Thursday, January 9, 2014

Basic German Swordfighting. Curricula of the first class.


Weich und Hart
(Soft and Hard)
Swetch und Stark
(weak and strong)
(Battlefield awarness...specifically of your immediate opponent)

Soft and hard are simple enough.  The Lichtenhauer way is a very Hard way.  You move in and climb his frame, you are here to fight and you drive into him with knees, elbows and pommels.   ...the South Tower System which is based on the Talhoffer style is a very soft way.  Even a proper Talhoffer stance, or guard is considered by Lichtenhauer to be so dangerous that he referred to anybody who simply stays in guard as a Dead Man. 

Weak and strong are different.  This refers to the sword, and where you place it on your opponent's blade.  If is close to the tip, it is considered to be very strong.  (but it might allow your opponent some latitude to disengage to a strike)  If your tip is near to your foe's quillion, he has the advantage of strength.  When this happens, you can usually fix this by turning your hand over and attacking.

Indes is often referred to as "feeling".  The German word for "feeling" is Fulen, so we know that Indes means something else.  Apparently it is not translatable...but from what I can gather, it would be similar to "feeling out your opponent".  But it is a bit have to "feel" your footing, you have to know where the wall or the door is...and you have to know if you have more than one opponent.  So in many ways, it is a superb word which takes in a LOT of considerations.  One worth remembering.

       An example of rather appropriate Indes would involve pushing your opponent off the dock, or off the wall or into your backup team.  OTOH, It drives me crazy to see the movie hero jump up the stairs of the castle in the middle of the fight!  No railing, no way to dodge or get off the line of attack.  I think the only saving grace of such a move is when you find yourself outclassed, they maybe backing up a stairway might limit your opponent's sword blows.  But I seriously doubt it...
Lichtenhaur said "anybody who has no feeling is a buffalo."

Remember, John Lichtenhauer created medieval fightingin the early 14th century, Hansel Talhoffer modified it to be able to defeat most Lichtenhauer trained fighters about a hundred years later in 1459,  and Jocheim Myers perfected a combined style, mostly based on Talhoffer a hundred years later yet.


  1. These old world terms are fantastic. There's a buffalo in the room! Seems to be referring to posers or flashy swordwork intended for audiences. If there was a buffalo in my dining room with me right now i would indeed be giving it my utmost attention...

  2. Old words. Not required to learn how to do it. But they are used by ALL European Medieval Arts practitioners. So even if you were in, say, Prague, you would still know what the guy was saying. I hope I have got them all right!