Just to add to the discussion, let me list some of the basic principles of Hope's "New Method" as I see them. Most of them are in stark contrast to the French or "Common" method.
1. An emphasis on Defence rather than Offence. After all, you have to survive a real encounter not just defeat the opponent. In "school fencing" with the French method that are lots of double kills.
2. From this emphasis on Defence, Hope agreed with George Silver that the surest, best, and truest defence is to cross the opponent's blade at as close to 90 degrees as possible. This is emphasized in Hope's method in contrast to the French method which uses small wrist actions and very shallow crossings in the parrys.
3. The main guard/ready position in Hope's method is the Hanging Guard, because he recognized that it provides the best coverage for the body and is the position from which it is most easy to form a true cross when parrying. The French method uses primarily the guards of Tierce and Quarte with the blade held nearly level to the ground. Likewise, the main parrys in Hope's method are the parrys of Prime and of Seconde....or the "inside half hanger" and the "outside half hanger", if you are familiar with broadsword terminology.
4. Also from the perspective of emphasizing defence, Hope put a huge value on keeping the left hand forward and prepared to ward off thrusts or blows. Its use is critical in preventing contre-temps thrusts or the "double kills" that plague the common method. Hope also emphasizes closing with the opponent and grabbing his blade with the left hand to "command" it and prevent the opponent from being able to riposte. You just don't see this much if at all in the French method.
5. Now given that you are holding a Hanging Guard and have the left hand forward, one will just naturally lean the torso slightly forward and put more weight on the front foot than the rear foot. This is opposite to the stance used in the French method.
6. Using the Hanging Guard as the primary defensive guard or position limits the zones you have to defend to just two. Holding the Hanging Guard cuts your body in half along a diagonal line. Therefore you have a zone above the sword and to your left to worry about, and a zone below the sword and to your right to worry about. This simplies things and makes your defense more secure. In the French method the sword is held nearly parallel to the ground at the center of the body. This means there are four zones to worry about or defend: inside high, inside low, outside high, and outside low.
7. Hope intended his "New Method" to have universal application. This means he designed it to be used with a Smallsword, Spadroon, or Broadsword. It can be done on foot or when mounted on horseback. It can defend against any other weapon, not just against another Smallsword. It worked in battle as well as in self-defence or dueling. These things cannot be said of the French method.
So you see, while Hope may have been an expert in the French method (he even wrote a very popular book about it), he departed from it greatly when he designed his "New Method."
Keith P. Myers
Lifetime Member HEMA Alliance
Affiliate: Bartitsu Society & Cateran Society
Friend: Meyer Frei Fechter Guild