Author: Phil Crawley

From Treatise to Exercise- a model for turning text into action

An often overlooked aspect of historical fencing is how to go about turning all the information contained in a fencing text into a structured means of teaching and learning. At first it seems as if this would be pretty obvious- do what the text tells you and mimic what you see in the pictures. However this can often lead to incomplete understanding and poorly honed skills with a lack of the fundamentals. What if you want something more? This is where you need to develop your analytical skills and read between the lines in a text or treatise in...

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Translation of an Essay on Saint Didier’s Fencing Treatise

…  Published in 1573, by George Dubois, Master-of-Arms. Examining the nature of the works by ancient masters of fencing always surprises me. They are often criticised as being baser than modern works which are the apogee of the art and that the ancients are little but rungs on the ladder towards a pinnacle. By tradition among fencing salles Saint Didier and his works are portrayed as pale imitations of Italian techniques of the era, and his work has a certain childishness. This is not my opinion. The perfection of paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance exceed the sad quality of...

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“Contenders ready!” The Gladiator Revival of Belle Epoque France

During the Belle Epoque of France gladiators were held up as the very model of physical perfection due to their athletic ability, aesthetic form and stoicism in the face of duress so it is no surprise that they caught the imagination of Georges Dubois, the noted Olympian, fencer, writer, martial artist, fight director and sculptor. In a series of articles in the La Culture Physique magazine in late 1907 and early 1908 he describes his interest, research and the results of his study. He started by searching the National Library of France for original gladiator treatises without success, he then...

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