"The exercising of weapons putteth away aches, griefs, and diseases, it increaseth strength and sharpeneth the wits, it giveth a perfect judgment, it expelleth melancholy, choleric, and evil conceits, it keepeth a man in breath, in perfect healthe, and long life." – George Silver (1599)
I’m reading this book on dueling that’s really interesting in a number of ways. Here’s one of them.
Certain things were bound to lead to fights, and in particular, being called a liar was at the top of the list of things worth spilling blood over. The below passage from Ludowick Bruskett’s A Discourse of Civill Life (1606) shows such an Old world rhetorical flair, such noble restraint in what we moderns would describe as talking shit and calling somebody a punk bitch.
“I did dislike the cut of a certain courtier’s beard; he sent me word, if I
said his beard was not cut well, he was in the mind it was; this is called
the Retort Courteous. If I send him word again, it was not well cut, he
would send me word that he cut it to please himself; this was called the Quip
Modest. If again it was not well cut, he disabled my judgment; this is
called the Reply Churlish. If again it was not well cut, he would answer I
spake not true; this is called the Reproof Valiant. If again it was not
well cut, he would say, I lie, this is called the Countercheck Quarrelsome.
And so to the Lie Circumstantial and the Lie Direct.”
This looks fun, even if the mechanism is probably a bit paper-rock-scissors. I don’t think a videogame in any near future will be able to capture the realistic dynamics of a sword fight, although Soul Caliber is a pretty awesome game.
This article by J. Christopher Amberger is good and scholarly.
The Filipino arts of arnis and eskrima have their own specimen of diffusionist theory to show for. One of the most pervasive is the recently publicized assumption that espada y daga and doble baston are not only analogous to the conquistadors’ rapier and dagger, but directly influenced by the Spanish systems.
From a pre-politically correct Western point of view, the uninventiveness of non-Western societies has always been a mainstay of diffusionists and cultural colonialists alike. And in the case of eskrima, there are indeed superficial similarities that would point at Spanish influence:
Both systems involve a longer and a shorter bladed weapon. And the footwork of both the modern eskrima and that of the Spanish rapier schools involve geometric patterns.
But nobody who has been at the receiving end of the rapid double-barreled barrage of cuts, the fleeting yet granite-hard blocks, and explosive disarms of a modern arnis master such as Mark Wiley and then witnessed the nimble-footed, deliberate application of fencing space and time as exhibited by Spanish rapier master Ramon Martinez can shake the impression that when it comes to the Filipino and Spanish systems, we’re looking at two different animals indeed.
A closer look at the combative backgrounds of the two systems points out considerable incongruencies.
From F.C. Christmann (of Napoleon’s Imperial Guards) und Pfeffinger, G. Theoretisch-Praktische Anleitung des Hau-Stoßfechtens und des Schwadronhauens nach einer ganz neuen Methode, Offenbach am. (1838).