Ringeck, Notes on Introduction
Ringeck claims that Johannes Liechtenauer wrote down his techniques using “secret and hidden words” so that they wouldn’t become widely known. That may have been true, but Lindholm and Svärd have put forth an alternate theory that is quite compelling. They believe that Liechtenauer may simply have been illiterate as well as many if not most of his students. Prior to the printing press, and the associated increase in literacy rates, the memorization of verses was the primary means for conveying knowledge. If people were capable of memorizing all 24 books of the Odyssey, then surely they can memorize 235 lines of the merk verse.
It should be noted that Tobler’s translation does not refer to the words as secret or hidden. Rather, his version of Ringeck merely states that the art of fighting was written in verse by Liechtenauer. This gives what follows a wholly different connotation.
It is my belief that Liechtenauer merely intended that his verse be used a mnemonic device and nothing more. The wording is simply too straight forward to contain any sort of secret code. Even the word “merk” can be roughly translated into “remember”.