This article assumes you’re reasonably familiar with a number of terms and concepts in verdadera destreza. If you’re not, visit Movement and Tactics in the Spanish True School, then come on back. While the linked article ably covers the information I discuss below, I arrange the information a little differently, and these varying approaches may together help readers make sense of a very precise way of describing movement, intent, and timing in 17th century Spanish fencing. Introduction La verdadera destreza has a very particular way of approaching the concept of timing in combat. Pacheco mentions them for the first time (I believe) in Modo Fácil, his 1625 book on how to test people assessing for the title of Master. But before we can tackle the timings or considerations, we need to understand some other LVD concepts of action and movement first. Let’s start with the six movements of the blade, … Read on!
It’s my 45th, and it’s a little past my Patreon’s first. So let’s celebrate! Linked in this post you’ll find the Prologue and the First Dialogue of Pacheco’s Compendio. Because of the generous support of my Patrons (who receive these releases three months early), I’ve had the time and space to read up on Aristotelian and Renaissance science to update some of the footnotes and text in these two files. Here’s that Prologue! Here’s that First Dialogue! Now, on to some details. What is Compendio? The Compendio de la filosofia y destreza de las armas, de Jerónimo de Carranza, is Don Luis Pacheco‘s heavy (heavy!) edit of Carranza‘s Philosophy of Arms, considered to be the source of an Iberian fencing style called la verdadera destreza (LVD). Pacheco deliberately notes in his prologue that he’s gone through Carranza’s text and omitted anything not directly related to fencing. For someone whose sentences … Read on!
Even though I’m only a quarter of the way through Dialogue 2, In Pacheco’s Compendio, his very heavy redaction of Carranza’s Philosophy of Arms, the contrast between it and Dialogue 1 is stark. I kind of feel a kinship with Carranza, because as formal as he is in the First Dialogue, he lets his inner playwright run rampant in the second. (As much as I do research and fact-based work, my true love lies with fiction and dialogue.) This is just an early analysis, a sort of feeling things out about the book itself, but I think there’s much to be learned from the differences in these two sections. The first hews pretty closely to dialectic teaching structures. The second, however, is much more dramatic, much more like what you might see on stage. Why would Carranza do that? Was it caprice? What might it achieve? Let’s look at dialectics … Read on!
My birthday’s on the seventh, so in the spirit of gift-giving, I’m releasing my translation of the dagger section (and the short subsequent buckler and rotella secion) from Pedro Texedo Sicilia de Teruel’s Escuela de Principiantes, y Promptuario de Cuestiones en la filosofia de la verdadera destreza de las armas (Primer and summary of questions in the philsosphy of the true skill at arms). The dual-language format book was published in Naples in 1678: Spanish on the left, Italian on the right. Naples was under Spanish rule from the early 1500s through the early 1700s. I ended up poking around in this book because of conversations I had with folks at the 2019 Western Martial Arts Workshop (more at wmaw.us, but the website isn’t working at the moment), and just went ahead and translated that particular section. I was prepping a workshop around LVD sword and dagger; Figueiredo calls out … Read on!
Hello! It’s been a few months, and the world’s a completely different place now, except the same in all the strangest ways. Like many of us, I lost my job due to the pandemic. Problematic because my bills don’t stop, but a possible boon for folks because it means, when I’m not working on the freelance I manage to draw in, I’m working on translations. There’s one ongoing project I can’t really talk much about (though you likely know about it if you’re involved in any way in the world of modern destreza). There’s also the dribs and drabs of free stuff that I will always post here. I want to make that clear: I will not stop working on things that I send out into the world for free. That said, though, I do need to supplement my income in any way possible. And that’s why I’ve started a Patreon. … Read on!
Okay, as promised: Here is a very, very rough initial translation of the dagger section (which now includes the correction provided by Eric Myers in the Destreza in the SCA Facebook page). Unlike previous translations, I’m not including the bulk of the work in the body of this post; I have <checks document> 41 footnotes over eight pages. And one of those footnotes spans more than one page. One thing to note here is that this is not Rada’s or Texedo’s or Viedma’s dagger. Read the whole thing through (he makes a lot of noise in the early bits saying his way is different but obviously superior if you just try it, etc. etc.), then read it again. If you need help visualising some of these things, the scholar class notes from the Brisbane School of Iberian Swordsmanship may help. CLICK HERE for translation of sword and dagger section in Oplosophia. … Read on!
Before I begin, I just need to say I hate the new WordPress text editor and need to figure out how to revert. This is infuriating. Anyway. Back when I was in New York, practicing iaido, every new year of practice we’d rededicate ourselves to our studies by performing a thousand cuts. I can’t entirely remember if we only did one kind of cut, but these days, I have to vary it up. That said, the cuts aren’t the meat of the matter of this post. A significant part of my Destreza practice is reading and translation. There’s painfully little original LVD material available in English, and I’m one of the handful of people well placed to solve it. So here’s a variation on the thousand cuts, and symbolic rededication to my practice. I’ve been working on the off-hand section of Figueiredo’s Oplosophia for a few years now, very intermittently. … Read on!
The Brisbane School of Iberian Swordsmanship is celebrating its fourth birthday by releasing Ron Koks’ introduction to using the Iberian mangual. In it he references two assertions from the Resumen de la verdadera destreza de las armas, en treinta y ocho asserciones (Summary of the true skill of arms: in thirty eight assertions), by Miguel Perez de Mendoza y Quixada (published in 1675). When Ron was first working on this document, I drew up a translation of Assertion 32, which describes how to use the flail, and how to build it. It’s an early translation that I haven’t taken a second look at, so I place it here with some trepidation. Holler at me in some way if you see a howling error that needs quick correcting. Anything that’s not a footnote that’s in square brackets is an editorial insertion either for clarity, or to indicate why I might have chosen … Read on!
If you just want to get into the evaluation of the translation, scroll on down to the EVALUATION section below. If you want the summary conclusion of my review, you can scroll on down to CONCLUSION. You can always scroll back up here to read the rest later. INTRODUCTION This post is a partial review of Manuel Lozano’s translation of Compendio de los fundamentos de la verdadera destreza y filosofía de las armas – or Compendium of the Fundamentals of the True Skill and Philosophy of Arms by Francisco Antonio de Ettenhard y Abarca. It is a partial review because I did not read the translation in its entirety. The reasons for this will be detailed in the EVALUATION section of this post. Any non-Spanish-speaking practitioner of la verdadera destreza is keenly aware of the lack of translated materials, and has very good reason to get excited when translations are announced. … Read on!
Hello, everyone! It’s been yonks, hasn’t it, but here we are. Today I’m offering a translation of the section in Oplosophia* that discusses the use of the sword and buckler. This is now an old translation that I’ve left largely unedited, so there are potential inaccuracies, and there will certainly be refinements I’ll want to add in future (since I’m currently revisiting Oplosophia). But I wanted to get this out into the world anyway, as raw as it is — keeping these caveats visibly in place. Finally, anything in square brackets  is my own note (or in a couple of cases below, a footnote). Modern Spanish translation: Capítulo Noveno, Libro Tercero (AGEA Edition pg. 204-206) Cómo usará el Diestro el Broquel cuando hace compañía a la espada, y de los primeros que lo inventaron Hoy día es tan conocido el uso de la espada y broquel, asi por su liviandad … Read on!