he shall strike or thrust at you, then ward it & strike or thrust at him from your ward(6), & fly back instantly according to your governors, so shall you escape safely, for that first motion of the feet backward is more swift, than the first motion of the feet forward, where by your regression will be more swift, than his course in progression to annoy you, the reason is, that in the first motion of his progression his number & weight is greater than yours are, in your first motion of your regression, nevertheless all men know that the continual course of the feet forward is more swift than the continual course of the feet backwards.

  4. If your enemy lies in the variable fight, & strikes or thrusts at you then be sure to keep your distance & strike(7) or thrust at such open part of him as are nearest unto you, at the hand, arm, head or leg of him, & go back withal.
  5. If 2 men fight at the variable fight, & if within distance, they must both be hurt, for in such fight they cannot make a true cross, not have time truly to judge, by reason that the swift motion of the hand, being a swifter mover, then the eye deceives the eye, at what weapon soever you shall fight withal, as in my paradoxes of defence in the --- chapter thereof does appear.
  6. Look to the grip(8) of your enemy, & upon his slip take such ward as shall best fit your hand, from which ward strike or thrust, still remembering your governors.
  7. If you can indirect(9) your enemy at any kind of weapon, then you have the advantage, because he must move his feet to direct himself again, & you in the mean time may strike or thrust at him, & fly out safe, before he can offer anything at you, his time will be so long.
  8. When you shall ward blow & thrust, made at your right or left part, with any kind of weapon, remember to draw your hind foot a little circularly(10), from that part to which the same shall be made, whereby you shall stand the more apt to strike or thrust from it.

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