Late 16thEarly 17th Century

George Silver was a Master of Defence in late 16 th- and early 17th-century England. He's best known for his written attacks on foreign martial-arts masters - notably those teaching the popular new dueling weapon, the rapier. He wrote two treatises on the subject. Paradoxes of Defence was published in 1599. The manuscript for Brief Instructions on My Paradoxes of Defence remained in a museum collection until finally published in 1898.

Silver epitomized the Master of Defence. Of humble origins and by most accounts literate and well-spoken, he was a master of all of the requisite weapons of personal combat and war. He honed his skills with constant training and tested them against other masters in open matches. Silver was confident of his ability to defeat any foe with any combination of weapons. The Italian rapier masters teaching in England rebuffed or ignored his many challenges, however.

Silver felt that the rapier masters' emphasis on the thrust was dangerous thinking. He acknowledged that a thrust through the body could kill, but pointed out that it wasn't so immediately disabling that the victim couldn't return the favor before falling! He favored a weapon that could deal cuts severe enough to cripple an opponent's limbs, effectively neutralizing him. His writings are often strident defenses of a combat form on its way to becoming outmoded and unfashionable, but they're also the work of a true martial-arts master who sought to prepare his readers for battle in all its forms.

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