Eastern European Saber

A forum for Polish and other Eastern European saber systems.
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Andreas Engström
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Andreas Engström » Mon May 27, 2013 1:06 am

Richard Marsden wrote:Engstrom knows his Swedish manuals inside and out, I wonder what he knows.

Edit = At which point is slipping of the leg in saber seen as a technique, rather than as a rare thing? Clearly, its not unheard of. So, now is the debate really just a matter of what is rare, common, uncommon?

Thanks for the vote of confidence :-)

The leg slip isn't explicitly advocated in my sources, most likely since attacking the legs isn't advocated. Why this is, I honestly don't know. These are military manuals, they generally don't give reasons for things, they just tell you what to do. :-)

However, applying the instructions for a "blind parry" (that is, taking advantage of the opponent overcommitting to an attack which is also at the edge of his measure by voiding and attacking when the blade has passed by) works beautifully as a leg slip since one generally takes a "half-march" back (retracting the front foot and setting it down about a foot's length behind the rear foot) and at the same time raises the point and retracts the sabre to deny him blade contact. This gives a wonderful opportunity to cut his arm or head from above. And it works even better when his attack was aimed at the leg.

My personal experience is (and it's also what I teach) that attacking the knee/thigh is a very good thing in some circumstances (I do it frequently) but as an initial attack from wide measure it's completely suicidal. I also teach to counter it with the above blind parry with a half-march back followed by a return cut to the arm or head.

Any attack to the leg must IMO be a second intention attack, followup or a return cut to be feasible. Possibly this is part of the reason it wasn't included in the manuals; it may have been deemed too advanced and thus not included in the basic instruction for recruits. Another reason may be that it was deemed "ungentlemanly" in some respect. In both cases I'm quite convinced that, like some grappling and other "un-sanctioned" stuff, it was probably taught "off-curriculum" anyway.

-Andreas

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Keith P. Myers
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Keith P. Myers » Mon May 27, 2013 3:54 am

However, applying the instructions for a "blind parry" (that is, taking advantage of the opponent overcommitting to an attack which is also at the edge of his measure by voiding and attacking when the blade has passed by) works beautifully as a leg slip since one generally takes a "half-march" back (retracting the front foot and setting it down about a foot's length behind the rear foot) and at the same time raises the point and retracts the sabre to deny him blade contact. This gives a wonderful opportunity to cut his arm or head from above. And it works even better when his attack was aimed at the leg.


This is almost exactly what is done by Henry Angelo and Gordon Sinclair in our "Highland" sources. The placement of the foot on the slip is also exactly what is shown in the photo of Italian Saber fencers in the link from Chris Amberger's blog.

This idea of a leg slip may have been along the same lines as the debate between engaging guards. Some used a Hanging Guard and some used a Tierce Guard as their primary engaging guards. Each has good points and bad points. It was a matter of personal preference. Maybe slipping the leg was similar. Some did it more than others, or not at all. It was likely there in most saber systems, it was just a matter of how much emphasis it received.

Like Richard is pointing out, I'm beginning to doubt it was specifically "Highland." A point I made in the thread on Schola was that prior to being "Regimentalized" (is that a real word?), Highland swordsmanship was very likely almost entirely Sword & Targe. A leg slip is certainly appropriate if someone strikes below your shield, but it obviously wouldn't need to be used on every parry. It is a relatively instinctive action if someone strikes at your lead leg. So its easy to see it showing up in various places without any direct connection. Kind of like the guard structure of Tierce and Carte. We see it in Polish Saber and Angelo's Highland Swordsmanship. Does that mean there was a direct connection between them? ;)
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Tyler Brandon
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Mon May 27, 2013 6:15 am

The leg slip is also seen in Sokolov's 1843 manual from Russia. Some images were psted in the SG thread. I'm also staring to believe the slip must have been more common that it appears in print. In his preface and introduction.

O'Rourke states that he piblished another manual 7 years prior (I have not found a copy yet) and that while he used it as a base, the 1872 manual is much different and based on his lessons learned during the American Civil War. O'Rourke seems from what we know of him to have been a scholar of swords and swordsmanship back to ancient times. I originally posited that he began using "antiquated" leg slips during the war, drawing on his knowledge.

But to build upon everyone, it seems that the leg slip was much more common than the texts would suggest. Likely off curriculum in modern military manuals becuase it was considered too complicated.

At SG one of the things discussed was using the leg slip with every parry including St George's/Parry 5. One refernce was that Angelo Sr. learned broadsword/saber from a Scot friedn in Newgate Prison who always sliped the leg (pehaps a personal style or the native technique of his home area?). One could reason that using the leg slip all the time, made it so you could teach a student to benefit from its use without causing confusion on when to use it. As long a balance is not comprimised it should not have negatively affected the higher parries.
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Richard Marsden
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Richard Marsden » Mon May 27, 2013 8:55 am

We do know there were rules about striking below the waist. Hutton refers to it, as does that single-stick manual I shared.

Very interesting things you've all found in a short amount of time.

Good work all!

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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Mon May 27, 2013 1:26 pm

From France, Girard uses the leg slip in 1740.
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k2 ... f165.image

Matt Easton referenced the slip Fiore uses over at the Schola thread, but specified what interests him about the OP over at SG is the use of a guard/parry with the slip. Angelo does this but also slips and makes an immediate riposte as well. As I understand, Girard slips the whole body including the hand to avoid a wrist cut, shown in the link.
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Richard Marsden » Mon May 27, 2013 8:40 pm

Wow, drops the sword as well!

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Tyler Brandon
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Wed May 29, 2013 3:32 pm

I think that Matt Easton's explanation of the specific style of leg slip being looked at at SG explains the idea of the specific kind of leg slip that is so interesting and seemingly unique in the available treatises and pictorial/photgraphic evidence.

I have linked to it rather than try to rehash wonder phraseology.

Post of 29 May 2013 04:14
http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/vi ... 0&start=60
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Thu May 30, 2013 2:10 pm

Thanks to Keith, his post over a SG was most enlightening. He noticed that Angelo Jr, uses the slipwith every pasrry as does Angelo Sr. rendering the mystery that started the thread there academic. Blowing several of us in the sbaer scene (not the least of which was Matt Easton) out of the water!

The remianing mystery is where did Angelo derive this? Was it Scottish or Hungarian? Stay tuned!
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Mon Jun 03, 2013 3:42 pm

Information on the Polish Code Duello, maybe a lottle late period, not sure if anyone has seen these.

Polish wiki:
http://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polski_Kodeks_Honorowy

The text of Polish Duelling Code (1919):
http://literat.ug.edu.pl/honor/

On sabre duels (Chapter 19):
http://literat.ug.edu.pl/honor/0021.htm
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Re: Eastern European Saber

Postby Tyler Brandon » Tue Jun 04, 2013 2:07 pm

Other Polish duelling codes From Ulrich at SG:

EDIT: Notice! All links should work properly now.

Kodeks Zamoyskiego (Penal Code (?) from the 17th century (?))
Kodeks Akademicki (Academic duels, the last Polish Code published in 1933) http://bpiotrow.w.interia.pl/strona16.htm
Kodeks Bartoszewicza


A good Polish article on history & legal aspects of Polish duels:
"O pojedynkach, kodeksie Boziewicza i ludziach honoru ..."
http://www.bibliotekacyfrowa.pl/Content/34626/004.pdf

Might be a bit late compared the period of interest, but the above codes and articles might provide interesting references and bibliographies on earlier periods.

A huge bibliography list on duelling (solid knowledge of Polish language is needed):
http://bpiotrow.w.interia.pl/strona9.htm
Last edited by Tyler Brandon on Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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