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La Verdadera Destreza in the non Spanish speaking world II

Alberto Bomprezzi's picture

All that we can do is to develop new practical methods that respect the principles established in the Theory, and, to be true, these methods must be effective. 

The Theory or Science is the ensemble of definitions and concepts that almost all Spanish treatises explain to help the diestro to fence safely. For example

The Three Universal Means - The Fourth General Techniques The particular techniques The circles – The Means – The aspects – The general principles of body movement -The Movements of the sword – Footwork – The triangles - The Angles – the lines and blanks in the body - etc.   

Now all these definitions and concepts are a way to classify and explain distances, body positions, angles of the body and sword, the targets, the different types of binds and blade actions, the footwork, etc but the possible combinations are not described as it would be impossible to do that and the authors knew it. It is up to the fencer to understand what they are and use them and up to the modern teacher to know them – to teach them - something he must have found through his own Practice. The book will not be of any help to him and he has honestly to rely in his practical skills to understand and develop a practical method.

So going back to the comments on internet we can say that

  1. Destreza is not a special practical system but a Theory – the most complete I have ever known – that helps to analyze and evolve practical systems as it gives clues and principles that help to fence better. But how a fencer fences – the practical system - is up to him. Some will be better fencers than others and for that reason will understand better fencing theory. This is important because eventually the real critic that can be done is not if it is historical or not – impossible to know – but if it is good or bad.  In the Practice a fencer that is a student of the Spanish theory may fence as he feels is better, lunging, and dodging if he needs it, as long as he respects the distances and angles that the theory establishes, and makes it work. How he does it, it is up to him.
  2. Destreza doesn’t have to look different than any other style of fencing, and definitely, the use of the Right Angle doesn’t mean to have the arm constantly extended nor walking in circles. The theory doesn’t tell you to do it though a fencer can do it if he is able to make it work. The only principle established by the Right Angle is that the central line must be controlled and that the extension of the arm is the way to do it but no other clues are given, as how it is done is in the Art of the fencer. And there may be as many ways as fencers and swords. Destreza is not a rigid system because it is not a practical system. Many different practical systems may exist, and the only requirement demanded by Destreza is to respect the principles established and proved to be true, for example using the Mean of proportion to start the phrase of arms, do not execute the bind in the middle until the proportionate mean has not been reached, do not use cuts to the head if the swords are not bound, always having the point of the right foot looking at the adversary, use more extended postures when wide angles are reached, while short and strong postures  when the angles are narrow etc. The observation of these principles it is not a limit, as all Practices, no matter what school they come from when they are good respect unavoidably the same principles. Fencing is in Nature and Destreza is only a Theory that establishes and explains those natural Principles in Fencing.The Right Angle and the Circles are theoretical concepts not practical ones as the treatises explain, in an, unfortunately, not too clear way.
  3. A modern day fencer with historical weapons that is interested in Destreza does not have to extend the arm and stand constantly. All he needs is to learn the Theory, and try to implement his principles when he fences.  He does not have to try to do anything special, but, at the beginning, simply, get to the Mean of Proportion, and starting from there, see what he can do.  In practical terms we could say "Fight close".  This obviously demands experienced fencers with a humble spirit because the distance and angles that must be used are shorter and are not easy to handle at the beginning. But those honestly working on it will get, with the years, an incredible amount of fencing knowledge.

(to be continued)