Di Grasse - His true Art of Defense 1570

Englished by I.G., Gentleman, 1594
Americanized, abridged and interpreted by Rick Orli, 1994
© Richard J. Orli, 1994, 2000
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Downloaded 4/11/2003

The Second Part - Attack and Defense Tactics and Opening Moves from each Ward of the Several Weapons
XVI. Staff Weapons - bill, partisan, halberd.

.D esigned originally to reach and take down heavily armored horseman, these have long shafts and good steel heads. A mighty cut can rend any armor or cleave a sword.
Six motions are possible - toward head, feet, right side, left side, forwards, backwards. The last is an offensive threat if the weapon has a reverse hook.
The weapon should be borne in the middle of the shaft, with the heel of the shaft low and the point at face level. The lower half to heel should be used to ward blows and thrusts.

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Figure 14 Halberd

The qualities of the partisan is best seen against pikes. Against a pike, the lower half should beat the point aside. Step in to the void created, and strike down as forcibly as possible to cut the pike (or anything else).


Against another staff weapon, the thrust is much preferred to the cut. Cuts with a bill or halberd are slow because of their weight and the circumference of the blow, and so can be avoided or stepped into by the nimble. Four wards are possible, three with the point up and forward, one with the point back.
1 Point low, hind (right) arm lifted up.
2. Point high, hind arm borne low.
3. Point and shaft level.
4. Point up on high, with the heel forward.


The ones with the point forward require a false thrust, followed by one indeed. Without, and delivery within, high, and delivery below, the usual combinations are possible. I recommend that the rear foot should move circularly away from the line of first false, so that you will be in a more protected position as you thrust home.


The last is much used, especially with the bill. The use of this ward is to anticipate the enemy's attack, ward with the heel or middle of the shaft, and finish by lunging and delivering an edgeblow.
The false: after the ward with the heel of the weapon, start the lunge and cut, then finish by withdrawing the weapon and giving a thrust underneath with a lunge.
I recommend the low ward, hands well apart, point directly at the enemy's throat. Adopt the reverse of the footwork orientation of our opponent. Rely generally on the direct thrust delivered with proper timing.


The most useful other attack is beating upward, trying to entangle the enemy's weapon, and strongly lifting up (using you rear hand as a pivot). As you lift, quickly pass-step inward. Strike the opponent with the heel, and finish with an edge blow that is a pivot (cut using your hands and forearms, not shoulders). A pivoting edge cut is the fastest and most nimble.


If your opponent is lifting your weapon, the proper response is to step in even more quickly, and hit with your weapon's heel, finishing with a pivoting blow.


If entangling, another option is to change hands (increasing reach) and step back, while cutting down and to the side.
With a straight thrust, timing is everything. Anytime the opponent's point is off line, particularly while cocking back for a beat, or passing through a beat, you must quickly deliver a thrust.



The Third Part
Deceits and Falseing of Blows and Thrusts
.T he true art does not contain deceits, except perhaps indirectly to conceal one's true movement and intention. The essence is to strike in as little time as possible, and then always being well warded. Deceits, falsings, and slips increase the danger, because time is used to create the false move, time that can be exploited by an astute enemy. Of particular danger is a deceit that will confuse your opponent into thinking that you are not attacking when in fact you are; this embolds him to counter attack, increasing the chance of a double kill.


It is true that deceits can be used against a weaker opponent to effectively cause him to uncover part of his body that can then be struck. However, it is necessary in a fight to the death to assume that your enemy is as strong or stronger than you. Using a deceit presupposes contempt for your enemy - and overconfidence is a path to sure death.


However, it is also necessary to know of the advantages and disadvantages of deceits, so that one can see through them more clearly. Also deceits and false blows are part of the game of skirmishing for exercise and pastime.

Deceits are of two sorts:
False attack - drawing a parry or dodge, followed by striking at the newly open area by either disengaging the first weapon or by striking with a weapon in the other hand.


Misdirection - as a card trickster will make a grand gesture with his right hand to draw the eye while subtlety exchanging cards with the left, so it is possible to distract in one direction while striking in the other.


Any false attack presupposes a predictable reaction from the opponent. Through careful observation, you will be better able to judge how your opponent will react.


My general advice regarding falses is, if you start with the intention to false, if your opponent does not ward you must be ready to make your false true, and hit home instantly.

Staff Weapons - Partisan, Bill, Javelin, Halberd
Deceits or falses are easier to see through when done with these long, two handed weapons. Therefore, I recommend the false of the thrust except in special circumstances

Four wards are possible, three with the point up and forward, one with the point back:
Point low, hind (right) arm lifted up.
Point high, hind arm borne low.
Point and shaft level.
Point up on high, with the heel forward.

The ones with the point forward require a false thrust, followed by one indeed. Without, and delivery within; high, and delivery below; the usual combinations are possible. I recommend that the rear foot should move circularly away from the line of the true attack, so that you will be in a more protected position as you thrust home.

The point up on high ward is much used, especially with the bill. The use of this ward is to anticipate the enemy's attack, ward with the heel or middle of the shaft, and finish by lunging and delivering an edgeblow. To false: after the ward with the heel of the weapon, start the lunge and cut, then finish by withdrawing the weapon and giving a thrust underneath with a lunge.

Pike
The pike is a weapon void of any crooked forks, and is much more apt to show valor than deceit. The only false possible is to thrust falsely at one mark followed by a resolute thrust at another. Be sure to carry your hind foot (in a half circle sweep) toward the side against which you thrust resolutely.

Defense against staff weapons
To defend against deceits by staff weapons, practice the true art. Ward false attacks as if they were true, and attack into a preparatory move without hesitation. Do not try to take hold of the attacking weapon, for you will likely have only one hand on it while your opponent has two.

My final advice: if you start with the intention to false, if your opponent does not ward you must be ready to make your false true, and hit home instantly.