Hand Protection in Meyer’s Dussack

Some, though certainly not all, of the dussacks in Meyer’s 1570 text have protrusions of some sort that appear to offer extra hand protection.








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George Silver – Four Actions of the Attack

My club has recently started looking at the works of George Silver, as interpreted by Stephen Hand. Right now the class is focused heavily the theory and philosophy of fencing rather than the mechanical aspects. Here are my personal notes from the discussions we had during the first class.

In Silver’s philosophy, there are four actions of an attack. I question the word “action”, as I think moments of time, tempi if you will, is a better term.

Bent: The first action isn’t really movement at all, but rather a position. Silver calls it bent, an apt term for being prepared for the cut, but he is just as happy to use that term to mean being prepared for a thrust.

Spent: A cut (or thrust) is considered to be spent when the attack is completed and the sword has reached its destination. Though a position, one may think of it an action to

Lying Spent: It seems that Silver distinguishes between an attack that has reached its natural destination and one that has been interrupted. This interruption can be from either a parry or the attack striking the opponent. Either way, as long as you lay spent you are particularly vulnerable.

Drawing Back: This is the only one of the four actions that is explicitly an action. It is act of pulling back the sword after a thrust or cut so that you transition from spent or lying spent back to bent.

Hand makes note that you do not necessarily go through all four actions with every attack. If, for example, your cut completely misses you can go directly from spent to drawing back without spending any time laying spent. Furthermore, at the completion of a descending cut you can turn the hand so that you skip from spent to bent for a rising without the need for drawing back.

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Practice Notes for Jan 10, 2016

Beginner’s Longsword

We started with the nachreisen or following after techniques for Pflug. These are attacks that you make when someone either cuts too wide or pulls back their weapon for a new cut.

Beginner’s Sword and Buckler

We had three new students today so we focused on chapter 1 of our study guide. We started with sword terminology, taught by initiate Dave George. Then we looked at the basic footwork, cuts. and the use of the buckler.

After working on a few variations of the “sword dance”, we concluded with Meyer’s Cross as it applies to the one-handed sword.

It should be noted that we didn’t go through the study guide in strict order. Next time the students make it out, we’ll look at the chapter 1 exercises we skipped this week. Specifically,

  • False (back edge) cuts
  • Names of the thrusts
  • Targets and their effect on range
  • Stepping with the cuts 1 & 2

George Silver’s Broadsword

This session was held over for another week while so that the group leader has more time to prepare.

Wrestling and Dagger

We started by repeating last weeks dussack plays. Unfortunately I don’t have a reference for them, but I’ll ask John to film the techniques later this month.

Then we took a look at Meyer’s first play for the dagger. The same motions of the body were then applied to Meyer’s Aussreissen (wrenching) techniques with the longsword.

Talhoffer’s Messer

This week’s presentation was Talhoffer’s Messer. While there are only four plays, we found that they have a lot to teach us about footwork. We have filmed new videos of two of the four plays. Our interpretations are not necessarily different than past videos, but we feel our explanations are far more in depth than anyone else has published. (We are deploying the publication of our videos until we have a chance to film the other two.)

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Marozzo Wrestling (with Dagger) Complete Video List

It has recently come to my attention that Ken Harding of the Historical Martial Arts of St. Louis has published a complete set of videos for Marozzo’s wrestling. This material appears in book 5 of the text.

It should be noted that Marozzo’s wrestling includes quite a bit of dagger work, so it is often mislabeled as “dagger” plays. While understandable, we are being strict on terminology because Marozzo has has a separate set of dagger plays in book 2.

Here is the complete list of Marozzo wrestling plays with videos from Ken Harding and others. If I’ve missed anyone, feel free to update the wiki.

Wrestling 1
Wrestling 2
Wrestling 3
Wrestling 4
Wrestling 5
Wrestling 6
Wrestling 7
Wrestling 8
Wrestling 9
Wrestling 10
Wrestling 11
Wrestling 12
Wrestling 13
Wrestling 14
Wrestling 15
Wrestling 16
Wrestling 17
Wrestling 18
Wrestling 19
Wrestling 20
Wrestling 21
Wrestling 22

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George Silver – The Hand is Quicker than the Eye

My club has recently started looking at the works of George Silver, as interpreted by Stephen Hand. Right now the class is focused heavily the theory and philosophy of fencing rather than the mechanical aspects. Here are my personal notes from the first of several discussions we had.

Silver argues that the hand is faster than the eye. By this he means that it is difficult, if not impossible, to be sure of your parries when being attacked within distance (i.e. narrow measure). This gives the attacker the advantage.

This is analogous to the German concept of the Vor, where is preferable to be on the offensive rather than using parries with the hope of a counter-attack.

But Silver doesn’t stop there. Note that he said you must be within distance for this advantage. If you are without distance (i.e. wide measure), then by definition you need to take a step in order to attack. This limits you the speed of the foot, which is slower than the speed of the hand. Which in turn gives the advantage to the defender.

Returning to the German, we have the concept of the Vorschlag (Before Strike) from MS 3227a. The text doesn’t define the term, but it speaks highly of the need to win the Vorschlag.

And then, if he manages to get to him, and he knows the measure and thinks the adversary can and will reach him now, so he should hurry to him without fear, quickly and nimbly, going for the head or body, not caring if he hits or misses. So he should win the Vorschlag and not let the adversary come to his own fencing. About this you will learn more in the general teachings.

By winning the Vorschlag, that difficult first strike from wide measure, you can place yourself in Silver’s True Place (where you can strike without being struck). From there you can then execute a series of attacks in the Vor or “time of the hand”. But how do you win the Vorschlag? 3227a offers some advice in the preceding passage,

That what one intends to execute for fun or in earnest, should be made strange and confusing to the eyes, so that the adversary will not notice what is going on.

For more information, we can look to dall’Agocchie. He spends quite a lot of time talking about the defender’s advantage and how to overcome it using what he calls “provocations”. These are plays designed to confront and unsettle an opponent who is resting in a guard.

Meyer has a similar term; his “provoker” refers to a cut or thrust meant to cause a specific reaction in his opponent (as opposed or in addition to wound or parry). Essentially Meyer’s provoker is the first action in dall’Agocchie’s provocation.

Wrapping this up, essentially what Silver is saying is that we need to be wary of attacking without distance (wide measure), but if we are successful in closing to narrow measure we will have a significant advantage so long as we remain on the offensive.

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Beginner’s Longsword – Terminology for Sitting Drills

We have a student with an injured foot so we’ve been focusing binding exercises from a sitting.

For these drills one fencer will be designated as the “agent”, the other the “patient”. The agent is the fencer who performs the first action in the drill to which the patient will respond.

Drill 1 : Basic Attacks from the Bind

From a siting position (or on the knees) the two fencers place their swords in contact, edge on edge, with light pressure. This is known as Anbinden or Binding. The fencers should start in a neutral bind, which is to say that the swords are crossed at the same point, roughly the middle, and neither is pushing down on the other.

For this drill, the agent (first fencer) has two options.

  1. He can press down on the patient’s blade just far enough to make room for thrust.
  2. He can leave the bind by breaking contact and striking to the other side. (A technique known as Umbschlagen or Striking Around)

Option 1 is known as being “strong” in the bind, option 2 is being “weak” in the bind (until the moment you leave it entirely).

After the agent can successful perform both types of attacks, we turn to the patient fencer’s counter.

Drill 2: Counter to the Thrust

If the agent is strong in the bind, the patient resists for a moment. This is to encourage the agent to press even harder. When he does so, the patient will stop resisting and angle his sword so that the agent’s blade slides off. This happens because of the sudden release of pressure and is known as Ablauffen or Running Off.

As soon as the patient’s blade is clear, he strikes to the other side.

Drill 3: Counter to Striking Around

If the agent is weak in the bind and inclined to strike around, the patient should allow him to leave the bind. As soon as the agent’s sword passes to the other side, the patient shall thrust at the throat.

During this thrust, the patient turns the long edge of his sword towards his opponent’s blade. By doing so, it will parry the oncoming cut at the same time the point lands. This is known as Absetzen or Setting Off.

Drill 4: Feeling

In the previous two drills, the patient knew exactly what was coming. For the fourth drill, the agent can choose between his two attacks. Because these attacks come so fast, the patient may not see which was chosen in time to respond.

So instead of relying on site, the patient should instead rely on feeling. Known as Fülen in German, this simply means to pay attention to the pressure your opponent’s sword is putting on yours as a way to predict his action. If there is a lot of pressure, choose the first counter. If the pressure is light, he is probably about to leave the bind and the second counter is preferable.

Drill 5: Binding on the Weak of the Sword

For this next drill, the patient’s blade should be against the weak (upper half) of the agent’s sword. This gives the patient the ability to dominate the agent’s sword, but it also gives the agent another attack.

From this bind, the agent shall push down with the rear hand while pulling up with the front hand. In this manner the point goes backwards and high. As soon as it clears, reverse direction so that the blade drops on the patient’s head or arms. This technique is known as Zucken, which can be translated as Pulling or Twitching.

If you are using sharp steel (please don’t) or synthetics with friction tape, you may find this a little awkward. To make this easier, the agent can turn his sword slightly while pulling so that his flat slides along his opponent’s sword instead of his edge.

Drill 6: Binding on the Strong of the Sword

If the patient’s blade is against the agent’s strong (lower half of the blade), the agent can thrust while rotating his sword so that he traps the patient’s blade in the corner between his blade and hilt. The rotation of the blade is known as Winden or Winding.

In some manuals such as Codex Wallerstein (shown below), the agent will also reverse his rear hand. This allows him to push the hilt higher and get a better angle for his thrust.


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Complete List of Codex Wallerstein Longsword Videos

We’ve indexed 75 of the 100+ Wallerstein videos. Before we sort through the rest, I want to take a few moments to thank all of the clubs and individuals that spent countless hours researching, practicing, and filming the longsword section. Our community would be much poorer without their hard work and willingness to share over the years.

At this point While there are still roughly 25 videos to go through, so forgive me if I missed anyone.

Codex Wallerstein Longsword

NG: Nuremburg Group passage number
Plate 5 (NG 1)
Plate 6 (NG 2)
Plate 7 (NG 3)
Plate 8 (NG 4)
Plate 9 (NG 5)
Plate 10 (NG 6)
Plate 11 (NG 7)
Plate 12 (NG 8)
Plate 13 (NG 9)
Plate 14 (NG 10)
Plate 15 (NG 11)
Plate 16 (NG 12)
Plate 17 (NG 13)
Plate 18 (NG 14)
Plate 19 (NG 15)
Plate 20 (NG 16)
Plate 21 (NG 17)
Plate 22 (NG 18)
Plate 23 (NG 19)
Plate 24 (NG 20)
Plate 25 (NG 21)
Plate 26 (NG 22)
Plate 27 (NG 24)
Plate 28 (NG 25)

Plate 41 (NG 28)
Plate 42 (NG 29)

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