Singlestick Drill; Britain, 1905

 

Singlestick Drill; Britain, 1905

Singlestick Drill; Britain, 1905

Royal Navy sailors receiving instruction in singlestick fencing…

 

This enlargement of a Players cigarette card from 1905 illustrates the final phase of singlestick-cutlass-broadword practice aboard the warships of the Royal Navy.

If the artist is to be trusted, the hanging guard of the fencers has dropped a good foot, away from guarding the head to guarding the torso and leg. The protective gear resembles that of earlier periods… and of course that of German students. The fencer to our right still wears a knee pad… indicating that, indeed, broadsword fencing included the leg as a valid target even in the 20th century.

The weapons themselves seem to have changed from the rounded cuir bouilli guards and round ash sticks depicted in earlier phases and are now flat hickory weapons with a leather guard resembling more conventional fencing sabers.

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