Holland Restoration home page
AMA insured instructors
A member group of the BFHS
Last updated

Friends of the

Cornish Wrestling Association


A brief biography of George Silver, Gentleman

George Silver was born around 1555 and 1560. By 1580 he was married and at residence in London. In 1599 his book ‘Paradoxes of Defence’ was published and dedicated ‘To the noble, ancient, victorious, valiant, and most brave nation of Englishmen’.

Silver may well have never intended to write a book about defence, however his impassioned feelings towards those who were turning their backs on their ‘natural English fight’ for the new fangled fighting style of the rapier which resulted in him penning and publishing his first tome.

Shortly after ‘Paradoxes of Defence’ Silver penned his second manuscript ‘A Brief Instruction upon my Paradoxes of Defence’. This manuscript was not published at the time of its writing but thankfully though it has survived the ravages of time in its original raw state.

Sadly, in some quarters, Silvers works have been dismissed as nothing more than an angry outburst towards Italians. This however could not be further from the truth. Silver was in truth warning against false teachers of fence regardless of their nationality. In fact in the case of the Italian teachers of fence he warns them against turning their backs on their own ancient and tested fighting arts. He also listed down a set of tests that a master of defence could take in order to prove that he is not false in his teachings and that if the said master passed these tests that they should be welcomed to teach scholars .

Inside ‘Paradoxes of Defence’ and Silvers second manuscript ‘A brief instruction upon my Paradoxes of Defence’ are a set of principals that allow the modern day scholar an opportunity to really understand the fundamental building blocks of the Ancient and Noble Science of Defence. Ultimately Silvers style of fighting is uncomplicated, down-to-earth and 100% effective in its application if you follow the principles of the true fight and avoid falling in to what is known as the false fight.  

Silver also advocated that the regular practice of the Ancient and Noble Science of Defence keeps an individual fit, healthy and long in life. This is born out by Silver as he is known to have died when he was at least 70 years old. Which in the 17th century was an extremely good age considering the lack of heath care available in England at that time in history.

Silver’s works have so much to offer the modern martial artist regardless of what style or form you practice, western or eastern in its origin. We can not recommend them as essential reading highly enough.

If you want to obtain a PDF copy of his works simply do an Internet search or you can obtain them in a new revised hard back book called ‘Master of Defence ‘ by Paul Wagner available from any good high street or on line book seller.