“There are those who affect to ridicule the study of obsolete weapons, alleging that it is of no practical use; everything, however, is useful to the Art of Fence which tends to create an interest in it, and certain it is that such contests as Rapier and Dagger, Two hand Sword, or Broadsword and Handbuckler, are a very great embellishment to the somewhat monotonous proceedings of the ordinary assault of arms.”
-Alfred Hutton, 1892
Happy Victoria Day everyone. It seems fitting that on this day celebrating the reign of Queen Victoria I share a celebration of a Victorian gentleman of great import to the Western Martial Arts world. One Alfred Hutton.Alfred Hutton (1839-1910) is somewhat known to the sword and European Martial community, though usually only as “that saber guy.” This is at once entirely accurate and does him the greatest disservice. Yes, he was an officer in the Kings Dragoons and yes, he taught the contemporary saber style practiced in the service and published a manual of that art, but his influence is so much more. Alfred Hutton was among the last true swordsmen. His is one of the most modern of the Historical Fight Manuals and he himself belonged to the last generation of people who could be reasonably called upon to use a sword in battle. None of this is what makes him special. What does make him special is that he is the first person that I am aware of who studied and practiced techniques from masters before his time. He is partially responsible for republishing the works of George Silver. More than that he actually published a book containing his interpretations of Achille Marozzo. His love of all things sword related opened the door to everyone who practices today. A student of the Angelo school of fencing Hutton is in many ways the last of the old and the first of the new. He would have seen in his lifetime the beginning of the end of the practical usage of swords and was one of the earliest practitioners to recognize the value in old systems. It`s unfortunate that his contributions to the Art are so often ignored. So this Victoria Day I shall raise a glass to Alfred Hutton, Grandfather to Western Martial Arts.