Vudomi There was a problem with your submission. Additionally, on the same line of thought he later writes: He even goes out of his way to state: His unique insight into fencing helped guide the sport into the 20th century. Masetro Barbasetti returned luugi Italy in where he lived in Verona until his death on March 31, Before the s the Games were officially limited to competitors with amateur status, but in the s many events were opened to professional athletes. A student of the great Italian sabre teacher Giuseppe Radaelli, Barbasetti in many ways outstripped his master. We might guess Barbasetti never bothered to actually compare the weight of barrbasetti century sabres with their Medieval counterparts.
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Clements It is strange how those who do not study killing arts with real weapons, but only athletic civilian dueling games, will often give "professional consultation" on historical martial arts outside of their own sporting specialties. Often one does not know that one does not know, after all. Barbasetti includes an entire section on historical swordsmanship at the end of his excellent instructions on foil.
To those readers who may encounter this re-released book, this essay is a strong word of caution. Which fighting skills would seem to reflect a more inclusive "martial art"?
But his one hundred-page final chapter entitled, "A Short History of Fencing," is largely the typical denigration of earlier European fencing methods—which were in fact for the most part more sophisticated, diverse, and inclusive martial arts of a much more brutal and demanding era.
He even goes out of his way to state: "We must beware of applying our standards to an age when the weapons were so different…when one employs the elegant epee, for instance, both the theory and practice of battle differed greatly from the method used in combat with swords.
Additionally, on the same line of thought he later writes: "We cannot emphasize enough that one should consider the customs and institutions of ancient times alone, uncolored by modern usage, while keeping the historical viewpoint in mind. His broad-minded understanding quickly erodes to be replaced with a series of overly generalized observations on Medieval and Renaissance swordsmanship that are wholly without merit in light of current information on historical weaponry and understanding of fighting manuals.
On Medieval fighting Barbasetti revealingly yet erroneously declares: "We have almost no evidence concerning their weapons; and that which we do have is so vague that it is difficult even for one in the profession to decide from their structure and form how they were manipulated. Still, even today it is an all too common occurrence.
His above statement is a surprising and honest admission of ignorance on his part that reveals a wealth of both his understanding and misunderstanding.
Yet, despite this astounding admission, he proceeds anyway to dissect the manuals of Renaissance Masters of Defence as being more or less unsophisticated and crude. As was common for fencing masters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he refers to Medieval single-combat as "undisciplined bouts mixed with wrestling.
So, here we have someone who we would expect to know better defining Western "fencing" not as skill in the art of sword fighting or even as a martial art of weapons and unarmed skill, but only in the narrowest terms of what he understands can be done with a modern foil, epee, or sabre. Unfortunately, his tolerance degenerates into a wide array of inaccurate, and in modern hindsight, downright false statements about Medieval and Renaissance sword combat. For instance he declares: "While there was no dearth of masters, they certainly were not of a school that followed precise and general methods.
But even more revealing is how this 19th century fencing master then admits about the techniques of using Medieval and Renaissance weaponry "that which we do have is so vague that it is difficult even for one in the profession to decide from their structure and form how they were manipulated"! Barbasetti, p.
Again, the sad, familiar view appears of modern fencing i. He further states: "It is easy to understand how this state of affairs prevented the practical development of fencing during the Middle Ages"—as if to Barbasetti "fencing" only means what can be accomplished with a featherweight sporting weapons under limited rules.
At one point in trying to explain how sabre fencing was not something new, he traces it to older methods of "heavy weapons" p. We might guess Barbasetti never bothered to actually compare the weight of 19th century sabres with their Medieval counterparts.
But then, even as he admits these methods were ones he does not understand he states as matter of fact that the sabre was an "improvement" over them no doubt because the battlefield conditions were so much "alike" in the 13th and 19th centuries. One could easily imagine that had Barbasetti more detailed information or experienced fighters at his disposal he undoubtedly would have revised his understanding of historical European martial arts.
Had he been able to make use of greater reference material or been exposed to serious students of historical swordsmanship such as practicing today, he would surely have had even greater respect for the fighting skills and teachings of earlier times.
He would also very well have been able to place them in greater context with his own refined sport. The sad part is that there are those now, who like Barbasetti in , hold very similar views inspired more by pervasive Hollywood fantasy than by the actual reality of history.
Even for a fencing master writing a short history of Western swordsmanship in , there was a good deal of reliable material on Medieval weapons at the time for those who were genuinely interested. They are only understandable when we grasp the insulated and limited martial experience surviving in the West which had long been represented solely by the classical sport fencing of foil, epee, and sabre. It is remarkable that this fencing master, after studying the historical manuals and despite so much experience and insight, was unable to discern how older methods represented entirely different and self-contained fighting arts effectively adapted to far more challenging environments.
It speaks volumes about the narrow and limited view that a modern fencer often has when faced with anything that is not his familiar style of contrived sport. Barbasetti was essentially of the view standard at the time that modern fencing was a superior and more "evolved" version of swordplay—beyond anything of cruder centuries where professional warriors actually fought one another with an immense variety of arms and armor.
Modern fencing has been refined above and beyond the past methods of mere "tricks" supposedly without "fixed rules. Reading his views one gets the absurd feeling that Western sword arts must have somehow advanced only after everyone finally stopped fighting for real. We can imagine the notion of practicing historical fighting systems as a "martial art"—that is, with an armed and unarmed self-defence component, a self-improvement and ethical element as well as physical exercise aspect, and an emphasis on heritage and historical exploration all without competitive contests—was apparently just not sportsmanlike enough.
After all, those "tricks"—the things that real fighters typically did in real combat—would be just so "unfair. What is most striking in the opinions of a classical fencing master such as Barbasetti and if anyone was ever a "classical fencer" it was certainly he is the implication that earlier Western fighting arts have so little to offer.
While we would never hear a Western fencer comment that by comparison their sport was far more sophisticated or refined than the traditional sword styles of Asian martial arts, they have typically not hesitated to say so in regard to antique arts of European heritage. Yet, we know without any doubt that Medieval and Renaissance fighting methods were indeed true martial arts every bit as sophisticated, effective, and highly developed as any of their now popular East Asian counterparts.
So, we can forgive Barbasetti his ignorance on matters wholly outside his knowledge and area of specialty as a "modern" fencing master.
However, he is hardly alone in his bias. Today, his legacy continues with a great many proponents of modern fencing sports holding similarly unenlightened views. This attitude is indicative still today of many experts in forms of classical Western sport fencing. We may wonder what causes this seemingly endemic frame of reference among them.
Is it merely because their craft derives from Baroque ancestors that in turn came from Renaissance forebears? Men like Barbasetti were certainly products of their age. As fencing became more sport-focused in the 19th century, it increasingly lost its military or self-defence value, and those maintaining the "duelling art" did so under conditions increasingly less and less lethal than those of their forebears.
They pursued a far more narrow and specialized form of gentlemanly fencing directed toward duels of honor with single identical swords.
Increased ritual and sportification happened to fencing as its self-defence and military aspects declined—at the same time the craft became more and more concerned with aesthetic form, ritual, etiquette and competitive pastime. Perhaps understandably, perhaps not, swordsmen such as Barbasetti came to dismiss, denigrate, and ridicule older fencing skills—a craft that they actually no longer practiced, taught, or retained in any significant manner or any preserved tradition.
Thus, they simply failed to recognize the true character of earlier fighting arts. As a result, they came to erroneously believe shortcomings in their understanding of it arose only from the deficiencies of the source material itself.
Since this book is so often cited as influential and important among instructors in the classical and sport fencing community today, then it is no surprise that so many of them hold such dim and uninformed views of historical fencing.
The gulf between edged weapon theory and practical reality is always widened whenever historical fighting skills are transformed into rule-enshrined sports. For the student of Renaissance martial arts, his questionable chapter is a sobering reminder of how much work still lies ahead. Originally posted Revised March All rights are reserved. No use of the ARMA name and emblem, or website content, is permitted without authorization.
Reproduction of material from this site without written permission of The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts and its respective authors is strictly prohibited. All rights are reserved to that material as well.
Northern Italian Foil
Reading his views one gets the absurd feeling that Western sword arts must have somehow advanced only after everyone finally stopped fighting for real. We might guess Barbasetti never bothered to actually compare the weight of 19th century sabres with their Medieval counterparts. To those readers who may encounter this re-released book, this essay is a strong word of caution. Contact our editors with your feedback.
The Art of Well Meaning Error
Posted on October 26, by traditionalfencing Just to start off, let me say that as always, the material below reflects my own observations and opinions, and not necessarily those of the Martinez Academy of Arms, Maestro Ramon Martinez, or Maestro Jeannette Acosta-Martinez. Any errors are my own: Luigi Barbasetti, the Italian fencing master who brought Northern Italian fencing to Paris and Vienna, and who trained champion fencers, gained renown in the fencing world for bringing the Northern Italian style to the international stage. The first such misconception that I want to address here is that the Northern Italian sabre style, with its emphasis on cuts by circular molinelli, sprouted de novo from the head of Maestro Radaelli, when in fact Radaelli codified and assembled much of what already was pre-existing in the Northern school. Ferdinando Masiello tells us that Radaelli was the one to emphasize that the rotation point should be the elbow, while the Southern proponent Masaniello Parise emphasized the wrist as did Lambertini. Radaelli himself learned to fence from his brother, and it may very well be that traditions emphasizing either elbow or wrist existed in Italy prior to Radaelli, with Radaelli learning to pivot from the elbow from his own master, his older brother.
LUIGI BARBASETTI PDF
Clements It is strange how those who do not study killing arts with real weapons, but only athletic civilian dueling games, will often give "professional consultation" on historical martial arts outside of their own sporting specialties. Often one does not know that one does not know, after all. Barbasetti includes an entire section on historical swordsmanship at the end of his excellent instructions on foil. To those readers who may encounter this re-released book, this essay is a strong word of caution. Which fighting skills would seem to reflect a more inclusive "martial art"?