I thought I would take some time today to talk about my theory on Silver’s stance. While Silver discusses wards in his discussion of the Four General Fights, he does not directly discuss the placement of the feet. In his discussion of his general rules he does stress that a fighter should stand comfortably, constantly thinking about his opponent’s stance and attacks but he does not directly mention the placement of the feet in his Bref Instructions so we are left to conjecture on how he would have had his students stand.
Of his contemporaries and predecessors, his fighting style and mindset seem to be most similar to that of Marozzo. They both rely heavily on cutting attacks but do not exclude thrusts. Their movements seem similar, and although Silver has far fewer wards, some of his wards bear a resemblance to those used by Marozzo, certainly more so than those used by some of his other contemporaries. Thus I think we can surmise that his stance is probably also fairly similar to that of Marozzo. In this stance, as with modern fencing, the fighter wants to present as small a target as possible with their upper body. The front foot is also pointed at the fighter’s opponent with the rear foot at a 60° to a 90° angle from the front foot. The feet and lower body are still spaced similarly to the modern stance with one interesting exception. Marozzo has his fighter’s move their heels out of line apparently to provide a steadier stance. I have been using this stance predominantly when I fight for several years now and I can say that it does add stability especially when executing many foot movements of the period including the demi volte and the slope step.
*Note: The above image is from Marozzo’s Arte dell’ Armi (1568). For some unknown reason I am having trouble with image captions right now. I hope to have this fixed shortly but I did not want to have to put off posting any longer because of it.