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Polish sabre

Polska szabla husarska

The sabre, primarily a cutting weapon, came to Europe from the east, particularly with the Turkish invasion in the beginning of the sixteenth century. The sabre differs from the straight European sword or the military sword in the basic build of the characteristically curved axis of the blade, which inflicted larger cutting wounds than the straight blade. It came to be used most in Hungary and Poland (in both countries this weapon is known as the szabla) and started to be used by regular units of light cavalry. The type of sabre which was issued to the “winged hussars” of the Polish king Jan III. Sobieski, the renowned victor over the Turks at the battle at Vienna of the 12. September 1683, started to enter the ranks of the cavalry units of the Habsburg army. The sabre gradually came to replace traditional military swords and broadswords, gaining total dominance as the weapon of the cavalry. From the mid-eighteenth century it also became the side arm of officers and non commissioned officers of the infantry.

The Polish – Lithuanian state, the Rzeczpospolita (1505-1795), came to an end at the end of the eighteenth century, but the tried and tested polish hussar sabre (polska szabla husarska) with its gently curved wide blade and typical protective guard arc gradually became, in various cavalry and infantry variants, part of the arsenal of many European armies. The very effective sabre of the Habsburg monarchy’s light cavalry, the M1768, became the model for the famous sabre of the army of Great Britain, the M1796 from the time of the Napoleonic wars, which was subsequently adopted by the Prussian army for its hussars, dragoons and hulans under the denomination M1811 (Blücher).

The Prussian M1811 led to the development of another excellent Prussian sabre: the M1873, which was used up until the First World War. Still in the 19th century the influence of the Polish hussar sabre was visible in the Italian M1855 variant, which was used in the wars for the unification of Italy.

The last sabres in the arsenal of the Polish cavalry, which stemmed directly from the Polish hussar sabres of the 17th century, were of the M1921 model (szabla wz. 21) which the Polish cavalry used in the wars with the bolsheviks in the 1920s, and of the M1934 model (szabla wz. 34) called the Ludwikówka after the place of manufacture. The M1934 was issued to units of Polish mounted infantry defending Poland against the nazi and soviet invasions in 1939. The Polish hussar sabre used by colonel Michał Wołodyjowski, the protagonist of the novels With Fire and Sword (1884), The Deluge (1886) and Michał Wołodyjowski (1888), in defence of his Polish fatherland against the Turkish invasion in the seventeenth century, was thus used, almost unchanged, by the armies of Europe up until the mid 20th century.

The Ars Dimicatoria school follows the methodology of Polish sabre fencing under the direct guidance of master sabreur Dariusz Ostaszewski (member of Towarzystwo Szabłistów/Towarzystwo Jazdy Dawnej), pupil of maestro Wojciech Zabłocki of Warsaw.

Methodology: maestro Wojciech Zabłocki, Polsko
Instructor: prévôt d’armes Michael Kňažko
Methodological manuals:
Michał Starzewski: O szermierstwie, 1830
Leonid Křížek, Jiří Kovařík: Historie evropských duelů a šermu II – Čas rváčů a duelantů, Praha, 2014
Wojciech Zabłocki: Šavle světa, Praha, 2016
Target area: the entire body, cut and thrust