George Silver: The Four Governors

The 4 governors are those that follow

1. The first governor is judgment which is to know when your adversary can reach you, and when not, and when you can do the like to him, and to know by the goodness or badness of his lying, what he can do, and when and how he can perform it.

2. The second governor is measure. Measure is the better to know how to make your space true to defend yourself, or to offend your enemy.

3. 4. The third and forth governors are a twofold mind when you press in on your enemy, for as you have a mind to go forward, so must you have at that instant a mind to fly backward upon any action that shall be offered or done by your adversary.

After Silver discusses the Four Grounds he continues his discussion of the foundation of the Art of defense with the Four Governors

The Four Governors seem to be very similar to the Four Grounds and work with them to provide a more in depth foundation for fighting. 

  • Judgment is still the most important and the first on the list.  Through Judgment a fighter gains a greater understanding of when your opponent is within your range and vice versa. It also gives a fighter and understanding of the pros and cons of his opponent’s stance, the movements and attacks his opponent can execute, and what he is vulnerable to. 
  • The second Governor is Measure so that you can better understand movement and range.  Measure also includes a sense of distance and timing.  Knowledge of Measure helps a fighter to regulate not only the speed and length of his pace but also the time of his attack. 
  • The third and forth governors are included together and cover coming in for an attack. Just as you are prepared to come in to attack, you must also be prepared to step out or back if you opponent does the same to you.  This echoes the old adage that a fighter needs to be prepared to attack and defend in the same time. 

In some ways the Governor’s echo the same ideas as the Grounds and in other ways they elaborate on them.  But it is clear that both are vital for a true and sure defense.

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