Thursday, August 24, 2017

Palcaty - Old Poland's stick fighting drills

Salvete omnes,
I do little fencing, well sort of, - mostly with my son, who has had several years of fencing, including  2 years in Colorado with  Maciej Czyzowicz.
We use and practice with the palcaty-sabres from a GoNow, there is always lots of fun and plenty of exercise - video example of these palcaty-sabres in action.
Palcaty dueling by young noble boys in the Field of Wola, detail of the AD1697 painting

 In the XVII and XVIII centuries Palcaty or wooden stick fighting was  the favorite pastime, while sword training, of the Polish nobility young sons and schoolboys in Rzeczpospolita (Commonwealth), and according to our XVIII century historian and diarist father Jedrzej Kitowicz students at the Piarists and Jesuit schools practiced this art in schools, often before a class started, often the younger professors and older students who being masters themselves were also teaching the art to the younger ones, while the student who was too timid and too afraid to practice palcaty and duel with them  was bullied and had to withstand many insults from the entire school:
 Drugą zabawą podczas rekreacyi były kije, zwane palcatami, w które pojedynkowali studenci dwaj a dwaj z sobą. Ten sposób wielce był potrzebny dla stanu osobliwie szlacheckiego, jako wprawiający młódź do zręcznego w swoim czasie użycia szabli, którą nasi przodkowie na wojnach najwięcéj dokazywali. Jakoż było się czemu przypatrzyć, kiedy się dwaj dobrali do palcatów, bili się aż do zmordowania, a tak sztucznie każdy się palcatem swoim układał zastawiając się ze wszelkich stron, a oraz wzajemnie adwersarza swoim przycięciem sięgając, że żaden żadnego ani w gębę, ani w głowę, ani po bokach nie mógł dosiągnąć. 
I tacy byli to już jak metrowie do wprawiania i uczenia drugich. Co się trafiało i między professorami młodszemi, tak Jezuitami jak Pijarami, że się w kije arcyprzednio bili. Te tedy palcaty u studentów były w najczęstszym używaniu, nie tylko na rekreacyach, ale nawet i w samych szkołach, nim nastąpiła godzina lekcyi. Jeżeli był który student bojaźliwy, że nieśmiał z drugim stanąć do palcata; musiał taki wiele wycierpieć prześladowania, i urągania od całéj szkoły.
  Kajetan Kozmian, in his Diaries, wrote that palcaty were perhaps more honorable form of fighting amongst the young, instead of the vulgar fist-fighting, but many  boys received black and blues and bloody noses after palcaty duel; while the masters of palcaty could have become bullies and rouges etc, eventually could became problem makers at the sejmiki(county diets) and other public gatherings, thus making a living from swordfighting for hire.
Adam Mickiewicz in Pan Tadeusz, Book II, wrote about palcaty training for the youth

Henryk Rzewuski, in his Pamiatki Soplicy, wrote that it was the Jesuits who promoted palcaty drills in their schools as  one of the games suitable to the Polish tastes and spirit.
Henryk Sienkiewicz put palcaty drills in this Trilogy, eg Jan Skrzetuski practiced palcaty drills with pan Michal Wolodyjowski in With Fire and Sword.
Palcaty stayed popular as Polish schoolboys and university students sport until the tragedy of World War II. The Communists did not revive this art after the Holocaust.
Presently Signum Polonicum fencing & reenactment group has been doing work to revive Old Polish fencing, including palcaty drills, and they have a book and videos about the Old Polish fencing, including palcaty - here more info.

Blood and Iron HEMA group put a video up showing an example of the Palcaty game.
Julian Maszynski painting from the XIX century
 so not only kendo is out there for you to practice - :)
enjoy

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