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Explanation of the Stances or Guards
It should be noted that most of the Masters do not list more than the 4 stances, except for iron door, and long point, but Meyer and Sutor show much more. It is theorized that the reason for the extended list of guards from these two masters is to explain to a student how a strike is made. More of this will be explained by Meyer himself in chapter 8
The second guard is the ox [Ochse], or the upper hanging from the shoulder.
The first guard: Ochs (the Ox)
Stand with your left foot forward, hold your sword at the right side of your head, your point directed at his face.
Die verschrankte Schwache. - Der
steht in der hut.
The crossed weak. - He stands in guard.
The fencer on the right is in a right Ox guard, standing in the guard, he may have just completed a high strike to his right. The fencer on the left is in a high crossed barrier guard, binding on his opponent's weak. He can now either wind to right Ox on his opponent's sword, or wrench over to the Plough, flipping his opponent's blade over to the other side. His opponent really should disengage.
The first guard is named “Hochort” or “Ochs”, as the old ones tell us and anything can be made out of it.
Put yourself into to Ox thus, stand with the left foot forward and hold your sword on your right side with the hilt before your head so that the short edge stands toward you and hold the point thus toward his face.
Item. To the left side put yourself in the Ox thus, stand with the right foot forward and hold your sword to your left side with the hilt before your head so that the long edge stands toward you and hold the point thus toward his face. This is the Ox on both sides.
Item. The two guards or stances break the bent strike and you shall find how to do so in the recital.
The high parts are guarded with the Ox, which is two modes, Right and Left, thus one can stand in the Ox in two modes, namely the Right and Left modes. The right Ox will first be described, stand with your Left Foot forward, holding the Sword with the hilt next to your head, high and on the right side, so that your forward point is directed against your opponent's face. For the Left Ox reverse this, namely stand with your Right Foot forward, hold your hilt near your head on its Left Side as said above. Thus, you have been told of both Ox Guards or Stances, which is being shown by the Left Figure of illustration B above.
The man on the left is in the appropriate stance for The Ox, which is a leading guard with two modes, Right and Left. In the right Ox, stand with your left leg forward; hold the sword with the grip near your head, held high on the right side, so that your forward point stands against your opponent's face. In the left Ox, stand with the right leg forward, hold the sword with the grip near your head and held high to the right, etc.
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: Pflug (the Plough)
Stand with the left foot forward and hold your sword at your right side above your knee, with your hands crossed, your point directed at his face.
The second guard is called the Plough and set yourself thus, Stand with the left foot forward and hold your sword with crossed hands with the pommel under you near your right side on the hip so that the short edge is above and the point stands against him in his face. On the left side set yourself in the guard of the plough thus, Stand with the right foot forward and hold your sword near the left side with the pommel under you to the hip so that the long edge is above and the point stands in his face. This is the plough on both sides.
The fourth guard is named “Pflug”. When somebody strikes impetuously at you, step triangular [traverse] with the right foot and displace quickly with the flat so that his sword slips down. Then make a step with your left foot and strike with the true edge.
The second guard is named the plough, place yourself thus, set your left foot forward and hold your sword with crossed hands below yourself to your right with the pommel near your right hip, so that the short edge is above and the point is forward and standing toward your counterpart's face.
Item. On the left side place yourself into the plough thus, set your right foot forward and hold your sword near your left side below yourself near your left hip so that the long edge is wended above and the point stands upward toward the counterpart's face.
Item. The two stances or guards break the Glancer strike and you shall find how to drive or make them described in the recital.
The low parts are guarded with the Plough, whose two modes are similar figures for two sides, the Right and the Left, and so are named the Right and Left Plough, and both will become for you nothing else than stabs outward from below. The Right Plough is described as follows, stand with your right foot forward; hold your weapon with the hilt near your forward knee and your point pointing in your opponent's face, as if you intend to stab him from below. While you are in the Right Plough, step forward with the Left foot and stand similarly to be in the Left Plough. The Right Plough is shown by the figure on the Right of the above illustration B. See Sutor Page 4 for another view of Ox and Plough. See also Primary Guards for more information.
The man on the right stands in the correct stance for the Plough, which also has two modes, Right and Left, and is only for stabbing out from below. In the right Plough, stand with your right foot forward, hold the sword with the grip near your forward knee, aim the point at your opponent's face as if you wanted to stab it from below. In the left Plough stand with the left leg forward, etc., and hold it just like on the right
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.
The fourth guard: vom Tag ("From the Roof")
Stand with your left foot forward and hold your sword at the side of your right shoulder or above your head with your arms extended.
Put your left foot forward, hold your sword in guard on your right shoulder and burst to him, and strike strongly with the long edge from above to his head
The third guard or stance is from the roof, place yourself thus, set your left foot forward and hold your sword up high with arms stretched above your head and the long edge forward and let the point hang a little back and stand thus in guard.
Item. The guard or stance breaks the thwart strike and you shall find how to do so described in the recital
The Guard of the Roof, which is also known as the High Guard, is explained as follows.
Stand with your Left Foot forward, hold your Sword high over your head so its point is directly above, consider the figure on the left of the image above, illustration C, which indicates how one can operate from above, that all slashes can from the Roof or High Guard be fenced, which is why this Guard is named the Roof. See Talhoffer tafel 1 for another view of the Roof and a strike that can be launched from the Fool.
The image on the left side show a man in the stance called the High Guard: Stand with the left foot forward and hold the sword high over your head so that you are pointing high.
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 correctly.
The third guard: Alber (the Fool)
Stand with your right foot forward and hold your sword in front of you with your arms extended, your point directed at the ground.
The fourth guard or stance in the sword is named the fool, place yourself in it thus, set your left foot forward and hold your sword before you with straight arms and the point toward the ground so that the short edge is above.
Item. Many masters say that this guard is named the iron door and indeed, it is one guard.
Item. The guard or stance breaks the vertex strike and you shall find how to do or drive it in the recital.
Fool is my adaptation of the word Jester, a name which leaves so much to be desired, in that from this Stance no successful finishing strikes can be made, one just uses them to gain an opening against the opponent through displacements to block strikes, which can be used to measure a Foolish and naive person who is not ready for counterstrikes to be struck against them. This will now be described. Stand with the Left leg forward, hold your Sword with the Point stretched out in front of you aimed at the ground in front of your forward foot, with the short edge above, the long edge below. Thus, you stand in this Guard rightly, as you can see in the illustrated figure above on the right.
The image on the right shows a man in a version of the stance called Fool: stand with the left leg forward, hold the sword with the point forward and aimed at the ground in front of your leading foot, allowing a cut upward with the false edge, and against long cuts to your lower openings
All other stances are classified as secondary stances.
The fecht masters do not describe most, except Meyers and Sutor, who explain them and give them names to help describe how to strike. (see chapter 8 Strikes)
Zornhut Wrathful Guard
The Wrathful Guard is known as such since the stance has a wrathful bearing, as will be shown. Stand with your left foot forward, hold your sword out from your right shoulder, so that the blade hangs behind you to threaten forward strikes, and mark this well, that all strikes out from the Guard of the Ox can be intercepted from the Wrathful stance, indeed leading from this stance shows unequal bearing from which One can entice onward, whereupon one can move quickly against the other as needed, as is shown by the Figure in illustration E (on the left). See Sutor page 13 for more on the Wrathful Guard.
The man on the left is in the stance called the Wrathful Guard: stand with your left foot forward, hold your sword off your right shoulder so that it hangs behind you ready to strike, take more distance than you would for the Ox.
Make the Window Breaker straightly into his intent, strike so that he snaps the weapon you display to him before you, yet I say onward you shoot no man without driving, if you attempt to hit he will make less coming forth
You have heard before that when you are before the man with the sword, you should place yourself in the four guards from which you shall fence, so now you shall you also know that the window breaker is also a guard with which you can stand securely, and this guard is the long point, the noblest and best sword ward out from which you can fence that forces the man so he must let you hit as you please and make the point come forward again still to hit and to stab
Langort. Long Point
Stand with your Left foot forward, hold your Weapon with outstretched arms out in front of your face, so that you stand and point forward at your opponent's face, and thus you stand in the Guard of the Long Point, which you can see in the picture in illustration A
(Page 3, right side figure).
The image on the left shows a man in a Guard stance extending a Long Point: stand with your left foot forward, hold your weapon with outstretched arms in front of your face, so that your far point is aimed at his face.
This Guard shall now be fully described, stand with your Right foot forward, hold your weapon with the point or Weak stretched out from close at your side aimed at the ground, so that cuts with the short edge are threatened against your opponent, such as can be seen from the right figure in illustration D above.
The image on the right shows a man in a Guard stance also called the Changer: stand with your right foot forward, hold your sword with the point near the ground and your arms outstretched so a cut with the false edge is threatened.
Nebenhut, (Tail guard).
When you come close to him, put your left foot in front and hold the sword, true edge above, with the point directed to the floor beside your right side. This works at both sides.
Nebenhut Close Guard
To put yourself into this guard, stand with your Left foot forward, hold your sword close to your right pointed at the ground with the pommel above, and with the short edge against you.
Crossed guard Hanging point
One technique is called the fence guard (or barrier guard perhaps) [Schrankhute] and
it comes from the point. You should place your point towards the ground on either
side and then you are ready to displace. It can also be called from the gate [Pforten],
when you place the point to the ground in front of you. When the opponent strikes
or thrusts at you, then you push his point to the side as you raise the sword up and in
towards you, and then strike him in the legs or above, whatever happens to be closest to
hit. This resembles the peacock’s tail [Pfobenczangel] when you continuously go up
and strike down, above or below wherever you can get at him.
Thus put yourself in the barrier guard, to your left side, when you come to him with it in the pre-fencing, then stand with the right foot forward, and hold your sword near your left side, to the ground with crossed hands, that the short edge is above, and give an opening with your right side
Iron door, barrier guard, or crossed guard
Das Greifen gegen die Eisenport. -
Die Eisenport (hieb).
The close against the Iron door. - The Iron door (strike).
The fencer on the right is attempting to thrust low from the Iron Door, a forward "mirror" variant of the plough.
The fighter on the left seems to have gotten past the point of his opponent's sword with a passing step and is now out of the line of attack. With his sword leveled at his opponent's abdomen and his opponent's blade out of play, he is in the perfect position to step and thrust.
For more on the Eisenport guard, see Meyer page 8.
Note: Meyer spoke somewhat disparagingly of the Eisenport and the above shown close against it is a simple step thrust. The German masters may have considered this low guard or ward to be only of limited usefulness and somewhat unreliable. That's my theory anyway. -MWR
Eisenport/ Iron Door
What the right Iron Door is, which you will find out should you go farther onto Rapier Fencing, that while it is used in stabbing with the Sword as by us Germans, this guard is also easily deflected and sent to the ground. Although at this time, the Italians and other nations use it, it covers like the Crossed Guard, and so of the Iron Door no further report is therefore required.
There is a basic underlying division, here I will shortly clarify both, and so will now describe the Iron Door. Stand with your right foot forward; hold your sword with the grip in front of the knee, with straightly hanging arms that your point stands upward out at your opponent's face. In addition, keep your Sword in front of you to shut like an iron door, and when you stand with feet wide and so come to lower your body, you can clear all strikes and stabs out and away from you.
However, the Crossed Guard is when you hold your Sword with crossed hands in front of you with the point at the ground, which is seen from the figure in illustration F.
See Talhoffer tafel 16 for more on the Iron Door, tafel 23 for more on the hanging point, and Sutor page 6 for more on both Crossed Guard and Hanging Point.
The man on the left stands in a stance called Barrier Guard: stand with the left foot forward, hold the sword with hands crossed and with the point forward and pointing down at the ground.
Crossed guard Hanging point
This is regarding the Hanging [Hengen] swordsman learn this.
These are the two hangings from one hand towards the ground. In all situations
you should strike, thrust, [hold] guards, [be] soft or hard. Do the talking window
[Sprechfenster], stand joyfully and study the opponent’s intentions. Strike so that
he tries to step away from you, I say honestly that no one defends without danger.
If you have understood this, then he will not come to blows. If it happens that you
are on the sword, then you should also do strikes, thrusts or cuts, and remember to
feel [Fuelen] and not move away from the sword without reason. A masterful technique
is done rightfully/correctly on the sword. He who binds with you, the war will
wrestle him seriously. The noble turning in [Winden] finds him for sure. With strikes,
with thrusts and with cuts you will find him. In all turning in [Winden], strikes, thrusts
and cuts should you find well. The noble hanging [Hengen] would not exist without
the turning in [Winden], since out of the hanging you shall make the turning in
Glossa. Note and understand that there are two hangings on each side. One upper
[Oberhengen] and one lower [Underhengen] hanging and with these you can come
well on the sword of the opponent, they originate from the upper [Ober] and lower
strikes [Unterhaw]. When it happens that you bind with the opponent, or when you
find yourself on his sword then you should remain on his sword. And you shall turn
thus joyfully and without fear remain on his sword. You shall see, await and understand
what it is that he intends to do against you. And to remain thus on the sword Liechtenauer
calls this the talking window [Sprechvanster]. When you stand thus with him
on your sword, then you should feel [Fulen] and follow his movement if it is soft [Weich]
or strong [Herte]. Then you should adapt in such a way as has been explained earlier. In
the case that prior to everything else, even before you can do anything, he moves off
the sword, then you should follow at once and strike or thrust as well as you can before
he has the chance to do anything. You have a shorter way if you remain on the sword
and aim your point in at him than he has if he tries to move away [from your sword].
Before he can gather himself and close in with a strike, go at once at him using your
point. But if he remains with you on the sword, then try and feel if he is soft [Weich]
or hard [Herte] on the sword. If he is soft [Weich] and weak [Swach], then you should
quickly and courageously go forward with the strong part of your sword and push back
and press his sword and seek all openings to the head or the body wherever you have
a chance. If the other is strong [Herte] and hard [Stark] on the sword and intends to
push you away and thrust at you, then you should be weak [Weich] and soft [Swach]
against his strength and yield to move away with your sword from the strong pressure
he is applying
and in this weakness, while he is pressing [you] and shoots his sword away from him
[away from his body since he is pushing yours], as has been described, then at once
[Indes] that it happens but before he can gather himself again, so that he can’t strike
or thrust, you should attack his openings with strikes, thrusts and cuts. Do this in
the easiest way as has been described in this teaching, quickly and boldly and briskly so
that he can’t come to blows. That is why Liechtenauer says “I say in all honesty that
no man can defend himself without danger, if you have understood this he will
not be able to come to blows”. With that he means that it is not possible to defend
without being in danger or without getting hurt if you act according to this teaching. If
you win and do the first strike [Vorschlag] then he can either defend himself or let
himself get struck. When you do the first strike [Vorschlag], regardless if you hit or
miss then you should quickly and briskly do the after strike [Nachschlag] before he can
come to blows. So when you wish to do the first strike [Vorschlag] then you should also
do the [Nachschlag] quickly and speedily so that he cannot come
to blows himself. And you should also make sure that in all things concerning swordsmanship
that you act before your opponent does. And as soon as you move before him
and win the first strike [Vorschlag], at once do the after strike [Nachschlag]. You should
never do the first strike [Vorschlag] if you do not have the [Nachschlag] in mind at
the same time, meaning that you are always in motion [In motu seist]and do not rest
or hold yourself back but does one thing after another quickly and decisively so that
your opponent can’t do anything at all. If you do this, then he must indeed be a good
one if he can manage to get away without being struck by you. So with this art or advantage
it often happens that a peasant will beat up a good master if the peasant does
the [Vorschlag] and boldly pushes forward. Thus when you understand the word at
once/in an instant [Indes] hits, shames and defeats your opponent. One who hesitates
and wants to wait in order to defend himself against the strike is in greater danger
than the one who strikes at him and thus wins the first strike [Vorschlag]. Therefore
in all things concerning swordsmanship make sure that you are the first and come
at the opponent on your right hand side.Then you will be safer than him no matter
“Hangend Ort” (Hanging guard).
The other guard is named “Hangend Ort” and it has two versions.
To execute the hanging guard put the right foot in front, step with the flat of the blade under the face, displace strikes from above short and high, let shortly run down your blade and make a long step with a strike.
Hangetort Hanging Point
Since you'll need to be in the correct Hanging Point during the work, look at the figure to the right of the above illustration. Even if the arms needn't be as stretched as here will be shown, still put yourself into the named Guard. Stand with the right foot forward, hold your weapon with outstretched arms before you, so that the blade hangs somewhat toward the earth, this stance is very close to the Ox in similar form, only different in that in the Ox your arms are strongly held in high mode, but here shall be directly outstretched before your face, letting the Sword hang toward the Earth, therefore it is named Hanging Point.
Note: See also Talhoffer tafel 23 for more on the Hanging Point.
The man on the right stands in a stance called the Hanging Point: stand with the right foot forward, hold the sword with arms outstretched in front of you, with the blade somewhat downward
The Key is shown by the left figure in illustration D, stand with your Left foot forward, and hold your Sword with the haft and crossed arms in front of your chest, so that the short edge lies on your Left Arm, and the point is aimed at your opponent's face. Thus is this stance or guard rightly made.
The man on the left stands in the Key stance: stand with your left foot forward, hold your sword by the grip with hands crossed in front of your chest and ready to strike, so the false edge lies against your left arm, and aim for your opponent's face.
Come into pre-fencing with your Left foot forward, wings out from both sides, as if you would stand in the forenamed Key guard, drive with crossed hands overhead on your Right, so that the point is aimed high above and outward, thus it is named Unicorn, and stand as shown by the figure on the Right of illustration E.
And thus are named the count of the Stances or Guards, and now all in the work phase will be fully and shortly examined. After this point in all fencing, you will Strike, Strive,
Displace, or float to work for what you wish, and not remain in a stance, but always drive from one to the other, as one or the other must soon become afflicted, thus you especially must move on to keep the working initiative, and will lead out from one to another of the above cited stances, which I will clarify with a few words about the strikes through the lines or pathways.
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