We have a student with an injured foot so we’ve been focusing binding exercises from a sitting.
For these drills one fencer will be designated as the “agent”, the other the “patient”. The agent is the fencer who performs the first action in the drill to which the patient will respond.
Drill 1 : Basic Attacks from the Bind
From a siting position (or on the knees) the two fencers place their swords in contact, edge on edge, with light pressure. This is known as Anbinden or Binding. The fencers should start in a neutral bind, which is to say that the swords are crossed at the same point, roughly the middle, and neither is pushing down on the other.
For this drill, the agent (first fencer) has two options.
- He can press down on the patient’s blade just far enough to make room for thrust.
- He can leave the bind by breaking contact and striking to the other side. (A technique known as Umbschlagen or Striking Around)
Option 1 is known as being “strong” in the bind, option 2 is being “weak” in the bind (until the moment you leave it entirely).
After the agent can successful perform both types of attacks, we turn to the patient fencer’s counter.
Drill 2: Counter to the Thrust
If the agent is strong in the bind, the patient resists for a moment. This is to encourage the agent to press even harder. When he does so, the patient will stop resisting and angle his sword so that the agent’s blade slides off. This happens because of the sudden release of pressure and is known as Ablauffen or Running Off.
As soon as the patient’s blade is clear, he strikes to the other side.
Drill 3: Counter to Striking Around
If the agent is weak in the bind and inclined to strike around, the patient should allow him to leave the bind. As soon as the agent’s sword passes to the other side, the patient shall thrust at the throat.
During this thrust, the patient turns the long edge of his sword towards his opponent’s blade. By doing so, it will parry the oncoming cut at the same time the point lands. This is known as Absetzen or Setting Off.
Drill 4: Feeling
In the previous two drills, the patient knew exactly what was coming. For the fourth drill, the agent can choose between his two attacks. Because these attacks come so fast, the patient may not see which was chosen in time to respond.
So instead of relying on site, the patient should instead rely on feeling. Known as Fülen in German, this simply means to pay attention to the pressure your opponent’s sword is putting on yours as a way to predict his action. If there is a lot of pressure, choose the first counter. If the pressure is light, he is probably about to leave the bind and the second counter is preferable.
Drill 5: Binding on the Weak of the Sword
For this next drill, the patient’s blade should be against the weak (upper half) of the agent’s sword. This gives the patient the ability to dominate the agent’s sword, but it also gives the agent another attack.
From this bind, the agent shall push down with the rear hand while pulling up with the front hand. In this manner the point goes backwards and high. As soon as it clears, reverse direction so that the blade drops on the patient’s head or arms. This technique is known as Zucken, which can be translated as Pulling or Twitching.
If you are using sharp steel (please don’t) or synthetics with friction tape, you may find this a little awkward. To make this easier, the agent can turn his sword slightly while pulling so that his flat slides along his opponent’s sword instead of his edge.
Drill 6: Binding on the Strong of the Sword
If the patient’s blade is against the agent’s strong (lower half of the blade), the agent can thrust while rotating his sword so that he traps the patient’s blade in the corner between his blade and hilt. The rotation of the blade is known as Winden or Winding.
In some manuals such as Codex Wallerstein (shown below), the agent will also reverse his rear hand. This allows him to push the hilt higher and get a better angle for his thrust.