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Glossary of the Kunst des Fechtens
(compiled by David Rath, edited by Mark Rector)


Abnemen: 1. To intercept an attack with the weapon. 2. To free oneself from the bind.

Abrayssen, abraißen: To push the opponent's hand or weapon downward with the hilt (gehiltz).

Abschnappen: To get free of a bind (band) by sliding or beating the blade away with a strong, controlled blow.

Abschnyden: To slice over the arms from below or above; usually with long, or true edge (langer schnyde).

Absetzen: (put, place) To parry an attack on the lower openings (bloßen). The attack is stifled by leading the weapon with the true edge (langer schnyde) while moving towards the side from which the attack originates.

Alber: (fool) One of the lower wards (leger or huten), with the sword held in front of the body with the point directed toward the ground. ("The fight books attribute less importance and skill to the lower wards, alber and pflug, or ‘plow,’ than to the upper wards, since they offer poor protection to the upper body and fewer possibilities for defense, and are poor positions for the delivery of attacks. Only a ‘simpleton,’ an inexperienced fencer, places his weapon in the ward of the alber." – David Rath)

Alter schnitt: (the ancient slice) A cut over the arm of the opponent, when this has repulsed a nachreisen. The alter schitt is one of the "secrets" of German swordplay.

Anbinden: (tied up) The weapons collide; the moment of their contact.

Ansetzen: (to place) An attack aimed at a certain target on the body.

Außer nym: (outside engagement) A nachreisen, that is thrust under the opponent's weapon to the lower openings from the outside.

Bainbruch: (under break) A wrestling grip made at the legs, which throws an opponent to the ground.

Band: (bind) The moment when the blades make contact with opposition. A bind.

Bedebern, bedebren: To defend with stabs or blows; used with mhd. beteben = stun

Binden: (bind) See band.

Blitzen: (flashes) To strike with a shower of sparks.

Bloßen: (openings) The body of a fencer is divided by two imaginary intersecting lines into four openings or targets. One line divides the body horizontally at the line of the waist, the other line divides the body vertically through the central axis, forming right and left upper and lower openings.

Brechen: (breaks) 1. To penetrate by force, to wound. 2. To defend effectively. (vgl. mhd. brechen = to force or suddenly enter, and mhd. zerbrechen = to wound.)

Brentschirn: A state of battle in which the edges of the swords rub together in the bind. An attempt to dominate the opposing sword from this position. The bind at the half-sword (Talhoffer 1467). A compound word from the plural of mhd. brant = the sparking sword and mhd. schurn = provoke, stoke.

Bruch: (break) 1. Every effective defense leads to a counterattack: one "breaks" the attack of the opposing weapon with one’s own action. 2. A wrestling counter-grip. The counter-grips of the wrestler were intended to throw the opponent suddenly from a more or less upright position to the ground, "breaking" him. Stuck und bruch (Talhoffer 1467): attack and counter-attack.

Brysen: (breezes) A defensive push; to press hard; cornering. vgl. mhd. brisen = wedge, to tie up.

Buckler: A small, round shield with a central boss for the hand grip, used for fighting on foot. Some German bucklers are pointed and hooked at the top and bottom.

Buffel: (buffalo) A derogatory word for fighters without the art of defense, who rely upon strength alone.

Degen: (swords) Blade; dagger. See tegen.

Drey hewe: (three cuts) A series of three main blows: an unterhau from the right, followed by an unterhau from the left, which is drawn through and turned into a powerful scheitelhau from above.

Drey wunder: (three wonders) The cut (hauw), the slice (schnitt), and the thrust (stoss).

Duplieren: An oberhau that turns into a snatch, dupliert, through a swift crossing over of the arms. The left hand, which guides the sword pommel, goes under the right hand in this position. The sword is between the weapon and body of the opponent and strikes with the false edge against his unprotected head and a zeckruroren against his arms.

Durchlauffen, durchlauffer: (pass through) A term for two actions: 1. To run in under the opponent's weapon as he makes an attack to the high line, while keeping the hilt of one’s sword on the left side of one’s head, with the blade hanging across one’s back. 2. To pass all the way under the opponent’s raised right arm, so that one may reach his back and do a wrestling throw.

Durchsetzen: (pushes through) A time thrust from above or below that passes between the opponent's extended arm and his body.

Durchstreychen, straichen: (stretch through) A constant circling motion with opposition along the opposing sword, that disengages and thrusts or cuts into another opening; a type of durchwechseln.

Durchwechsel, durchwechssler, durchwechseln, wechslen: (change through) 1. To change the attack to another opening from the bind. 2. To place the point under the opponent's sword before the bind, slipping through, and thrusting to a lower opening. 3. To draw a parry to a thrust, then to disengage to the other side.

Einhorn: (unicorn) From the sprechfenster, make a straight thrust to the face. A valsch ortt, a thrust that was regarded as dangerous and malicious.

Einlauffen: To duck under the opposing weapon.

Eisenport, isern pfortte, isenpforte: The "Iron Door." A strong defensive position, with the blade held in front of the body with the point directed toward the ground, covering the lower openings. The Iron Door may be made in the center, to the left or to the right.

Fallen: (falls) Changes in given sequences. The performance of swift and sudden transitions in a fight.

Fehler, feller: see veller.

Ferzucken: Sudden changes in the direction of the attack.

Fryer ortt: Any placed thrust. See langer ort.

Fulen, fullen, fuhlen, fulen: To judge or sense the opponent’s strength or weakness through the feel of one’s own weapon, with the aid of a properly placed blow or at the moment of a strong bind. Similar to the French sentiment du fer or Spanish tacto.

Gefarte, gefahrte, geferte: The intended attacks and the manner of their execution; the combination of blows.

Gehiltz, gehültz: Cross guard of the hilt.

Geschrenckt ortt: A thrust in which the hands are crossed, the left hand under the right. A crosswise thrust.

Gewapnet stehen: The half-sword stance, made by grasping the middle of the blade with the left hand while holding the hilt in the right hand. The term expresses that this position covers and protects the body against attacks especially well. See kurtzes schneid.

Gewappet ort, gewappnet ortt: To thrust from the half-sword stance.

Glutzen: (glow) To make a shower of sparks.

Hande drucken, hende trucken: To direct a vigorous slice under and over the arms and inside the elbow. The term refers to the pressure of the hands exerted by means of the blade against the arms of the opponent.

Hangen, hengen: To hold the sword with the hilt higher than the point so that the blade "hangs," covering the body and directed towards the face of the opponent. One differentiates the two lower hengens, identical to the pflug, and the two upper hengens, identical to the ochs.

Halb schwert: (half-sword) To hold the sword with the left hand on the middle of the blade and the right hand on the hilt. Originally for use against an armored opponent, half-sword attacks are very powerful.

Hals hauw: A cut to the throat.

Handhabe: Hilt.

Hart, horte: (hard) To stike with strength; a forceful blow, thrust, bind or attack.

Hut: A ward, guard or stance. The expression is based on the idea of the "protective vigilance" that the fencer maintains in the huten. See leger.

In des, indess: (in the meanwhile) 1. In a flash; to do at the same time. 2) The term for all fast reactions; combinations that occur simultaneously.

Klitzen: (claps) To collide with noise.

Klutzen: See glutzen.

Krawthacke: (garden hoe) A mnemonic word for a swift sequence of blows to the upper and lower openings in a vertical direction, in which one takes a step toward the opponent with each upward blow.

Krieg: (war) Close combat; in-fighting.

Krone, kron: (crown) A high ward or guard in which the sword protects the head.

Krumpen, krumphawen: to execute a krumphau.

Krumphau, krumphaw: (crooked cut) An almost horizontal cut, made with the left hand crossed under the right while stepping with the left foot.

Kurtze schnyde, schnaide, schneyde: The upper or false edge of the blade. The backhand blow with the kurtzen schnyde can only be made in the short distance.

Kurtzes schwert: The half-sword. The term assumes that the left hand shortens the sword edge.

Langer ort, lang ortt: To thrust over a long distance with stretched out arms.

Lazen varn: To miss with a cut or thrust.

Legen: To take a position, as in one of the four wards.

Leger, läger: Another name for hut, guard or ward. An advantageous position with the weapon, from which to launch or repulse attacks. In contrast to hut, the word does not indicate the function of the position, but the disposition of the weapon.

Leichmeister, leychmeister: Dance master.

Ligen: to position oneself into a ward or guard.

Lincke clinge: (left edge) The false edge, or kurtze schnyde, of the sword.

Linie: Line.

Mittel haw (middle cut) A horizontal cut.

Mortschlag: (murder stroke) A powerful stroke with the hilt and pommel of the sword, made by reversing the weapon and grasping it by the blade.

Noterczunge: A rapid series of thrusts over the hilt of the opposing sword, in which a durchwechseln is initiated again and again, but is not executed, until the opponent is overwhelmed and exposes an opening for a certain thrust. The sword in its movement is like the hissing tongue of an adder.

Oberhau: Any blow directed from above.

Oberhawen: A straight blow directed from above.

Oberschnitt: See schnitt.

Ochs: (ox) One of the two upper wards, guards, huten or leger. Made by carrying the hilt of the sword by the side of the head, with the point hanging towards the opponent’s face. The sword sticks out from swordsman’s head like the horn of an ox.

Ort: Point or thrust.

Pflug: (plow) One of the lower wards, guards, leger or huten. The hilt is carried in front of the body, with the point directed toward the opponent’s face. The posture of the fencer in this guard is similar to that of a plowman.

Pfoberr zagel: Making a circular motion with the point in front of the opponent's eyes, until a favorable opening is discovered; corresponding approximately to the redel. With the pfoberr zagel, the fencer executes a sword movement that resembles a pummeling wheel from the tail of a peacock.

Platzen: (burst through) To cut into an attack with an attack that reaches the target. The noise of the entering weapon is described.

Rauschen: (rustles) A swift series of attacks. This term expresses the swift movement and sound of the attacks.

Rawsch: A wild attack; see rauschen.

Redel: To hold the sword with an extended right arm and execute a swift circular motion in front of oneself in order to provoke one’s opponent. The term refers to the optical appearance: arm and sword rotate like a wheel.

Remen, ramen, rämen: To hit a target after the attack.

Ruren, ruoren: To reach with a cut or thrust to the body.

Ryssen: To tear at the joints or arms with the hilt and pommel of the sword.

Schaide: Any kind of bind, even between a hand and a weapon. The term expresses the idea of a close contact, such as that which exists between a sword and a scabbard.

Schaittelhaw, scheytelhau, schaytler: A vertical cut from above.

Schiessens, schussen: To execute a sudden and powerful thrust. In close combat, to slide one’s blade along the opponent’s weapon, using it as a guide.

Schilhaw, schiller, schilcher: (squinting cut) A cut from above with several variations. Usually, one turns one’s right side so that it is narrow to the opponent, and hits with the false edge. It is common in all variations that one "glances" and deceives the opponent by not looking directly at the target.

Schlachender ort: Another term for mortschlag.

Schnappens: To execute a sudden movement of the weapon; the movement itself. The suddenness and noise of the movement are described.

Schnitt: Slice. One of the "three wonders." May be made from above, oberers schnitts, or from below, unterer schnitts.

Schnitt durch die kron: (slice through the crown) A diagonal slice from below with the true edge of the sword, with one’s hands or arms raised over the kron.

Schrankhut: A ward or guard made by placing the point forward and towards the ground on either the right or left side; await the opponent’s attack, and parry it with a krumphauw, slightly diagonal, with level blade. Other names for this guard are eisernepforte and pfurte. The schrankhut closes off an opponent's attack.

Schut: The disruption that results when binding weapons.

Schutten: To jar, to knock together with strength and noise, to bind.

Schwech (weak) The part of the sword blade from the middle to the point.

Schwuch: A lever grip on the arm, with momentum that forces the opponent to fall. To schwuchten, to teetertotter.

Sprechfenster: To stay on guard in a strong bind after an oberhau is parried with an upper hanging guard, with the point directed at the opponent's face in order to foretell his plan of attack. The two weapons form a kind of window cross, through which the adversaries are able to regard each other.

Starck: Powerfull, effective attacks or operations in the bind.

Sterck, sterk, storck: 1. A strong bind on the weapon. 2. The strong part of the blade, from the hilt to the middle. 3. An attack of particular effectiveness and skill (art).

Stercken: Attacks of particular effectiveness and those executed with skill (art); to linger in the bind with strength.

Streychen, straichen: To direct a blow from below against the opponent’s blade. The blow nullifies the opponent’s action, because of the momentum of one’s blade along the opponent’s blade. This execution is especially effective when delivered from the nebenhut on the left side.

Sturtzhaw: A blow timed with the forward movement of the foot; usually made with the false edge and the hands crossed; also a thrust by the same name. It is important that the follow through is emphasized by firmly placing the foot. The name refers to the execution of the body movement.

Taschenhaw: A versatzung for mounted combat; a blow with the true edge from the chief guard for mounted combat, in which the sword is held in the crook of the slightly bent left arm.

Tegen: A long, two-edged fighting knife, a dagger.

Tenner: The palm, the side of the hand that is not protected by armor.

Tuck lauff: A fast, secretive movement for the purpose of gaining a wrestling grip. tuc = fast movement; artful prank, trick.

Twerehaw, twerchhau: See zwerchhaw.

Uberfallen: Cutting or thrusting over the opponent's weapon when it is held too low and the upper two are exposed; see also uberlauffen.

Uberlauffen: 1) Any cut or thrust over the opponent’s weapon, when he attacks one’s lower openings. 2) To hook and pull down on the inside or outside of the opponents' weapon over his hilt, in the proximity of his hand, with one’s right hand close to the hilt.

Underhalten: To maintain a grip on one’s opponent after he has been thrown to the ground.

Underhaw: A cut directed upwards from below with the true edge.

Undern schnitt: To slice with the edge from below upward.

Valsch ortt: A thrust to the face. A dishonest and dangerous attack that was only allowed in serious combat.

Veller: To feint. A false attack to the upper opening, finishing in the lower opening with a cut or thrust.

Verborgenes ringen: (wrestling secrets) Dangerous wrestling grips that were allowed only in serious fights and not for use during fight school. Introductory remarks as to their use were demonstrated but not allowed to be used.

Verhawen: An offensive cut, made before the opponent can attack.

Verkerer, verkehrer: To thrust from the bind with swords rotated nearly 180°. The expression refers to the sword posture.

Versatzung, versetzen: To set aside the opponent's blade. Deflection.

Vom tag: 1. One of the upper wards, guards, huten or leger. The left foot is forward, the hilt is held head high or near the shoulder and the point is directed diagonally upward. 2) From above.

Von dach: (from the roof) From above. Dach has the same function as tag in the expression vom tag: the word replaces an abstract noun. Possibly "roof" is only a form of tac, so that the two expressions are actually identical.

Vor (before) The offensive; getting in first in a fighting bout.

Waage (scales) To make a wrestling grip on the elbow of the opponent and throw him over one’s left foot, before he puts his right foot down and is off-balance.

Waich: For a bind without strength, that is springy or feeble, thrust from blow.

Wechsel (change) See wechssler.

Wechssler, wechselhau (changing cut) An attack that is parried and suddenly changes into a cut directed to another target.

Weckemeister: To displace or parry an attack from the "plow," and then thrust upward from below to the opponent’s face.

Wennden, wenden, winden (turns, winds) From the bind, to wind one’s blade about the opponent’s weapon, using the wrists, until an opportunity for attack emerges.

Zeck, zeckrur zecke (tick) To deliver a slight hit with the weapon when in close combat. zecke = a slight jab or hit versetzens.

Zorn haw: (cut of wrath) To direct a powerful cut from behind one’s shoulder, straight at the opponent.

Zornort: To swing the sword back wide and then lift it over the head to thrust.

Zucken: (twitches) A jerky freeing of the weapon from the bind. When an opponent has overstepped in the bind, bringing himself into close distance, one may take renewed cuts or thrusts at the first opening. During this, one remains for a moment in the bind.

Zwerchen: To execute a zwerchhaw.

Zwerchhaw, zwer, zwerch: To direct a cut diagonally with the sword edge in any direction and variation, in which the hilt of the sword is always taken with crossed hands in front of one’s head, for its protection.