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Krisztina Nagy

on 20 January 2014

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Transcript of Trnava-2013_Safe_Outcome_of_the_Sword_Duel

Fencing ≠ Dueling... 'Two hardly compatible worlds'

Fencing tournaments
To benefit from his advices, we must first understand the relevance of dueling in fencing training and tournaments in general -
Presence of mind is essential for the success in both cases - only a person in possession of courage, aplomb and fortitude may have it.
Overcoming passions is the essence of the sword duel's safe outcome - otherwise one just gets slaughtered
'Even the most expert of duelists, as well as the better fencer, can never be sure of going home alive'...
'Apart from the hazard and luck in one single pass of arms, the explanation lies in the fact that "on the ground" the element of courage may prove to be more important than the element of skill - and you just cannot know how courageous you are until the duel starts.'
Today the non-fencer is inclined to associate fencing with dueling.
In a duel, a fencer is compelled to execute an ultra-careful form of fencing, which, indeed, is an almost unworthy expression of the vast science he knows.
Your emotions should not be annihilated, but used in the right way...
an attack executed recklessly, failing to fight off malevolence, even against a not completely experienced fencer, might have grievous outcome
Common Sense and Presence of Mind...
On Fear...
Examining the opponent - Conclusion
this is no other than grievous consequence of nerveless, reckless countenance
Don’t we confuse the concepts of
'faint-hearted', 'coward' and 'cautious'
The cautious compensate the lack of strength with cunning
The coward only believe themselves secured, when the one they are afraid of, got annihilated... the price doesn't matter
- It takes much knowledge and fortitude
One ought to be smart and cunning as well...
Halfway measures
Only he may maintain hope for victory while performing the duel, that relinquishing every hatred and anger, driven by the most composed emotion, does not want to come out absolutely victorious, but with appreciation toward his opponent, - honouring even the weakest – does not play games with them.
simply and solely out of good taste and becoming, no fair man wants to win applying such void tools as for example...
There is no more dangerous manner of attack, than starting off with full drive at the opponent, that only the opponent's blade can - and will stop.
We can see in assauts, what precision is needed to protect the arms:
In duels... rarely does the good fencer come out as victorious
Not being surprised by the attack of the opponent, being prepared for every possible things, readiness to dodge in case of a swift attack, in one word: fighting with the greatest attention, extraordinary liveliness of the soul and body.
use short feints, only in second intention, to place the opponent in a defenceless position
seemingly delivering our uncovered body to him, we shall, with the greatest dexterity, parry and riposte the cuts warded off
constantly provoking the opponent to attack
Over-educated for duels - in different strategy and tactics!
A match of two good fencers or a good and a bad one, - but men with alert souls – is usually awkwardly long.
'the better a fencer, the more patient and calculating. Facing each other, you see them going to the end of the piste and back several times without receiving or giving a touch.' They know their goals and carefully choose what risk they take in the pursuance.
Facing a master of fencing in a duel
Safe Outcome of the
Sword Duel

sportsmen and coaches aiming for peak performance and permanent success, great investment, compete together for a long time + pro. referees in SERVICE
rules support the highest quality of fencing and even increase the technical level over time.
fair ground between offender and offended;
preferably lessen the severity of the outcme
strict formalities (ceremony, rests, order of events), safety measures and responsibility issues
a thorough, high level match of the most complex skills and intellectual insight in the art of fencing
'social obligation', bloody recompense of insults/slanders, enforcement of rights, many connected crimes.
opponents are random offended strangers, social/political enemies or abusers and victims + assistants, seconds and surgeons in utter CONTROL
Thank You for Your attention!
Felső-Eőry Cseresnyés István (Cavalry lieutenant)
- Safe Outcome of the Sword Duel
Mtro. László Szepesi PhD - 'remarks' on strategy
Aldo Nadi - On Fencing
Br. Chappon Samu - Duelling Code
Clair Vilmos - Hungarian Duel
Budapesti Hírlap 3. january 1913.
1934 Aldo Nadi at Salle la Caze - YouTube/schlager7
Wish You a great time, fun and development in the weekend!
Nagy Krisztina
by Felső-Eőry Cseresnyés István, Cavalry Lieutenant
Budapest, 1901
The appropriate level of attention creates this distance involuntarily
Skillful and spirited fencers
Fencing and dueling - introduction
and using the methods suitable for that opponent, - it is the non plus ultra of composure, fortitude and determination.
- which does not mean that we should stare at the opponent with gazing eyes, in a paralyzed manner,
Be constantly ready for double-cuts in the duel
Protect Your Arms!
A fencer does not.
Example: the Nadi-duel.
One shall avoid the attacks connected with many feints, for be it ever so fast, the opponent mostly won’t even parry them, but will utilize the slightest opportunity for performing stop- or counter cut, which often results in a double cut.
Experienced fencers sometimes leave the body open, to force the opponent to cut at the opening.
The Art of... Manipulation
Various fast shiftings of the arm's and the body's position are necessary...
Constant movement...
The complete translation of Felső-Eőry's book is available on the homepage of The Fencing Guild of Trnava:
Rashness, furious attack or immoderate effort in the cuts has no use.
...every one of them is good, if we are arbiters of them, and all is bad if we become servants of them - tools...
in one and the same duel one must have his arm amputated, and the other the eye operated,
Courage is, what resists the stronger.
just because we do not fear, we are not yet in courage, safety;
The most nervous person, who shivers while raising his hand to his hat, might become solid in a critical moment, even if he has never held a sword before
Passion is what mostly dominates a person in all his deeds, and puts him into an abnormal, feverish state
Such an incident should not befall, that...
It is easy disarm such opponents, with calm parries, smart behavior. For, similar behavior will necessarily result in a double.
But, be an opponent ever so excellent a fencer, be he even as much as a fencing master, if he doesn’t possess the mental qualities,
then any fencer with the countenance described here can perfectly ensure advantage above him in a duel
We dare to state, that in duels, nervous people don't exist
Now if one is nervous through fear, thus one is not nervous any more, but frightened
We can already see, that in a duel...
fencing is indeed unavoidable in order to defend ourselves,
but in order to come out of a duel victorious, being a virtuoso of fencing is not absolutely necessary.
To one who has not been able to learn parrying to the necessary level the most expedient is never to attempt to parry the blows delivered to the arm, but always to dodge those
This is the most sensitive part of the body, trough the injury of which we expose ourselves to the most complicated dangers, such as bleeding to death, and in case of cutting the tendons, we are never going to have a healthy arm again.
occasionally even through an appropriate parry, and due to the deflexion of the sword, we still sense the cut.
With the right usage of distance we may...
Lacking the sufficient skill, power and experience, of course one cannot take advantage of this, but at least one will protect oneself better with it
outfight our opponent without him even being able to get close to us.
The greatest skill in a duel is to keep the right distance
most 'doubles' seen in assauts:
1. simultaneous attack of the opponents
2. parry-riposte (etc.) applied badly against the attack
One mostly tries to get rid of the duel, so that it ends as soon as possible. In order to wound his opponent for sure, he immediately cuts towards the opening, neglecting any feints.
Yet just the very conception already motivates him as well, that he shall be the attacker, he hopes to ensure a brave behavior by this, and wants to take advantage of the void space in the very moment.
This makes one more cautious, but also prepares one for everything.
The fencer in a duel...
'No matter how superior he may be, there is no fencer in the world who can be absolutely sure of touching his adversary first.'
In Europe, I had one exciting personal experience... I was young...
Finally... an other point of view.
sometimes with more than little heroic patience!
sometimes with little skill and education in fencing
-Without controlling it, one either runs into his
The results of the presence of mind manifest in
always keeping the eyes open
but that, listening the most sharply, we shall know about every single movement of our opponent.
A self-respecting and self-conscious person holds such behavior of the opponent just as
to shout pretending courage, to smile, furthermore, to grip the blade with left hand.
and he is not going to let his undivided attention get distracted from the movements of his opponent by it.
ridiculous as disorderly,
Thus, resorting to halfway measures may easily result in
Finding the right approach in a duel against any kind of fencer,
our actual goal is to protect ourselves from all the dangerous cuts
In a duel someone must, perforce, get injured,
The waste of power is a great mistake, as it is easily followed by fatigue.
In general, the effect of the duel on the fencers...
Aldo Nadi - On Fencing; 1943
Many excellent fencers have the misconception, that in duels, there is absolutely no place for parries
Facing a sharp blade - There are more men of wit and fortitude than experienced fencers of the same qualities...
dueling in the 19th and 20th century was a rather controversial, officially illegal tool of justice, a -that time odd- inheritence of the deeply planted feudal values and solutions, that still induced fiery arguments, basically until the sobering massacre of the World War.

As such, its purpose, rules, tools and effects are fundamentally different from those of fencing contests or competitions. We have numerous sources both on competitive fencing and the issues of dueling, even ones comparing these, while they still coexisted, thus the possibility is given to modern fencers, to study reality-inspired opinions and suggestions, while creating the approach of the young and emerging historical european disciplines of fencing, this beautiful and powerful set of sports.

In this light, Felső-Eőry - a cavalry lieutenant's mythbusting effort to give practical knowledge to the often overly passionate, still usually confused duellists left us, artists of fencing too, many helpful advices to be applied in maintaining the most effective -and in case of powerful weapons importantly, safe- strategies and approach in present, combat-style tournaments, where, without the most precisely elaborated rulesets, we often find dangers a bit similar to dueling.

This results in a rarely seen source of fencing psychology that I hold highly thought provoking and useful for historical fencers and coaches at once. The book contains an extended and detailed treatise on survival strategies and philosophies in real-life dueling, in my presentation I am going to focus on his psychological and strategical advices that can be applied to enhance our consciousness in achieving success in HEMA tournaments, and that may provide possible input in defining our concepts and preferences in the improvement of competitive historical fencing, mainly by pointing out some interesting opinions about the differences between assaut fencing and duelling from the period.
More than necessary physical power shall never be applied, in order to achieve success
...strive to bear down the stronger with skill, and the more skillful with strength and wit, delivering ourselves only to a fencer in every way stronger in the mind and innervation, and more experienced alone, and even then, only through a defense rather challenging for the opponent...
- facing a dangerous opponent.
lethal outcome
Continuous experimenting
Felső-Eőry's treatise strives to give guidance to duelists haunted by confusion, fear and urban legends, to avoid serious, common mistakes and injuries. A rarely seen approach, and an interesting insight for us.
You must not be touched! - an utterly careful style of fencing
We shall make strategy and tactics part of 'the game' - psychology
Understanding the reality of dueling - and its (ir)relevance in fencing rules
Considerable risk of INJURIES
The 'profession' of the REFEREE does not exist (yet)
No 'standard' understanding of the mechanics
If there is someone who has never seemed ridiculous, the reason is that we have never looked well enough... similar is the case of the manly courage too - Fear is a natural, useful emotion... One may rule or serve it
The former sees glamour in dueling, while the latter knows it is only a grim business. Furthermore, no one takes up fencing because of dueling. True, the same weapons are used in both. Yet, but for the technical foundations, they constitute two different worlds hardly compatible with each other. One is a world of hate, courage and blood; the other, one of courtesy, courage and skill.
Sudden outcome of a duel usually bespeak vehement parties lacking knowledge of fencing
thrust or cut to a premeditated, most dangerous target
Get absolutely ready for getting injured - and make sure to parry the cuts as well as possible, giving chance to a quick riposte.
Fencing is the art of touching your adversary without being touched, or of touching before being touched...
Mutual points to be found between HEMA tournaments and sword dueling...?
interesting matchings
psychological traits, advices

no injury, no legal relevance and consequences (preferably...)
(the sergeant's word was sacred - he risked his career. The order of formalities were deadly compulsory, from the right of action in case of the offender or the offended party, the actions allowed in the conflict, down to 'on guard', 'prepare' and 'start' signals, reading out the terms and conditions and the greetings. The seconds had to do all they could to prepare safest possible conditions or even avoid conflict - the least grievous terms... no lethal duel f possible. They could order resting time, and usually forbade thrusting. Killing with forbidden technique meant assassination, and was criminalized.
injury is certain, high risk of severe injury or death of one/both parties - breaking rules/arrangements has serious legal consequences
practical advices
@ duel-specific fencing

Lack of 'standard', 'technically detailed' rule-sets, mostly 'combat style' - only single touches (Assaut strategy, tactics, skill preferences often change, precise observation of rules is generally problematic)
Various views on the 'appropriate' technique
No 'standard' approach to actions, intervention and penalties. Unintentional yet serious mistakes in the less obvious situations...
Powerful, heavy weapons, protective gear issues...
sabre vocabulary
The good fencer seems to get belittled in every case where his attention is solely focused on good fencing...
(Anyone can surprise with one first, decisive touch. The inexperienced often do miracles there... They don't have refined technical reactions and calculations that could take focus away from simply fighting for their lives.)
Example: Tisza vs. Károlyi duel
may end grievously even for a most insightful fencer
it regularly ends fast, with serious injury of both
not paying any attention to the opponent's attack
without any feints, with the greatest vigor
insight into human character and self-understanding make the real thinker, who is smart instead of optimist, and righteous instead of misanthrope
We not only have to know others, first of all, we need our own personality...
which will result in calm struggle and beautiful outcome, so that critical outcome is mostly excluded
A person may affect his own nerves with his soul,
ensures a calm opponent with his calm behavior,
evokes caution with open visage,
achieves mutual prudence with his own prudence,
Battling according to will and reason
hatred is result of the greatest ignorance; it shall not advise us, as otherwise one vainly refers to any presence of mind, strength, skillfulness
we have to beware of everything that might cause permanent threat upon momentary weakness
bravery easily turns into recklessness, moreover, proud courage itself is already recklessness.
opponent's weapon with closed eyes, or involuntarily retreats from it - This is what is going to summon the greatest threat and judgment
(In a fencing tournament: The goal is to become champion... One touch = one full duel... TOURNAMENT STRATEGY - a different kind of logic and psychology)
not by all means to come out victorious.
'being occupied with one's own movement and internal calculations instead of the opponent and the situation, is like having two opponents at once... Isn't one enough?'
When we attack, we shall always be ready for a possible counter-cut, in order to be able to instantly pull back our blades and parry.
the difference is important from fencing point of view, but in a duel only the outcome matters
Alas, sir, I cannot fence...
aims of regulations:
winner: more touches in set time, or set amount in shorter time - The more the touches, the greater role of skills and intellect. The opponents' relations develop from touch to touch, without injuries
loser: pronounced unable to continue by the duel-surgeon, admits defeat or gets a predefined injury.
Tournament: just another touch :(
Duel: ...we've got a problem...
Full transcript