Codex Wallerstein – Plate 9

The topic of this lesson is “vor”.

Next, if you bind someone’s sword and he strikes forcefully at your head: parry with your short edge and run at him so that he has to strike; if he strikes you from the other side, get your sword onto his left shoulder so that you hit his ear. This is called the ein gelegt (placed) and this is called vor (before).


The goal of this drill is to show how you can control the enemy’s reactions and thus the fight without being the one who is throwing all the cuts. This is done using skillful parries and very aggressive footwork.


This action begins with our fencer being intentionally strong at the bind. (This is a German source, so assume both fencers have right foot forward.) Sensing this, his opponent cuts around to the other side with a step to the left.

Normally this would be effective, but our fencer is ready with a short edge parry. At the same time he steps forward with his right foot, adjusting the left as necessary.

Seeing that he is about to be run over, the opponent steps back or out while slipping his sword off to cut to the other side.

As soon as the opponent’s sword clears the shoulder, our fencer drops his blade onto the left shoulder and makes another step with the right foot to the right. This won’t have any power, but makes a slice or quick cut to the ear possible.

Our fencer raises his hilt as he makes the ear cut in order to fend off any panicked attack thrown at the last moment. Due to said panic, our opponent may end in a variety of positions.


Through experimentation we have found two errors in execution.

First, our fencer must be very aggressive with his steps. A simple gathering step with the back foot isn’t enough, you need to be continuously making short, fast steps with the right foot. This while drill falls apart without that.

Second, it is crucial that our fencer allows his opponents sword to slip. If the opponent’s blade gets trapped on the shoulder with the point facing back, said opponent, can initiate a pommel strike with the right hand. At the same time, he will disarm our fencer using his left hand by grabbing our fencer’s hilt and yanking down and to the left.

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1 Response to Codex Wallerstein – Plate 9

  1. Grauenwolf says:

    Another note, don’t try to demonstrate this without masks.

    When trying to show this to another fencer we found that it simply didn’t work. My opponent was always in the center after cutting around, fouling the rest of the play.

    The problem was the lack of masks. Since he didn’t have a mask on, I mentally excluded any head strikes. In very real terms, I forgot the head was even a target. This in turn allowed my opponent to step too narrow without punishment. And without that punishment, he took control of the fight.

    Always keep in mind that these plays are written with the assumption that they don’t need to call out the “opponent cuts around badly and has his head split open” branch. If something isn’t working, make sure it isn’t because the opponent should already be dead.

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