Structure and the Kronhauw

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:



And another



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.

Blade Dynamics

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.

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4 Responses to Structure and the Kronhauw

  1. I cannot say that I have much practice of the kronhau, or longsword in general. But I think it is a mistake to pull frames from a video and analyzing them in terms of static like you do here. In both cases, you have frozen the action mid-step for the defender. Your first two points (feet together, wrestling) do not apply, or at least not in that way, because the body has momentum and the defender would reach a different posture and position before anything happens. The last point seems weak, as the attacker does not seem to be in a position to apply much pressure, and even if he tried with the swords angled like this he would just slide further to the cross.

    Your proposed solution seems to rely on completely out-timing the attacker, and if you can do this I suspect this sequence is not the best way to take advantage of it.

    • Grauenwolf says:

      The fencers on the left are actually stopping in that posture, however briefly, for the parry. Were they to catch it with the foot in the air it wouldn’t work at all.

      As for timing, that’s the point. Kronhauw usually starts from a low guard where you are “inviting” the opponent to hit your head. Watch carefully and move as soon as he starts his cut.

      In order to cover the distance faster, use an increase of the front foot. The rear foot doesn’t need to move, your opponent will be covering the rest of the distance for you.

  2. vettius says:

    Dear author, I am the left fencer who perform the Kronhauw in the second video. My name is George E. Georgas and I am professional coach of modern fencing, HEMA and Pammachon.
    First of all I have no 2 or 3 cameras to make this video. I had one so there are problems. Second if you watch the video from 0:30 I give a different kind of parry than this that you criticized, and much safer. I keep my line with a small step on this fencing line to break the balance of my opponent. Third I did not strike back as you say but with the angle to make my fingers and my arm safe from the blow of my opponent (This can not be shown on this video), actually I stop the attack with my sword guard. Fourth you criticized the perform of 0:15 to 0:18 , if you see I step left an I blog the attack successfully and then I attack, the difference is that the force of the attacker does not go to the ass but to the ground if you perform this correct and then I strike. Fifth on this video at 0:45-0:48 you can see in better view the execution of Kronhauw. Sixth it is better before you criticized something and just give a photo, speak speak with the maker.

    Thank you
    Best regards

    • Grauenwolf says:

      Yes, the parry at 0:30 is much better and the other video is better still. But this isn’t a critique of you personally, it is a general commentary on structure.

      As for the counter-attack at 0:15, most of the credit goes to the fencer on the right. By leaping instead of stepping he’s lost all sense of balance and control. As an instructor you should be focusing more on correcting that bad habit.

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