Having Trouble Entering the Bind? Then Stop Trying.

There is a reason I didn’t talk about binding, winding, fuhlen, slicing, and so forth in my last post. Those are advanced topics. Those are ways to break someone’s device or cutting pattern. And if you are a novice they are useless to you.

For years I’ve heard people complaining about how hard it is to enter the bind. They complain that when they throw their cuts from vom Tag like good little Germans their opponent doesn’t cooperate by binding. Others complain that their swords are too bouncy and that’s why they can’t bind.

Almost immediately after starting work on these cutting patterns I realized that this is bullshit. Getting into the bind is trivial. I am doing it constantly without even trying. Even my novices with only a month or two of experience are getting into interesting binding situations.

Note to train this:
cut, thrusts, guards–soft and hard.
“Instant” and “Before”, “After” without hurry.
Do not seek close combat prematurely.
Those who aim for close combat
before they are ready, are cut down. — Liechtenauer

The difference is that we are no longer seeking the bind. The bind just happens. If you rush in actively trying to seek the bind or worse, close combat, you will get cut down. That’s why we keep seeing so many doubles occur during the onset or wide play.

Instead you should just allow the bind to occur naturally. When using tight, fast cuts with your arms extended your opponent has no choice but to do the same. To repeat the quote from yesterday,

Cut close into him, to the head and to the body, so he cannot change-through in front of your point. And when the cut ends up in the bind you shall not hesitate but shall quickly and fluently make attacks against the nearest opening, using the five strikes and other techniques that will be described later. — Ringeck

There it is in black and white. Cutting close to him, which means not taking big swings from contracted guards, will lead you to the bind.

Now I know some people are against what they see as “wimpy little cuts” thrown from the hands and wrists. But with a nice long hilt, you can obtain a lot of power by only moving one or both hands in relation to each other. Which may be why it is written,

Strike to the head, to the body,
do not refrain from swift strikes. — Liechtenauer

Now if you are on the defensive, you can use this advice to enter the bind,

In defending his person, a man must always hold his arms well extended, not only so that he will come to drive the blows of the enemy to the outside at a distance from his body, but it also makes him stronger and swifter in striking. — Manciolino

This kind of attitude is why Meyer’s version of the primary guards are so far forward. He doesn’t want you to wait of the attack with your hands held back and close the body. He wants you to be out there taking the fight to the opponent even when defending.


But back to my point. Until you’ve mastered the onset and the cutting patterns that emerge from it there is no point in working on binding techniques. You’ll never get close enough to actually need them. And if you try to force it anyways you’ll just be that much worse off.

Likewise your opponent needs to learn how to defend himself from the cutting patterns. If he is struck on the first or second swing, there is no point in thinking about the bind. He needs to put up a strong defense so that you’ll actually need the binding techniques.

So even if you are a die hard Liechtenauer fan, take some time to learn Meyer’s cutting patterns. They aren’t that hard, but they need to be practiced both slowly with precision and quickly with vigor. You’ll find that those binding scenarios that Liechtenauer spends so much time talking about start occurring all the time in your free sparring. And you’ll never again want to start a binding drill with “and both fencers throw a zornhau from vom Tag”.

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One Response to Having Trouble Entering the Bind? Then Stop Trying.

  1. “Cut close into him, to the head and to the body, so he cannot change-through in front of your point.”
    I agree that one should “not taking big swings from contracted guards,”
    However that is not the only thing being said, Not he says in front of your point, one can do that when one has not attacked “close to him” ie you are too far out of distance. My interpretation is that he is saying put your attacks close to your opponent to reduce their options. Constrain what they can do, rather like in Fiore’s Stretto plays.

    “Now I know some people are against what they see as “wimpy little cuts” thrown from the hands and wrists. But with a nice long hilt, you can obtain a lot of power by only moving one or both hands in relation to each other.”

    In my experience and observation , many people have not learnt to link their bodies in to their movements in a compact way. As such when they use their hands, whether with one or two hands they only really use the force of the hands and arms and then they feel weaker so they judge these smaller attacks to be wimpy, where are big full body actions are strong. Again this is a lack of understanding of body use. A good action should not be felt in the person doing it but in the person receiving it.

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