In my opinion the Kronhauw or Crown Cut is not given the respect that is deserves. Granted, it is considered to be a beginner level technique and the masters warned about overusing it. But still, that doesn’t excuse fencers from learning how to use it correctly.
Specifically what I would like to talk about is body structure. Here’s a still from a video demonstrating the technique:
In both cases the left fencer is attempting to perform the Kronhauw. And while they do successfully parry the blow, their body structure has some serious problems.
First of all, the feet are next to each other. While this is fine for mobility, as you can basically step in any direction with either foot, it is horrible for receiving a blow. For the second example, all of the energy absorbed by the blow is going out the fencer’s ass.
If the attacker chooses to rush in with a pommel strike or grapple and you are caught in such a stance, there’s not much you can do. There simply isn’t time to reposition your feet before contact is made.
For the first photo, the left fencer’s arms are also problematic. If your opponent is significantly stronger than you he may just collapse your guard outright. Or he may reverse his sword so that the short edge plunges over.
In fact, Marozzo’s 7th true edge stretta for the greatsword specifically tells us that if someone drops their hands like that you are to drop a flat strike on the top of their head.
So what should it look like?
Basically you should be striving to reverse the postures. The fencer performing the Kronhauw should strive to look like the fencer on the right. This allows the energy to go down the arms, through the body, and out the legs into the ground. Even the smallest fencer can withstand a powerful blow in such a posture.
Meanwhile, try to time it so that the attacker looks like the fencer on the left. If you can catch him mid-step you’ll easily unbalance him. At the very least you’ll gain an extra tempo to attack while he regains his equilibrium, and if you are especially aggressive you can overrun him.
One if the ways you can tell if you did this correct is by where your opponent’s sword is relative to yours. With the proper structure and timing, his sword will bounce off your cross guard or schilt, leaving his blade just to the side of your sword. The cut that follows is basically like the conclusion of a Schielhauw (squinting strike).
If instead you bend your arms, you’ll create a shock absorber that will leave him over your sword with his blade in the corner between your blade and long quillon. From here he can easily push your cut offline. Furthermore, your own quillon can stop the blow as it get tangled up in the opponent’s blade.
Why is this important?
Besides being a useful technique on its own, knowledge of this is necessary for the study of the Vier Versetzen from the Liechtenauer tradition. Your practice partner cannot test his interpretation of breaking Alber if you can’t perform the basic counters from Alber correctly.