Chapter 19: On Recoveries and Hand Movements

Comment/Interpretation:

In this chapter, De Brea disparages as ‘vain and capricious’, those that rush in with no thought as to recovery and defence. De Brea stresses how important a rapid and effective recovery is – whether – the previous attack has been successful. Failing to do this will place the fencer’s life at risk.

He points out that if fencers keep moving out of distance, then successful ripostes or attacks are impossible. However, if the fencer attacks and this is successfully parried, then the fencer will need to recover backwards and remain balanced.

Interestingly, hand movements are dealt with more extensively. De Brea states that there is no limit to what sleight of hand may achieve – but that this needs to be coordinated with recoveries. Hand movements are essential to forcing the opponent’s sword offline.

Basically, he describes placing a bind on the opponent’s weapon and then turning the nails down whilst raising the hilt and keeping forte to foible. Depending on the opponent’s hand position, the fencer can then move appropriately to dominate his opponent’s sword and possibly even make him lose control of it altogether.

De Brea points out that some will run as soon as they have lost control but the fencer should let them go as there is no honour to be had by chasing such poltroons.

He also points out that this can be done in either the inside or outside lines but the fencer must remember to keep control of measure.

Translation:

Chapter XIX

On Recoveries and Hand Movements

Solid, clean thrusts depend on being able to recuperate and on good hand movements. Good recoveries depend on the fencer having his feet perfectly placed. Sometimes, the fencer will need to close distance with the left foot and sometimes he will need to move the right foot backwards to increase distance. The possibilities are endless as if the fencer tries to hit by advancing the right foot and adopting the third stance, then his opponent may, in turn, try to move out, then the fencer will need to advance his left foot to move into second stance to return to measure so that he can either attack or begin another movement.

If, however, the opponent stays at true measure, maybe as a result of only having made a movement that was just enough to successfully defend himself, then he will be in a position to riposte or attack. In order to prevent this, the fencer will need to withdraw his right foot until he is in second stance or even moving into first stance, depending on which is most appropriate for the situation.

This way of advancing the left foot and withdrawing the right foot is called recovery and there is no other way to do this. I believe it is not possible to free body and weapon and be in a position to continue in any other way.

To these ways of recovering, we need to add hand movements. In order to use hand movements, the fencer needs to have a complete understanding of all of his opponent’s exposed areas as well as the fencer’s own. The fencer will try to wound his opponent in the exposed areas but also try to defend any of his own exposed areas. There is no limit to how sleight of hand can be implemented but movements need to be coordinated with the recoveries as otherwise, the fencer will achieve neither offense or defence.

This point is of the utmost importance and the fencer will be depending on this for his safety. There is no doubt that if a fencer practices this coordination of recovery and hand movement then he will emerge victorious and he will not face any difficulties. This is not true of those capricious and vain fencers, who do not understand what they are doing and who ignore the True Art. They rush in and try to wound replying only on their strength and speed without thinking about how to recover and they are then exposed to danger as they are at the mercy of their opponent.

It is important to ensure that if a fencer is attempting to wound his adversary from true measure and his opponent manages to protect the target area in time, then the fencer needs to look for another exposed area but without losing perfect measure. He also needs to retreat back to his original position as soon as possible, whether or not his attack has been successful. If all of the fencer’s movements have been in proportion, then he will be able to defend himself. If, on the other hand, his movements have taken him to close to his opponent or opened up his stance, then defence will be difficult and his life will be at risk.

Although what has just been stated should be enough to show how important it is to keep recovery and hand movements closely coordinated, I will make some additional comments to make sure that no-one has any questions as how this needs to be done. However, before we do this, we need to know how to deflect the opponent’s weapon. This is done by forcing the opponent’s sword offline. There are three ways to do this. The first is a vertical deflection. The second is by dividing. The third is by beating. These are carried out in the following ways:

Whenever the two fencers are at true measure, with the opponent waiting and standing on the diameter line with his arm and weapon extended towards the fencer, then the fencer will first need to place his sword on the inside of his opponent’s sword as if we were going to place the first type of bind on his opponent. As he does this and without removing his blade from his opponent’s, the fencer will prepare his hand position. He will turn his hand so that the nails point downwards, raise his hilt as high as possible and make sure that the point of his sword is aiming down with his forte against his opponent’s foible. The fencer will be observing his opponent’s hand position. If his opponent’s hand is turned so that the nails point inwards, then running his sword down his opponent’s in a simple, downwards motion should be enough to push it to the floor or even force him to drop his weapon – as often happens. If his nails are pointing down, then his weapon needs to be pushed off to the opponent’s right hand side. This will leave the right hand side of his chest exposed. If his nails are pointing upwards, then the opponent’s weapon needs to be forced off to the opponent’s left hand side and his arm will be exposed.

In order to perform these movements safely, the fencer should start with his blade’s forte against his opponent’s foible. He should run his sword along his opponent’s from foible to . If the fencer does this as indicated, then he will remove his opponent’s sword, weaken his opponent and expose him to being hit. If the fencer stays at true measure, then he can simply move his blade forwards and aim at the closest exposed area. Quite often, some opponents may retreat or even jump back when they have lost control of their weapon. Some even retreat so far that they are more than a pistol shot away. If this happens, then he best thing to do is follow my advice and stay where you are. There can be no True Art against someone who flees and as if often said, if someone runs away, let them go. These deflections can be done on both the inside and outside lines as long as the fencer remembers to keep control of measure as he puts the movements into practice. This will ensure that he is able to defend himself successfully and without being able to defend oneself effectively, the entire knowledge of the True Art will not help.

Original Text:

CAPITULO  XIX.

Recuprraciones ! recursos.

De las recuperaciones y recursos pende la firmeza y Jirnpieza en executar el diestro sus tretas. Para conseguir el fin se ha de afirmar con sus pies en sus perfectas plantas, para lo que unas veces le convendra aumentar con el iz­ quierdo, y otras disminuir con el derecho. Su execucion es infinica ,porque siempre que el diestro para executar  hcri­da aumente  con el  pte  derecho  a su  tercera  planta , y su.contrario en  el  tiernpo  disminuya  y le quite la distancia, debera el diestro meter 6 aumentar con el izquierdo  hasta ufirmarse en su segunda plan ta , para volver l\ propmcio­nar su medida , y poder acometer , si le conviene , o dar pr incipio a otra distinta demostracion.

Pero si el ad,·ersario permaneciese en el med io pro· porcional , pues solo hizo un corto moY1m:cr.to Sl,fiL iente ft su defensa ,quedandole disposicion para rcsronder y exc­ cmar herida , el diestro , para que no lo ccnsiga , dcbera disminuir con el pie  derecho , esto es , retirarlc hacia atras hasta queJarse en su scgunda planta , o si no enteramente levamarse a su primera , pues en qualquiera de ellas esta­ ra pronto a lo que le convenga.

A este modo de aumencar con el pie izqu ierdo , y retroceder con el dere,:ho se le da cl nombre de recupe• radon , y no hay otro ; y aun tengo por impoib\e que pueda haberle para poner el cuerpo y arma en libertad , y firme para. proseguir en sus  funcions.

A estas rern peraciones siguen los recursos de mano, Para esros se ha de tener un completo conocimiento de los puntos que su contrario le  ofrece  descubiertos,  y asimis­ mo  los que se le dexan , los unos  para  encaminar  el arma a que execute herida , y los otros para acudir a la defen­sa segun convenga. Su execucion es ir.finita , y ha de guar­dar tal uniformidad con las recuperaciones, que si alguna se separa , o bien por dernasiada prontitud , o por tardan a , no se lograra el fin de la defensa ni ofensa.

Es punto este de suma importancia , y en el debe d diestro fiar su seguridad. Y no  ha y  duda , que siempre que se practique en los terminos dichos se conseguira el fin , y no padecera ningun contlicto , antes saldra victor io­ so, y no le sucedera  lo que a los  capridmdos ,  vaoidosos, poco  versados   en  l realidad  de  las  demostraciones Iquefiados en su  prontitud  y fuerzas,  y abominando  del  arte,  se arrojan  a executar  herida  luego  que ven  punto  descu­bicrto mcticnJose en el peli gro , sin precaver la saliJa , y exponicndos:; a perecer , por  que<lar  al arbitrio de su con­trario.

Se advierte que siempre que se haya de executar  he­rida , que sea desde los rnedios proporcionales; y si en el tiempo que va  cl dicstro a acometer  le  cubren   cl  punto,debera recur rir adonde vea descubierto , y siempre sin ex­ ceder de la medjda ; y tenga  efecto 6 no , inmt:diararnen­ te salirse a sus med ios de defensa por  rnedio  de  la  recuperacion de pies , que se lo facilita. Por haber hecho todos  sm movimientos en una medida proporcion:id a lcgr;i.ra: quedar defendido; pew si se exccde , C:. bien por haberse abicrto de plan ta , 6 aproximado  demasiado , no  lo pod ra comcguir ‘ y est:ua expuesto a perecer ‘ corno  se ha ex­preado.

Aunq ue lo dicho seria  suficicnre  para  el  conocimien­ to de lu unidos que deben ir los recursos de mano y re­ cuperacione$ de pies , con tOl o me parecen nmy conve­ nier.tes alpmas otras demostracicincs  para  mas  afirmacion, y quc no  nos quede  duda  algu na  en  las  operaciones. Perointes es precio el conocimiento  6  rr.odo  de  desviar  el ar­ rna contraria , y  este  ha  de  ser  por  medio  de  una  rxpul-· sfon. Esta tiene tres especies , a. al..>cr ; 11erticaJ , di’Vi.ri–..a, y txpttlsh:a :su execucicn en ern. forma. Sit!rnpre gue los dos combatiente  sl.! hallen en cl medio proporcicnal , cl ad-·versario esper:inJo , y ocupando la i1nca ciel diametro , for­ mando  con  el  brazo y arm:1  hnea  rec ta , y ofreciendo pun:­ to sumamente estrecho, en  ese  caso  se le uni ra  el  diestro con la s11ya por  la posrura  dcl  arma , y parte  de   adentro,·

Como si form::ise el primer atajo , y sin d1;stmi1 se prep::i ra­ r{t la mano , ponicndola pa rtkipio de ufias abaxo , la  punta. del  arma  que  participe  de  la  rectitud  alta , y  con  el ter­  cer  tercio  sobre  el  primero  de  la  contraria , y  observando la disposicion 6 modo en que su contra r io  tiene  puesta  la mano , si la tuviese con las ufias adentro , en  ee  caso  se  valdra el  diestro  del  n10vim iento  natur 1l  , corriendo  su arma  par  la contraria , y haciendola  baxar  vertical  hasta  el  sue\o , 6  tal  vez  se  le  desprender.’1   de  la  mano. como continuamente  sucede. Si la  ruviese  abaxo , el desvio  sele ha de hacer a su Iado derecho y parte afuera , para que le de:ice punto  descubierto  en  la  coracteral  derecha ; pero si tuviese la mmo part:icipio 6 extremo de unas arriba , el desvio  ha  de  ser  a su lado izqu ierdo  opuesto  al anterior,

Y el punto que  le dexara  descubierto  sera  la  jurisdicion de} brazo: para la seguridad y firmeza se han de empezar dichas expulsiones  6 desvios  de\  arma   contraria  desde  el n umero 2 de la que paJece hasta el 8 , corriendo la que hace desde el 9 hasta el 1• Para que no 5e padezca equi­ Vocacion digo , que desde el fuerte de la que hace hasta el flaco , y empezara desde el flaco al foerte de la  que  pa­ dece ; y no hay duda que hacicndolo en los tcrminos re­ ferido  estaran  bien  hechas las expulsiones , y se  logra ri destruir   la  fuerza  a su   contrario ,  y obligarle  a descubrir los puntos claros; y permaneciendo en el med io propor­ cional ,le acometera el diestro con el movimiento acciden­ tal , recurriendo  para la execucion de la  herida  al  pu ntoque se le vea mas cercano descubierto. Pero si en el tiem­ po que el diestro da la expulsion , su contrario disminu­ ye, y le quita la distancia como acostumbran muchos , que en tocindolos al arma ,brincan con tal exceso , que no seria suficiente un tiro de pistola para akanzarlos ; en estc  caso es mas conveniente seguir mi dictamen , quedarse quieto en el parage quc se encucntre. Porque a 1a verdad contr;iel que huye no hay destreza ; y como vulgarmente se di­ ce , a encrnigo que huye , puente de plata. Estas expulsio•ncs se pueden bacer por las dos posturas del arma , de par• te de adentro , y de parte de afuera , yendo bien colocado para su defensa en el tiempo de las exccuciones. Es sufi­ ciente noticia pa ra el conocimiento de la realidad de es­ tas recuperaciones y recursos, y de que en destreza  toda quanto hay que saber de nada serviria , si se ignorase este punto , y con su conocimiento se puede pasai: mas ade­ lanrc.

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