Codex Wallerstein – Waage (Scales or Balance)

My club will be starting their investigation of Codex Wallerstein’s longsword section in January. While we primarily study Meyer, we choose Wallerstein because we feel we need to focus on the close plays, both binding and wrestling.

The first lesson is found with plate 5 and is titled “Length” or “Measure” depending on how you translate it. In addition to the Zabinski and Walczak translation, Christian Trosclair’s translated other versions of the text from the Nuremberg Group of manuals. I’ll quote the latter,

Length

Item. If you fence with another and come to him upon the sword such that you both have been bound, extend your arm and your sword long away from you and place yourself with your body down in the scales [wag] and see that you have length and measure in the sword, thus you may work to defend everything, that is your desire. The length, that is you standing behind your sword and extending yourself. The measure, that is you standing low as is pictured here and making yourself small with the body so you are large with the sword.

In Wallerstein, the text uses the spelling “waage” instead of “wag”. Either way the word means scales or balance and refers to a low, equally weighted stance often associated with wrestling. In fact, it is the suggested starting posture for wrestling on plate 29.

Side note: I don’t know why the translator choose to call each page a “plate” even when hand-written or totally blank. Rightly speaking, that term should only apply to illustrations carved in wood or etched in copper and then reproduced with a printing press.

Berlin Sketchbook

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Codex Wallerstein

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Training Focus

For our first class we are going to focus on using the Waage as soon as the blades bind. This is more that just landing in a balanced posture, we need to lower our center of gravity so that we can wrestle if necessary. (And there is a lot of wrestling in Wallerstein.)

I am having trouble reconciling the part of the text that says “extend your arm and your sword long away from you”. Wallerstein agrees with the other Nuremberg manuscripts, but the illustrations appear to show the arms held quite close to the body. So that’s definitely something that we’ll be experimenting with.

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