The compleat fencing-master in which is fully described the whole guards, parades & lessons belonging to the small-sword : as also the best rules for playing against either artists or ignorants with blunts or sharps : together with directions how to behave in a single combat on horse-back : illustrated with figures representing the most necessary postures
Hope, William, Sir.

CHAP. I. *Of holding the Sword.

Ma.

You must hold your Sword after this manner; hold your Thumb upon the broad side of the Handle with your Fingers quite round it, as in the second Figure of the first Page  12Plate marked F. and not as some do, who put their foremost and middle Fingers thorow the two arms of the Hilt, thinking that by doing that, they hold their Sword firmer, some use onely to put their fore∣most Finger through, which the Spainards did of old, and many even to this day do it; but both wayes are most ridiculous, and dangerous.

Sch.

I think any Man of common sense may perceive that, for when a Man holdeth his Sword in that fashion, with his Fingers through the arms of the Hilt, he is in danger of having his Fingers broken, if his Adversary should inclose with him, and offer to force the Sword out of his band, for holding it that way he cannot so easily quit with it, as he should, and therefore will infallibly in my opinion be in hazard of losing his Fingers, if not his life in the cause.

Ma.

Sir, You have found out exactly the hazard that a Man is in, in holding his Sword after that manner, but when you hold it, as I have before told you, you must hold it fast and firm, and not gently, so that your Adversary with the least sudden beat or twist may force it out of your hand.

Sch.

What is the hazard if I should hold it loosly in my hand?

Ma.

The hazard of holding it loosly is Page  13this, * that when once you get a habit of hold∣ing your sword so, if you should have oc∣casion to play with sharps, you will be in ha∣zard of having it struck out of your hand, which may put your life in hazard. This I think a sufficient reason to cause you hold your Sword firm in your hand, but not so as to weary it.

Sch.

Indeed it is so, and now when I consider it; Although a Man had not such a Strong reason as that you have given me to cause him hold his Sword fast, yet Peoples very laughing at men when they are playing with blunts, because they see at every other Thrust their Flurett beat out of their Hand, should be a sufficient argument to them to cause them hold it fast, and I my self when I have seen them quite with their Flurett so easily, al∣though I understood nothing of this Art my self, yet I thought it very un-handsome, and laughed at them as being as Ignorant of this Art as my self.

Ma.

You had good reason to do so, and yet I have seen some who understood little or nothing of this Art, beat the Flurett out of their Adversaries hand, although he was very far above their play.

Sch.

What should be the Reason of that?

Ma.

The Reason why that sometimes falleth out, is because he that is playing with such an Ignorant, knoweth himself to Page  14be far above his play and therefore trusting too much to his Adversaries, * Ignorance neglects that which he should, and certainly would most if he were playing with one he thought understood as well as himself, take notice of, so that by the least sudden twist oBeat, that his Adversarie giveth his flurett (although more perhaps by chance the Art) he and it is separate, and it is sometimes for such reasons as this, that by-standers who understand not this Art. Cry it doun and undervalue it as not worth the under∣standing, when they see one that getteth the Name of a Sword man, bafled by an Ig∣norant, never considering that it is the others inadvertancie. Therefore, to prevent all such inconveniencies, let a man alwayes hold his sword as firm in his hand as possibly he can, without wearie∣ing himself, and then he will be but in little hazard as to that: for I can assure him he will but find few unless it be such as are very expert in this Art, that will be able to Beat his sword with such a spring, as to cause it go out of his hand, but let us go to the next thing I am to teach you, which is.