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Giacomo di Grassi

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Giacomo di Grassi
Born 16th century
Modena, Italy
Died after 1594
London, England
Occupation Fencing master
Genres Fencing manual
Notable work(s) Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l'Arme (1570)
First Printed
English Edition
His True Arte of Defence (1594)
Concordance by Michael Chidester
Translations Český Překlad

Giacomo di Grassi was a 16th century Italian fencing master. Little is known about the life of this master, but he seems to have been born in Modena, Italy and acquired some fame as a fencing master in his youth. He operated a fencing school in Trevino and apparently traveled around Italy observing the teachings of other schools and masters.

Ultimately di Grassi seems to have developed his own method, which he laid out in great detail in his 1570 work Ragione di adoprar sicuramente l'Arme ("Discourse on Wielding Arms with Safety"). In 1594, a new edition of his book was printed in London under the title His True Arte of Defence, translated by an admirer named Thomas Churchyard and published by an I. Iaggard.


While di Grassi's teachings were arguably designed for the side sword, the English translation renders spada ("sword") as "rapier". The translator justifies this by pointing out that English distinguishes between "sword" and "rapier" while Italian does not, and in Italy as well as England the common civilian weapon carried by gentlemen was the rapier (and dagger), not the sword. However, he goes on to note, the reader should not construe the word in such a narrow sense as to exclude the sword altogether. This decision is particularly odd in light of the fact that the new illustrations created for this edition portrayed swords which were shorter and broader than those of the Italian.

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