Few fencing masters have left such an indelible mark on the discipline as Henry de Sainct-Didier. A soldier in France's Italian Wars, Sainct-Didier developed a unique style of swordsmanship that was characterized by its simplicity and directness. His 1573 fencing training manual is a must-read for any fencing academic seeking to understand the evolution of the sport.
Sainct-Didier's approach to fencing was informed by his experience on the battlefield, and his techniques reflect this practical, no-nonsense attitude. His lessons are presented as a series of step-by-step images that show how each fencing play develops. This was the first time such detailed illustrations had been used in a fencing manual, and their impact cannot be overstated.
One of the most intriguing aspects of Sainct-Didier's fencing style is that it has more in common with the "vulgar" Destreza style of fencing described by Domingo Luis Godinho in his Art of Fencing than with Italian or French swordsmanship. Sainct-Didier's techniques are straightforward and direct, without the niceties of the Italian and French salles of the period. This makes his manual a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand the evolution of fencing styles in the 16th century.
This is a textbook of lesson plans teaching basic cuts and thrusts, how to counter them, and the ways to respond to and defeat these defenses. But it is much more than that. It is a window into a bygone era, when the art of fencing was still in its infancy, and the great masters were still forging the techniques that would become the foundation of the sport. In short, Sainct-Didier's fencing training manual is a must-read for any fencing academic seeking to deepen their understanding of the art.