(C) 2000 Pete Kautz A Broadsword target from 1864 showing the Seven Cuts and their Seven Guards From the time of the Renaissance to the 19th century, the trend in civilian swords had been towards more of a pure thrusting design, while military swords had always emphasized the ability to powerfully slash at an enemy. It is not too surprising, therefore, that the slashing saber, along with the thrusting epee and foil, would be the most widely recognized weapons of Western swordplay at the time. While civilians would still favor the small-sword and sword cane, the military man would opt for the trusty saber when a blade was needed. The basics of the saber were quite direct, and a man could learn them in a short period of time and then practice sparring, or assaulting as it was known. The basics of the saber consisted of stance and steps similar to the bayonet and 21 core techniques. These consisted of three wards or guard positions, seven cuts, seven defenses for these cuts, three thrusts, and a circular parry. With these basics, which could be learned in a few hours, a man could develop his skills. Though there were undoubtably more sophisticated methods of learning to use this weapon, the course outlined here will provide all the skills a novice will need in a clear and direct manner. In addition to this first practice, and the others which will follow, also practice all of the basics that you have learned with the Bowie knife using the saber. You will quickly see just how much these two weapons have to teach one another, and how wonderfully such movements as the back cut, moulinet, and so forth may be executed with the saber. This, with practice in assaulting and target-cutting, will form the basis of all your work. Matching the saber and the bayonet is also a traditional military practice.
The First Practice