Chapter 22: On defending oneself against the dagger

Comment/Interpretation:

This Chapter is where De Brea discusses how to deal with ruffians armed with daggers. He points out that a gentleman, if confronted by a dagger wielding ruffian, should never flee as such behaviour would be unseemly.

The approach he takes is similar to the way he describes the testing feint. The fencer offers his chest as a target to provoke an attack and then respond. He then uses his body and hand/arm movements to unbalance and disarm the offending ruffian. As in all the other chapters, De Brea describes very precise hand placements to control his opponent’s weapon. He points out that all movements need to be carried out quickly and with precision.

Translation:

Chapter XXII

On defending oneself against the dagger

It is quite common for a fencer and gentleman to find himself without a sword. If this happens and the fencer should encounter one of the many ruffians that abound and they are armed with a knife or dagger, then the fencer should not flee, as this would be inappropriate. What he should do is adopt the second position with his right arm raised up with his hand above his head. This exposes the whole area of the chest and can be seen in figure one of plate sixteen.

Fig 1 Plate 16

When the ruffian tries to stab him, the fencer should use a downwards parrying movement and aim to hit his opponent’s wrist and ideally, he will be able to grab his opponent’s wrist from below. In any case, he should not disengage his hand from his opponent’s wrist. At the same time, he should move his right foot backwards. This will curve the top of his body forwards and withdraw the legs and stomach. This can be seen in figure two of plate sixteen.

Fig 2 Plate 16

He should then move his left foot past his right foot and reach around and grab his opponent around the nape of his neck with his left hand. The fencer will be able to defend himself, if he carries out these movements quickly and without hesitation. If at this point, the ruffian realises that his attack has failed and he withdraws his arm to try to stab again, then the fencer should twist his opponent’s wrist so that the weapon is now pointing back at the ruffian. The fencer should then add his push to the existing backwards momentum of the ruffian’s arm and force the ruffian onto the point of the weapon. This can be seen in figure three in plate sixteen.

Fig 3 Plate 16

Alternative Strategies for Dealing with Daggers.

Let us imagine that the two fencers are facing each other at perfect measure. The ruffian is waiting with his hat in his left hand and a dagger in his right hand and the fencer is attacking using a variety of cuts and thrusts. The ruffian is defending himself but at a given moment, he steps forward with his left foot and tries to stab the fencer in his left-hand side or shoulder. The fencer should defend himself by using his left hand with the nails turned out to grab the ruffian’s attacking arm by grabbing the wrist – or getting as close as possible – as the attacking dagger passes to the outside of the fencer’s left hand. If the fencer has managed to grab the ruffian’s wrist, then he should move his right foot backwards into the third stance and at the same time, he can withdraw his blade and then hit his opponent under his right arm or in the armpit. All movements should be carried out as quickly as possible and this will ensure the fencer remains safe and is able to punish any type of attack with forbidden weapons as shown in plate seventeen.

Plate 17

Original Text:

CAPITULO   XXII.

Difmsas d,J pu fial.

Si en  alguna ocasion se  encontrase  el  diestro  sin  es­pada , como suele suceder , y se le presentase  uno  de los nmchos hombres que hay  de mab  intencion  con  un  pu­ fial 6 cuchillo en la mano, en este  c:1so  no  ha  de  huir, pues le esta ra ma!; lo que dcbc h 1cer cs csperarle en m segunda planta con  el  br:izo  Jen:cho levantac.o , de ma­ nera que la mano este aun mas alta que la cabeza , des­ cubriendo todo el peeho , como lo manihesta la figura se­ fialada  con  el n C1m. 1 de  la  siguiente  e5tampa  num. I 6; y quando  el contrario  le  tire  la  pu nalada , se  defendera  el .diestro con el  movimiento  natural , dandole  con la ma­ no un golpe en la muiieca , y si puede  scr ·agarrandosela por debaxo ; y si no , no desunirse , y al mismo tiempo disminuir con el pie derecho para formar con el cuerpo concavidad , segun la figura seiialada con el num. 2 , y levantando el izquierdo  para  sentarle  detras  del  derecho de su contrario , haciendo  centro.  en  el  derecho,  le echara ·la JmtDO i:z:q11ierda· al cogote , parte inferior de la cabcza , procurando hacer todos, ks movimientos  sin  te­ mor , y muy prontos ‘ y  se lograra  la ddema. y si h.illan­ cose  cl contrar io en  esta diposicion por. haberle salido fa.:.llida  SU   1esolt1cion , se focse  a rctirar  ra: a nlVer a acome­ter , el d iestro  en  aquel mismo tiemro le ayudara  ;1 levan­tar ‘ cmpu jand ole rara que   u  rnim-;o  instrumen to  le sea en su  perjuicio , coma  se rnanificsta  por las figuras n(tm. 3.

.                                                                 .

St.-gtmda proposif ion de/ punal.

 Sup6ngase :i fos dos· combatientes en el medio pro• porciul , cLiave11-ario esperando .con el sombrero en r}a niano . izquieida,, y en la dere,ha  un  pufial , y  el· d iestro acometiendole con su espadi, unas veces de cone , y otr:ide pun.ta.    u  contrario  :con  el  sombret0 se  va defendien J:o ; y en uno de aquellos tiempos se aproxima metiendo el pie izquierdo , y con la mano derecha le tira una pu­ iialada con animo de executar  herida en la coracteral   iz­quierda  u hombro:  el diestro;  para  defenderse , le saldra a recibir   con  la  mano  izquierda  vuelta  ufias  afuera ,  el brazo un poco curvo, para que el punal quede entre la coracteral y braz:o , procurando agarrarle por  la muiieca, 6 muy poco distante de ella ,  y  se  lograra  sostenerle; y sacando e} pie derecho atraS a SU tercera planta , reducira la punta del arma  a que  execute  la herida baxo  del brazo derecho del contrario. Se ha de procurar executar to dos los movimientos con la presteza que sea posible ; y se lograra. la defensa , y castigar semejante modo de acome­ ter con armas prohibidas , como lo manifiestan las figuras de la estampa num. 17.

No  se trata  mas sobre este punto , porque  como ya seJixo en otro capfrulo , no era el intento hacer grueso vo­ lumen ;solo se han puesto estas dos demostraciones por ser las mas  f.iciles y practicables.

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