Secrets of the Sword

Secrets of the Sword

I already wrote about "Jouer avec l'Histoire". It contains an article by Renaud Maroy, the author of Pavillon Noir, a TTRPG about Pirates and Corsaires.

Renaud explains how he came to build the game's fencing rules. That development spanned eleven versions. He had trouble categorizing fencing manoeuvers, until, lately in the process, he read Les Secrets de l'Epée by the Baron Bazancourt, and gained enough clarity to start writing the fencing ruleset.

Let me translate a piece of the introduction of this Secrets of the Sword:

One evening, I don't remember how, the conversation fell on fencing.

At first nonchalant, following the capricious blueish smoke rising to the ceiling, the conversation gradually came to life, became more precise, concentrated, so to speak.

One talks plentily and with pleasure of what one likes, it's true for everyone; so, since I loved the exercise of weapons passionately, I talked about it at length and emitted several opinions, that by force of experience, practice and observation, became deep convictions of mine.

I was listened to with attention, although among the few people present, most had never been involved in fencing — although it's a source so fruitful that this struggle of address, skill, science, "coup d'œil", energy, judgement, where all the intellectual and physical faculties are employed at the same time and come to each other's aid.

One in the audience asked: "Do you know, that it is the secrets of the sword that you are revealing to us?"

I answered: "The secrets I know, at least. But certainly never was an expression more true than yours, for the sword has infinite secrets; it transforms itself under the hand of the one who leads it; agile, attentive, flexible, intelligent, it obeys to the slightest indication of thought: robust and threating with this one, it is light and careful with that other; it is at times the sharp point that attacks, at other times the shield that parries.

The poor sword! It and its secrets are today forgotten, or at least poorly appreciated.

"In older times, even in an era not too for away from ours, not knowing how to handle a sword would have stained the blazon of a gentilhomme. Today, several here present could prove their nobility twice or thrice; most of you, however, would be seriously embarrassed if they had to use a sword, and, allow me the word, they would use it in a very sad way."

The smile that greeted my words showed me that I was too right.

I went on immediately: "Parbleu! I know the usual answer in such a case."

"This would not prevent us from fighting with at least as many courage as any other. Yes, my friends, in other words, to get killed by the first insolent with whom you'll have trouble. Beautiful courage indeed!"

"And how worth it to be young, intelligent, strong, energetic, not to even know how to defend your life."

"That reminds me of the reply of a general to an officer who, not sharing his opinion on some enterprise of war, had said: « Besides, General, when the hour will come, you will see if I know how to get killed. »" "The general answered: « What you say is absurd, Monsieur, what is needed is not, knowing how to get killed, but, on the contrary, knowing how not to get yourself killed. »"