Princes and Lords learn to survive with this art, in earnest and in play. But if you are fearful, then you should not learn to fence. Because a despondent heart will always be defeated, regardless of all skill.

- Fechtmeister Sigmund Ringeck, 1440


 Sometimes you will be as an extinguished light: do not doubt, you will soon be back. To gain the Art, not the old but the new, no effort was too great and very happy I am of having found it. I keep it secret, but as I let it go, I swear, it gives me riches and so it happens to those having this virtue.

-Fillipo Vadi, Liber de Arte Gladitoria de Dimicandi







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Common Terms and Techniques

                                                                (High German to English)


Johannes Liechtenauer and other German masters describe three basic methods of attack with the sword. They are sometimes called "drei wunder", "three wounders", with a deliberate pun on "three wonders".

Drei Wunder (three wounders)

  • Hauen: "cuts". A hewing stroke with one of the edges of the sword.
  • Stechen:"stabbing".  A thrusting attack made with the point of the sword.
  • Abschneiden: "slicing off". Slicing attacks made with the edge of the sword by placing the edge against the body of the opponent and then pushing or pulling the blade along it.

The Hauen come from 3 different angles:

  • Oberhau: Overhead strike. Pommel is pointed towards the ground.
  • Mittlehau: Middle strike. Pommel is parallel with the ground.
  • Unterhau: Underhanded strike. Pommel is pointed towards the sky.

Primary and Secondary Guards:

  • Pflug: Plow guard. Hands at waist point at opponents face. 45 degree.
  • Alber: Fools. Hands at waist point at opponent’s feet or the ground. 45 Degree
  • Vom Tag: From the Roof. Hands above head. 45 degree angle back.
  • Vom Tag low: Hands at side. Blade straight up. Baseball bat style.
  • Ochs: Ox guard. Hands at head point at opponents face.
  • Langen Ort: Long Point. Arms extended point at opponent’s chest.
  • Shrankhut: Flat facing the opponent. Blade point towards the ground 45 degrees.
  • Nebenhut: Tail Guard. Hands at waist. Blade pointed away like a tail. Blade parallel to ground.
  • Zornhut: Wrath Guard. Sword behind head. Flat on shoulder blade away for opponent.
  • Schlussel: Key Guard. A lowered ox. Short edge resting on arm.

Other Positions:

  • Schlaggen: Boxing/Striking
  • Ringen: Wrestling or Grappling

Dagger (Daggen) Positions (from Meister Joachim Meyer):

  • Unter Griffe: Under Grip
  • Ober Griffe: Over Grip
  • Kruzen Griffe: Crossed Grip

 Drei Zeitwahl (Senses of Timing)

  • Vor: the before.
  • Nach: the after
  • Indes: Simultaneous. Instantly.

Drei Distanz (Three Distances)

  • Krieg: To war. Second distance of fighting. In close.
  • Zufechten: The first distance. Where you are in the approach to opponent. One step away.
  • Jenseits: Not within fighting distance

Parts of the Longsword:

  • Kurzen Schneide: The short edge.
  • Langen Schneide: Long Edge
  • Knopf: Pommel.
  • Ort: Point
  • Flech: Flat of the Blade
  • Gehiltz: Crossguard.
  • Schwech: Weak part of the blade. Near the point.
  • Starcke: Strong part of the blade. Towards the hilt.

Tactics and Strategies:

  •  Am Schwert: At the sword. Techniques done while remaining in the bind.
  •          Ansetzen: Setting upon. Attack with the point.
  •          Binden: Binding.
  •       Bruch: Break. A counter technique. A maneuver that breaks the attack or guard.
  •          Fehler: Feint.
  •          Fuhlen: Feeling. The art of feeling leverage while in the bind or when a strike connects.
  •          Halbschwert: Halfsword
  •          Winden: Winding. The turning of the blade in a different direction while in the bind.
  •          Redel: The Wheel. The maneuvering of the point so that it is always in motion.
  •          Ringen am Schwert: Wrestling at the sword.
  •          Schwert Nehmen: Sword taking. Disarms.
  •          Hart: A hard bind.
  •          Schnappen: To Snap. Technique often used in the hard bind.
  •          Weich: Soft bind.
  •          Absetzen: 'setting-aside', deflecting a thrust or cut at the same time as stabbing.
  •          Abzug: to withdraw while attacking
  •          Duplieren: 'double', the immediate redoubling of a displaced cut.
  •         Durchlauffen: 'running-through', a technique by which one combatant "runs through" his opponent's attack to initiate grappling with him.
  •          Durchwechseln: 'changing-through', name for various techniques for escaping a bind by sliding the sword's point out from underneath the blade and then stabbing to another opening.
  •          Händedrücken: 'pressing of hands', the execution of an Unterschnitt followed by an Oberschnitt such that the wrists of the opponent are sliced all the way around.
  •          Hängen: 'hanging' (upper/lower, left/right)
  •          Mutieren: 'mutate', change of attack method, changing a displaced cut into a thrust, or a displaced thrust into a cut.
  •          Nachreisen: 'chasing', the act of attacking an opponent after he has pulled back to attack, or an attack after the opponent has missed, or an attack following the opponent's action.
  •          Überlaufen: 'going-over' or 'overrunning', the act of countering a cut or thrust made to below with an attack to above.
  •          Versetzen: 'displacement’ or 'parrying' (upper/lower, left/right), to parry an attack with one’s own weapon. Often done while countering.
  •         Verkehrer: A technique where you rush in after the bind to control your opponent’s arms or body
  •         Zucken: 'pulling' a technique used in a strong bind between blades in which a combatant goes weak in the bind so as to disengage his blade from the bind and stabs or cuts to the other side of the other combatant's blade. This technique is based upon the concept of using weakness against strength.