Saturday, 31 March 2012


I'm off on holiday for a few weeks. Enjoy sword fighting without me. There are some videos from training up on the Facebook and stuff, including one of the Feder being used for the first time (yes, not enough protection for there to be any intent. Deal with it).

Anyway, I'll be back to training in three weeks or so. Have fun y'all!

Monday, 12 March 2012

12/03/12 Session

Large class. More experienced people did 'The KdF longsword bind drill', then into just a sprechsfenster drill, with a third person coaching. Then they did it with steel.
The less experienced people were introduced to guards, covering and then attacking different quarters. Dead to begin with, then drilled, then a bit more alively.
Wasn't exactly the smoothest session, but hopefully people got something out of it.

Need to do:
More video-ing.
(For me) Less talking, more training.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

5/3/12 Session, some questions to the dudes and a bit of snideness.

This last Monday we did Fiore. We started with a warm up and stretch, and then worked on a few of Fiore's wide plays again. It was a mix of experienced and brand new people, which always makes leading class interesting.

Then we moved on to the close plays. Unfortunately, since we didn't do dagger first, the relationship between some of them and some of the dagger plays wasn't self-evident to most people. Oh well. And again, because it was mostly introductory stuff, the drills were relatively dead. I did try and emphasise training pairs of one more and one less experienced people.

Then I worked with the newer people for a bit on basic cutting mechanics and 'the first decision tree' of a bind. You have the centre line/they're pushing you off the centre line/oh crap they have the centre-line and aren't leaving it.

So anyway, a few questions to the more experienced people - how are you finding training lately? How's your free-play going? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your fight? What bits of a fight don't you feel you understand? Any ideas of how we can train so your fighting/fencing/freeplaying/whateveryouwannacallit is better?

Oh, and HEMA Alliance and Schola Gladiatoria forums are all agog with talk that an American fencing (as in, Olympic fencing) organisation might certificate people for Historical Fencing. I'm not going to touch that discussion with a ten foot pole.

Is there an opportunity for me to become a better fighter, or better at turning other people into fighters? Awesome.

Everything else is politics.
And [nearly] every time I see someone bring up about God/Chivalry/Honour/Poorly communicated philosophy and its relationship with HEMA?

I think of this:

Monday, 5 March 2012

HM JKL Fiore Dagger video

I stumbled over

today. It's one and a half hours of Fiore's dagger, in English, by Historiallinen miekkailu JKL. Those of you who are interested in Fiore's dagger might be interested.

It's not how I'd present Fiore's dagger, or how I'd drill it (once people are drilling towards the end). It's not Fiore's dagger through the medium of Aliveness 101. But then again I didn't make a 90 min video on the system, so I can't complain.

Friday, 2 March 2012

On Sparring out of Distance

Watching two people both waiting out of distance, hoping the other guy twitches first is only dramatic in Kurosawa movies. For sparring, it's a lot like pulling closed guard and clinging really tightly in BJJ, hoping the other guy will give up and go away.

I have nothing against feints done right. I'm totally for trying to steal the initiative with footwork. I'm only slightly annoyed by one handed shots out of distance when you don't have to care about edge-alignment.

But this.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Vier Leger - This is how they were recorded.

The 'Vier Leger' are the 'four guards', the fundamental positions of Liechtenauer's fencing. There are only four of them. Of course there are others (Langort/Long Point, Kron/Crown etc.), but those aren't that important.

Hans Talhoffer, the anonymous blogger, knows more about Medieval High New German than I do. He once explained to me:
 Guards are by no means a static position. The text is telling us, that the "vom Tag" is a way to lift your sword up over yourself. The misunderstanding in the old way of interpretations is the word "leger" where you stand still and be protected. But the guard is no protection but "to be on guard" is the exact translation from "auf der Hut sein" - to watch out for trouble coming. There is no much protection for someone on guard, he is the first one to be attacked in a battle. The translation "Leger" is probably wrong. There are two meanings in Middle High German: 1. lying in bed 2. lying in siege to a place, or bring yourself in a good position (to attack). You can choose the meaning that you like. But as these words has been made up by warriors, I would think the second meaning suites better.
So the saying "do not "leger" yourself but attack" by Liechtenauer makes much more sense. It means: do not try and wait for a better position, you may never get one. 
So anyway, let's get on with it. This is how they are shown/explained. I haven't bothered with much Meyer/Paulus Hector Mair, because I haven't got that far making pretty pictures yet. Same for Jorg Wilhalm Hutter and a few other outliers. I also haven't bothered to infer what I think these positions should be like here. I haven't posted pictures of what aren't explicitly described as one of the 'vier leger', I haven't looked at plays or techniques that refer to them (ie. worked out what Ochs is from the description of the zwerchau). This is just the simples.

Also, these pictures lack context (most often a line given to indicate the floor/horizon/perspective), or how crammed onto a page they were, take them with a pinch of salt.

Also also, these positions varied with time or what have you. What Hutter shows, for example, is nothing like what the early illustrations show.

Liechtenauer's poem:
About the Four Wards:
Four wards alone –
Hold onto those, and curse the vulgar.
Ox, plough, fool,
From-roof–there are no others for you.

The Doebringer gloss adds to this:

Liechtenauer holds only these four guards that come from the upper and lower hangings, and from these one can fence safely. This is regarding the four guards.
Four guards only, and leave the common ones alone. The ox, plough, fool, from above/the roof, these should not be unknown to you.
Glossa. Here he mentions four guards that are valuable. But before all things, remember that you should not remain too long in one guard. Liechtenauer has a saying “He who is still, is dead, he who moves will live”. And from these guards comes the understanding that you should move in swordplay, and not wait in a guard and thus waste your chance.
Also know that you break all guards and positions with the strikes. You should strike bravely at the opponent so that he must move away and defend him. Therefore Liechtenauer does not hold the guards in such a high esteem; he is more interested in that you try to win the first strike. 

MS 3227a/The Pseudo-Doebringer Gloss has Pflug and Alber a different way around. It describes this position as:
The fool [Pflug] breaks what (your opponent) strikes or thrusts. From the hanging strike and at once and follow by attacking after.
The third guard the fool [Pflug] is the lower hanging, and with it you break all strikes and thrusts when it is done correctly.
The Pseudo-Peter-von-Danzig gloss describes it as:
The second guard is called the Plough and set yourself in it thus, Stand with the left foot forward and hold your sword with crossed hands with the pommel under you near your right side on the hip so that the short edge is above and the point stands against him in his face.
On the left side set yourself in the guard of the plough thus, Stand with the right foot forward and hold your sword near the left side with the pommel under you to the hip so that the long edge is above and the point stands in his face. This is the plough on both sides.
The Ringeck gloss describes it as:
Hold it like this: stand with the left foot forward, and hold your sword with crossed hands beside and slightly above your right knee, in such a way that the point is towards his face.

The Pseudo-Doebringer gloss describes it as:
The second guard is the ox, or the upper hanging from the shoulder.
The Pseudo-Peter-von-Danzig gloss hasn't been translated.
The Ringeck gloss describes it as:
Hold it like this: stand with the left foot forwards, and hold your sword beside and slightly in front of the right side of your head, and let the point hang towards his face.

MS 3227a/The Pseudo-Doebringer gloss has Pflug and Alber a different way around. It describes this position as:

The first guard, the plough [Alber], is when you hold the point (of the sword) in front of you aimed at the ground or to the side. After a displacement it is called the barrier guard or simply the gate.
The Pseudo-Peter-von-Danzig gloss hasn't been translated.
The Ringeck gloss has it as:
Hold it like this: stand with your right foot forwards, and hold your sword with outstretched arms in front of you with the point towards the ground.

Vom Tag:
The Pseudo-Doebringer gloss says that:
The fourth guard is from the roof, is also the long point. He, who does it well with outstretched arms, is not easy to hit with strikes or thrusts. It can also be called the hanging above the head. 

The Pseudo-Peter-von-Danzig gloss hasn't been translated.
The Ringeck gloss has it as:
Hold it like this: stand with the left foot forwards, and hold your sword at your right shoulder. Or hold it with outstretched arms above your head. And how you shall fence from these guards, you will find described in this book.