Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Thibault's grip and choosing a rapier's hilt Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Wed 27 Dec, 2006 9:56 am    Post subject: Thibault's grip and choosing a rapier's hilt         Reply with quote

Greetings everyone!

Well, I've been lucky for Christmas... I received a facsimile of Girard Thibault's Académie de l'espée, the Kubik new edition Cool Big Grin

This really is a most impressive book. I know it has been dismissed in the past as a monumental dead-end, but still... From what little I've already read, it seems to be written in a clear and logical fashion. It is well structured, organised in chapters, each containing a plate and focusing on a specific aspect (cuts, drawing the sword, etc... I will make a list of those, in order to be able to find my way back and forth). It is far easier to read than the other French manual I have, the Traicté contenant les secrets du premier livre sur l'espée seule, by Henri de Saint-Didier. Maybe that's because it was written later, also. Anyway, as a French native speaker, I enjoy this book immensely, as it gives me a direct contact with a manual, without the need for a translation. It's always funnier to build your own interpretation and then to compare with what others said Happy

There is a specific point that I was not aware of, and that I'd like to discuss here. Thibault very specifically advocates an original way of gripping the sword. I saw the plates already, but I thought it was just a stylistic difference (the grip I'm talking about can be seen here. Look at how the swords are held at the bottom). In fact Thibault insists heavily that swords are held in that way and not any other, straight from the beginning. He also says that other ways of holding the sword are discussed later, to show that they are not convenient for the techniques he exposes, but I haven't come across those passages yet.

This has raised my curiosity Happy The grip he advocates is special in two different ways. First, the index is wrapped around the false edge quillon, such that the hand is in fact on the opposite side when compared with a more usual grip. The back of the hand is thus on the inner side, under the counter guard. Second, the thumb is not opposed to the index, but instead it is placed on the ricasso, under the counter guard.

The first specificity, I think, could be a result of the way Thibault draws his sword. From looking at the plates, it seems that at the beginning of the draw, he grips the sword with the palm on the outside, a bit as it is done in iaido. I have yet to study the details of the draw, this is just what it looks like on the plate. It's not something that has a big impact on handling anyway, I believe, since the quillons, handle, and blade are all symmetrical
The position of the thumb, however, has a far greater impact. I did some experimentation with my Milanese rapier (not really the kind of sword appropriate for Thibault, I know). I found that it gives a better feel of the tip action, an overall greater precision and versatility changing lines and angles. The quillons are also way easier to control. They feel stronger, able to redirect and set aside the opponent's blade if need be. I think this is exactly the reason Thibault is so fond of this grip. He explicitly mentions that
Quote:
of this sole position depends the certainty of a good part of all the operations, and are founded the most noble deeds of thrusts in attack or defence; and this is made sure by the situation of the cross, and by the strength of the blade, held in such manner.
(sloppy translation by me Wink )

Why am I focusing on this, you could ask? The thing is, I don't have a rapier appropriate for Thibault's style. So I'm probably going to buy one. But I'm not sure I want it to be specifically what Thibault advocates, it's likely that I will look at other styles too. So I was wondering about what form of hilt I should choose. I believe I will go with Darkwood Armory, which proposes plenty of choices, with good quality from what I heard. What Thibault recommends looks like this half-hilt. However, my personal tastes drives me more towards a swept hilt such as this or this. What I would like to know is whether the grip proposed by Thibault would work on a swept hilt or not. I'm especially worried by the knuckle guard...

I suppose it should work, because the swept hilt was very common by Thibault's time, and so he must have tried that. However, I'd be very grateful if someone owning a swept hilt could try out this special grip, just to be sure it is possible and not dangerous or awkward due to the extra bars... I'm also interested in any extra advice or impressions about this grip or the more general subject of choosing a rapier Happy


Thanks in advance!

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo


Last edited by Vincent Le Chevalier on Thu 28 Dec, 2006 8:07 am; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 953

PostPosted: Wed 27 Dec, 2006 12:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It appears to me that the grip Thibault talks about essentially rotates the sword 90 degrees in the hand compared to the conventional way, ie. places the knucklebow towards the palm rather than in line with the knuckles. This means that when you extend your hand with the palm down, a very natural and comfortable position, the outside guards face outwards, the knucklebow down, and the counterguards inside; this, to me, feels like a very secure and, again, natural arrangement. If you lower your hand, or raise it above the shoulder, keeping the wrist in the same position but rotating the arm as feels natural, the quillons now automatically point out to the sides , providing solid defense, whereas with the conventional grip (with true edge aligned with the knuckles) you have to twist your wrist in order to bring the edge to bear for a parry.

I also find pointing the true edge up or down, left or right easier than with the traditional grip.

It's kind of a transitional gripping method between rapiers and smallswords, if you get my meaning (and assuming I'm not completely off the track), retaining the finger hooked around the quillon and through the ring like with the rapier, but with the thumb pinching the ricasso as with the smallsword. A lot like gripping a parrying dagger with the thumb on the flat of the blade, in fact.

The only thing it requires of the hilt, as far as I can tell, is that the inside guards not extend so far above the cross as to hinder your wrist. Any swept, cup, ring or whatever hilt with unobtrusive knucklebow and additional bars (if any) should be perfectly fine.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Thu 28 Dec, 2006 8:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
It appears to me that the grip Thibault talks about essentially rotates the sword 90 degrees in the hand compared to the conventional way, ie. places the knucklebow towards the palm rather than in line with the knuckles.


I had not seen it this way, but now that you say it... Yes, that's about right. It's not really 90 degrees but possibly a bit more, depending on the shape of the cross and ricasso. In fact originally I was thinking 180 degrees + something, the other way around, but it was unnecessarily complicated Wink

I also agree with what you say about handling. Cutting is less instinctive and possibly less powerful, though, so wether such grip is appropriate depends on your weapon and the priorities of your style.

I don't know if other masters were similarly specific for the way of holding the sword. Did they consider it a given? Thibault seems well aware that his grip is "greatly different of the ordinary use", but then his whole style is also quite different from what was widespread at the time in most parts of Europe, as far as I know.

It's also quite possible that people were using different grips depending on the conditions (self-defence, duel, etc.).

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
It's kind of a transitional gripping method between rapiers and smallswords, if you get my meaning (and assuming I'm not completely off the track), retaining the finger hooked around the quillon and through the ring like with the rapier, but with the thumb pinching the ricasso as with the smallsword. A lot like gripping a parrying dagger with the thumb on the flat of the blade, in fact.


I'm unfamiliar with smallswords, but yes, it could be that this grip is something in between. The thumb in this grip is not on the flat of the ricasso, from what I understand, it should go around the quillon opposite to the index, and press the side or maybe the corner of the ricasso. The grip of a parrying dagger is a bit different, since putting the thumb on the ricasso, and not the index, gives a position of the blade that does an angle with your arm. As I see things, Thibault's goal with this grip is precisely to have good control on the blade, and having it naturally almost parallel to your arm.

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
The only thing it requires of the hilt, as far as I can tell, is that the outside guards not extend so far above the cross that they hinder your wrist. Any swept, cup or whatever hilt with unobtrusive knucklebow and additional bars (if any) should be perfectly fine.


Indeed if the knuckle guard is facing the palm, there should be no problem. But I though I'd ask anyway, since the grip is unusual, unforeseen troubles could surface Wink

Thanks for your answer, it gave me some new insight on all that!

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jeff Richardson




Location: Medford Oregon
Joined: 22 Nov 2004

Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu 28 Dec, 2006 11:55 am    Post subject: Thibault's book and grip         Reply with quote

Thibault's book is simply very amazing in it's clarity. We just finished the release party and seminar in conjunction with John Michael Greer's translation here in November. After about 10 years it is finally available from Chiv. Bookshelf.

Regarding the grip. Hold your rapier in the typical manner with one finger over the quillon and below the recaso. Extend your arm straight out and turn the rapier into a seconda position. Now take your thumb and move it up so that the tip of the pad of your thumb rests on the quillon. Now the quillons are horizontal to the floor and both the thumb and the index finger are on top of the quillons. The thumb pressing down on the quillon to the left and the index finger wrapped over the quillon to the right. (This places any knucklebow to your right) Hope that helps. Secondarily you should note the grip change that Thibault advocates, you should be able to drop the thumb transfering back to the traditional grip for cutting purposes. It is important when you consider this not to get your thumb too far over the quillon or you wont be able to transition quickly and smoothly.

As far as a swept hilt goes.... I think it would be fine ultimately. Proveded the sweeps to the knuckle bow aren't going to interfere with your hand/wrist in Thibault's grip. The real kicker is that Thibault's techniques rely heavily on those straight quillons.

FYI - there is evidence to support that Thibault's grip may be influenced by a method used in Amsterdam and Leiden by Peter Bailley and Ludolf Von Cullen. (sp)

There is a discussion group at distreza@yahoogroups.com which has some of the leading researchers on Thibault on it in the English speaking world including John Michael Greer and Mathew Howden. It's a good place to ask questions on the subject. I am unaware of what might be going on in the French Speaking circles besides the Girard Six publication of the facsimile.

Jeff Richardson
Academia Duelatoria
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Richardson wrote:
Regarding the grip. Hold your rapier in the typical manner with one finger over the quillon and below the recaso. Extend your arm straight out and turn the rapier into a seconda position. Now take your thumb and move it up so that the tip of the pad of your thumb rests on the quillon. Now the quillons are horizontal to the floor and both the thumb and the index finger are on top of the quillons. The thumb pressing down on the quillon to the left and the index finger wrapped over the quillon to the right. (This places any knucklebow to your right).


That's the way I thought of it at the beginning. However, having read Thibault's descriptions again, I believe it's not just a change in thumb's position. I see it now as a kind of "reversed" grip, in the sense that the index finger is wrapped around the false edge quillon. I have several justifications for this:

* In Thibault's plates, it's clear that when the sword is held with the quillons parallel to the ground, the side rings are facing down. If I start from the usual grip in seconda and just move the thumb, they are on the top. That means also that if I imagine adding a knucklebow to Thibault's swords, it is facing to the left. As you said, the method you describe places it to the right.

* In Thibault's plate II (the one I linked to in my original post), we can see that the wrist is not on the top of the pommel, but rather almost on it's right side. This would work with a swept hilt, only if the knucklebow is on the left. If it is on the right, it will interfer with the proper grip, forcing your wrist upwards uncomfortably, as far as I can see. I like to think that, although he does not show that, Thibault practiced with the very common swept hilt, or at least made sure his method could work with such a hilt without obvious mechanical disconfort.

* In the chapter on how to draw the sword, Thibault says to grab the sword "en embrassant avec le doigt indice la branche extérieure par dedans la garde" which could be translated as "fingering the outer quillon with the index, from inside the guard". The denomination of outer quillon I think, is not to be taken relative to this position, it's just the name he gives to this quillon because in the guard position it is on the outside. But I think that "from inside the guard" could mean that this first grab happens on the side of the hilt facing the body, with the knuckles slightly upwards. As I said, much like it's done in Japanese Iaido. And that is what is shown in the plate III (more precisely in figure E in the top right, too bad it is one of the smallest...). Again, starting like this you end up with the knucklebow on your left.

Well I don't have a swept hilt to try all this out, but I'm going to get one if only for that Big Grin I like the feeling that there were such variations in this seemingly simple point of gripping the sword... And it's fun to feel the changes in perceived balance and motion when the grip changes, as well.

Jeff Richardson wrote:
Secondarily you should note the grip change that Thibault advocates, you should be able to drop the thumb transfering back to the traditional grip for cutting purposes. It is important when you consider this not to get your thumb too far over the quillon or you wont be able to transition quickly and smoothly.


I found some way to cut directly from Thibault's position, but it's a bit different from the usual mechanics. Should work, still, against unarmoured targets. Could even be surprising when the opponent is not used to it... It kind of eases false edge blows, also. I haven't read what he says about edge blows yet, so maybe I'll change my views then.

Jeff Richardson wrote:
The real kicker is that Thibault's techniques rely heavily on those straight quillons.


I like those best anyway, so I don't mind Happy

Jeff Richardson wrote:
There is a discussion group at distreza@yahoogroups.com which has some of the leading researchers on Thibault on it in the English speaking world including John Michael Greer and Mathew Howden. It's a good place to ask questions on the subject. I am unaware of what might be going on in the French Speaking circles besides the Girard Six publication of the facsimile.


I have to admit I'm similarly unaware of what's going on in french about that... In fact I wasn't even aware that a reedition of Thibault had happened until recently, and I was lucky to even get one of those. I have lost contact with the world of sport fencing something like ten years ago, and I think the facsimile has been announced mostly to sport fencers, as an historical curiosity.

The thing is that in France, we have a very strong tradition in sport fencing. It is often seen as representative of the only way people used to fight. Young people attracted by fencing (that is, playing with swords and such Happy ) find a very structured and indeed old organisation to practice within, but it favours sport over any martial aspects. Those who are looking for something more combat-oriented tend to practice Eastern martial arts. I was in fact one of those young people Happy

Either way, you don't get very easily any accurate information about medieval and renaissance swordmanship. Instructors in sport fencing still transmit the misconceptions such as "in middle age, with two-handed swords, only brute force mattered", citing Vegetius to stress that somehow only thrusts are efficient. I'm not making this up, I actually have in my hand a book by Gérard Six saying just that... Granted, the book is from 1998, but I never saw any other book in french adopting a less dogmatic approach. The majority of those looking for such information find it in english. But that further reduces the audience, sadly...

I'm immensely grateful to Gérard Six for this re-edition of Thibault, but the fact is that he is not going to be, in my opinion, someone who will attempt to reconstruct the martial system outlined and show how it can be efficient. I don't blame him for that either, it's just not his focus.

Well, I'll stop ranting for now Happy Just to say I was astonished to see how one of the countries with a long fencing tradition seems to lag behind as far as martial arts reconstruction are concerned... Or maybe it's just that those who try do not use the internet to share or encourage newcomers. I don't really know.

Thanks for sharing!

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Nicholas Zeman





Joined: 09 May 2005

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Fri 29 Dec, 2006 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent, it appears from that plate you linked to that you are absolutely correct in the fact that the index finger is looped over the false edge and not the true! I know little of Thibault, but that illustration clearly shows the index finger over the false edge instead of the true, where it normally is in the rapier grip. Very interesting indeed.... thanks for pointing that out.
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Wed 03 Jan, 2007 1:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well,

I looked at the other plates, and it appears that Thibault's opponent sometimes uses the "traditional" grip, with rapier and dagger for example. So the fingering of the false edge quillon is really something intentional, and not an error in the drawings (unlikely given the quality of the plates, but...).

I'm increasingly convinced also, without being able to back it up with solid proofs yet, that the swords found in Thibault were just some sort of training implements, thus the hilt reduced to its simplest form. Would be coherent with the representations of the longswords in book II, which look like training longswords or greatswords to me.

This would mean that one should not necessarily be obsessed with getting the exact right blade length recommended by Thibault, nor the exact same hilt. The principles hold true and do not depend on the absence of knuckle bow or a few inches of blade length. This is however less explicit than when Thibault writes about his circle, saying essentially that complete understanding of the geometry and faithful respect of proportions is not paramount. The circle is a training tool, and he says that it should be built around the proportions of an average person, describing how someone taller or smaller should adapt the steps.

So, I think I will stick with a swept hilt. Now I just have to choose which style of swept hilt Wink

Thanks to everyone for the great input!

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
M Howden





Joined: 22 Apr 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 16 Jan, 2007 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greetings Vincent, et all;

If I might, I'd like to take a moment to chime in on this conversation. It's good to see more folks interested in Thibault's system. I, myself have been researching and practicing his methods since around 1998 and have loved every minute of it.

I would like to begin by noting that, I believe the difference between what Jeff Richardson and Vincent are describing with regard to the grip is one of practical -vs- typological definition. Specifically, I am referring to the definitions of true -vs- false edge. From the perspective of a sword/hilt typologist, the true edge is always the edge which is oriented in the same direction as the knuckle bow. Thibault grips the sword with the outer guard toward the palm and, since the true edge should be oriented to the left if the outer guard is facing downward, from a typologists perspective, Thibaults finger is over the false edge quillon. From a practical perspective, the true edge is generally considered to be the edge which is oriented in the same direction as the knuckles, while the false edge is oriented toward the thumb. Provided that you are dealing with a dual edged blade this becomes predominantly a distinction of how much strength can be reasonably applied to a technique based on which edge is being used as true edge techniques tend to be stronger than false edge techniques in most applications (superior skeletal alignment, etc).

Second, Vincent, you are absolutely correct in your assesment that the wrist is next to the pommel and not above it. Having a knucklebow on this side of the sword does, in fact force the wrist into an unnatural and misaligned posture, resulting in a host of issues, including decreased elbow mobility, increased shoulder fatigue, and exposure of the low line due to the requisite engagement of muscles which could otherwise be left more relaxed.

Regarding the use of longswords/greatswords, daggers, bucklers, etc, Thibault is using these to demonstrate how the combattant, using only one sword but supported by the true knowledge of his system can defeat these other false weapons. Thibault is very plainly spoken in his derision of any form of sword practice other than that of the single rapier without any companion.

It is, however, correct that Thibault uses two grips. In a number of circumstances, most notably when cutting, Thibault has Alexander lower his thumb below the quillon as described in Chapter Six, Circle 6:
"Alexander continues the operation, continuing to turn his right side forward together with his sword arm, which he frees at the same time ferom beneath the opposing sword with a movement of his wrist, allowing the thumb, which is braced against the inside quillon, to slide under it. He turns the wrist at the same time, and puttin gthe sword on edge, he brings the point up above the opposing sword." - Thibault (trans. John Michael Greer).
At the conclusion of this change of grip, the sword is held in a "standard" grip. If a knucklebow was present on the left side of the guard, it would now be pressed against the wrist and interfering with your ability to bring the sword on edge.

In my experience, without being able to perform the transitions between the two grips one cannot fully implement the full range of techniques which are basic to Thibaults system. I, personally have not found any means of managing both grips satisfactorilly with a sword that has a knucklebow. As such, I would heartily discourage a swept hilt. Your mileage may vary.

Cheers,
Matthew Howden
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Wed 17 Jan, 2007 1:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M Howden wrote:
I, personally have not found any means of managing both grips satisfactorilly with a sword that has a knucklebow. As such, I would heartily discourage a swept hilt. Your mileage may vary.


Damn, just when I had almost reached a decision Wink (I should stress that the speed of my decision making, specially for buying, is somewhat proverbial in my family Big Grin )

What you say is very much in agreement with what I'm thinking according to my considerably shorter experience of Thibault than yours (being at about 3 weeks without a partner to work with or even a proper sword Wink ). As it happen, I was reading the exact passage you cite this week-end.

Before that, since the closest I have to work with is the Milanese Rapier from Arms & Armor, I did some limited test-cutting to see where I could get with Thibault grip. I took a free standing piece of pool noodle, and tried both grips (I'll need to replenish my provision of cutting material as well Wink ). I cannot cut all the way through, even with the standard grip, because of the lightness of the noodle bit. But I'm still able to cut to a depth of about two inches, diagonally downward. With Thibault's grip (not even moving the thumb as he indicates, because I hadn't read the passage back then), the cuts are less deep but still efficient. It's the motion that really is different, because my hand is not in the same position at all at the impact. It does take some time to get used to but it's manageable. Also, since the wrist is not exactly aligned with the edges, it's more difficult to control the sword after the hit. Anyhow, it's not something I would like to face in a fight...

The height of the target also seems to have its importance. My setup did not allow for head-height cuts, but in dry handling they are something I find easier to do with Thibault's grip.

Obviously with the Milanese Rapier, since there is no knucklebow, my tendency when moving the thumb is to realign completely my wrist with the edge, thus ending in a more or less standard grip.

But given my relative successes in cutting directly from Thibault's grip, I wonder if a knucklebow would bother me very much... All it would mean is that I wouldn't be able to realign my wrist, but instead I'd just secure the handle a little bit with the thumb, and possibly pressing the knucklebow against my wrist (that could give a good feel of where the edge is pointing to, as well). Pure speculation here, once again, because I have nothing serious with a knucklebow (though I could dig out a toy saber that is probably lying somewhere in the basement Wink ). But I admit that I have difficulties realizing how obtrusive to motions a knucklebow would be.

Basically, what makes me optimistic about using swept hilt rapiers with Thibault style is that they were really the most common type back then, apparently. If Thibault wanted to build a system specifically for half-hilts, maybe he would not have bothered switching the index from one quillon to another. In fact he could even have drawn completely symmetric hilts. I'd find it more satisfying if he designed a system that worked flawlessly with common forms of rapiers, but selected the half-hilt primarily because it clarified the drawing. If this is the case, it's even possible that working with a swept-hilt enhances our comprehension (i.e. if the technique we reconstruct does not work with a swept-hilt, it's not the exact one that is being described).

A lot to chew on here... Many thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

Regards

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
M Howden





Joined: 22 Apr 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 17 Jan, 2007 8:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As you begin to work more into the sections dealing with sentiment and bent-arm techniques, I think you will find that the presence of a knucklebow really gets in the way. This is especially true with the rapier -vs- longsword section.

I would also like to point out that Thibault is somewhat meticulous with regard to his presentation of his art. While Thibault does not directly answer the question of whether or not the sword should have a knuckle-bow, he does give us some clues:
"From these measures it is clear what form the hilt should have. On this subject so many new inventions come forth every day from all sides, and with so little foundation, as though the hilt were made to serve as a simple personal ornament, rather than something useful to have in times of necessity. Some make the quillons hooked or curved ... others make the guards into baskets all around the grip; all to make I don't know what parade of courage, or rather of cowardice.... The form of the hilt that we have given here is simple and honest, even in civil conversation, and does not fail to be entirely sufficient for defense.... " -Thibault (trans by John Michael Greer), Chapter 2.
When turned to the description of specific actions, Thibault's clarity of presentation begins to border on the obsessive and we are, in most cases, left with little or no room for interpretation of precisely the actions he is describing.

Additionally, we know that the engravers Thibault hired were of excellent quality and that Thibault, himself no stranger to art and illustration, worked with them to develop the engravings to his rather exacting specifications (see Verwey, Herman de la Fontaine "Gerard Thibault and his Academy de l'espee"). They would have had no great difficulty in representing at least one of the swords with a swept hilt and, indeed, in many of the plates it would have made no difference whatsoever with regard to the clarity of the figures.

Regarding the common availability of swept hilt -vs- half hilt rapiers. Thibault was certainly not one to bow to convention or fashion. Quite the opposite. My personal opinion is that he had quite other reasons for his decisions. The primary blade control technique in Thibault's system is subjection (placing ones blade above and across the opponents blade). When attempting to achieve subjection, the underside of the hand tends to be far more threatened and exposed than the top side of the hand. This is especially true when facing other systems which employ lower guards (Capo Ferro or Fabris, for example). Given that the "outer" guard provides the greatest protection against thrusts, it would make sense to place the outer guard on the side of the hand which is most threatened by thrusts. I have experimented with rotating the guard around so that the rings are at the top of the hand and I find that I am much less secure in the techniques and must be considerably more careful due to the increased exposure to the hand in this position. While this issue might have been rather simple to get around by, as you say, using a symmetrical guard, such guards were, as far as I have seen in my admittedly limited researches, quite rare during the time when Thibault was writing.

Cheers,
Matthew[/i]
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 843

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These are all good points, and I really can't argue given my lack of practical experience. I was under the impression that the hilt described by Thibault was a sort of minimum requirement for his practice. It seemed to me that his contempt for those "new inventions" in the passage you cited was more a sort of moral position, rather than a practical one. He does give practical advice concerning the quillons, and why they should be straight, and concerning the length of the guard that allows to use safely the techniques he describes, but nothing indeed about knucklebows... I also admit I have trouble making out from the illustrations alone whether or not a knucklebow would interfere.

Well at this stage I think I'll contact Darkwood Armory and see what my options are. I still would like to have a swept-hilt if only just to see and experiment by myself. So depending on the ratio of prices for individual components I could go with a swept-hilt rapier alone, or one blade, one grip and one pommel but two guards (swept-hilt and half-hilt) or even two full rapiers with different hilts (depending on shipping costs it could be interesting to get two rapiers straight away rather than deciding later that I'd like to have another blade).

I'm looking forward to discussing further with you about Thibault once I'm a little better equipped Wink

Kindest regards

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Kyro R. Lantsberger





Joined: 21 Apr 2006

Posts: 39

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 10:00 am    Post subject: Great to see         Reply with quote

Im glad to have run into this thread here. I got the Chivalry Bookshelf version of Thibault. The Spanish school was my original academic exposure to Western swordplay, and I have been waiting for better resources.

I will definitely get on that newsgroup. I have spent almost 15 years studying/practicing Hsing-I/Tai Chi/ Bagua, and it is commonly noticed that Bagua walks a circle, and so does Destretza, however after having gone through in some detail about half of Thibault's book, the similiarity is enormous. Granted, Jian and Dao dont operate the same way as a rapier, but about 75 -80% of the drills and circles described by Thibault are nearly identical to exercises/techniques Ive done in Chinese Internal styles, actually more Tai Chi like than Bagua. Many of Thibaults circles are variations depending on how forceful the blade movement of the opponent is, and his language and even technical responses are very, very coherent from the context of the Asian style.

Its fascinating to see how these very esoteric Chinese ideas were grasped at such a high level by the Spanish. I notice at the beginning Thibault talks a bit about Plato, and I think the ideas of Platonic forms and such can put you in the same water as those who were thinking as Taoists.
View user's profile Send private message
M Howden





Joined: 22 Apr 2006
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat 20 Jan, 2007 10:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Picking up two hilts sounds like a good plan. Any of the Darkwood hilts styled after AVB Norman's hilt type 43 should be perfect as far as the half-hilt goes.

One of the fun things about Thibault's treatise is his method of presenting proofs. There are a number of cases where Thibault presents the idea that moral truth and practical truth are intertwined. He makes a number of allusions to the idea that his system works because it is supported by "natural truth" and that the swordsman who would be successfull must not attempt to do so through dishonest means. The idea is that a thing must be morally true in order to be practically true. This is, in fact, quite in keeping with the philosophical environment Thibault would likely have been exposed to during his childhood in Amsterdam. As such, when he makes moral or philosophical judgements about specific things (hilts, for example), we can interpret that as meaning he feels the subject has some bearing on the practical aspects of the fight.

Just a thought.

Cheers,
Matthew
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Thibault's grip and choosing a rapier's hilt
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum