George Silver. Paradoxes of Defence. London. 1599

(7) Of Skilled Men and Valiant Men

(7.1) Of the Single Rapier Fight between Valiant Men *31*

Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.

When two valiant men of skill at single rapier do fight, one or both of them most commonly standing upon their strength or skill in wrestling, will presently seek to run into the close. But having both skill, not without special care of their guard or cross, the which they may safely do, by reason of the length of the rapiers: but happening both of one mind, the rather do bring themselves together: that being done, no skill with rapiers avail, they presently grapple fast their hilts, their wrists, arms, bodies or necks, as in lustring(?), wrestling, or striving together, they may best find for their advantages: whereby it most commonly falls out, that he that is the best wrestler, or strongest man (if neither of them can wrestle) overcomes, wrestling by strength, or fine skill in wrestling, the rapier from his adversary, or casting him from him, either to the ground, or to such distance, that he may by reason thereof, use the edge or point of his rapier, to strike or thrust him, leaving him dead or alive at his mercy. But if one of these valiant men shall seek to run into the close, and the other shall use his skill in traversing of his ground, or otherwise by standing upon his guard or Stoccata ward, to take all manner of advantages at his coming, yet all avails him not, because the rapiers being long, the crossing of the blades cannot be avoided. That being made, the oppressor runs faster forwards than can the the defendant backwards, and so are brought together, as in the first assault they were, & every action therein performed.

(7.2) Of the Rapier and Poniard Fight between Valiant Men *32*

Of the rapier and poniard fight betwixt valiant men, having both skill.

If two valiant men do fight at rapier and poniard having both skill, one or both of them will presently press hard to win the place, wherein in his judgement he may thrust home. If both are of one mind, the time is doubled in winning the same, whereby it comes to pass, that then he that first thrusts, endangers, kills or hurts the other, and if they both thrust together, as they may do by the equal time of their feet, then they are most commonly both slain, or both hurt. And this is well known unto all men of skill, that the place being once gotten, there is neither judgement, space, pace, nor time, either by wards with their rapier blades, or by breaking with their poniards, or flying back, that can preserve or defend them. But if but one of them will seek to win by passage, hard pressing, or otherwise the place, wherein in his judgement he may thrust home, it is impossible for the other to deny him the same, because the length of the rapiers wins him the cross. The cross being taken, the place is had. The place being had, he that first thrusts, first speeds: if both thrust together, they are both in dange: then presently follows (unless it please God otherwise to have it) the stabs with their daggers, wherein there lies no defence.

(7.3) Of the Long Rapier and Poniard Fight between Valiant Men *33*

Of the long rapier & Poniard fight between two valiant men, the one having skill, the other none, he that has no skill has the vantage. 

When two valiant men shall fight with long rapiers and poniards, the one having skill, the other none, he that has no skill most commonly proves himself the better man, for these causes or reasons following. First the skillful man as knowing the other to have no skill, or find it to be so by his shape or manner of coming towards him, will presently yield to take the advantage of his coming, or else with all speed put himself into his short ward, to be ready at his coming to make a strong Stoccata (as the Italians call it) the other knowing his imperfection in fight, assures himself there can be no great good for him to stand long out at the point, presently redoubles or revives his spirits with perfect resolution, to make short work, courageously with some offensive action, such as nature shall best yield unto him, flies in with all force and agility. The skillful man stands watching to take such advantage as his schoolmaster has taught him, in which time, many times it falls out, he is taught a new time, seen by an unskillful man that never fought before, is sore hurt or slain. And if it happens they both miss in their offensive actions, then by reason thereof, and of the imperfect length of their rapiers, they come to stabbing with their poniards, wherein their lies no defence, because distance being broken, judgement fails, time is lost, and their eyes (by the swift motions of their hands) are deceived.

(7.4) Of the Long Rapier, or Rapier and Poniard Fight between Unskilled Men *34*

Of the long single rapier, or rapier and poniard fight between two unskillful men being valiant.  When two unskillful men (being valiant) shall fight with long single rapiers, there is less danger in that kind of fight, by reason of their distance in convenient length, weight, and unwieldiness, than is with short rapiers, whereby it comes to pass, that what hurt shall happen to be done, if any with the edge or point of their rapiers is done in a moment, and presently will grapple and wrestle together, wherein most commonly the strongest or best wrestler overcomes, and the like fight falls out between them, at the long rapier and poniard, but much more deadly, because instead of close and wrestling, they fall most commonly to stabbing with their poniards.

Released: November 09, 1998 / Last modified: December 12, 2008