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Them`s Fightin` Words

If youre anything like me, you found the movie The Princess Bride(1987)by Rob Reiner, to be a very entertaining film. In all honesty, this was the film that poured gasoline on my desire to wield a sword,and quote the lines (with accent), Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. For others it may have been Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks; but for me, it was the sword fight on The Cliffs of Insanity that sparked my early fascination with fencing.

In this particular scene, while dueling (then,a life-or-death affair), while at the same time showing overwhelming sportsmanship, Inigo Montoya and the Man-In-Black (Westley) casually (and most humorously) discuss complex fencing tactics. It wasthisfriendly exchange of historical references that I found completely intriguing. For years, I would quote the lines, but it wasnt until my first years of fencing (and quite a bit of research & inquiring) that I understood what they were talking about.


Inigo Montoya:You are usingBonettis Defenseagainst me, ah?
Man in Black:I thought it fitting considering the rocky terrain.
Inigo:Naturally, you must suspect me to attack withCapa Ferro?
Man in Black:Naturally, but I find thatThibaultcancels out Capa Ferro. Dont you?
Inigo:Unless the enemy has studied hisAgrippa which I have.


The quotation begins with Inigo, pushing Wesley (The Man in Black) back in retreat with his consistent attacks. Bonettis Defense refers to the Italian swordmaster Rocco Bonetti, who established a School of Arms in London in 1576. An unusual reference, as Bonetti was much hated by English fencing masters of the time (i.e. critically bashed by George Silver in hisParadoxes of Defence[1599]) and was killed in a duel against a man named Austen Bagger (who, during the duel, was quite drunkand easily defeated Bonetti*).

[*Source:TheEncyclopedia of the Sword.Evangelista, Nick.]

Inigo”s second question to Wesley is, You must suspect me to attack withCapa Ferro? This, is a misspelling first off. Both the International Movie Database (IMDB.Com) and the movie”s subtitles say Capa Ferro, when instead, it”s actually Capo Ferro. In this instance, Capa (Capo) Ferro is a term given to the powerful attack known as The Lunge, obviously after Italian swordmaster, Ridolfo Capo Ferro, who taught a linear style of fencing. (a good analysis of Capo Ferro can be located here: click)

Wesley”s retort was of, but I find thatThibaultcancels out Capa Ferro. Don”t you? This speaks of Grard (Girard) Thibault dAnvers (1574-1627), a Dutch fencing master and author of the rapier manual, Academie de lEspe (1630). Thibault brilliantly utilized both logic and geometry to aid in his swordfighting defense. Therefore, Wesley felt that his Thibaultian studies in using such tactics as (for example) higher ground, gave him added measure when defending against linear thrusts such as The Lunge.

To this, Inigo concludes, Unless the enemy has studied hisAgrippa a term named after Italian short sword master, Camillo Agrippa who wrote,Treatise on the Science of Arms with Philosophical Dialogue(1553). Historically, Agrippa simplified fencing techniques (i.e. Shortened Marozzos eleven guards, to a fundamental four), emphasizing defensive tactics, & logic above techniques that he deemed over-stylized. One can imagine that since he was a master of the short sword, he would be quite knowledgeable in closing distance (because in closer proximity, the short sword rules!). Therefore, to the scholarly fencer… defeat was just…. inconceivable.

And there you have ita breakdown of the famous movie duel from The Princess Bride.

Coach Michael Joyce

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I do not think that means what you think that means

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Category: Sports
Date: 08/30/15 06:15 AM

6 Responses to Them`s Fightin` Words

  1. Profile photo of TheZigRat
    TheZigRat Male 50-59
    2772 posts
    August 30, 2014 at 5:43 am
    Link: Them`s Fightin` Words - I do not think that means what you think that means
  2. Profile photo of geckohead
    geckohead Female 50-59
    591 posts
    August 30, 2014 at 6:46 am
    Thank you, that was awesome. It now makes even MORE sense.
  3. Profile photo of Torq
    Torq Male 40-49
    358 posts
    August 30, 2014 at 8:44 am
    Overthinking it.
  4. Profile photo of Jake_Justus
    Jake_Justus Male 50-59
    7031 posts
    August 30, 2014 at 9:10 am

    That`s interesting.
  5. Profile photo of Sleepyhallow
    Sleepyhallow Male 50-59
    1983 posts
    August 31, 2014 at 1:07 am
    My favorite scene in the movie!
  6. Profile photo of bordo
    bordo Male 50-59
    907 posts
    August 31, 2014 at 11:08 am
    My favorite swordfight scene of all time is in this movie. The good guy faces one of the bad guys, swords drawn. The bad guy drops his sword and runs away as fast as he can.

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