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Ken Berry




Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Joined: 17 May 2008

Posts: 31

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 5:34 pm    Post subject: Did Medieval/Renaissance fencers salute before bouting?         Reply with quote

Can anybody tell me if there is a historic precedent for a salutation of some kind before a bout between 2 fencers? Modern fencing has a salute and the asian fighting styles usually do some form of bow before free-sparring, boxers touch gloves,etc. I am mostly interested in the German fighting traditions, but also curious if any of the other European Schools" "saluted " before bouting or is that more of a modern convention.

I would like to introduce some form of salutation between fighters to the members of my training group but only if this is historically correct.
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Steven Reich




Location: Arlington, VA
Joined: 28 Oct 2003

Posts: 237

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Bolognese don't specifically spell it out, but they do allude to it in some of the Assalti with the andante da gioco ('going to play') and ritornar da gioco ('returning from play') which are a set of movements usually incorporating steps and cuts. A few of them say to "show reverence" to your opponent as the last move of the ritornar da gioco (usually ending in Guardia Alta).

I can't imagine that any sort of crossing of swords was ever done without some sort of salute at the very least (probably with something more elaborate for a judicial duel which probably included prayers to God, etc.)

Steve

Founder of NoVA-Assalto, an affiliate of the HEMA Alliance
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Certainly 18th century fencing treatises explain various salutes, particularly the French. Before that, I only know of cases where there is a vague allusion to giving a sign that the bout was about to commence. Most of these are pretty vague, though.

At the very least, there seems to be an agreement to wait for both parties to be ready before beginning. For example, Fabris shows a technique where you would throw your cape over the opponent's sword. This technique is done before you have come into measure, while you are taking your cape off, but when your opponent has already come into guard. This might imply that your opponent was waiting around, assuming that you are not ready yet, and just as you are about to come into guard, you throw your cape. It isn't evidence of a salute, but it does show that there must have been something to signal when the two fencers should begin.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Michael Olsen





Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2008 7:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ken,

La Jeu de la Hache (a Burgundian work concerning use of the pollaxe) as translated by Anglo provides a brief mention of the sign of the cross.

Quote:
Recommending yourself to God, you must make the sign of the cross and march upright, with a good and valorous countenance, gazing at the other end of the field to seek out your adversary.


Of course, I'm thinking that sign was less of a salute and more a prayer that things go well, but it could easily be used as a sign of readiness today.

Michael Olsen

Michael Olsen
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A.A. Boskaljon




Location: Utrecht, Netherlands
Joined: 08 Apr 2008

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Sat 13 Sep, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think Vikings did a hand-shake before they started wrestling (Glima).
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