Johannes Georgius Bruchius – Introduction and Guards

Printed in 1671, the primary purpose of Bruchius’ book is to make the Italian tradition widely available to Low German (i.e. Dutch) speakers.

By the time Bruchius was published, the French version of Thibault was already 43 years old. Though admired by our author, he laments the length and difficulty of learning “circle-fighting”.

Bruchius spent 17 years working on his Thorough description Of the Noble and Knightly Fencing or Weapon-Art. According to the introduction there was supposed to have been five books:

  • In the First Book, will be spoken of the Rapier alone, (just as the Italians say) Pede firmo: that is, how one in the Thrusting has to keep one foot standing, and with the other step forward, and then after the Thrusting swiftly put that back again. After that also, how that one will advance with the Left foot, or pass.
  • In the Second Book, will be dealt with the Rapier per Caminade, as the Passade is the means of Pede firmo, or the Long-Thrust, and the Caminade.
  • In the Third Book will be spoken of the Rapier alone, how  that a Left will go against a Right and manoeuvre.
  • The Fourth Book will show, how one will use a Rapier to Cut.
  • The Fifth Book will deal with the Rapier and Poignart.

As best as I can tell, only the first book is available. I don’t know if the other four were lost or simply never published.

Definition of Fencing

What interests me, by Fighting or Fencing  I understand a Battle of two Counter-parties with equal Weapons, though not with Pistols or Guns (Roers), but only with Side-arms, and that on Foot: where in the Art of Man (next to God) by fast movements of the fist, and quickness of the Body is the most important. And that is in fact the Fighting- or Fencing-art.

So that Fencing or Fighting is no other that an Art, by which he who is Master in it can, using only his Side-arm, keep his Opponent from his body so, that on all his limbs he remains uninjured, but can conversely injure his Opponent himself (if he only wants to).

Reinier van Noort Translation

Guards

Prima – First

The Prima indicates the First movement, when you draw your Weapon from its scabbard. See page A. Fig. 1. And then the Bar of your Rapier must stand level, the plain of your Hand outward looking to your right, just as you will see in the Posture on page A. Fig. 2.

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Secunda – Second

The Secunda is formed like this: the Palm of your Hand down, and the Bar level, as the Posture Fig. 3. on page A. shows.

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Note the quillons in drawing 3 don’t match the description of “palm down”. The matching plate, 66, is a better representation.

Tertia – Third

The Tertia is formed with the Palm of your Hand inward, that is, to your left side, and the Bar level. See page A. fig. 4.

image

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Quarta – Fourth

The Quarta forms itself, if you put the Palm of your Hand upwards, with the Bar level, as the Posture Fig. 5. on page B. does show you.

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Notes

If you position your body  upright and in a straight line, and if your arm is  stretched out, so it is necessary to know how you will position your body in a firm and assured good Posture. So know first that you feet will stand, heel against heel, in a straight line, and about 1½ Rhineland feet from each other. Then bend your knees, but so that your body rests on the left leg, so that the forward right foot is unloaded, and can advance lightly in stepping or thrusting. And hold your left hand up at the side. In this posture you are held to stay as long as you are in Action, to not give your Opponent a greater advantage, though by movements and turnings of the Hand, the Body is thus moved.

Heel to heel? That seems rather odd, even for a fencing style that is based on keeping the rear foot fixed.

Thrusts

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Bruchius warns about thrusting too far. He wants a balanced lunge so that you can quickly recover backwards. According to the image, his shoulder goes above the heel. Compare this to Capoferro, who’s shoulder is just past the toe.

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