Wednesday, August 16, 2017
The Art of Self-Defense by Katherine Bone!
Katherine, here! I’ve been researching historical forms of self-defense for my September 7th release, The Mercenary Pirate. My hero is inspired by Wolverine as part of The Heart of a Hero Series. To create more riveting and historically correct fight scenes, I decided to learn more about language and terms of the times, hand-to-hand fighting techniques, and how women protected themselves in the 19th Century. (My heroine is a combination of Storm and Rogue for this series, which reimagines superheroes in the Regency era! And I'd like to mention that the first book in the series is absolutely FREE!)
Today, I’d like to share some great books I found on the subject.
Self-Defense for Gentlemen and Ladies, a 19th Century Treatise on Boxing, Kicking, Grappling, and Fencing with the Cane and Quarterstaff by Colonel Thomas Hoyer Monstery.
This book includes ancient systems of salle d’armes (methods of defense) in battle and affairs of honor: Spanish knife, German schlager, French quarterstaff, rapier, sword, bayonet, lance, dagger, cloak, staff, cane, saber, and so forth, originating in Europe and Asia. The antiquated techniques were expanded upon by fencing masters of the times, men like Swedish fencing-master Ling, German born Maȋtre d’Armes Frederick Rohdes, famous boxing champion William Thompson, also known as ‘Bendigo,' and French fencing master Augustin Grisier.
Colonel Monstery trained well-known actors Junius Brutus Booth and his brother Edwin Booth, older brothers of John Wilkes Booth. He also mentored the greatest 19th Century Spanish swordswoman that ever was, Ella Hattan, known as ‘Jaquarina.'
Fighting styles of the era included the German Turner system, British purring (shin-kicking), Welsh jump-kicking, Danish head-fighting, and grappling, kicking, biting, scratching, and eye-gouging that made up the brutal American style. Every technique took incredible physical and mental concentration, vigor and power.
Self-Defense Terms to remember:
Advance: “Double the distance between the feet… And then bring up the rear foot to ‘Guard’ distance.
Chancery: To get an adversary ‘in chancery’ is to get him in a head-lock or a choke hold.
Cutting: “A malicious way of striking,’ effective only when used with gloves, “as it forces aside the padding of the glove, and the blow comes with the edge of the hand, made harder by one fold of leather.”
Espadoning: “An improvement on the moulinets, as it simulates the blows more closely… Espadoning is borrowed from the sword exercise, and is meant to stimulate the blows exactly. It accustoms the pupil to keep his hand high in striking, and to end his blow with the point lower than the hand in all high cuts.” The word ‘espadon’ is taken from the obsolete French, and refers to a broadsword or saber.
Evasion: Moving “out of the line of an enemy’s blow … faster than the blow can be sent,” while at the same time coming “within striking distance of the opponent without danger to yourself.”
Feint: Feints are “simulated attacks made at various points in order to draw the perry, while the real attack is directed at the opening left by it.”
Guard: “This is the position best calculated for attack and defense, and is that which a sparrer assumes in front of an antagonist.” In fencing, this refers to the “position of person and weapon which the most ready for both attack and defence.”
‘The Mark’: “The pit of the stomach.”
Moulinet: A circular cut with the broadsword or saber. Depending upon the type of weapon used and the style of fencing, moulinets could be executed from the wrist, elbow, or shoulder.
Parry: “The movement of the weapon which wards off or stops a thrust or cut.”
Purring: A British style of fighting characterized by shin-kicking, sometimes (but not always) utilizing grappling holds, and typically practiced while wearing heavy clogs or iron-toed boots.
Retreat: “Double the distance between the feet by stepping back with rear foot, then drawing back the forward foot to ‘Guard’ distance.”
Rough-and-Tumble: A no-holds-barred, historical style of American fighting characterized by punching, kicking, grappling, hair-pulling, scratching, biting, and eye-gouging.
Savate: A form of French street fighting that developed in Paris and Marseilles during the 19th Century. Also known as Boxe Française.
Spar: “The correct definition of the word Boxing is striking with the fist. That of Sparring is the practice of improving the art. This term is also applied to those habitual motions of the arms during a contest, while watching an opportunity to strike.” Also, “To make the motions of attack and defense with the arms and closed fists; use the hands in or as if in boxing, either with or without boxing-gloves; practice boxing.”
Whipping: A method of striking, effective only when used with gloves, “executed with the end of the fingers after a blow has been parried, with a flirting motion of the wrist over the guard, so as to catch the opponent’s face with the leather of the glove, and graze the skin.”
Here are some other books I’m digging into:
Old Sword Play, Techniques of the Great Masters by AlfredHutton, a cool little book originally published in 1892.
The Fencing Master, Life in Russia by Alexandre Dumas, originally published in three volumes in 1840. I have yet to read through this masterful work. And another book on my list is Alexandre Dumas’s The Black Count: Glory, Revolution,Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. The book is about Alexandre’s father, General Alex Dumas, and is set in 1806 (my period). Can’t wait to read this! General Dumas was the basis for Alexandre’s Musketeers and Count of Monte Cristo.
Pugilistica: The History of British Boxing Containing Lives of the Most Celebrated Pugilists by Henry Downes Miles, a reprinted version from 1906. This book lists the prize-winning boxers throughout the early to mid-19th Century, 1814-1835.
Pugilistica mentions gambling sums and details where these fights were held (The Fives Court, Castle Tavern, Wimbledon Common are examples). I can’t wait to read this book!
Writing action/adventure romance set in the Regency period, usually involving swashbuckling pirates. And I’m always in the market, as it were, to learn as much as I can about fighting to enhance a reader’s experience.
What are some of your FAVorite fight scenes via movies, television, or books?