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Here begins Master Liechtenauer’s art of fencing with the sword, on foot and on
horseback, in armour and without. And before all things you should know and understand
that the sword is only one art and it was devised and thought out hundreds
of years ago. This art is the foundation and core and it was completely understood and
known by Master Liechtenauer. Not that he himself devised or thought out what is
described, but he travelled and searched through many lands since he wanted to
learn and experience this art. And this art is quite earnest and righteous, and it goes
from the nearest in search of the closest and goes straight and right when you wish to
strike or thrust. So that when you want to attack someone it is as if you had a cord tied
to the point or edge of your sword and this leads the point or edge to an opening.
For you should strike or thrust in the shortest and nearest way possible. For in this
righteous fencing do not make wide or ungainly parries or fence in large movements
by which people restrict themselves. Many Masters of play fighting [Leychmeistere]
say that they themselves have thought out a new art of fencing that they improve from
day to day. But I would like to see one who could think up a fencing move or a strike
which does not come from Liechtenauer’s art. Often they want to alter or give a new
name to a technique, all out of their own heads and think up wide reaching fencing
and parries and often make two or three strikes when one would be enough or stepping
through and thrust, and for this they receive praise from the ignorant. With
their bad parries and wide fencing they try to look dangerous with wide and long
strikes that are slow and with these they perform strikes
that miss and create openings in themselves. They have no proper reach in their
fencing and that belongs not to real fencing but only to school fencing and the exercises
for their own sake. But real fencing goes straight and is simple in all things
without holding back or being restricted just as if a string had been tied or as if they
had been connected. When you strike or thrust at another in front of you, then no
strikes or thrusts before or behind, nor besides or wide reaching movements or many
strikes will help if you hold back and lose the chance. Instead you must strike straight
and direct to the man, to the head or to the body whatever is the closest and quickest.
This must be done with speed and rather with one strike than with four or six which
will again leave you hanging and giving the opponent a chance to hit you.
The first strike [Vorschlag] is a great advantage in the fencing as you will hear in the
text. Therefore Liechtenauer says that only five strikes with other techniques should
you use in real fencing. And he teaches these straight and
simple and does them as quickly and as direct as possible. And you will lay under you
all the drumming and new inventions by the [Leychmeistere] or play masters since
these [five strikes] are the foundation of his [Liechtenauer’s] art. Note and know also
that it is not possible to explain the art of fencing as well with words as one can show
it with the hand. Therefore open your mind and ponder well and the more you train
yourself in play the more you will think of it in earnest. For practice is better than art,
your exercise does well without the art, but the art is not much good without the exercise.
Know also that a good fencer should before all things know his sword and be able
to grip it well with both hands, between the cross guard and the pommel since you will
then be safer than if you did grip it with one hand on the pommel. And you will also
strike harder and truer, with the pommel swinging itself and turning in the strike you
will strike harder than if you were holding the pommel. When you pull the pommel
in the strike you will not come as perfect or as strongly. For the sword is like a scale, if a
sword is large and heavy then the pommel must also be large and heavy to balance it
like a scale.
And when you close with him thinking
that you have the correct measure and believe
that you can reach him, and then you
shall go at him quickly and with speed to
the head and to the body. You will hit or
miss and win the first strike [Vorschlag],
and not let him come to anything as you
will hear hereafter in the true teaching. You
should always look for the upper openings
[Blossen] rather than the lower, and go over
his hilt with strikes or thrusts artfully and
quickly. For you have better reach over the
hilt than under it and you are also much
safer in all your fencing. The upper touch
is much better than the lower. But it may
also happen that you are closer to the lower
opening and therefore seek it, as often happens.
Also know that one should close in
with him from the right hand side in the
fencing, and in all things in fencing and in
wrestling you take him better like this than
straight on. And if you know this technique
and make use of it, then you are not a bad
Also know that when you wish to fence in
earnest, then you shall have a finished piece
in [your mind], any [technique or strategy]
you want that is complete and correct and
hold it in all seriousness and firmly in your
mind when you want to close with him as if
you would say “This is what I intend!”. And
then you will have success with the help of
God and not go wrong. You do what you
should when you bravely rush the opponent
with the first strike [Vorschlag] as you
will know hereafter
To all fencing belongs the aid of God with
the right, leap straight and sound, choose
a ready sword, before [Vor], after [Nach],
weak [Weich], strong [Hart] and “In that
instance” [Indes], note that word. Strike
[Hewe], thrust [Stosse], cut [Snete] and
press [Drucken], guards [Huten], covers
[Schutze], stabing [Stossen], (Jeffrey Hull
made the suggestion that Stossen might
also refer to pushing someones body, either
away or to the side. This is also a possible
interpretation) feeling [Fuhlen], withdrawing
[Zucken], turning [Winden] and hanging
[Hengen], pulling back [Rucken], strike
[Streiche], leap [Spronge], grab [Greiffen],
wrestling [Rangen] knowing [Vissheit] and
daring [Kunheit], caution [Vorsichtikeit],
cunning [List] and wisdom [Klugheit], reach
[Masse] and secrecy [Vorborgenheit], reason
[Vernuft], intuition [Vorbetrachtunge]
and readiness [Fetikeit], practice and good
cheer, with agility step well. In these verses
are fundamentals and principles, and what
belongs to them are named. All the skills
of fencing you should consider correctly,
as you hereafter will really hear and read,
all simply and after its nature. Fencer, do
this and the art will become clear. From the
sword, do good and wide covers.
Motion/movement [Motus], note that word
well, it is to the fencing a heart and a crown,
it is the very matter of fencing. All that it
contains and all the fundamentals will be
mentioned by name and made well understood
hereafter. When you fence with another,
then in this you are well taught, and
remain fast in movement, and do not tarry
when he starts to fence with you.
Then make without limit and end that
which is skillfull. Be quick and steady
without faltering, at once so that he cannot
strike. That is fortunate and he will be hurt,
when he cannot strike away, as the other
cannot part without being beaten. And after
the teaching that is here described, I say
truly, that the other cannot defend without
danger. If you have understood this he
will not come to strikes. Here note that
constant motion [Frequens motus] holds
the beginning, middle and the end of all
fencing according to this art and teaching.
That is you should quickly do the beginning,
the middle and the end without delay
and without any hindrances from the opponent
and not letting him strike at you.
That concept comes from the two words
before [Vor] and after [Nach], that is the
first strike [Vorschlag] and the after strike
[Nachschlag], in the middle
” Princes and Lords learn to survive with this art, in earnest and in play. However, if you are fearful, then you should not learn to fence. Because a despondent heart will always be defeated, regardless of all skill.”
The text goes directly into the Liechtenauer verse, and does not have what we would consider a introductive text.
Most chapters in Goliath correspond almost exactly with chapters in Danzig's Fechtbuch. Like Danzig's fechtbuch, Goliath includes the teachings of several earlier masters with the teachings of a contemporary master, perhaps an elderly Peter von Danzig or perhaps one or more of his students in the case of MS 1449. Unlike MS 1449, the anonymous master in Goliath contributed to every fighting art covered in the book, but his identity is uncertain at this time (05/04). The following is a map of how the two books relate.
I'm divulging the Art of Fencing with these Knightly and Manly Weapons, which at the current time for us Germans is of greatest necessity, to which my best understanding and abilities are well and truly described for up taking, and although the lesson given is obvious, that fencing with the sword is not the sole origin and wellspring for all other fencing arts, it is celebrated among other weapons for artfulness and manliness, and because of it I have what's needed for good understanding from which to make progress, and thus quickly, so onward I see with clarity how with wise handling all this can be applied in other arts and disciplines.
Firstly attain your target for comprehension and skill to present, (2) then from Mastering this art move with diligence to seek on, that one balances habit thus with curiosity to learn more shortly the fighting one wishes to understand.
Then thirdly, achieve the ability to extend the art in your own right, and from your clarity attain and exude the proper judgment in Stance and Strikes so that Youth will not have to learn this art unguided and, because of your unspoken word, ill is wrought and they thus learn wrongly to the detriment of the art. Once achieved, we need your words and thoughts in this art, first from notes you would clarify, then onto subjects important to read in training, then to other subjects you want to develop further, so that the discipline of fencing grows on properly understood principles you have contributed to, rather than standing on mindless buffoonery, thus greater the difference between buffoonery and fencing will become, and the Knightly art of Fencing will grow from Warriors far and wide, particularly to Citizens at large, but beware the Buffoon, to whom the unseemliest losses are and who is found everywhere in the world, until all are put away.
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.
This can be advanced in three stages and be organized thus, namely as the Start, the Middle and the End, where the three stages each have one aim which you shall fence through, and must do one by one to advance, that you thereby know with which strikes or stances you will engage your counterpart and then frontally attack as you would in the Middle stage's handwork, letting fly to work against the openings, keeping the initiative such that his attacks are preempted. The Last is as you are fulfilled and will, with harm neither inflicted nor received, withdraw.
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, Arcing, Bouncing, Winding, Dazzling, Cover, Knee Hollow, Plunging, and Changing Strikes. Master Strikes are: Wrathful, Arc, 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. The sword's pieces, or components, are the Pommel, Point, Cross, Barrel, Grip, Binding, and the Blade. The blade's components are the Strong, Weak, Short and Long Edges, that is the Forward and Trailing Edges. The sword's strong is the region from the Cross or Grip to the middle of the blade. The Weak goes from the middle to the point or end of the sword. The Long Edge is the full edge from the fingers directly to the furthest end. The Short or Half Edge (one can call them sword jerks) involves the gripping of the blade between and against the thumb and palm. Furthermore the sword attack modes are fourfold. The first mode is with the haft, or binding with the cross, pommel striking, charging in, grappling, throwing, and various other methods. The second mode involves cutting, winding, and striking with the Strong. The third mode involves the middle of the sword, the outer Strong and the Weak, where half swording is used. The fourth mode involves the Weak in Changing Through, Rushing, Peering, and other closing methods. The fencer should view his opponent in terms of Upper and Lower, and also Left and Right, targets, as seen from the figure on the right of the above illustration. Target these to fence, aim high to split the head, and then go for the throat or knees on either side. Move to the proper stance or ward to achieve advantage and superior position and threaten the entire body with your sword by aiming at all openings, Upper, Lower, Left and Right. From these foundations, Start, Middle, and End, rises the art of fencing
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