Thursday, 6 June 2019

The 1891 Bologna Fencing Tournament

Since the first 'international' Italian fencing tournament in 1881, the frequency of fencing tournaments in Italy had grown steadily each year. In addition to the occasional large 'intentional' tournament, there were plenty of local, regional, and national tournaments and exhibitions, sometimes attracting hundreds of competitors, both amateur and fencing master alike.

The 1891 National Fencing Tournament in Bologna, hosted by the Virtus Society from the 3rd to 7th of May, attracted around 200 fencers from across Italy, including stars of the fencing world like Luigi Barbasetti, Grimoaldo Varrone, and Vittorio Tagliapietra.

Today I present to you a translation of the official tournament report, a transcription of the Italian text, and a few articles from the fencing magazine Scherma Italiana which discuss the results of the tournament and offer alternative points of view on events and on the comments of the jury.

For those who do not wish to read the full tournament report, see below for a summary of the tournament's format.

Translation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=19ee5TvwnKjZ8MbXT6Mn49Fis1MUM1R6K
Transcription: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qDZNrllydJLOdLIh7InSy1rO8shvWKqb
Supplementary articles: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1l1NUO3VAMYQQU3BAy4V3QVFFHZCpnKbH

In addition to providing us an excellent example of what Italian fencing tournaments were like towards the end of the 19th century, the tournament report also contains the results of a discussion amongst the jury on the future of Italian fencing, in which they express a number of technical concepts which they believe should form part of a unified 'Italian' fencing method. The desire for a unified Italian fencing method was shared by many in the Italian fencing community at this time, however, the criteria expressed by this jury are, somewhat unsurprisingly, favourable to the Northern Italian school, with one of the criteria for the sabre being particularly Radaellian:
weapon handled with a combination of all the articulations of the arm, however avoiding all movements of flexion of the wrist and only taking advantage of lateral movements. Weapon gripped by supporting the backstrap on the hypothenar eminence of the hand;

With five out of the twelve members of the jury being Radaellians (including the writer of the report), this shows that the opponents of Parise's method had still not given up trying to spread their influence throughout the fencing landscape.

Summary

Foil (known then as just 'sword' in Italy) and sabre were the two weapons categories at this tournament. Each event would take place for both weapons individually.

The first event of the tournament was the classification, in which each fencer would be paired up randomly (maestri paired with maestri, amateurs paired with amateurs) and then bout for 7 to 10 minutes. Touches were counted, but there was no limit to the number each fencer could receive within a bout. Fencers competing in both foil and sabre would have to be classified in both weapons individually.

After each classification bout, each fencer would receive a score out of 10 for 'efficacy', based on 'the prevailing force of one fencer over the other', and a score out of 10 for 'art', the judgement for which being based on:
... the guard positions, variety and rationality of actions, conservation of measure, speed of the attacks and ripostes, good timing, the conduct of the blade, composure, and urbanity of manners.
This would give each fencer a total score out of 20. Fencers who received a score between 15 and 20 points would be placed in the 1st category, between 10 and 15 in the 2nd category, and less than 10 in the 3rd category. Only those who were placed in the 1st and 2nd categories would be permitted to take part in the rest of the tournament's events.

Thus we see the importance the Italians placed on form, even in competitive environments. It was not enough to just score well to be considered an excellent fencerone also had to show a complete a thorough understanding of the art, right down to its aesthetic ideals.

Following the classification were the 'pools', which were actually just  single-elimination tournaments. There were separate pools for each category and weapon and whether you were a maestro or an amateur. Each 'pool' bout was to the best of 5 touches. The winner of each pool would receive a monetary prize.

The final event was on the final night of the tournament, the Gala evening. This consisted of bouts between the 'best fencers of the tournament', who were the winners and runners-up of the pools and those who received the highest classification scores. These were exhibition-style bouts in which there was no winner, but touches were still awarded.

In all three of the events, competitors were obliged to acknowledge and indicate each touch they received. The field judge would then decide if the blow were valid or not. The valid target areas for both foil and sabre were essentially the same as their modern Olympic fencing counterparts.

There also seems to have been an implicit form of priority in awarding the touches in the case of a double:
Doubles will be calculated against the fencer who caused them contrary to the good rules of the art. The fencer who repeatedly doubles may also be declared out of the competition by the Jury. The common tempo [simultaneous attacks] repeated three times by the two fencers may place them immediately out of the competition.
Many treatises of this period discuss how to assign blame in the case of a double touch, and the judges would most certainly have been aware of the conventions used at the time, therefore more explicit rules on how to award the touch in a double would not have been necessary.

At the end of the Gala evening, the prizes were awarded. Aside from monetary prizes, there were also many items such as pocket watches and ornaments donated to the tournament organisers which were given as prizes to the best fencers.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

1891 Fencing Exhibition - School of War

As promised in last month's post, here is my translation of the second of the two pamphlets I received. Once again, I provide the scans of the original alongside my translation.

Scans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1kvuLowVTl7l3LG-lOvQ-8OYZF8Ztlata
Translation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1hBOa5gHLe4RTbglRkCzJfmj5bD90p4CO

This exhibition took place on the 2nd June 1891, between officers of the Scuola di Guerra ("School of War") in Turin.

The programme consisted of two sword lessons followed by 18 bouts, alternating between sword and sabre.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

1889 Fencing Competition - Artillery and Engineers School of Application

I recently received two pamphlets detailing fencing tournaments in 1889, both containing a list of the fencers taking part, the jury, and a short summary of the rules. Below I have provided scans of the first of these and my translation of it.

Scans: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1NNMAUDKr3YOfDvlUa03jCknLWZXSSfnc
Translation: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1GB_7WLotSXNXeirCfM4HFk5QSEmq138S

The competition took place in February 1889 between the officers of the Scuola di applicazione di artiglieria e genio ("Artillery and Engineers School of Application") in Turin.

I had a lot of difficulty reading the list of names due to the cursive handwriting, so I am sure there are errors in my transcription. Please let me know of any errors you might find and I shall correct the document.

I will post the second pamphlet in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Translation - Considerazioni e proposte per l'unificazione dei vari sistemi di scherma in Italia by Giordano Rossi

As promised in the previous short biographical post about Giordano Rossi, today I bring you a translation of his only other publication aside from his well-known fencing treatise. The title of this work is Considerazioni e proposte per l'unificazione dei vari sistemi di scherma in Italia ("Considerations and proposals for the unification of the various fencing systems in Italy") and was originally published as a booklet in 1890, however it was also republished across several issues of the magazine Scherma Italiana in 1891, from which I obtained the text for my translation (all scans of the magazine may be found here).

Translation: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1WLiYsw292K4EG7pthhyZ_HOva-qs8rMwDAtUdLZkQ0o/edit?usp=sharing

Much of this text comes across as a reasoned stream of thought about Rossi's opinions on how fencing should be taught, however there are a few very interesting insights into the benefits of the Radaellian molinelli and Rossi's pedagogical method for turning the wide practice molinelli into faster, "restricted" molinelli:
The molinelli with wide rotation are very useful because, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, with them one obtains the actions that are performed in the bout; for example: if we from guard of second parry third and riposte to the opponent’s inside flank, we perform the traversone with the exercise molinello. So too if we from guard of second parry first and riposte, we have performed the molinello with wide rotation.
The molinello that serves to touch the opponent is certainly not that which one does in the beginning of teaching, when the maestro sees the ease in executing the molinello with wide rotation he must, with graduated lessons, oblige the student to quickly move the blade away by means of a sforzo, and he must use a few blows in tempo to the arm in order to make him increase the promptness in the final part of the molinello such that a little bit from the sforzo, a little bit from the blow in tempo to the arm, the student will be obliged to restrict his molinello in order to avoid the possibility of the blow to the arm in the execution of the molinello.
In addition to the technical aspects, Rossi also spends a decent amount of time talking about the role of the instructor in shaping the fencer's instincts and morale:
Now there is no doubt that he who will be morally stronger, and yet more confident in the outcome is the one who, being worried about the consequences of the clash, will know how to keep his cold blood unperturbed in every moment of the action.
Now, if the one who succeeded in putting his opponent in a parry is perfected in the mechanical part, at equal speeds he is certain to touch.
Otherwise his advantages will pass to his opponent, because in order to have parried, he is found in an advantageous position and a contrast of parries and ripostes will occur, with equal mechanical strength victory will be with the one with greater intellect. As shown in this bout I would be able to cite a hundred other combinations in which the fencer’s morale and intellect are due to the mechanical part studied in the instinctive effects of man.
This, I feel, is an excellent illustration of Italian fencing, with all its fiery yet calculated fervour.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Who is Giordano Rossi?

In making a list of the great champions produced by Radaelli, it would be almost unthinkable to omit the name Giordano Rossi. Although he did not have the international influence that other Radaellians such as Ferdinando Masiello and Luigi Barbasetti had, he was nevertheless highly respected throughout Italy not just for his fencing, but also for his contributions to the art such as through teaching and publications.

Regarding Rossi's fantastic 1885 fencing treatise (link in the sidebar), Gelli had this to say in his Bibliografia General della Scherma:
Rossi’s work is an illustration of the Radaelli system. Rossi has attempted to modify the grip of the sword in order to better have the blade in hand; a modification which a technical Commission appointed by the Ministry of War thought appropriate to not accept. Aside from this, Rossi is a faithful interpreter of the Radaellian theories he supports and widens, and in various exhibitions and fencing tournaments he has always achieved excellent results in the application of his own system.
Below is a picture from Rossi's treatise of this modified foil grip. It appears to have been rather popular in Italy, as it was still being listed in fencing catalogues into the 20th century.

Aside from his 1885 fencing treatise, Rossi also published a short booklet entitled Considerazioni e proposte per l’unificazione dei varî sistemi di scherma in Italia, a translation of which I shall be releasing in the next post. About the man himself, I will again refer to us Gelli's short biography:
Born in Bassanello, Padua, in 1851, he had his first fencing lessons from Lieutenant Montefredini, from the training battalion, who first placed him on guard in 1872. He then passed on to Milan with Radaelli, who was very fond of him. There he was a maestro and assistant in Radaelli’s teaching.
The latter having died, Rossi left the army and was nominated director and professor of the Milanese Society of Fencing and Gymnastics, known as Società del Giardino, one of the most important in Italy, where he is to this day.
A very strong and correct fencer, all over he has made the goodness and the efficacy of Radaelli system shine above the others, which are often times supported with bad arts.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

The Parise-Pecoraro Method (Part 2)

Click here to read part 1 of this article on the Parise-Pecoraro sabre method.

In part 1 of this article we read that Parise had collaborated with Radaellians Salvatore Pecoraro and Carlo Guasti on refining his sabre method such that it was accepted by the Ministry of War for use in the cavalry and artillery. We read of the glowing praise showered upon Parise and Pecoraro, with them both receiving knighthoods for their labours. And finally we read claims about how the Scuola Magistrale's supposed attempts at reconciliation with the Italian fencing community were rather superficial, with the editors of Scherma Italiana claiming that their magazine was forbidden among the school's staff.

However in that very same issue of Scherma Italiana in February 1891, they also published a letter from none other than the Vice-director of the Scuola Magistrale, Salvatore Pecoraro:
MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MR. EDITOR.

I read in the first number of the newspaper Scherma Italiana that the new sabre handling [method] for the cavalry was completed by Cav. Parise together with the Radaellian maestri Pecoraro and Guasti, and that Mr. Parise “by changing his mind about the many defects found in his method, has sacrificed self-esteem and self-interest for the art”. This is not correct, as this new fencing method was the sole work of Cav. Parise, who wrote it since 1885, save for a few slight modifications made by him after the opinion of the Turin Commission, but not in the sense that the newspaper Scherma Italiana suggests.
The maestri Cesare Cavalli, teacher at the NCO School, and Ettore Dabbene, teacher at the Cavalry School, can testify to what I write.
So much for the truth of facts.
In asking you to publish this, Mr. Director, accept the kind regards of
Yours truly
SALVATORE PECORARO.1
This letter is in response to the first extract from Scherma Italiana shown in part 1. By responding to this article Pecoraro obviously puts extreme doubt on the claim that staff were forbidden from reading the newspaper. His response is also rather humble regarding is own contribution into the new sabre method, such that it almost seems to contradict the previous articles with respect to his involvement.

All this excitement around rumours from Rome meant that the editors of Scherma Italiana seem to have got their hopes up for a sort of fencing redemption, as seen in this notice from an October 1891 issue:
A very dear friend of ours writes to us from Rome that in the Ministry of War there exists a special Commission charged with compiling a new official fencing treatise, drawing from the various methods now in existence.
In a word, it would be a matter of taking the good of the various schools now in existence and merging that into a new and unique system that satisfies everyone and gets rid of the fencing friction that now troubles our amateurs and professionals.
This project, which seems to be becoming a reality, was advocated by us in the first issues of Scherma Italiana.2
Unfortunately this does not seem to have occurred, as just three months later Scherma Italiana then republished the following excerpt from another newspaper:
On the first of February the NCO fencing instructors from the regiments in which the new system of fencing for the mounted forces has not yet been adopted will be called to the Scuola Magistrale in Rome. With this measure the total suppression of the application of the Radaelli system will begin.3
This put a definite stop to many of the Radaellians' hopes for reconciliation in Italian fencing, Scherma Italiana included. In their comments below this excerpt they claim to have been told previously that the sabre system now being taught at the Scuola Magistrale was "pure-blood Radaellian", so the announcement of the "total suppression of the Radaelli system" must have been particularly shocking to them.

This supposed suppression seems to have occurred quite quickly, as can be seen just one month later when Scherma Italiana republished the following three excerpts from Corriere Italiano, Sport Illustrato, and Esercito Italiano, respectively:
The NCO fencing instructors of the regiments in which the new system of fencing for the mounted forces has not been adopted will be called to the Scuola Magistrale on the 1st February. This will establish the unique system of fencing for all mounted forces.
It is desired to know if the Parise-Pecoraro system, subject of lively and fair criticism, should be taught to the new fencing masters for the mounted forces after the unattractive trial was done.
——————
In Rome is the first group of NCO fencing masters in the artillery regiments, called for the instruction of sabre fencing on horseback, according to the method presented by Cav. Masaniello Parise and approved by the Commission appointed in the last year by the Ministry of War.
The lessons will be imparted by the Vice-director of the Scuola Magistrale, Cav. Pecoraro, and will last five hours per day.
We have sought to obtain a copy of this method, but everywhere we looked we were told that it was not been given to the presses. It pains us, not only because in this way we can only have very vague notions about it, but also because the means of the tradition does not seem the most appropriate to us, and it can encounter danger when the maestri, after having learnt it in Rome one way, having arrived at their regiment, teach it in another way.
The printing of a few pages costs so little!
——————
At the 13th artillery regiment the special course of instruction for the handling of the sabre on horseback has closed, to which all the fencing instructors of the artillery regiments were called.
Taking part in this course, aside from the NCO troops, were also the one-year volunteers and officer cadets of the same regiment.
Tomorrow the fencing instructors will depart for their respective regiments.
The course was done under the personal direction of the director of the Scuola Magistrale of fencing Cav. Parise and Vice-director Cav. Pecoraro.4
So it seems that by February 1892 all military fencing instructors had received their training in the new Parise-Pecoraro cavalry sabre method, however it was still not accepted as satisfactory by all. There was also still some confusion as to what exactly the new method looked like, and whether this could be considered as a partial success for Radaellian principles. In April of that same year Scherma Italiana writes:
We are grateful to Sport Illustrato, who kindly inform us that the new sabre instruction — as was reported to us by a person deemed trustworthy — is not pure Radaelli; but a cross with what the previous molinello tried to amalgamate, to strike the cut (Radaelli system) with the slicing molinello5 (Parise system) which follows the same cut. In short: with a hybrid combination, the effectiveness and power of the cut achieved by Radaelli with his molinello was sacrificed to the idea of slicing.6
These conflicting ideas of what the Parise-Pecoraro system entailed continued to circulate among Italian fencing enthusiasts. An article published by Scherma Italiana over two years later states that there had still been no publication of the Parise-Pecoraro method, and that there are still many conflicting reports as to who was actually involved in its formulation and how Radaellian it truly was.7 However, in 1896 a new version of the cavalry regulations was published, replacing the 1891 edition mentioned in part 1.8 It is quite possible that this new edition contained the Parise-Pecoraro cavalry sabre method.

Regardless as to whether the Parise-Pecoraro method was ever publicised, Radaellian principles would not see true official retribution until Salvatore Pecoraro and Carlo Pessina took over as joint Technical Directors at the Scuola Magistrale in Rome after the death of Masaniello Parise in 1910.



1 "Tra '1 si e '1 no... di parer contrario", Scherma Italiana, 28 February 1891, p. 30.
2 'Un nuovo metodo ufficiale?', Scherma Italiana, 1 October 1891, p. 143.
3 'Chiamata', Scherma Italiana, 25 January 1892, p. 8.
4 'Maneggio di sciabola a cavallo', Scherma Italiana, 27 February 1892, p. 12.
5 "molinello di trinciamento"
6 'Maneggio di sciabola a cavallo', Scherma Italiana, 8 April 1892, p. 28.
7 'La scherma in tribunale?', Scherma Italiana, 26 November 1894, p. 28.
8 S. Mocenni, 'Regolamento di esercizi per la cavalleria', Giornale Militare: Parte Prima, Istruzioni ed Esercitazioni Militari, 18 January 1896, p. 19.

Monday, 21 January 2019

The Parise-Pecoraro Method (Part 1)

By the time Jacopo Gelli published his booklet Resurrectio in 1888, he claimed that the cavalry application of Masaniello Parise's sabre method had already been rejected twice by the Ministry of War, and that he was asked to rewrite it for the third time.1 One year later a commission led by Prince Amadeo I, Inspector General of the Cavalry, again rejected Parise's method.2 However, contrary to what I have theorised previously, this was not the end for his sabre system. With the help of Salvatore Pecoraro, a star Radaellian maestro, Parise was able to modify his method such that the Ministry of War finally accepted it and rolled it out to all cavalry and artillery regiments.

Through various articles published in the fencing magazine Scherma Italiana (scans available here thanks to Biblioteca Centrale Nazionale di Firenze) we are able to catch a glimpse of when this new method was adopted and how it was received by the editor of the magazine, who was none other than the fervent Radaellian devotee Jacopo Gelli.

The very first issue of Scherma Italiana (published 15th January 1891) contains the following report that Parise has revised his system with the help of Salvatore Pecoraro and Carlo Guasti:
The Ministry of War has called all the fencing masters of the mounted regiments to the Scuola Magistrale ad audiendum verbum3.
It is about the approval and installation of a new fencing method for mounted forces carried out by Cav. Parise, in union with the Radaellian maestri Pecoraro and Guasti.
We are very pleased by this event, because it is more proof that our (often harsh) criticisms of the method taught at the Scuola Magistrale were more than justified.
For this act we praise the Ministry of War and Mr. Parise, who by changing their minds about many defects found in its method have sacrificed self-esteem and self-interest for the good of the art.
That is good; bravo Mr. Parise! We will read the new work, and if it so deserves we will be as equally giving of praise as we were full of disapproval towards your method which we considered too imperfect.4
This new method seems to be the end result of two years of experimentation on the part of both the Scuola Magistrale and the Ministry of War. Five months after Parise's method was rejected by the commission, the Ministry of War began publishing an experimental version of the Italian cavalry regulations volume 1, which contains the cavalry sabre exercise.5 In January 1891, these experimental regulations were replaced with the new version of the cavalry regulations, this time presumably with Parise's updated and now officially-approved cavalry sabre method.6 Scherma Italiana was closely following the roll-out of this method via other publications. In the next issue at the end of the January they republished the following excerpt from the newspaper Esercito e Armata:
Among the honours of the Order of the Crown of Italy granted recently on the occasion of the new year, on proposal by the Ministry of War, were two who, according to us, deserve to be specially noted for their significance.
They are the appointment to Officer of Cav. Masaniello Parise, director of the Scuola Magistrale, and the appointment to Cavaliere of Maestro Salvatore Pecoraro, also assigned, as vice-director, to the same school.
These two names certainly need no special introduction; they are well-known as two talented champions of Italian fencing.
But as we were saying, the two honours just granted to them deserve to be specially noted, and indeed, as far as we know they would be the well-deserved reward for a new important work completed by Cav. Masaniello Parise, with the assistance of Maestro Pecoraro.
It is well-known how for a long time new regulations for the handling of the sabre in the mounted arms were in discussion, regulations that had never been able to be brought fully to its positive conclusion due to difficulties for reasons of a varied nature and which are unnecessary to note here.
These difficulties would now finally be resolved, accepting some important and very useful proposals made by Cav. Parise, and therefore said regulations can be said to be of imminent publication.
Moreover, the new proposals were supported by a long, detailed, and practical experiment performed in Rome, in the Macao barracks, with men of the Foggia cavalry regiment and under the personal direction of the appointed gentlemen.
The results obtained were excellent in every respect, and the proposals were fully accepted fully with applause by the competent Commission that had to examine them and today can now be said to be an accomplished fact.
At the final demonstration, in addition to the aforementioned Commission, His Excellency General Corvetto, Under-Secretary of State for the Ministry of War, also attended; the general appeared very satisfied with the new method of sabre handling and directed lively and deserving praise towards maestri Parise and Pecoraro, who now, in their honours just obtained, have confirmed the importance that the Ministry of War has rightly given to the their work, and from which a great benefit will be derived for the instruction of sabre handling in the mounted forces.7
Thus we see that another commission has now approved Parise's modified sabre method, after a supposedly lengthy practical trial with the Foggia cavalry. In an issue from the following month, Scherma Italiana republishes an article from the newspaper Esercito Italiano which confirms many of these details and even speaks very favourably of the new method:
As we have announced, the Ministry of War has recently published the 1st volume of the Regulations of exercises for the cavalry, Regulations which must be considered definitive and which will therefore replace what was adopted last year by way of experimentation.
Meanwhile, with the publication of the 1st volume, the matter of sabre handling on horseback especially has remained resolute, for which there has been adopted a more practical and more rational system, not to mention more in harmony with the true purposes that that important exercise must be directed to.
In the past, it is well-known that sabre handling on horseback was based on a system that, if it had its merits, it nevertheless had a serious defect, which is that the soldier was taught sabre play almost completely the same as that which was taught in the fencing hall, therefore play which could not then respond completely to the various requirements of sabre handling on horseback.
Nor should it then be overlooked that the old system required a longer teaching method, the execution from the mounted position having to be preceded by numerous instructions with the soldiers on foot, intended almost exclusively to teach those famous molinelli accompanied by large back and forth movements of the body, which could be better described as gymnastics rather than fencing.
The new system of sabre handling instead teaches the soldier, up until the last moment, movements that could and should then be executed from horseback, accustoming him to actions which, while they cannot but greatly develop the muscular force of his arm, are then immensely effective from the point of view of the potential of the blows, which are not stopped during the action, but this is carried out entirely and in a complete manner.
And the practical results that were had during a long experiment carried out in Rome by the Foggia (11th) Cavalry Regiment, under the personal direction of Cav. Parise, director of the military Scuola Magistrale of fencing, and Cav. Pecoraro, a maestro teaching at the same school, as well as the technical Commission delegated by the Ministry of War to the examination of the new system of sabre handling on horseback, clearly proved all the merits of the system and how this is perfectly in harmony with its mission.
Following this experiment was a good course of instruction which the fencing NCOs of the cavalry regiments were called to, a course which was also carried out under the direction of Cav. Parise and Maestro Pecoraro and which will lead to the consequence of having in practice uniformity and regularity in the application of the new system.
We firmly believe that the new sabre handling will quickly bring excellent results in the instruction of our cavalry trooper, who, thus ceasing to cut the air, as General Boselli so appropriately expressed in his recent study on the cavalry arm, can be trained a fencing exercise that is very rational and therefore more suited to everyone’s intelligence.
And since we find ourselves on the topic, we want to add a few considerations which are especially recommended by all the comments contained in a letter by Mr. A. B., a letter that we published in a previous number of our newspaper through that spirit of impartiality which we did not want and never want to avoid, but nevertheless could, especially for a few assertions, lending themselves to a less exact interpretation of what we believe on the subject and moreover what would be in contradiction to what we have written and cited on other occasions.
And first of all we should stop at the remarks that Mr. A. B. intended to direct to the military Scuola Magistrale of fencing and to the system that is currently taught there. However apart from the fact that a similar discussion does not seem to be able to lead to some result, given that the current method of teaching fencing in the army was approved by the Ministry of War, which proves with facts of giving more importance and greater consideration to it every day, after having been supported by a unanimous and favourable opinion of a Commission composed of people very competent in the art; we believe that it is precisely the desire to persist in discussions of such a nature that will take us further and further away from the result that Mr. A. B. shows to desire so much, from the day in which “the intellectual forces of Italian fencers no longer intent on fighting, are more usefully used in the progress of fencing”.
And it is precisely because this fact, which we desire no less, may soon come true when we promised ourselves to never bring the discussion of such a matter into the field of personalities, convinced that a similar discussion can only greatly harm the prestige and worth of Italian fencing.
They therefore set aside comparisons of facts and names, which, whilst not appropriate, could not then hold up in the practical field, and before judging the results of a method of teaching which certainly never failed the test, whatever it was, one at least begins by saying that these results are mature and that with time the champions of that method can develop and fortify themselves, as did those people belonging to other methods and whose names are now put forward whenever one lowers oneself to those comparisons which we will never deplore enough.
And if the authors of these comparisons then questioned their conscience again, they would be convinced of a fact that we have been convinced of for a long time now, and that is that all the names that are currently referred to as fruits of an excellent teaching method were in practice so attached and persuaded of such excellence that from person to person they ended up moving away from it, some more, some less, and today it may well be said that each of those names is considered the head of a system and school, and who in practice have ended up fighting each other because of their different dogmas, which has made tireless proponents.
Oh! what would not be gained by that strong and noble art, which all the talent champions, which today Italy has the fortune of counting, continually fight for, if this conflict, rather than being intended to come down on each other to the detriment of everyone and the art, was instead the result of all the forces united together with the supreme intention of giving to Italian fencing that position of honour that it is well entitled to!
And this truly favourable and important result can only be obtained when it can be said to be an accomplished fact that reconciliation which some time ago was attempted here in Rome, a reconciliation which, we are certain, will be full and complete if all those who must give their contribution can and will sacrifice even some of those concessions, which will honour those who do and without whom we can never even talk to each other about this desired and much necessary reconciliation.
This is the field upon which all the forces of Italian fencers, and especially those who merit and fortune gave a very honoured and triumphant journey, must today be brought together.
And on this field Esercito Italiano will certainly never deny its approval for all those who can and will effectively strive to achieve the goal they mean to achieve. And it is in this consideration that we are pleased when the Ministry of War, with the honours recently granted to Cav. Parise and Maestro Pecoraro, has shown once again that it knows how to suitably appreciate the large contribution that they have always given and give to the development of fencing in the royal army.8
The writer of this article is anonymous, however the comments from Scherma Italiana, written under this article by one "M. O.", state the belief that the author belongs to the Scuola Magistrale. In spite of this author's calls for "reconciliation" between Italy's fencing factions, M. O. claims that Scherma Italiana has received letters from maestri at the Scuola Magistrale stating that there was "unofficial order" that its staff are not allowed to read Scherma Italiana due to Jacopo Gelli being its editor.9

In the next part we will read the rest of Scherma Italiana's articles on this subject, including a letter from Salvatore Pecoraro himself.



1 J. Gelli, Resurrectio: Critica alle osservazioni sul maneggio della sciabola secondo il metodo Radaelli del Generale Achille Angelini, Tipografia Editrice di Luigi Niccolai, Firenze, 1888, p. 48.
2 'Scherma', Lo Sport Illustrato, 11 July 1889, p. 334.
3 "to hear the word"
4 Scherma Italiana, Notiziario, 15 January 1891, p. 6.
5 E. Bertolè-Viale, 'Regolamento di esercizi per la cavalleria', Giornale Militare: Parte Prima, Pubblicazioni Militari, 7 December 1889, p. 698.
6 E. Bertolè-Viale, 'Regolamento di esercizi per la cavalleria', Giornale Militare: Parte Prima, Pubblicazioni Militari, 10 January 1891, p. 1.
7 'La scherma nell'esercito', Scherma Italiana, Notiziario, 31 January 1891, pp. 14-15.
8 M.O., 'La scherma nell'esercito', Scherma Italiana, 28 February 1891, pp. 28-30.
9 ibid.