Alessandro Senese: How to Conduct Yourself

A few days ago, Gwyn posted a quote about Sword fighting that I really enjoyed. I found that it had interesting advice about conducting ourselves on the field, as well as relatable applications off the field. I say this because I’ve learned a lot as I’ve studying fencing and have been involved in Terra Sylvae. Both about handling a sword and on a personal level. Not only  have I learned how to fight and defeat my opponent, I’ve learned how to be a better person and how to conduct myself in all aspects of life along the way. So here’s a quote from a Historical Fencing Master: Alessandro Senese.

“Those who practise with the sword should know how to conduct themselves in four different circumstances.

Firstly, he should know how to play discretely with practice swords, behaving modestly without offending his partner, who due to personal acquaintance or for other reasons, deserves to be respected. This constitutes the principal area for any good instructor.

Secondly, he should know play out of necessity, with unknown people he is not acquainted with, without respect, offering clear and unequivocal proofs, so that the blows themselves deliver the sentence, without leaving any excuse.

Thirdly, he should know how to act if he happens to find himself in a one on one confrontation with a sharp sword, with or without a cloak.

Fourthly, he must know how to act with a sharp sword in the piazza, alone or with companions, when the encounter is unplanned, beset by possibly more than one person; considering that in the piazza the ground, air, measure, and view are not like in the salle, nor is the spirit in which you fence like in the piazza, and neither the outcome.

Therefore in each of these circumstances you have to have considered and prepared for how you will behave, since in each of the above cases you must act differently; and you need a lot more than just knowing how to put yourself into a pretty guard, and delivering a nice lunge into a target. Although it is no wonder this is the perception of the masses against fencing masters.”
– Alessandro Senese, c.1660.

Overall, this quote reiterated to me that there is more to fencing than just the swordplay. It’s help me to know how to interact and conduct myself better with others. I love the sword play, but I love the impact it’s had on me even more.