Intro

A rapier. Italian: spada or rapière. French: espee rapière, rapière. German: das rappier. Spanish: rapiero or estoque.

The essentials of rapier:

Grip

See also my section on Grips.

  1. The rapier is primarily a single-handed weapon.
  2. The rapier extends on the radial (thumb) side of the hand.
  3. The force vector of a rapier is primarily that of a thrust.
    1. Obviously the blade must be aligned with the forearm. Thus the handle needs to lie diagonally across the palm from ulnar palm heel to the radial knuckle palm. This position is most easily found by placing 2 or 3 of the lower fingers upon the upper handle and placing 1 or 2 of the upper fingers upon the lower handle.
    2. The issue of immobilizing the weapon is related to hand placement.
      1. If the hand is up the handle (towards the pommel) then
        1. immobilizing the weapon is almost entirely dependent upon gripping the weapon more strongly since
        2. placing 1 or 2 top fingers behind the cross guard is fairly weak planting.
      2. If the hand is down the handle (towards the guard) then
        1. the weapon may be immobilized by gripping the weapon more strongly and by
        2. placing the top 1 or 2 fingers behind the outer guard and planting the cross guard into the V between the thumb and the index finger is very strong planting.
  4. The range of hand placement on a rapier.
    1. Placing the hand up the handle (towards the pommel) has 0-1 top fingers on the ricasso.
      1. Increases range. 2-5 cm = 1-2 inches on a rapier.
      2. Increases 3rd class leverage. A fair gain but swinging is not so important for rapier except for cavazione.
      3. Makes the weapon seem heavier. A very large negative issue with rapiers but not as large an issue with OSF weapons such as foils, epees, and sabers.
      4. Decreases precision. Precision is very important for rapier.
      5. Immobilizing the weapon is almost entirely dependent upon gripping the weapon more strongly since only weak planting is allowed by placing 1 or 2 top fingers behind the cross guard.
    2. Placing the hand down the handle (towards the guard) has 1-2 top fingers on the ricasso.
      1. Decreases range. 2-5 cm = 1-2 inches on a rapier.
      2. Decreases 3rd class leverage. A fair loss but swinging is not so important for rapier except for cavazione.
      3. Makes the weapon seem lighter. A very large positive issue with rapiers.
      4. Increases precision. Precision is very important for rapier.
      5. Immobilizing the weapon by gripping the weapon more strongly, or by planting, or both. This is possible since placing the top 1 or 2 fingers behind the outer guard and planting the cross guard into the V between the thumb and the index finger is fairly strong planting.

So the deciding issue on rapier gripping is dependent upon placement preference.

Final analysis:

Stances and Footwork

The basic rapier stance (assuming you are right-handed):

Most historical rapierists keep their dominant (usu. the right) foot forward most of the time. See Footwork for explanations of footwork terminology.

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