Chapter One

Comment/Interpretation

In this section, Don Manuel de Brea describes the smallsword itself. The blade should be 83/4 centimetres long. The guard should have quillions and in later chapters he describes using these to trap an opponent’s blade. The pommel should be heavy enough to balance the sword. One possibly significant difference with many smallswords is that he states that there should be pas d’âne rings big enough to be able to insert fingers and use to grip the ricasso. This is because in later chapters, he describes applying degrees of pressure to an opposing blade.

He describes placing either one or both fingers in the pas d’âne – giving more or less ability to control an opposing blade. He states that not placing any fingers in the pas d’âne is the weakest approach and can be lead to be disarmed. He explicitly states that losing some reach is preferable to a weak grip – hence the need to use the pas d’âne.

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Translation

Chapter I

Classes with the foil and how to hold one

The smallsword, which from now on, will be a called a foil, should, for purposes of learning how best to use it, measure three Castillian feet[1]– which is the same as one Castillian yard – to the guard. The guard should be small, there being some variety as to its shape: the first possibility being round, slightly cup shaped and unadorned and no more than four fingers (7 cm) in diameter. The grip should be long and slim and directly attached to the guard and the pommel should be round and heavy in order to make the sword feel light (Illustration 1 Figure 1). The second possibility uses two pas d’âne rings of no more than one or two fingers (1.75cm to 3.5cm) height forming a cross with the blade inserted through the guard and the pommel and grip holding all together (Illustration 1 Figure 2).

The third, with two finger rings each one about an inch (2.4 cm) long coming out from the guard and large enough to easily insert two fingers into the space and hold the blade firmly by the ricasso, with a short and slim grip and a pommel not passing from the wrist line (Illustration 1 Figure 3). This is called the correct line. These are the three most important and useful features as they mean that you can wear your sword in your belt and use it without getting entangled.

The foil can be held in one of three ways. First, one can place two fingers in the pas d’âne as can be seen in figure 3. Second, you might place no more than one finger in the pas d’âne as seen in figure 2. Third, one might not place any finger in the pas d’âne. This last way of holding the sword provides the longest reach but is the least secure and it can be easy to be disarmed. Use this grip for any French style fencing plays or for those who fence according to the French School.

The second style of grip, despite losing one finger’s worth of reach, is stronger and is most usually used by those who practice Italian style fencing.

The first grip mentioned is the strongest, despite sacrificing two fingers’ worth of reach and is the preferred option as it allows a greater freedom in all the movements of the True Art and will shortly be demonstrated.

Remember that the hollow in the guard is called concave and the outward facing rounded shell is convex. The ricasso is the part between the guard and the shell and on the open blade is a broader piece with two spigots as in figure 4.

[1] Three Castillian feet is the same as 83.5cm: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pie_castellano

Original Text

CAPITULO I.

 

El espadín, que desde ahora nombraremos florete para aprender á batallar, ó exercitarse en su manejo, ha de tener tres pies castellanos de longitud, que es una vara hasta la guarnición. Esta será pequeña, y aunque en esto hay variedad, las mas á propósito son las siguientes: la primera redonda, su diámetro de quatro dedos, lisa, y un poco acopada, el puño largo y no grueso, y unido á la misma guarnición, el pomo pesado y redondo, para que le haga ligero, como lo manifiesta la lám. I, fig. I: la segunda, en que de la misma guarnición saldrán dos patillas, que subirán hácia arriba, de un dedo ó dos de alto, encima un palillo abierto por medio, que metiendo la hoja por la guarnición y el referido palillo formará cruz; el puño y pomo unidos para que este sujete el todo, segun la fig. 2.

La tercera, en que de la misma guarnicion saldrán dos gavilanes de una pulgada de largo cada uno, el puentecillo redondo y bastante alto, para que con desahogo se puedan meter los dedos en la concavidad, y agarrar la hoja por el recazo, la empuñadura corta y no gruesa; de manera, que así en esta especie como en las demas llegue el pomo, y no pase del hueco que forma la muñeca, que se llama linea receta, como lo indica la fig. 3.

Estas tres clases son las mas universales y útiles, pues se pueden traer en la cinta sin embarazarse, y hacer las funciones que ocurran con libertad.

El florete se podrá empuñar de uno de tres modos; á saber, metiendo dos dedos en la concavidad que forma la guarnicion, como lo manifiesta la fig.3: segundo, no metiendo mas de uno, segun la fig.2: tercero, sin meter niguno, como en la fig.1. Este último es el de mas alcance, pero de ménos fuerza, y confacilidad se suele desprender el florete de la mano. Usándole para todas sus funciones los franceses, ó los que se exercitan en su doctrina.

El segundo pierde de su alcance un dedo; es mas firme, y por lo regular le usan los que se exercitan en la doctrina italiana.

El primero, no obstante perder dos dedos de su alcance, es el mas firme y el que debemos preferir: porque con él se pueden hacer con mas libertad todas las demostraciones de la verdadera destreza, como se irá manifestando prácticamente.

Adviértase que el hueco de la guarnición se llama concavidad: la redondez por defuera convexidad: recazo la parte de la  hoja que está metida entre la guarnicon y puentecillo; y mirando la hoja suelta es el grueso que tiene desde los filos á la espiga, como aparece en la fig.4

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