Before the Fencing Master
Up until the start of the sixteenth century [C.E.] there were few solid principles of how best to fight with swords. Masters, mainly army veterans, passed on a hodgepodge of techniques, mixing together swordplay, dagger work, and wrestling moves—anything that would help their pupils survive. [Historian] Egerton Castle’s view was that “each individual master taught merely a collection of tricks that he had found, in the course of an eventful life, to be generally successful in personal encounters, and had practised until the ease and quickness acquired in their execution made them very dangerous to an unscientific opponent.” All that was about to change [by the emerging occupation of fencing master].
— Richard Cohen, By The Sword, p. 23
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