Rapier

Used from the mid-16th to late 17th centuries, the weapon we call the “rapier” was a long,straight-bladed cut-and-thrust single-handed sword optimized for the thrust and featuring a guard that afforded good protection to the hand [1]. The rapier was used primarily as a civilian self-defense weapon in duels and against sudden attack. The rapier could also be used with a companion weapon such as a dagger, shield or cape. Both nobles and the lower classes carried the rapier as their choice of personal self-defense weapon. The rapier also saw some use on the battlefield.

The physical characteristics of rapiers could vary widely depending mostly on the personal preferences of the wielder. Rapiers varied in length from 36 to 45 inches. Weight could range from as little as 1 pound 12 ounces to over 3 pounds.

Techniques on the usage of the rapier are some of the best documented of all weapons in historical European martial arts. Several elaborate books and treatises on rapier fencing were written during the period explaining simple as well as complex actions. The simultaneous emergence of the printing press and the popularity of the rapier coincided to make rapier treatises of the day exceptionally detailed and complete.

Many masters of the art of rapier fencing emerged during this time, each advocating their own subtle interpretations of the best way to proceed effectively with the weapon. Some of the more famous names from the Italian tradition of rapier are: Salvator Fabris, Ridolfo Capoferro, Nicoletto Giganti and Camillo Agrippa. The Spanish tradition includes famed masters such as Jeronimo Sanchez de Carranza and Girard Thibault. Regardless of the particular style, every master advocated economy of motion and efficiency in fencing.

The principles taught by these masters and their dynamic systems of fencing are among the things Kron Martial Arts and its study groups seeks to bring back to life.

 

1. Leoni, Tommasso, “What is a Rapier.” http://www.salvatorfabris.org/WhatIsTheRapier.shtml