At SHMS we teach the use of the most ico­nic duel­ling wea­pon of them all, the rapier, from ori­gi­nal 17th cen­tu­ry sources. Ita­lian fencing sys­tems have always favou­red the thrust . By the ear­ly 1600 the long, slen­der and quick rapier was the swordsman’s choice wea­pon for self defence. This was also faci­li­ta­ted by the deve­lop­ment of sword­ma­king, which allowed the­se long bla­des to be trustwort­hy instru­ments of death (not an easy task!) whi­le being objects of great beau­ty at the same time.

The teac­hing of the rapier was begun by our school’s foun­der Guy Wind­sor from Ridol­fo Capoferro’s fencing manual “Great Repre­sen­ta­tion of the Art and Use of Fencing” from 1610 and we con­ti­nue to stu­dy and teach this work faith­ful­ly. Howe­ver, our teac­hers might throw in some insight from other mas­ters of the con­tem­po­ra­ry Ita­lian school, such as Sal­va­tor Fabris and Nico­let­to Gigan­ti. Of all his­to­rical and even modern fencing discipli­nes, the rapier manuals pro­vi­de some of the best desc­rip­tions of fencing pos­tu­res, bla­de rela­tions, hand and foot move­ment, mea­su­re and tem­po. The stu­dent of this wea­pon will be satis­fied simul­ta­neous­ly by the elect­ric sen­sa­tion of lan­ding a well for­med thrust on his/her oppo­nent and the eloquent expo­si­tion of the art of fencing in the manuals.

Com­bat with Sword, Staff, and Lance; Fio­re Fur­lan dei Libe­ri da Pre­ma­riacco (Ita­lian, about 1340/1350 – befo­re 1450); Padua (or) Ita­ly Venice Ita­ly; about 1410; Tem­pe­ra colors, gold leaf, sil­ver leaf, and ink on parch­ment; Leaf: 27.9 x 20.6 cm (11 x 8 1/8 in.); Ms. Ludwig XV 13, fol. 31