This is a transcript of the original work by Sir William Hope

CHAP. I.
Of the hanging Guard, and how it is to be kept with the Back-Sword, Sheering Sword, or Small-Sword, either a-Foot, or upon Horse-back.

BEING to Establish the Art of Defence, in a manner, upon quite another Foot and Method, than what it hath been formerly, Security and Safety being my only aim; the Reader must not be surprised, if in place of Neat and Graceful Posture, and Genteel Method of Play, so much admired by some People, he meet only with a good, secure, and homely Posture, and a firm and solid Defence, and Pursuit flowing from it: For, provided a Man Defend himself well, by making a good Cross upon his Adversary's Sword, (which is the only true Source, from whence all certain Defence flows) it is in my Opinion, no great Matter, whether it be in Quart, or Tierce, or with a genteel and graceful Deportment of the Body or not.

AND altho' I do acknowledge, that a comely and graceful Address, be very agreeable and taking with By-standers, especially in a School-Assault; yet I have alwise observed, that when a Man is really concerned to make a true Defence for his Life, he appears in such an earnest Posture, his Limbs and other Members so much concerning themselves, in the celerity of the Motion designed for their Defence; that it clearly appears, that what goes under the Name of Graceful Fencing, is for no other use, but only for such, as, for Divertisement, counterfit a Fight with Blunts, that is, who only Assault in the Schools with Foils: For in a real Occasion, all that Variety and Quaintness of Play, is so much neglected, that it is easily perceived by the eagerness of the Motions, and concern of the Look and Gesture, that it is only Safety and Self-preservation; not a good Grace, which a Man in such a Case chiefly aims at, and is concerned about.

THEREFORE, leaving that Genteel and Graceful kind of Play, for the Diversion of Schools; I shall endeavour to recommend in its place, one of quite another Nature, and whose Gracefulness consists chiefly, in its Security for a Man's Defence. There, and there only, in my Opinion, lyes the Gracefulness of Fencing: And if it do, I hope to make it appear, that the Method I am about to discover, is as Genteel, and Graceful a Method, as any hath ever hither to been made use of.

SHORT and easie then shall be the Rules, upon which I shall establish it; and as I intend to lay down Directions for the Blow as well as for the Thrust, I shall so order it, that the Rules for Thrusting shall alwise go before, and preceed the Directions for the Blow: But seeing, that before a Man can either Thrust or Strike, he must of necessity bring his Blow or his Thrust from some one Posture or other; I shall therefore begin this New Method, by showing how a Man ought to stand to his Guard; for it is chiefly from hence, that all the benefit of a sure Defence does proceed; as you will easily discover by the sequel.

IN standing to this Guard, which in effect, is but an Improving of the ordinary Hanging Guard; a Man is to keep his Feet, at a pretty good distance from one another, for his more firm standing; His Right Knee a little more bent than the Left; Is to show as little of his Left side to his Adversary as possible, without constraining and weakening too much his Posture; Is to present his Sword, with his Hand as high as his Head, and in second, which is with the Nails of it almost quite down; His Sword's Point must slop towards the middle part of his Adversary's advanced Thigh, but sometimes higher or lower, as occasion requires; and either without or within it, according as his Adversary presents his Sword; and this for the better securing of himself upon one side: For 'tis a general Rule in Fencing, and punctually to be observed, never to present one's Sword, without perfectly Covering, or Securing, as we call it, one side of the Body.

THE Sword being in this Posture, He is to keep his Head a little beneath his Sword-Arm, with his Breast inclining forewards, which is as well for the securing of his Head, as the keeping of the lower Parts of the Body at a Little distance from his Adversary; and the more earnest he is upon his Pursuit, or Defence, the more he must stoop and incline forwards , with his Head and Shoulders; His Left Hand is alwise to be kept in readiness, for the opposing, or putting by, of an irregular or straggling Thrust; and for its position ought to be kept advanced within the hollow of the Sword-Arm, the points of the Fingers pointing slopewise upward, and its Palm declining a little from him, toward the Right side, but with as little exposing of the Left side, as I said, as possible: And all this as much as he can without constraint; For never was there any Posture of Defence yet good, that was too constraining.

THUS have I shown you exactly, how this excellent Hanging-Guard is to be kept, with any kind of Weapon, either a-Foot or Horseback; from which I intend to draw, such a Secure and General Defence, against the Thrusts and Blows of all Weapons, that, without contradicting Reason, and evident Demonstration, it shall not be in the power of any, even the greatest Criticks to deny the Advantages it has over most of the other Guards; which shall be the Subject of the next Chapter: But for such, as have neither the Patience, nor Curiosity to read those Advantages, and who, relying upon my Judgement, take them upon Trust, and are only anxious to be informed of the True Defence and Pursuit, naturally flowing from this Guard; they may skip the Three following Chapters, and go to the Fifth, where they will certainly find what they desire; altho' if they take my Advice, and intend to understand the Theory, as well as Practice, of this excellent Guard; I do indeed, recommend to them the regular Reading of this Piece, from Beginning to End; whereby they will understand my Design, and the Arguments I found it upon, to the full; and also be the more capable to Reason upon it, when any person, who, perhaps is no well-wisher to either the Author or it, shall offer to impugn the great Use and Benefit of it.

Back to Index.Utmost thanks to J. Miller.

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