The Waterloo 200 Project commemorates the importance of the Battle of Waterloo upon its 200th anniversary. Among other things, the site highlights 200 artifacts relating to the battle. This includes human remains of people who fought and died there. One relic is of particular interest to historic fencers in that it provides evidence of likely battlefield sabre cuts to an individual’s skull cap; a solemn reminder of live sabre use.
The site indicates:
This is the upper skull of a French soldier who fought at the Battle of Waterloo. It has multiples cuts on it, from sword wounds suffered by the soldier. Judging by their size and shape, they were probably inflicted by a British cavalry sabre, a weapon that was designed to cause long, slashing injuries.
Additional details and photos from multiple angles of this individual can be examined at the Waterloo200.org site.
“To touch and not be touched”
Attributed to Molière, “toucher et ne pas l’être” is the axiom of classical fencing, and the CCF motto. It is avoiding the dreaded double-touch by putting theory of self-preservation into practice.
This is in stark contrast to a sport-fencing ethos which has evolved into a game of lightening-fast reflexes in order to be the first to give a touch, regardless of receiving a touch afterwards. Although athletically admirable, the desire to be first in the race to the touch without historically proven technique is only possible with foiled practice weapons. To do so with sharps… well, it is a dance with death.
But the touch is so seductive. Until one reaches the psychological state of caring more about form than touch, the temptation to give in to speed instead of timing, to reach further down center-line instead of opposing, is far too tempting for most. What inevitably results is a fencing bout that favors the fastest, and one that is decidedly not classical.
A classical bout is a conversation that relishes the phrase. A bout between a classical fencer and a sport-fencer is really two people talking past one another because classical and sport systems are quite literally incommensurable. Fencing an opponent that rushes to the touch while putting him or herself in peril stifles the conversation, or talks over their conversation partner.
Typical steps to reduce double-hits have varied from simply “throwing them out” by not counting them, to one-touch bouts, and many things in between. Dr. Milo Thurston of the Linacre School of Defense in Oxford, recently shared their school’s strategies to reduce double-hits in competition. It is worthy of your consideration, and best viewed at the original source, Linacre on Google+ which is linked to below.
As a follow-up to recent announcements made at practice, CCF is cancelling practice this Thursday 11/23/17 AND Saturday 11/25/17. Enjoy your holiday, and safe travels.
Phil Crawley, Provost with the Black Boar Swordsmanship School and administrator with the Smallsword Symposium, has gleaned these 5 themes of French fencing from a number of 18th and 19th Century texts. They are presented here with his permission, and with our thanks.
Aplomb: grounding and thus balance; not only physical balance but also symmetry of posture leading to adroit.
Adresse: skill; ability to do the basics and combine them into sophisticated actions
Apropros: wherewithal; knowing when and where to apply addresse to maximum effect at an innate level.
Adroit: dexterity; being aesthetically pleasing by doing nothing (aplomb) and being graceful when doing something (adresse), as dictated by apropos.
Avoir Main: fencing only with the sensitivity and actions of the hand to determine the intent of one’s adversary and to define one’s own actions.