Tuesday, 27 September 2011

26/09/11 Training - Zwerch, zwerch baby.

Tonight I had the rather enjoyable experience of being able to partake in a class, rather than leading it. Instead I bullied Pete into running the show with a class on the Zwerchau, one of the top-secret German master move things.

Personally, I enjoyed it. The warm up and stretching in particular was above and beyond the call of duty, but seemed to have done the job. From a reviewer's point of view, the content of the class was something that I was already pretty familiar with, both theoretically and in terms of his interpretation. Partly because we'd already run through it.

In terms of leading the class though, I figure that I set him a difficult job - too small a space, a mixed bag of training tools and kit, and experience levels all over the place, from Andy's first HEMA lesson (about which I'm feeling a bit guilty), to guys for whom this is all old hat. I thought that Pete made a good go at it - perhaps he could have broken things down a bit more, and perhaps he could have worked on positive re-enforcement, but by the end of the class everyone in it seemed to have learned something and I had relative new-comers wanting to get into really interesting and positive conversations about the techniques in it.

At the end we were able to spar a bit, which was nice.
And by nice, I mean that I ended up lying on the floor, underneath him, eating pommel to the face. Like normal.
Pete and I really need to work on staying on our feet...

But yeah, any other reviews from less biased people? Like Ben and Johann?

Unless the lesson plan is super top secret then I'll post it up when I have Pete's permission (the lazy git has gone to bed), and for those that are interested then all my notes on the Zwerchau can be found at http://indesidc.blogspot.com/2011/03/notes-on-zwerchau.html from March.

Notes for now though - I need to work on the Zwerch again next week. I need to look into alternative training venues.

For those of you who missed it before, or who can't be bothered to find their email, or whose personal computers recently exploded, here's me copying out the bulk of the last big email I sent out:

Hey guys,
I had a few questions last night, about sources, equipment and so on. This is my attempts to answer them:

For the German Longsword stuff, I tend stick to the earlier manuscript sources (in the Lichtenauer tradition), as I believe that they provide a relatively clear, coherent and effective martial art between them. The main ones we’ll be working with are (prepare for copied and pasted technical stuff):

MS 3227a - Nicknamed the ‘Dobringer’ text, and implies that Lichtenauer was alive when it was composed. That said, the work survives in a much later ‘housebook’, a collection of interesting things copied out of personal interest. A translation of the text is available from http://www.ghfs.se/Texter/CodHS3227aD%C3%B6bringer/tabid/66/Default.aspx

Codex 44.A.8 - Nicknamed the ‘von Danzig’ text, Codex 44.A.8 is a compilation of different fencing manuscripts in the Lichtenauer tradition, dating from 1452. It has two pictures at the beginning, one showing Lichtenauer in the traditional pose of a medieval craft-master, and the other depicting the four guards. It contains an anonymous gloss of Lichtenauer’s Zedel, that is repeated in near-contemporary and subsequent fechtbuchs, such as Cod.I.6.4°.3 (Codex Lew - 1450s) and MS M.I.29 (Codex Speyer - 1491). A translation of some of the text is available from http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Johannes_Liechtenauer

MS Dresden C 487 - A fechtbuch containing a gloss of Lichtenauer’s markverse attributed to ‘Sigmund von Ein Ringeck’, dating to the early sixteenth century, but probably composed in the 1440s or ‘50s. A translation is available from http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Sigmund_von_Ein_Ringeck

Yes, it's mostly technical gobbledee-gook and no pretty pictures. To help remedy this, I began working on a glossary/primer back when we shifted from Fiore to Lichtenauer many moons ago. You can find it at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1YlTRF-pt4eV0Gfw4E5evX07zb39FpqovQZW4dAhL1fo/edit?hl=en_US&authkey=CLWlqNoE

If you're desperate for pretty pictures, there are also some associated with Paulus Kal from the same period, available online at http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Paulus_Kal#Liechtenauer.27s_Blo.C3.9Ffechten that illustrate some of the system. And yes Matt, they're shown standing in quite high stances! In later sources fencers are often shown deeper (http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/J%C3%B6rg_Breu_Sketchbook_(Cod.I.6.2%C2%B0.4))

If you like reading material, then that should cover it for this week... ;)

At the moment, your best bet is to ask someone who has been a member of the club for a while, although there's a great big list of HEMA-related equipment online at http://hroarr.com/equipment.php - I'd recommend getting protective gear before getting a sword like object, but I understand the temptation to buy something to swing first!

Generally speaking though, the training tools we use are Knight's Shop Dave Rawlings Line Synthetic Waster Sparring Swords. AKA plastic toy swords. You can find them online athttp://www.theknightshop.co.uk/catalog/hema-synthetic-waster-sparring-swords-c-857_563_573.html?osCsid=a704690f0069cc6b05a3738eb02c1664
In terms of gloves, the bare minimum that I would recommend are a pair of cheap Men's Lacrosse gloves (most of us use Warrior Tempo Elite ones, although they seem to be out of stock or production). Your best bet is uklacrosse on this side of the pond:
When it comes to masks, you have a basic choice between 'white' bib and 'black' bib. Netwon ratings refer to the puncture-resistance of the material of the bib, not the mask itself. The most cheap and cheerful one that I can recommend at the moment is the the Leon Paul club sabre mask - http://www.leonpaul.com/acatalog/Standard_Sabre_Masks.html

Congrats on making it through the wall of text. Have an unrelated webcomic:

Now, I need to go and grab some sleep. I've got a busy day tomorrow, and hopefully some short notice test-cutting in the evening...


  1. Well from my point of view, the class was a success, I both enjoyed it and feel I got something out of it. It was also good to see it's influence across the board, as it helped pick up and fill in a few holes in peoples technique that have toyed with it before, and was a good introduction for some of the less experienced folk.

    Criticisms? Pretty much the areas you've already mentioned, space (although it did sorta work out still.. just about), perhaps positive reinforcement (especially for some of the newbies) although I have to say I was pretty impressed with the mental attitude of people this week, trying to get to the bottom of anything they didn't understand themselves (not necessarily with the best results, but very willing and able to listen/take instruction from others that might have been able to get them back on track), break down (yes/no, I somewhat agree with this, perhaps just a modification of flow/emphasis, some areas were highlighted I think for good reason but perhaps took too much time out of others that some people may have got more from. Although I was overall impressed with the lesson).

    Sparring, always a pleasure..I managed to have something of a 'play' with Garry using Sword and Buckler, which was nice although still a little messy, it'd be good to get some work on this at some point... maybe some of this is down to the incredibly cool but perhaps limited bucklers we have been using (we have discussed some redesigns so we'll see).

    I also managed to face Jakub and his horrendous blender of two swords to my one, which as ever was fun and hopefully improving on some level.

    Then at last I got to cross blades with Pete once more which was great as it's always good to fight him and see how I fare against his style.. I probably need to work on my closing again, but I think on the whole that went very well (although I still think a lot of that was down to his awesome level of control).

    It gets a thumbs up in my book.

    Oh and the hellish warm up was actually pretty awesome too.

  2. Glad to know the warm up wasn't too unwelcome - it may have had a little to do with coming off inactivity due to that knee stuff. That and making sure people were warmed up. That, and making sure they were ready to be busy.

    I had over-planned the session, especially since I'd worked on the basis that people would have done the last two on Zornhaus and covering in Ochs. Oh, the hubris. When it became clear they hadn't got a grounding in that, I probably should have abandoned plans and rolled with it, instead I think I got frustrated as I watched them slip away.

    I'm also in a nasty spot of having a lot of theoretical thoughts on things which I struggle to put into practice, let alone teach people how to do.

    Ben, your sparring was really good - especially the multiple great zwerches you hit me with. Let's pretend you taught me it. Noticeably better than the last S&C when we sparred.

    In terms of lesson plan:
    Warm up - run in circles, lunges with twists, jumps, swinging arms, Zoidbergs, triangle steps. Wrestling stance? Agility stuff to build sidestepping/circling.
    Stretch inc. the ever popular legs held + jump?Check people can throw a half-decent Zornhau. Drill: Just hitting a target - from a walk?
    Check people can Absetzen from Plow to Ochs. Focus on why Ochs works to cover you.
    Drill: Mask up - get the cover in or die trying.
    Stoeppler Steps/Teacups
    Explain the Zwerchau, show them.
    Drill it v held target Then v oberhau.
    Demo’d: Zwerch to one side followed by one to the other, Zwerch to Plough, Duplieren/Zucken/Durchweseln, Crazy Wallerstein Trick. Counters shown: Mutieren, Zwerch under Abnehmen’ed Zwerch.
    Suggest people go spar and try it out, or ask for tutoring :P