Worcester Yeomanry Cavalry

A living history unit


Upon the wall, immediately in front of his position, describe a circle of two feet diameter, and full four feet from the ground, then draw two lines, which will divide the circle into four parts, each line being drawn diagonally; then a third line forming an horizontal diameter: on the different points of those lines place the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, as represented in Plate  I. fig. 1.
This will serve to convey the idea of that space, which an antagonist would occupy in point of height, and the recruit is to direct all his movements to it, upon that supposition; the figures denoting the six distinct cuts of the sabre, which are to be applied in that given space.

We now come to the first Cut, in performing which the blade takes four distinct positions, which, when perfectly executed, are not discernible, as the quickness of action in the wrist gives them the appearance of being only one motion : therefore to assist the comprehension of beginners, it will be necessary in the drill to distinguish the changes of the blade, by the separate pauses of 1, 2, 3,4.
It is to be remarked, that the first motion in every cut consists in bringing the blade back to gather a sweep, at the same instant placing it in the direction in which it is to be applied, and the last motion brings the blade back to the guard.  The plates (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12,) describe the exact position of the hand, in the different motions contained in each cut.


Cut 1
From the guard, upon the word one, by the sole action of the wrist, draw back the blade so as to bring the point in a perpendicular line with the outside of the right shoulder, for the purpose of making a sweep :
Cut I. in four motions
1.   taking care at the time, to turn the joints of the fingers in the same direction the cut is to be made, which will be in a diagonal course, as from 1 to 4.  (Plate I, fig. 2.) The recruit is too apt to sink his hand, or draw it from the guard, upon the first motion of the cut; attention must therefore be paid to his hand being steady, and always covering his head with the hilt of his sword, whatever changes of position his blade may take in performing the different cuts. And it is to be consider as an invariable rule, that the direction of the finger joints regulates the edge of the blade.
2.    By a quick motion of the wrist downwards, with proper attention to direct the point to number 1, the blade will be conducted to number 4.
3.    Turn the wrist inwards, dropping the point so as to bring the blade in a diagonal line across the body, with the edge outwards.
4.    Bend the back of the hand inwards, bringing the flat of the blade towards the face, and carrying on the motion of the wrist, till the blade arrives at its original position in the guard, taking care at the same time that in raising the blade, it makes a sweep inwards just to clear the elbow of the bridle hand.
The recruit having been trained to perform the above in four distinct motions with precision; drop the repetition of figures, and let him perform them very slowly, as one motion, and then increase the quickness of execution, till the cut is correctly made, with force, carrying a proper edge, and without giving action to the elbow; observing the same rule in the five following cuts.  It must be constantly a part of the drill officer’s instruction to his squad, not to hold their swords too tight; but to allow the hilt to play in the hand, by the second, third, and fourth fingers being distended or contracted, as may be necessary to accord with the motion of the blade; taking care invariably to hold the gripe firm with the fore-finger and thumb.

Cut 2

Cut II. in four Motions from Guard
1. Upon the word one, retire the blade across the face, till the point becomes nearly perpendicular to the elbow of the bridle hand.
2. By the action of the wrist conduct the blade in the diagonal line from two to three (plate I. fig. 3) observing in the execution thereof, all the rules laid down in the preceding lesson for conducting the edge and finger joints.
3. Turn the wrist to the right, till it has brought the back of the hand under, the nails of the fingers and inside seam of the right sleeve upwards; at the same time keeping a firm grasp of the sword with the fore finger and thumb, relax the other three fingers, which will occasion the point to sink, and the blade to arrive in a diagonal position, similar to the lines 2 and 3, with the edge outwards.
4. Turn the hand to the left till it brings the sword to its original position in the Guard, observing well, that in raising the blade, it makes a sweep round the right shoulder, clear of the head.

Cut3 from Guard
Cut III. in three Motions
The next cut, viz. from fig. 3 to 2 (plate I. fig. 4) is made in three motions.
1. Drop the point outwards to the right, by turning the wrist in that  direction, and relaxing the grasp of the three fingers of the sword-hand, keeping at the same time a firm hold with the fore finger and thumb: this will bring the blade in a diagonal line, similar to the one drawn from the numbers 2 and 3, (plate I. fig. 4) with the back of the blade towards the body.
2. Conduct the point of the sword from number 3 to number 2, by bending the wrist towards the face, and pressing upon the three distended fingers, which act as a lever.
3. Come to the original guard by turning the nails under, and back of the hand up. Too much attention cannot be paid to suppling the wrist, and the drill officer will instruct his squad in the mode of doing so, which is by a repetition of the 1st and 2nd motions in cut III. several times successively without making any pause on either motion.
Every lesson should begin with suppling the wrist, and which must be frequently repeated during the hours of drill : in which practice the recruit will direct his attention to the steadiness of his arm, which is to be straight, keeping the hand above the level of the shoulder.

Cut 4
from Guard, Cut IV. In three Motions.
1. Cut IV. Is likewise performed in 3 motions. – By turning the wrist to the left, it will drop the point in a diagonal line across the body, within three inches of the left elbow, and with the edge of the sword outwards.
2. Carry the point from No. 4 to 1, (plate I. fig.5) diagonally, by extending the hand in a direct line with the arm.
3. Turn the back of the hand outwards to the right, carrying on the motion of the blade till it arrives at the position of the guard, taking care that it does not go round the head of the right shoulder, which would make the motion wider than necessary.

Cut 5
From Guard cut V. is made horizontally across the face from ear to ear, and executed in three motions.
1. Carry the point of the blade round to the right, with the edge directed outwards, till it reaches a little below the level of the sword hand, and inclined towards the right shoulder. This is done by turning the back of the hand under, and bringing the nails up.
2. Conduct the point to No. 5, and horizontally across the circle, which is done by inclining the hand inwards in the direction of the cut, without changing the position of the nails. (Plate I. fig. 6.)
3. Turn the wrist into its proper position in the Guard, by bringing the back of the hand up.

Cut 6
from Guard. Cut VI. In three Motions    
1. Retire the point of the blade within a foot of the left shoulder, sinking it a little below the level of the sword hand, which is done by an inclination of the wrist towards the face.
2. Conduct the point to No. 6, and horizontally across the circle to No. 5. (Plate I. fig. 7,) by carrying the hand out in that direction, keeping the back of the hand still upwards.
3. Bring the blade in a sweep round the right shoulder, and clear of the head to its position in the Guard, by turning the back of the hand under, and inclining it outwards, till the blade is brought nearly to the head; then turn the back of the hand to the face, and it will conduct the blade top the Guard – Slope Swords.
In the foregoing motions, the beginner is apt to carry his right shoulder too forward, and likewise to incline his head to the sword-arm.  He may be allowed to do both in a small degree, but by no means to ex-cess; and on no account should the recruit be permitted to proceed farther in the system than these six cuts, till he is perfect master of the preceding directions.