Fighting: A Caution on Knife Fighting

The following is taken from George Silver's Brief Instructions for his 1599 book Paradoxes of Defence. It's quite a neat summary of fighting with a knife or dagger.

Note: for safety reasons, we don't generally use thrusts at the face…

Of the single dagger fight against the like weapon

1. First know that to this weapon there belongs no wards or grips but against such a one as is foolhardy & will suffer himself to have a full stab in the face or body or hazard the giving of another, then against him you may use your left hand in throwing him aside or strike up his heels after you have stabbed him.

2. In this dagger fight, you must use continual motion so shall he not be able to put you to the close or grip, because your continual motion disappoints him of his true place, & the more fierce he is in running in, the sooner he gains you the place, whereby he is wounded, & you not anything the rather endangered.

3. The manner of handling your continual motion is this, keep out of distance & strike or thrust at his hand, arm, face or body, that shall press upon you, & if he defends blow or thrust with his dagger make your blow or thrust at his hand.

4. If he comes in with his left leg forewards or with the right, do you strike at that part as soon as it shall be within reach, remembering that you use continual motion in your progression & regression according to your twofold governors.

5. Although the dagger fight is thought a very dangerous fight by reason of the shortness & singleness thereof, yet the fight thereof being handled as is aforesaid, is as safe & as defensive as the fight of any other weapon, this ends my brief instructions.

FINIS.

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