I.33 – Where You Bind on the Blade Matters

Before we get into I.33 itself, first we need to learn some terminology. Everyone knows the terms “weak” and “strong” in reference to the blade, but that is insufficient for this discussion. So instead we’ll use the terminology after L’Ange.


In his illustration above, the sword is divided into four sections.

  1. Full Strong
  2. Half Strong
  3. Half Weak
  4. Full Weak

With four sections in each of two swords, that gives us 16 possible binding locations. But we’ll only look at a handful of them.

Full Weak on Full Weak


If we, being the fencer on the left, bind the full weak of our sword on our opponent’s full weak we end up with several problems.

  • First, it isn’t a strong bind. There is a good chance that he’ll push right through it.
  • If we lend any extra strength to the bind by pressing his sword, he’ll just slip over the top.
  • We aren’t posing a threat, so he still controls the vor.

Half Weak on Half Strong


Lowering our point somewhat, we can achieve half weak on half strong. As the terms indicate, this gives our opponent a mechanical advantage and will most likely push through our sword.

Moreover, we are still not posing a threat. With neither of our blades online for a direct thrust, the advantage goes to the one with a stronger bind.

Half Weak on Full Strong



This is the version actually shown in the manuscript. The point is lowered further so that our half weak is on the opponent’s half strong. In terms of the bind, we are somewhat worse off than the previous arrangement. Our opponent is still has a lower part of his sword against ours, making him stronger in the bind.

But look at the point. Now that it is online we have the option for a direct thrust. With his superior bind he can counter it, but it is something that he has to deal with. This means that, for the first time, we actually have a chance.

Full Weak on Full Strong


If we draw back the sword even further, by lowering the hand or be being further away, we see obtain a full weak on full strong bind.

In some ways you could say that we are still posing a threat in the form of a direct thrust. But with the point much further away from the face, it is no where near as disconcerting as the previous example.

And being so weak in the bind, our opponent merely has to extend his arm for his own thrust to drive our sword off-line. By giving him our full weak, we’ve removed the need for him to even attempt the over-bind discussed in I.33.


Underarm: Throughout this whole discussion, the fencer on the left never obtains the advantage. At best he can neutralize his opponent’s advantage, which is why I.33 discourages the use of underarm against anyone who knows how to use half-shield properly.

Half-shield: The fencer on the right needs to be aware of his opponent’s mistakes. If he binds incorrectly, be prepared to either twitch over this blade or to thrust strongly. Only over-bind when there is a creditable threat for you to deal with.


During our experiments for this post, we were using straight edged blades. If you use the broader, triangular blades of actually shown in I.33 that may change the results because the wider blades may act like lugs in a thrust.

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

5 Responses to I.33 – Where You Bind on the Blade Matters

  1. Michael AAF says:

    Nice explanation and I agree but would like to add.

    Binds should be a threat, normally a shield strike but sometimes a thrust cut or just a better bind. So even the weak bind cannot be ignored and extending your arm against you evolve it to a it to a better bind and then you go from there. (The next question is if you only get the weak bind do you try to reset or evolve)

    I agree it is the weakest of the binds and is not the one the manual is asking for, I like the way you lead up to that. To me it’s this half weak bind that is falling under the sword and if you get it you have the advantage over half.

    (On a personal note in my vid it I do only tend to get the weak bind, and while I work it like the half weak one I might redo parts of the vid.)

    • Grauenwolf says:

      I really like the idea of a weak bind being the threat of a stronger bind. I had never thought of it that way before, but it makes a lot of sense. Psychologically, it explains why someone would react to a weak bind when they aren’t yet in danger. Or rather, because they are in danger of being in danger, which is nearly as bad.

      • joeynitti says:

        some people find this concept difficult to grasp. Yes, some actions are just about regaining control and threatening action, not always some uber-effective counter attack

  2. Michael AAF says:

    Need nifty saying like use your bind or your opponent will use it against you.

  3. Pingback: MS I.33 – Falling Under from Underarm (2r) | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

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