I.33 – Hand Positions in Half-Shield

When I was seriously studying I.33, half-shield was being taught as having the wrists touching as shown in Paris.


And that works reasonably well. But recently Joey Nitti discovered a flaw in that interpretation. Consider these illustrations:

Michael Chidester's photo. Michael Chidester's photo.

In the first one, the left thumb is slightly gripping the blade. In the right, it is in a position where it could easily grip the blade if necessary. This is made possible by having the sword hand slightly lower than the buckler hand.

We tried this last night and it was universally like by my club. Some of the things I noted were:

  • I feel like my binds are stronger
  • There is no way to open a gap between my sword and buckler
  • I can easily release my sword hand for grappling.
  • I can easily release my bucker hand from my sword for cutting or thrusting. (As long as I don’t wrap my fingers around it.)

One of the things I demonstrated was a partial overbind on the left followed by a punch to to the face. Besides being totally unexpected, my demonstration partner was busy looking to the right at our swords so he didn’t see my fist until it was three inches from his face. I didn’t even make contact and I still almost knocked him over just from the flinch reflex.

This entry was posted in MS I.33, Sword and Buckler and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to I.33 – Hand Positions in Half-Shield

  1. By that reasoning the sword he is using has an off centre blade and off centre grip both in different side of the centre line… we also have to question quite how he is actually holding the sword and the grip seems to be past the heel of his hand or on his wrist.
    Not denying what you physically found out but unless there are other clearer indication or written descriptions of what you describe, at what point does one legitimately use one visual indication and not others… after all the thumb looking like it is over the blade could just be a mistake in the drawing!

    • Grauenwolf says:

      In this case I would default to pragmatism. If you find this new posture to be better than the one you are currently using, change. If you don’t, then ignore it.

      All that I ask is that you try both and report your findings.

    • Grauenwolf says:

      See also this follow-up post showing another manual with the left thumb over the blade: https://grauenwolf.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/maister-liechtenawers-kunstbuech-more-on-gripping-the-sword-with-your-buckler-hand/

    • joeynitti says:

      it’s easy to solve. Just take each and compare if they make sense:

      1) does having an off-centre sword make physical sense? Is there archeological evidence for it? Are there other illustrations that are more clearly drawn that clearly show off-centre blades? Would an off-center blade work better? No to each of those

      2) does doing halfshield this way make physical sense? Is there other evidence to support it, from other drawings and manuals? Does it work better than halfshield the regular way?
      Yes to each of those.

      I can comfortably say that no, I’m pretty sure the swords are not off-centre blades, but I can say that it’s a possibility that halfshield is being shown with the buckler hand touching or holding the blade with the thumb. Could it just be artistic convention that shows the rear object higher than the object in front? Maybe. Is it just an error in the drawing? I don’t like easily assuming that unless there’s clear evidence for it.

      It’s obviously not 100% certain, but it’s certainly an interesting way of interpreting it, and Jonathan has tested it in practice and says it works well. So at very least it’s an interesting alternative to the standard way of doing halfshield.

  2. Pingback: Maister Liechtenawers Kunstbuech – More on Gripping the Sword with your Buckler Hand | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s