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Old 11th September 2021, 09:46 PM   #20
awdaniec666's Avatar
Join Date: May 2021
Posts: 63

Thanks Jim for that important input and yet again for your kind words. I am glad to hear this information is uselful.

It seems to me that people debating historical fencing techniques (including myself) forget about the practical process of a battle which has been, as you comprehensible pointed out, a total chaos sometimes (most of the times?). I think I understood correctly that you brought the aspect of fighting/defending against different kinds of weapons and this has, without doubt, a huge impact on the way one has to use his weapon, a saber in our example.

As for the fencing stance, the "seconde", as I translated it from Mr.Zīs work, I am not sure if this can be taken as the standart for this specific time period. As fencing instructors have often traveled across Europe to share their knowledge, there are some written sources left for us to take a look on. And here comes a huge difference when it comes to the "Polish fencing style". There is practically no written source for that from the 17th-18th century. We have short mentionings in italian or german sources. But overall, its a riddle how the Polish saber has been used. I have heard the theory that saber fencing was tought by battle-experienced soldiers to young men or amongst the troops when gathered. This is a good question for a historian and I canīt wait until somebody finds a manuscript. Another problem is that a lot of documents are lost forever because of the destruction which has taken place in Poland during its "non-existence", the occupations and both world wars. Sad!
I can give you the additional information which I have been tought by my fencing instructor who teached F.C.Christmanns German saber based on a manual from 1838: The seconde is held with your arm as straight as possible. Your wrist so high, that you can see the eyes of your opponent under your hand. The thumb may not be placed on the back of the grip, you shall hold the weapon in a hammer-grip style. This is to prevent from thumb contusions while thrusting, which Christmann tells us, occured very often if the saber wasnt hold in a different manner. Side note: Christmann was a German who taught the use of the saber to Napoleons Dragoons.
As you see, there are a lot of interpretations of stances through time and location and Mr.Z. The one Christmann proposes reminds me of the "Prime" stance from other sources.
There is a book about the polish saber written by an US-American (i will not name him) which I have not read. I dont know where he has his information from since the Echelons of historical fencing in Poland are clueless about their own countriesī historical fencing techniques. So be aware of misinformation from such sources. If I am incorrect and someone knows of accurate sources he mentions in his work, please write.
There is a family of fencers in Poland (The Sieniawskis) which has "created" (I think that is the most appropiate word for it) a school of using the polish saber, namely "Sztuka Krzyzowa" (translation: "Art of the cross"). While I highly appreciate the effort of re-creating something forgotten for a long time and promoting ones countriesī legacy, these people base all of their fencing-style, as far as I know, from a single sentence in a italian description of european weapon use from the, I think, 17th century (sic! just one sentence). This sentence is loosely translated "...and the Poles cut crosswise.". So "all they do" is to parry with a cut down and riposte with a cut down from the other side, but not in moulinet-manner, but with swings form the shoulder. They do it very fast so one could argue there is no need to take a stance which claims you a safe space in front of you (f.e. "langort" in german longsword).
They produced a movie ("Born for the saber") which I can recommend when it comes to a historical accurate picture of a young boy becoming a soldier in 17th century Poland-Lithuania. But keep in mind what I mentioned before when watching these, admittedly very good looking, duels.
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