The Linacre School of Defence

The Linacre School of Defence

Studying the historical British martial arts of smallsword, backsword and pugilism.

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McBane's General Advice

A few selected words of wisdom

After you have made a Thrust and are recovering, or as soon as you have parrie'd a Thrust; if you are nimble to Spring on one side or other, of your Adversarie, you may have a Thrust at him, be it in his back or any where else, for all is fair play, whil'st Swords are presented and you are Disputing the Victory.

If your Adversary will not stand you, when you have Lunged, bring up your Left Foot and Recover your Arm to the Posture of a Guard, then Thrust again, and Repeat this as you have occasion or think proper, but take care least he Close you or Command your Sword, when you Thrust and are on your Lunge, perhaps he will Retire on purpose, with design to take such Opportunity.

'Tis less Dangerous to Retire, than to Advance upon your Adversary, and not at all Scandalous, for you may Time him every time he advances, and so get the better, by Disabling his Sword Arm, Hand or Wrist.

If at any time you observe your Adversary to be in Confusion, be sure not to let him Recover it, but take the Advantage of it, and keep him so, by a brisk Attack. By Avolting, Slipping and Retireing, and giving the Point, in these cases, a Weak Man is a match for a much Stronger, and it is certainly best to do these if your Adversary be Fool Hardy and press forward, whether he understand the Sword or not, for he may run himself upon your Point; or when he has tired himself, you may then play with him, and do what you please; commonly those People who are unskill'd do thus, the think (and indeed with Reason) that they must not let you Attack, because they do not know how to Defend as they ought, for the Defencive part is the most difficult, therefore they drive on you with great Fury, (whils't they have Strength) to put you out of your Play, but once that is over they are at your Mercy.
Some Men care not (at least don't think of it, being only intent upon Hitting their Adversary) if they Receive a thrust, if it be not immediately Mortal, so that they can but give one, but this may properly be called Rashness, or Fool Hardiness.

Command your Temper and you will do much better, than if you give way to your Passion; and if you do Command it, and are Engaged with a Person who can not, you will have very much the Advantage of him, for his Passion will make him Play wild and wide, and consequently exposes himself to be Hit very often, wheras your thoughts not being in Hurry and Confusion, you may Defend your self with ease and judgement, and take an Advantage readily when ever you have a mind, you are the more capable of doing this, because your Strength, Mind and Spirit are not Spent or Exhausted.

When you have a Quarrel with any Man, and have not the Opportunity to Decide it immediately, don't trust him within Reach unless others be present, or near, and when you are going to Fight, or returning from it having got the better, don't trust your Adversary behind you, nor any way within Reach, least he give you foul Play, and Stab you for Revenge, or takes a Villainous way of getting the better of you when you are not provided, or ready to defend your self, and during your Dispute, if it happen that you both consent to Rest to take Breath, don't quit your Sword out of your Hand, nor look from him, nor stand within his Reach, and if he Submits and offers to deliver his Sword, don't let him come near, but with the point of his sword in his Hand, and Mounting presented to you, and should he desire to be Reconciled, and the Swords are drawn, whether you have Exchanged any Thrusts or not, don't suffer him to come near, tho' in a friendly manner, unless he throw his Sword down on the Ground, and if after you have Disarmed your Adversary, or he submitted and delivered his Sword, you return him his Sword again, be sure give it with the Point towards him, and be ready in all the aforementioned Cases, with your own Sword, and take care least he Spring in upon you, and trip you up, or by being Stronger, he may disarm you of your own Sword, or break one or other, and stab you with the Piece, that is when you have Disarm'd him, or he has delivered his Sword. I mention these to Caution you on all Occasions to be on your Guard, and not to trust any Man whatever, who is your Adversary, for many have been deceived by not taking care of themselves in these cases, tho' their Adversaries have been men of strict Honour, as they thought, and that they would not be so Base and Villainous, as to be guilty of any Thing below the Character of brave Men, and Gentlemen, Experientia Docet.

.....and don't be fond of Disarming.

If you are engaged with a Ruffin, or a Stranger, be watchfull that he does not throw his Hat, Dust or something else at your face which may blind you, upon which he may take the Opportunity to make a home Thrust; or perhaps, if he sees an Open, he will dart his Sword at you, and if he misses, trust to his Heels.
I would not advise you at any time to do the last mention'd, but with a Bravo or Ruffin, I would throw any Thing in his Face to blind him, and then take the advantage of it: such Fellows as those, often carry Dust in their Pockets, or some-thing on purpose for that end; but no Gentleman ought to use such Methods, unless with such People who often carry Pocket Pistols about 'em, so to prevent the worst to ones self, I think 'tis not amiss to get the better of them as soon as possible, by blinding them, or by any other means whatever, before they shew a Pistol, for fair play is what they ought not to have.

If you meet with a Man with Sword and Target, and you with your small sword, take off your Coat and Roll it around your Left Hand, and take a wet Napkin and put it under your Hat, and that will prevent his Cuts, in case he Hits you either on the Arm or Head. Save the Blade of your Sword as much as possible, by slipping his Blows, and your Sword Hand making always high Feints to his Face, the  he will raise his Targe and blind his sight, that you may have an easy Opportunity to take  him in the Belly; I reckon a Man that does not understand a Target, better to want it, than to have it, it would have been better for him to have a cane or Scabbard in his Left Hand, to parie a small sword, than a target to blind him: and when a Man with a Broad Sword, draws against a Man with a small sword, let him stand upon a high hanging Guard at great length, and then he can Parie by the way of Quart or Tierce by Moving his Hand,, and as he Paries let him make a small stroak constantly to his Sword hand, or making a back stroak or under stroak to keep him off, and in Constant Motion, for he will soon be tired, because his Sword is heavier, and have the Left hand always before his Breast to Defend, an if he understands to parie he may change to a Medium, and slip and throw; But still the small sword hath great odds of the broad, for the small Sword Kills, and you may Receive Forty Cuts and not be Disabled.

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