Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Prev. / Index / Next


Chapter 2

Tactical Basics



This is the general foreword to the unarmoured

[blossfechten] fencing on foot,

note this well.

Young knights learn to love God and honour

women that your honour may grow.

Practice knightly things and learn arts that

help you and grant you honour in war.

Wrestle well; grab the lance, spear, sword

and falchion. Do this manly and make it

useless in other hands. Strike threefold and

hard in there, rush in regardless if you hit

or miss, so that in understanding this you

will be known as a wise man. This you shall

know, that all things have length and measure.

Do what you wish to do with good

understanding. In earnest or in play have

good heart with measure. Thus you beware

and look with good cheer; this is what you

shall do and how you go against him. For

good heart and force makes your opponent

weak, govern yourself after this; never give

an advantage for nothing. Do not be rash;

do not first do four or six (I believe Döbringer

is referring to strikes. But it might

also be opponents). With your overconfidence

be moderate, which is good for you.

He is a brave man who fights his own weaknesses.

It is no shame to flee when four or

six (foes) are at hand

Do not strike at the sword but wait for the




This is a general teaching of the sword. If

you want to display skill, go with the left and

follow right with the strikes, and left with

right is how you will fence with strength.

If you only strike after, you will have little

joy from his art, strike him wherever you

wish, and no changer [Wechsler] will come

within your shield. To the head, to the body

and do not forget the withdrawing [Zucken].

Do with the entire body what you wish

to do firmly. Hear what is bad; do not fence

above left if you are a right hander. And if

you are a left hander then leave the right

behind and fence rather from high left to

low (on the right).

Before [Vor] and after [Nach], from these

two things the whole art stem, weak [Weich]

and strong [Hart], in an instant [Indes] note

that word well. Thus you may learn with

work and defend artfully, if you frighten

easily, do not learn how to fence. Knowledge

[Kunheit] and skill [Rischeit], cunning

[List], prudence [Vorsichtikeit] and

wisdom [Klugheit], this fencing desire and

cheerfully do. Do not strike to the sword;

instead go for the openings [Blossen],

reason, secrecy, reach, foreknowing and

readiness [Vornuft, vorborgenheit, mosse

bevorbetrachtunge, hobsheit, fetikeit].

Here follows a general teaching (Glosa generalis

hiuius sequitur)

Before all know and note that the point of

the sword is the centre and also its centre

and core and from this comes all fencing and

all returns to it. So the hangings [Hengen]

and the turnings [Winden] is the hanging in

and the going around of the centre



and from these good fencing will be done,

and it is so thought out and discovered that

a fencer who like so always strikes or thrusts

at the point [Of the opponents weapon] do

not always hit well. But with these techniques

striking [Hawende], thrusting

[Stechende] or cutting [Sneydende], stepping

in or out [Abe und czutreten], stepping

around [Umbeschreiten] or a leap [Springen],

will hit the other. And if someone

shoots or steps forward with the point and

lengthens or moves it forward, the other

cannot hurt or shorten you with turnings

[Winden] or stepping out [Czutreten].

Then the opponent cannot come into safe

techniques and pieces such as the strike,

thrust or cut. For Liechtenauer’s art is

founded on principles of all the fencing

skills and on the art of the sword. Strikes,

thrusts and cuts as you will hear later here,

how to do techniques and defend against

what the other does, and how to do one out

of the other if one(technique) is defended

against, then the other technique will hit

and have success. Secondly know and note

that not one thing on the sword is without

its use or reason. Therefore you should use

the point [Ort], both edges [Sneiden], cross

guard [Gehilcze] and pommel [Klos] and all

that is on the sword. As they



are meant to be used in the art of fencing

as is done in the exercises as you will find

hereafter see and hear. Also know and note

that when he says that you should show art,

then he intends that the artful fencer should

place his left foot forward and strike with

it from the right side straight at the man

with true strikes as soon as you see how

you can take him and reach him with your

own steps. Also when you want to fence

strongly, then fence from the left side with

the whole body and with full force to the

head and to the body wherever you can hit

– and never to his sword, but as if he (the

opponent) does not have a sword or as if

you cannot see. And you shall not disdain

any following or contacts made, but always

work and remain in motion so the he cannot

come to blows. He (Liechtenauer) also

means that you should not step straight

in with the blows, but from the side at an

angle so that you come in from the side

where you can reach him easier than from

the front. When you strike or thrust at him,

he will not be able to defend with other

techniques and neither lead it away by

changing through [Durchwechsel] as long

as the strikes or thrusts are to the man, to

the openings [Blossen] to the head and the

body with steps and leaps in from the side.



Also note and know what he says here, before

[Vor], after [Nach], the two things do,

he names the five words; Before [Vor], After

[Nach], Weak [Weich], Strong [Hart], in

that instant/just as [Indes]. On these words

hinge the whole art of Liechtenauer, and

they are the foundation and cornerstone

of all fencing on foot or on horseback, in

armour [Harnusche] or without [Blos]. Regardless

if you hit or miss, as Liechtenauer

says, strike and rush in and then follow no

matter if you hit or miss. The word before

[Vor] means that a good fencer will always

win the first strike [Vorschlag]. When you

step or leap in to close with the opponent

as soon as you see that you can reach him

with step or leap, then you shall close with

strikes to the openings [Blossen] and fence

at the head or the body without any fear

at all as you will surely win against him.

Therefore when you win the first strike

[Vorschlag] then it is no matter if it is good

or painful for the opponent, and you will

also be sure in your steps and should do

them well measured neither too long nor

too short. When you now do the first strike

[Vorschlag] if you hit then follow up the

hit quickly,



but if the other defends against the first

strike [Vorschlag] whether it was a strike

or a thrust and turns it away and leads

with his sword, then you shall remain on

the sword if you were deflected from the

opening and feel if the opponent is hard

[Hart] or soft [Weich] and strong [Stark]

or weak [Swach] on the sword. And when

you notice this, then be hard or soft against

the opponent as he defends himself. And

then in an instant [Indes] should you do the

after strike [Nachschlag] before the opponent

has a chance to come to blows, that is

as soon as the opponent defends against the

first strike [Vorschlag] as you do that, attack

other openings [Blossen] with other techniques

speedily. And always be in motion,

this will force the opponent to be on the

defence and not be able to come to blows

himself. For he who defends against strikes

is always in greater danger than the one

who strikes, since he must either defend

or allow himself to be hit if he is to have a

chance to strike a blow himself. That is why

Liechtenauer says; “I say truthfully, no man

can defend without danger”. If you have

understood this he will not come to blows,

and you already know the five words that

this art consists of. Therefore in all swordplay

someone who strikes will often defeat a

Master if he is bold and gain the first strike

[Vorschlag] according to this teaching.




With the word before [Vor] as has been told

before, he [Liechtenauer] means that you

with a good first strike [Vorschlag] shall

close in without fear or hesitation and strike

at the openings [Blossen], to the head and

to the body, regardless whether you hit or

miss you will confuse the opponent and put

fear into him, so that the he does not know

what to do against you. Then before the opponent

can gather himself and come back,

you shall do the after strike [Nachschlag]

so that he will have to defend yet again and

not be able to strike himself. Thus when

you strike the first strike [Vorschlag] and

the opponent defends against this, in the

defence you will always be first to reach the

after strike [Nachschlag] before the opponent.

As soon as you can you should go with

the pommel to the head or come in with

the cross strike [Zwerchhaw] that is always

good to do, or you can throw the sword

forward crosswise in and by that enter into

other techniques. You can also initiate other

good moves since the opponent will not

be able to strike. You shall hear how you

do one thing from another so that the opponent

cannot come at you without being

struck, if you act according to this teaching.

You shall do with one mind and one

strike the first strike [Vorschlag] and the

after strike [Nachschlag] quickly one after

the other, and when it happens that the opponent

defends against the strike, then he

will do this with his sword and you will be

on his sword. And when the opponent is

slow and late then you can remain on his

sword and right away turn [Wind] and note

and feel [Fulen] if the other gathers himself

in order to move away or not. If he moves

off when you have come on the sword in

front of one another and extend the points

at one another to the openings [Blossen],

then you shall –before the opponent has

time to gather himself in order to strike or




follow him with the point and do a good

thrust to the chest or something like that

as quickly and directly as you can. That is

you should not let him escape unharmed

from the sword. Since you know at once

that you have a shorter way to the opponent

since you already have your point on the

[his] sword, as close and as short as possible.

Then if you move away to do another strike

or thrust and you do a wide movement, then

the opponent will always be able to beat you

to the [Nachschlag] with a strike or thrust,

then he can hit you with the first strike

[Vorschlag]. And this is what Liechtenauer

means with the word [Nach]. When you

have done the first strike [Vorschlag] then

you shall without any delay do the [Nachschlag]

and you should also stay in motion

and do one thing after another. If the first

[attack] does not work then the second, the

third or the fourth will hit, and you shall

not let the opponent come to blows. Since

no one has greater advantage than he who

fights according to the teaching of the five

words. But if it is so that the opponent remains

on the sword after his defence and is

on the sword, and it has occurred that you

remain with him on the sword and he has

not done the [Nachschlag] then you shall

turn [Wind] and remain with him on the

sword. And you shall notice straight away

if the opponent is weak [Swach] or strong

[Stark]. If it is so that you feel and notice

that the opponent is strong [Stark] and hard

[Herte] and firm [Veste] on the sword and

intends to push your sword away, then you

shall be weak [Swach] and yielding [Weich]

and give way to his strength and let the opponent

push his sword to the side and go

with this. You shall then leave his sword

quickly and speedily and



move away and go at his openings [Blossen]

to the head and the body with strikes

and thrusts or with cuts, in the simplest and

shortest way that you can. Since the harder

and surer someone presses and pushes with

his sword, while the other is weak against

and let his sword yield, the wider his sword

is pushed to the side the more open he will

become and the other can then hit him as he

pleases before the other can gather himself

again and attack with a new strike or thrust.

But if the opponent is weak and soft at the

sword and you notice this well and feel, then

you should be strong and hard against the

sword and should let your point go straight

and hard on his sword, at his openings as

directly as possible. Just as if there was a

thread tied to your point leading you in the

shortest way to the opponent’s openings.

And this thrust you should do when you

are notice that the opponent is weak and

allow his sword to be pushed back and allows

himself to get hit, or if he is strong and

defends and displace the thrust (pushes you

aside). If the opponent remains strong at the

sword and deflects the sword and defends

against the thrust, that is that he pushes the

sword swiftly away, you should be soft and

yielding and let your sword yield before you

and then speedily go at his openings with

strikes, thrusts or cuts in any way you can.

This is what Liechtenauer means by the

words soft [Weich] and strong [Hart]. And

this comes from the authorities


as Aristotle said in the book Peri Hermanias;

opposita iuxta se posita magis elucescunt / vel

exposita oppositorum cui autem [opposed

near him set wise men shine forth or abandon

opposition]. Weak against strong, hard

against soft and vice versa . Because when

it is strong against strong, the stronger one

will always win. That is why Liechtenauer’s

swordsmanship is a true art that the weaker

wins more easily by use of his art than the

stronger by using his strength. Otherwise

what use would the art be? Therefore learn

well to feel [Fuhlen] in the swordplay. As

Liechtenauer says [Das Fuhlen] learn how

to feel. In an instant/just as [Indes] is a sharp

word. Thus when you find yourself on another’s

sword and feel [Fuhlen] well if he is

weak or strong at the sword, then at once

[Indes] follow and know what is appropriate

for you to do according to the aforesaid

teaching and art. Then he will not be able

to leave your sword without getting hurt.

Thus Liechtenauer says “Strike so that he

moves, if he withdraws from you”. After this

teaching you understand how you will win

the first strike [Vorschlag] and as soon as you

have done this, then quickly and without any

delay do the after strike [Nachschlag] that

is the second, third or fourth strike, cut or

thrust so that he cannot come to blows himself.

If you then find yourself on his sword,

then be sure that you feel [Fuhlen] and do as

before has been described, since this is the

basic tenet of swordsmanship: that a man is

always in motion and never at rest, and it is

also based on feeling [Fuhlen], so do as it

is stated above. No matter what you do or

attempt to do, always have measure [Limpf]

and length [Masse]. If you have won the first

strike [Vorschlag] then do not perform it too

slowly, but move fast so that you can gather

yourself for the after strike [Nachschlag] as

well. That is why Liechtenauer says “Always

know this, that all things have length and

measure”. And understand this in relation

to stepping and all other pieces of swordsmanship.



When you are closing to an opponent, do not watch his blows and do not wait for what he might use against you. Because all fencers, who just wait for their opponents blows and do not do anything else than warding them off, do not succeed very often. They are defeated very often.

Note: Always fence using all of your strength! When you're close, strike at his head and at his body, so he may not be able to change through (Durchwechseln) in front of your point. After the blow, from the bind, strike light blows at his next opening, as is described in the section about different blows and other techniques.

Note: This tenet is addressed to left-handers and right-handers. If you are a right-handed fencer, you are closing to an opponent, and you think you can hit him, do not strike the first blow from the (your) left side. Because you are weak there and you cannot resist, if he binds strongly against your blade. Because of this, strike from the right side, you can work strongly "Am Schwert" ("on the sword") and you can use all techniques you like. So, if you are left-handed, do not strike from the right side, since left-handers are usually not used to strike effectively from the right side and vice versa.

Note: Above all other things, you must understand the principles of "before" (Vor) and "after" (Nach), because the entire art of fencing is based upon it. "Before" means, pre-empting him with a blow or a thrust against an opening before he can hit you, so he mustdefend/displace (Versetzen). So, be flexible in your defence and aim with your sword at one opening after the other, so he cannot get through with his own techniques. But, if he rushes in, start wrestling

"After" means: If you do not succeed with the "before", wait for the "after". These are the defenses against all techniques he uses against you. So, if you have to displace him, make the displacement ‘simultaneously" (Indes) and from the bind, strike immediately at his nearest opening. So you win the "before" and he remains in the "after". Also, you should –during the "before" and "after" –notice ‘simultaneously" (Indes) how you can "work" against the strong or the weak of his sword.

This means: The strong of the sword reaches from the crossguard to the middle of the blade, with it, you can hold opposed, if somebody binds against it. The weak reaches from the middle of the blade to the point. Here you cannot hold opposed. If you firmly understand this, you can "work" and defend yourself very well.

Princes and Lords learn to survive with this art, in earnest and in play. But if you are fearful, then you should not learn to fence. Because a despondent heart will always be defeated, regardless of all skill.

Overview of The Fighting Techniques

Note: these are the names of the main techniques of the art of the long sword, whose names are chosen in such a way that you may understand them better. There are seventeen techniques and they start with the five strikes.

1. The first strike is the strike of wrath (Zornhau)
2. The second one is the "crooked strike" (Krumphau)
3. The third one is the Zwerchhau
4. The fourth one is the squinting strike (Schielhau)
5. And the fifth one is the "parting strike" (Scheitelhau)
6. Sixth there are the four basic guards
7. Seventh there are the four techniques of displacement (Versetzen)
8. Eighth there is the Nachreissen ("Traveling after")
9. Ninth there is the Overrunning (Ueberlaufen)
10. Tenth there is the setting aside (Absetzen)
11. Number eleven is the changing through (Durchwechseln)
12. The twitching (Zucken)
13. The running through (Durchlaufen)
14. The cutting off (Abschneiden)
15. The pressing of the hands
16. The "Hanging"
17. And finally there is the Winding



2) Text of a lesson:

He who strikes after deserves a less joyful art.


That is when you come to him in fencing, then you shall not stay still and wait to see with what strike he would fight against you. Know that all fencers who wait to see the other's strike and who will do nothing but displace the other, deserve indeed less joy in their art when they are overcome and struck.

3) Text:

Strike closely at him, as you will, that nothing comes unto your hilt, head, or body, you let nothing be cut. With the entire body fence as strongly as you can drive.


When you come to him in pre-fencing, as you would then fence, then drive with your body's full strength, and strike closely to him, one to his head, and to his body, and always keep your point ahead at his face or chest, Thus he can't change through past the point. If he displaces strongly, and your point goes off to the side, then give him a retreating cut to the arm, Or if his arms go high in the displacement, then hit him with a free strike below to his body and step backward with it. Thus he is struck even as he would (strike) himself.

4) Text:

Hear what is bad, fight not to left, if you are right, and if you are left, the right is very limiting


This lesson is intended for two people, one right handed and one left, and regards how you should strike, that one is weak when he strikes the first strike not to engage, and this is shown thus: when you come to him in pre-fencing, and are on the right, then undertake not to strike the first strike from the left side where he is weak and does not want to engage again and he strikes strong with you, thereon thus strike from the right where you will engage strongly and work at the sword. Similarly if you are left then strike the first not from the right side, when the left is a wild art to drive from the right side, similarly for the right from the left side.

5) Text:

Before and After, the two things, all arts are from one spring. Weak and Strong, "Just As" these words do mark, thus you will learn with Art work and defense, know well that no fencing is never learned


You should first of all rightly undertake and understand two things, that is the Before and the After, and thereafter the weak and strong of the sword and then the words Just As. From here grows the whole foundation of all fencing arts. When you undertake and understand these things rightly and not forget the words Just As in all parts, you will drive. Thus will you be a good master of the sword and can learn nobly and deeply, and with what proper art of the sword one would choose to best fight and in earnest.



1. The leg in front is bent; the other one going towards the back is stretched.

2. Fight high with straightened body, deliver mighty blows out of the length.

3. Strike and move at the same time and place your feet against each other.

4. He who moves after the blows has no right to be proud of his art.

5. Remember the flat of the blade; do not fence left if you are right.

6. Search for “Schwech” (weak) und “Sterck” (strong), remember this word “In des”.

7. Test “Weych” (soft) or “Hert” (hard), “nachreisen” should be your endeavor.

8. Strike “Vor” (before) and “Nach” (after), do not close in too early.

9. If you fight near the body, do not avoid the “Zeckrur” (provocations).

10. In the Binding step close; otherwise you will be injured.

11. The forehand is called true edge, seldom allow a “Versatzung” on the short edge.

12. If you are frightened easily, do not learn fencing.



I call the Start pre-fencing, where one stands against another in pretense to fence. The Middle is the work or handwork, when one of the participants shall endure longer in the handwork than his opponent fencer, and displace in all withdrawals. The End is the resolution, where one fencer shall withdraw without damage from his opponent and strike away if desired.

The initial pre-fencing is the face off from the Stances to the strikes, which are of two kinds, namely the Lead Stances and the Secondary Stances; we start with the Lead Stances.

There are four Lead Stances, the Roof or Upper Guard, the Ox, the Fool, and the Plough. There are eight Secondary Stances, Wrathful Guard, Window Breaker, Long Point, Crossed Guard, Unicorn, Key, Iron Door, and Changer. The strikes with the Sword are many, belonging to two groups, which are common to both the direct and indirect strikes, which we shall name. The first group is named the Lead or Principal strikes, on which all other strikes are based, and which are four, Over, Under, Middle, and Wrathful strikes. The others are named the secondary or outside build strikes, which are twelve in number, namely the Glance, Curve, Short, Slide, Bounce: Single and Double, Blind, Wound, Crown, Knee Hollow, Plunge, and Change Strike. Beyond these strikes come the proper Master Strikes, which we shall also name, from which all masterful and artful moves with the Sword are made and accomplished with varying grips, these are Wrath, Bent, Traverser, Glancer and Vertex which are all used when wanting to conclude and complete, and which I will describe to you. Just as I introduced pre-fencing, so I have clearly spoken and introduced the Strikes to you.

The second or Handwork in the Middle Stage involves the greatest art, where all your withdrawals in the fight can be advances. Look not only to how one can use the sword in binding, Winding, Changing, Enticing, Following After, Cutting, Doubling, Flowing off to leave be or in whatever shape you've cut, Hewing, Advancing, Twitching and Jerking, Adjusting, Grappling, Charging In, Throwing, and End Wrestling. An important concept is Targeting, through which one must come to understand Man and Sword, and through which one comes to understand proper stance and footwork, and from which how one shall handle one's point.

That brings us to the end, which flows from the Middle, and has the greatest Practical use, by which one ends each case, from thereof Withdraw soundly, in order to report what happened, and so arrange it all in the first chapter of Sword Fighting, from the Master Principles onward, so on to officially profess more skill in this Weapon, and by using this Book you shall Teach the initiates, and so after shall this art drive on to become more useful at need, and shall from others range farther to be sufficiently retold



Firstly, the phases of fencing with the long sword are the Start, Middle, and End phases. The Start is "pre-fencing" which can be used to fence, whether one has fenced before or not. Opening and pre-fencing present the initial face from the primary and secondary stances.

There are four primary stances: the Roof, Ox, Fool and Plough. The secondary stances are:  Wrathful Guard, Long Point, Window Breaker, Unicorn, Barrier Guard, Key, Iron Door, Changer, Lower Guard, and Hanging Point. Against these, the sword strikes are grouped as Principal or Main strikes, Secondary strikes, and Master strikes. The Main Strikes are Over, Under, Middle, and Wrathful. The Secondary Strikes are Short, Glancing, Gliding, Bending, Bouncing, Winding, Dazzling, Cover, Knee Hollow, Plunging, and Changing Strikes.  Master Strikes are: Wrathful, Bent, Traversing and Vertex Strikes.

The Middle Phase is the handwork phase, when one is in the blow and counterblow phase of fencing, making use of all applicable methods. The handwork of the Middle phase is the greatest art. All clearing and binding sword moves, winding, changing, following, enticing, cutting, disengaging, lunging, faking, slashing, fore striking, twitching, jerking, displacing, wrestling, advancing, delaying, throwing, and running through, come into play in the Middle. Here we also address the targets, of which there are four, and which is why there are four Primary Stances for man and sword in the opening phase, from which one can properly stand and move.

The End is the completion, where either the fencer or his counterpart will extract himself without being damaged

Prev. / Index / Next