The rapier as a sidearm was a symbol of wealth, fashion and nobility during the 16th and 17th Centuries. This weapon was optimised for the use of the thrust, predominately for civilian self-defence. The works of Venetian masters dominates the surviving treatises for the Italian rapier fencing system, which went on to lay the foundation for modern fencing. The first true rapier text is that of Nicoletto Giganti (Scola overo Teatro, 1606), which was followed by other legendary authors such Salvator Fabris (De Lo Schermo Overo Scienza D'Arme, 1606), Ridolfo Capoferro (Gran Simulcro Dell'Arte e Dell'Uso Della Scherma, 1610), Francesco Alfieri (L'Arte di Ben Managgiare La Spada, 1663), Giseppe Moriscato Pallavicini (La Scherma, 1670), Francesco Antonio Marcelli (Regole della Scherma, 1686) and Bondi di Mazo (La Spada Maestra, 1696).

 Despite some individual differences in nomenclature and approach, these authors present a unified practical and scientific approach to the art of defence, covering the use of the rapier and it's common auxiliaries such as dagger, cape and rotella. The foundation of the system is the use of the single sword, and is optimised for the longer narrow tapering blade predominant in the late 16th and 17th Century. A fast, light, well-balanced sword (with any of the various complex hilts) and a blade length of about 100 - 110 cm (39" - 43") is optimal.