Good Reader, before thou enter into the discourse of the hidden knowledge of this honourable exerise of the weapon now layd open and manifested by the Author of this worke, & in such perfectnes translated out of the Italian tongue, as all or most of the marshal mynded gentlemen of England cannot but commend, and no one person of indifferent judgement can justly be offended with, seeing that whatsoever herein is discoursed, tendeth to no other use, but the defence of mans life and reputation: I thought good to advertise thee that in some places of this booke by reason of the equivocation of certaine Italian wordes, the weapons may doubtfully be construed in English. Therefore sometimes fynding this worde Sworde generally used, I take it to have beene the better translated, if in steede thereof the Rapier had beene inserted: a weapon more usuall for Gentlemens wearing, and fittest for causes of offence and defence: Besides that, in Italie where Rapier and Dagger is commonly worne and used, the Sworde (if it be not an arming Sworde) is not spoken of. Yet would I not the sence so strictly to be construed, that the use of so honourable a weapon be utterly rejected, but so redd, as by the right and perfect understanding of the one, thy judgement may somwhat be augmented in managing of the other: Knowing right well, that as the practise and use of the first is commendable amongst them, so the second cannot so farre be condemned, but that the wearing thereof may well commend a man of valour and reputation amongst us. The Sworde and Buckler fight was long while allowed in England (and yet practise in all sortes of weapons is praisworthie,) but now being layd downe, the sworde but with Serving men is not much regarded, and the Rapier fight generally allowed, as a wepon because most perilous, therefore most feared, and thereupon private quarrels and common frayes soonest shunned.
But this peece of work, gentle Reader, is so gallantly set out in every point and parcell, the obscurest secrets of the handling of the weapon so clerely unfolded, and the perfect demeaning of the bodie upon all and sudden occasions so learnedly discoursed, as will glad the understander thereof, & found to the glory of all good Masters of Defence, because their Arte is herein so honoured, and their knowledge (which some men count infinite) in so singuler a science, drawen into such Grounds and Principles, as no wise man of an unpartiall judgement, and of what profession soever, but will confesse himself in curtesie farre indebted both to the Author & Translator of this so necessarie a Treatise, whereby he may learne not onely through reading & remembring to furnish his minde with resolute instructions, but also by practise and exercise gallantly to perfourme any conceited enterprise with a discreete and orderly carriage of his bodie, upon all occasions whatsoever.
Gentle Reader, what other escapes or mistakings shall come to thy viewe, either friendly I intreate thee to beare with them, or curteously with thy penne for thine owne use to amend them.