Tag: Longsword

The Art of Control – Fechtschule Manifesto 2

Fencing with the Sword is nothing other than a discipline, wherein your force strives together with your sword  in placement so that one with the other, using care and agility, artfulness, delicacy and manliness, are at need the same both in strikes and in other handwork one is obliged to, excepting when one is not in a serious situation, thus by such discipline one will be more dangerous and more skillful, and when needing to protect one’s body be more effective. -Joachim Meyer 1570 The  words above are what first drove me to write the original article, I believe what we need to know about how to conduct out art is right there in that quote for us to follow if we choose to. That is really what it boils down to, the desire and will to do it. Without a conscious decision to use control it is not going to be evident. It is a skill we must decide we want as a beginning, the first few steps on a path towards a goal we can see clearly in the books and we desire to emulate. Now that we have established this goal of seeking to experience the art the way our ancestors did in the Fechtschule, or if not that at least the method with which they trained for the Fechtschule events. Clearly they were able to...

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Art of Control (Fechtschule Manifesto) Part 1

“Fencing with the Sword is nothing other than a discipline, wherein your force strives together with your sword in placement so that one with the other, using care and agility, artfulness, delicacy and manlyness, are at need the same both in strikes and in other handwork one is obliged to, excepting when one is not in a serious situation, thus by such discipline one will be more dangerous and more skillful, and when needing to protect one’s body be more effective. This can well and properly be divided into three main parts, namely the beginning, the middle, and the...

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Longswords and their data

For the past year or so, I have been gathering data on longswords. These come from a wide range of different source, from the dark nooks of the foreboding internet to dusty tomes found in libraries. The quest has yielded around 60 longswords dated from the 13th to the 16th century. Of course, these swords were chosen according to certain criteria. These criteria are as follows: a)    they have at least the weight, length and total length listed b)    they are not so corroded as to change their handling properties majorly c)    they do not seem to have been...

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The Onion: Basics of European Longsword: Part 1

For the last year or so I have been working on a group of primarily longsword exercises based on studying fechtmeister Joachim Meyer‘s holistic system for training and fighting, focusing on the dussack, longsword and staff in combination with some additional mostly untutored practice of Portuguese Jogo do Pau. Some of the core questions have revolved around how to become more dynamic in fencing while also learning to fence in a more safe way that leads to fewer double kills. A good friend recently compared this group of exercises to an onion that has many, many layers of sublime understandings that you...

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Review: Regenyei fechtschwert

  The swordsmiths around the world have seen some pretty fierce competition developing over the last few years, especially the high-end companies like Albion, who suddenly find themselves being outrun by swordsmiths who directly target the needs of us HEMA-fencers, which Albion really doesn’t, instead more catering to sword collectors. One such swordsmith that I have been fortunate enough to follow is the Hungarian swordsmith Péter Regenyei. This review will discuss his training swords of the so called “feder” type. Data Manufacturer: Regenyei Armory Sword type: Fechtschwert Blade length: 39.4″ (100cm) – Can be modified to 35.4 – 40.9″ (90-104cm)....

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The Rose and the Pentagram

This article is written to accompany the recent article about the mysticist, and possibly even fencer and a Freyfechter, Heinrich Agrippa. If you haven’t read the article, it is suggested you do so, before reading this article. Die Rose (the Rose) is a longsword, dussack, rappier and quarterstaff technique described by fencing masters starting from about 1516AD. This striking sequence, as used by several masters including, Andre Paurnfeindt, Paul Hektor Mair [1] and Joachim Meyer [2], and several later derivative works [3], has confused some of us as we try to understand the relationship between the name and the application of the technique. To be able to understand Die Rose I believe we need to understand what connotations the renaissance man had to the word rose and with that understanding we can apply it to our interpretations of the technique. The following article might seem like a novel by Dan Brown, but explores some of the ideas the men and women of the Renaissance shared, sometimes in more or less secret societies. Symbolism regarding the human body and strength & weakness, geometrics, angles and actions all tie together in the various illustrations of many fencing treatises of the Renaissance and we need to examine this topic both broadly and deeply. Here, the relationship between the Rose, the Pentagon and the Pentagram are crucial to our interpretations. Having studied the topic for some time, I would suggest that...

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Review: Arms & Armor Fechterspiel Sword

  Swordsmith: Arms & Armor Arms & Armor have been making swords for practice and sparring since the late 80’s which makes them a very old player in the HEMA field indeed. According to themselves, they felt that they originally had a hard time building a market for swords of the federschwert type, since most customers wanted something that looked like a “real” sharp, and it wasn’t until the late 90’s that they felt that there was a growing market for the federschwert. Still, that makes their federschwert one of the oldest and most tested training swords in HEMA, particularly...

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Doing what we are told or what we are taught?

Here’s an old but still always relevant question for us HEMA practitioners to ask ourselves: When we read the old fencing treatises, should we only practice what we are told to do in the treatises or should we try to continue with the next step of playing with it and even do things that we are not explicitly shown or suggested to do in the various stücke? To be able to explore this question; here’s a specific topic that constantly keeps returning in various debates: Meyer is said to not be teaching thrusting with the longsword. Yet, we know for...

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The tools for the job

To understand the body mechanics involved in a technique we not only have to train our bodies so we are strong and agile enough, we also need to use tools that work together with our bodies in the appropriate manner. This may seem obvious but is really not and it can become quite apparent when interpreting the sources with tools that have very different characteristics. One such example is how you can train Joachim Meyer’s Halben Stangen Techniques with a regular staff and build your understanding solely on that. However, since Meyer is actually preparing us for the use of the Halberd, we really need to have that in mind and even practice the body mechanics that are required for a considerably more “forward-heavy” weapon, like a proper halberd. Then, it becomes apparent how you need to move to be able to do the Kreutzhauw, where you cross-cut without crossing your arms, like with the Montante. Another such example that I am currently very curious about, as I am exploring the body mechanics of Meyer’s longsword, is what the characteristics really are for his longsword? We know that they were quite long, at least in his treatise of 1570, reaching well into the armpit and with a hilt the length of your forearm. Judging from the pommel size and tapering of the blades shown in the illustrations they do not seem to be...

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Chronicon Helvetiae

Just some brief reflections on  images from Chronicon Helvetiae by Christoph Silberysen, dated to 1576, currently kept in the Aargauer Kantonsbibliothek in Aarau, Switzerland. Christoph Silbereysen (* 1541 in Baden AG; † 1608 in Wettingen)  was  abbot of the Cistercian Monastery of Wettingen. The chronicle was illustrated by Jacob Hoffmann and it is part of the Swiss Chronicles. It is currently kept in  the Aargau Cantonal library. The two parts from which these images are taken describe the early history of Switzerland, the founding of the cantons and amongst many other interesting battles, the Battle of Morgarten against the German King Rudolf I in 1315 and...

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Fechtschwert or a blunt longsword?

What kind of steel longsword should one choose for sparring? There are of course many aspects to consider. However, many instinctively discount the so called fechtschwert, since they look too weak and commonly are associated with sports fencing in late 16th century fechtschulen, rather than proper training for combat and duelling. They are simply not seen as “real” swords. Is this really a fair assumption? With this in mind, we can look to the fencing manuals and see what was used by our predecessors. After all, they ought to have had a good grasp on what tools one should...

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Is there really a Left Vom Tag?

Well there is a right Vom Tag, and a middle one… so there has to be a left Vom Tag as well, hasn’t there? We make all master cuts cut from both sides, so it is simple logic, right? Looking through the manuscripts and manuals of the 15th and 16th century, it is obvious that the guard Vom Tag can be done in numerous variations, as described in this article: How do you do the Vom Tag? However, one vital question has received fairly little attention; the question if there really is a proper left Vom Tag for right-handed...

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How do you do the Vom Tag?

No, it’s not the hottest, new move on the dance floor. It’s just the old High Guard as it is taught by Master Liechtenauer and his disciples, may God rest their souls. But how should it be done, really? The guard Vom Tag is a simple thing when you look at it super- ficially. However, when you examine the often ambiguous advise given in the manuscripts and reflect on the possible translations of words and sentences, while comparing with the illustrations, you soon realize that the term Vom Tag contains a very broad spectra of possible stances. Basically there...

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How long should a longsword be?

A simple reply would be long enough to reach your opponent. Stupid answer, I know… But the question is also stupid… sort of. Let me explain. Real longswords from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance can range from about 110cm – 150cm with a medium probably about a 120-125cm, which is the “standard” length of most sparring swords today as well, give or take a couple of centimetres. However, when we look at illustrations in the fechtbuchen, we soon discover that the swords shown usually reaches from well into the armpit all the way up to the forehead. We...

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Review: Albion – The Regent

Thoughts: The Regent belongs to a category of longswords that can be presumed to have its origin in the mid 15th century Germany. The pommel is a development of the fishtail type, the blade is hollow ground and thus has no fuller. What hits you when you at first see the Regent, is quite likely the beautiful lines. The hollow ground blade that curves to an aggressive point, the characteristic pommel type and the unusual grip combines into a particularly pleasing overall impression. The looks in particular has also made many reevaluate the hollow ground swords, and the Regent...

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Review: Lutel 15019

Thoughts: Lutel 15019 is a typical sword created for modern training or steel sword sparring. The blade is simple and the edge is designed to take a beating and is therefore thick, and the sword’s characteristics are good, considering the price and the fact that it is a blunt weapon. There are a few problems though, the first being that the sword has a strong resonance and that the vibrations are considerable. The second is that such a heavy sword, that isn’t completely balanced, is straining in wrists and arms, to beginners in particular, whom likely are the target...

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