Capoferro Chapter 1 – The Purpose of Fencing

3. The aim of fencing is the defense of self, from whence it derives its name; because “to fence” does not mean other than defending oneself, hence it is that “protection” and “defense”are words of the same meaning; whence one recognizes the value and excellence of this discipline is such that everyone should give as much care thereunto, as they love their own life, and the security of their native land, being obligated to spend that lovingly and valorously in the service thereof. 

4. Thence it is also seen that defense is the principal action in fencing, and that no one must proceed to offense, if not by way of legitimate defense.

From the very beginning Capoferro stresses that defense is essential. These are not hollow words, his entire book is based in large part on the concept of attacking in safety.

Another concept that Capoferro stresses is the Nature, Art, and Practice. Nature concerns the body itself and its fitness to execute the commands of reason. Art is the regulator of nature, honing it bit by bit until it reaches perfection. Practice “converses, stabilizes, and augments the strength of art and nature” and teaches us the fine details that cannot be learned through study alone.

Capoferro then goes into the usual poetic talk about the sword being the most perfect weapon for defending oneself. Interspaced in this is various political statements such as concerns about the lack of education for soldiers causes them to misbehave in times of peace.

On this historical side Capoferro traces the art of fencing back to King Nino of the Assyrians. Through them it passed to the Persians, the Macedonians, the Greeks, and then the Romans.

According to Capoferro fencing is an art, not a science. To be a science it would have to consider itself with things eternal and divine.

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