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Purpose of the Stances or Guards.
Liechtenauer hold only these four guards
that come from the upper and lower hangings,
and from these one can fence safely.
This is regarding the four guards [Vier
Four guards only, and leave the common ones
alone. The ox [Ochse], plough [Pflug], fool
[Alber], from above/the roof [Vom Tage],
these should not be unknown to you.
Glossa. Here he mentions four guards
[Leger or Huten] that are valuable. But before
all things, remember that you should
not remain too long in one guard. Liechtenauer
has a saying “He who is still, is dead,
he who moves will live”. And from these
guards comes the understanding that you
should move in swordplay, and not wait in a
guard and thus waste your chance.
The first guard, the plough [Pflug], is when
you hold the point [of the sword] in front
of you aimed at the ground or to the side.
After a displacement [Abesetzen] it is called
the barrier guard [Schranckhute] or simply
the gate [Pforte].
The second guard is the ox [Ochse], or the
upper hanging from the shoulder.
The fool [Alber] breaks what [your opponent]
strikes or thrusts. From the hanging
[Hengen] strike and at once and follow by
attacking after [Nochreizen].
The third guard the fool [Alber] is the lower
hanging [Undenhengen], and with it you
break all strikes and thrusts when it is done
The fourth guard is from the roof [Vom
tage], is also the long point [Lange ort]. He,
who does it well with outstretched arms, is
not easy to hit with strikes or thrusts. It can
also be called the hanging above the head.
Also know that you break all guards and
positions with the strikes. You should strike
bravely at the opponent so that he must move
away and defend him. Therefore Liechtenauer
does not hold the guards in such a
high esteem; he is more interested in that
you try to win the first strike [Vorschlag]
The four Guards
There are only four basic positions, which are useful in combat, this are Ochs, Alber, Pflug, and vom Tag.
Four stances alone, there to hold, and escape from danger, Ox Plough, Fool, from the Roof. You show nothing more.
The four stances
Four stances alone, there to halt, and fly from danger, Ox, plough, fool, from the Roof, you show nothing more.
At all times and in all fencing, when wanting more ability and understanding, and in furthering and learning more of this Knightly art, the proper and basic elements are required in order to advance. Basically this is done because in fencing, one must fence such that One becomes one with one's Sword, and although this was already stated correctly and sufficiently in the two previous chapters, so here in the third chapter, in order to clarify, it will be examined further, from which onward all fencing shall be fully known and further examined in three parts: the Start, Middle, and End as above was already stated. Onward from the Start, two basic underlying principles shall and must be attained, namely how from the Stances one shall execute the strikes, which will be named and counted, and how one thus comes to success will be clarified. Though the Guards or Stances are delicate, they are still advantageous positions for warding one's entire body with the Sword, in which the fencer, as is often seen, will come before his opponent with proper placement, position, and stance, and so be unfound and last through the rushing by waiting through to advance onward, and immediately react to what's coming and with advantage and wisened speed grapple and strike against your opponent's own stances, that he can go on striking without harming you, yet must give away his openings as he works against yours, and so he must either withdraw or strike away from his intended target, and so have his advantage minimized, his blade withdrawn and retreating, and you can then strike in your own efforts. Since the Stances or Guards have the four sections of ones body as their obvious origin, in that one is divided into four quarters, Over, Under, Left and Right, so also one's opponent is divided and thus shall be encountered, as four Targets, and relative to them there are the four Primary Stances or Guards, from which all others originate and spring forth, which are the Ox, Plough, Roof and Fool, from which one comes to understand the secondaries which, in due order, one comes to deploy, which are the Wrathful Guard, Long Point, Changer, Close Guard, Iron Door, Hanging Point, Key, and Unicorn.
Firstly if you will execute the high or Vertex Strike, you will find yourself in three
Stances, first in the start you will stand in the Roof, in the Middle in the Long Point, and end up in the Fool, so you have moved directly from above through the Line from A to E via three Guards or Stances. If you then drive farther on upward from below to displace with crossed hands, you will find yourself in three more Stances, at the start in the Iron
Door, in the Middle the Hanging Point, and in the end full above you in the Unicorn, then grip your Sword with the haft before your chest, so that the half edge lies on your left arm. Now you stand in the Key, and thus you come have onward and drove on along Line
A and E from one stance into the other.
The other lines to consider are on the right where we will now examine two strikes. One is from the right Ox striking the high quarter, with the H - D line being addressed, the other is from the Left high part going to the right lower part, along the B - F line. How you will strike through these will be further described here, and then I will soon take you farther through all Strikes and Stances on both sides, both Right and Left, which will be fully described, and of this I will disclose all favorable methods shortly but will start by describing only one method. Firstly or initially move into the Wrathful Guard, from which also comes the strike's name, that is the Wrathful Strike, which is named for its wrathful bearing and intent, then midway through the strike move into the Long Point, and at the end move into the Changer. Should you strike onward from here with the Long edge, you will then go farther through three more Stances, which start with the Low Guard, onward through the middle with the Long Point, and end above you in the Unicorn, striking through the Line cited above. Thus from either side as you wish, you will start from the Changer and go through the Long Point into the Wrathful Guard. You can similarly strike out with your Sword from the Hanging Point, from which you drive over in front of you to move into the Guard of the Ox. Thus you find always, when taking the indicated Lines, one moves through them via at least three stances.
It is a good Fencer who does not rush and who waits longer in his Stances, so that as soon as he can reach his opponent he can take initiative, then seize the moment and Fence on to take the pre-named paths, as waiting longer allows many displacements, from which one eventually can come to strike, as will be described below.
The Stances are also very useful towards the divisions and openings, thus if one comes into a Stance without danger before Striking, he can soon be mindful of what path to take from pre-fencing. These then serve not just for careful and sensible changes from one
Stance to the other, but also to entice the opponent, such that he will be made unable to know what you shall Fence with. Lastly this is also good and useful for all from here on, in that you will easily know and recognize your opponent's part, and what he can safely fence with, and so thus oppose him more sensibly.
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.
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