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La Verdadera Destreza is the Spanish school of fencing starting with publishing Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza's book De la Filosofia de las Armas y de su Destreza y la Aggression y Defensa Cristiana in 1569. The approach is to turn the fencing into a science with the goal of the user of its fence without getting harmed. It uses early Renaissance geometry, philosophy and Aristotelian physics as a basis to achieve that. The name itself means "the true skill" and it's true from an axiomatic perspective. If by scientific principles you can ensure the user comes to no harm every time it follows the principles, it's true, everything else is false.
The movement itself is also a way for the nobility to distance itself from the common people. The name Destreza being used instead of the word Esgrima(fencing) is a way to distance itself from other types of local fencing. Especially early on in the life-cycle of La Verdadera Destreza is commonly contrasted to Destreza Común; the common fencing. Often times it is called by its less savoury name of Destreza Vulgar(lit. the vulgar skill). While referenced very few treatises of the Vulgar Destreza have been found, most references of it are found in La Verdadera Destreza source in how to counter different things done in the Destreza Común.
One of the most iconic things of the La Verdadera Destreza is the circles. In the treatises, they have circles an explain the positioning for different techniques using the circles. The circle also connects to some of the general ideas in the art. One core idea is to never directly approach your opponent with a linear movement because it's considered too dangerous. Instead by moving circularly along the diameter of the circle, to approach your opponent you won't move right into their weapon if they were to step straight ahead. Another axiomatic general idea is that movements from above area better than movements from below, in accordance with Aristotelian physics. Cuts are only done from above and horizontally, never from below. In a bind situation, the user wants to be on top with their sword of the same reason. Destreza being influenced by Christian philosophy, it considers the best outcome that no one has to be killed. The danger is the opponent's weapon, not them, so by taking away the weapon from their opponent they can end the fight without bloodshed. This is considered the best thing you can do and is generally done by grabbing the hilt of the opponent's weapon and threatening them with your weapon simultaneously to force them to surrender.
Luis Pacheco de Narváez was a follower of Carranza's method. In his first book Libro de las Grandezas de la Espada he was very in line with Carranza, but later on he started to dsagree with Carranza. This created a division with some following the Pachequista line of La Verdadera Destreza and others following the Carancista line. Pacheco eventually got the position of examiner for all fencing masters in Spain all fencing masters in Spain had to take the exam from Pacheco according to his principles and ideas. This included everyone following other traditions and masters than him, they had to be re-examined under Pacheco to be allowed to teach.
List of Authors in the La Verdadera Destreza tradition
- Jerónimo Sánchez de Carranza
- Luis Pacheco de Narváez
- Diogo Gomes de Figueyredo
- Gérard Thibault d'Anvers
- Academie de l'Espée (1630)