For the past several years, Jake Norwood (Capital KDF), Mike Edelson (New York Historical Fencing Association), and Cory Winslow (Medieval European Martial Arts Guild) have been each assembling their concept of what Liechtenauer's art of fighting may have looked like, and how it was supposed to be taught. They have traded ideas back and forth, argued for days, and all focus on slightly different applications of the art. For the most part, though, they fall in line with each other.

The Modern Gloss started off as an ambitious video project between Jake Norwood and Ben Michels; an attempt to document the whole of their current understanding of Liechtenauer's system. Not just an explanation of how to perform all of the techniques, but also why, when, and in what context. Due to various factors, mostly surrounding time and availability, this project did not go far. We have shifted gears.

Over the last year, Norwood, Edelson, and Winslow have compiled their ideas into documents and videos. This isn't without its challenges... every couple weeks seems to bring new revisions. However, in a text form, this is much easier to handle. Our new plan is to release a blog post about every week covering one section at a time. Any disagreements between the three will be included as alternative ideas. These blog posts will function as living documents that can be catalogued and updated over the next year. Once every section is complete, the posts will be compiled into a convenient class book to be published.

This first post is a forward to Grandmaster Liechtenauer's tradition written by Cory Winslow. All Modern Gloss posts will be catalogued on our Modern Gloss page for easy reference. As mentioned, these posts will be updated from time to time to reflect the current understanding of each section by the authors.

Foreword

This section details a brief history of the of the Art of the Sword of Grandmaster Liechtenauer, and an introduction to the Art of Fencing itself.

Context for Development of the Art

The Germanic lands of the Holy Roman Empire around the turn of the 15th century in the Late Middle Ages were dangerous places of great social change. The rise of the Burgher middle class, due to the ever-increasing strength of the merchant and artisan guilds, helped to push the feudal system along its steady decline, gradually replacing the political prominence of military power with that of economics. Multitudes of princes and Imperial Free Cities incessantly warred amongst themselves and one another, pitting their knights, mercenaries, militias, and all manner of professional and conscripted fighting men against each other in their fueds. The roads were perilous, with the dangers of thieves and murderers ever present. Quarrels between men could easily break out in the city streets or countryside, sometimes with deadly results. This was a time in which there was no national army, and in addition to the well-armed fighting men provided by the knightly class, every non-noble household was expected to provide a man capable of wielding arms, be it for the town guard to keep the peace, local militia to repel attack, or levied infantry to fight in wars. Nearly every household therefore held weapons, commonly being swords amongst others, and many men often carried these when they went about their daily business, where it was permitted to do so.

Although the open wearing of swords by any but the knightly class was uncommon, violence making use of these, or illicit duels, which called for one’s self-defense, could come about at any time. Due to legal and social constraints, not all of these encounters were lethal, and many times fights would simply be to the first blood, incapacitation, or surrender, since killing wantonly would almost certainly result in severe criminal punishment. However, in matters of honor and cases of serious crimes, there was a legally and socially accepted means of recourse through deadly combat known the judicial duel or Kämpfen. This was a sanctioned, ritualized process in which, after an accuser brought his case to trial and a date was set, justice would be determined in a trial-by-combat with pre-determined equipment in a regulated environment, ensuring that the combatants were equally tested against one another to determine the rightful victor. Inherited from earlier Germanic warrior culture, the judicial duel was a deeply ingrained practice in a society which emphasized the Knightly Ethos and promoted the martial arts. Although such duels became increasingly less frequent and essentially ceased during the course of the Late Middle Ages, the framework for the martial tradition centered around their practice long remained in place.

There were many different rule sets implemented for judicial duels, varying between cultures and time periods. In such duels, the combatants who were to fight were usually given a period of time in which to train before they would meet in combat. During this time, the combatants could seek out the guidance of fencing masters, who would teach their clients various techniques and strategies with which to win their duels. Some of these masters had learned their trade in war or duels, while others were themselves taught by experienced masters, forming fencing traditions. In addition to preparing students for judicial or illicit duels and matters of self-defense, the lessons taught by these masters could also be applied to warfare, sportive competition, skill demonstration, and physical exercise. In order to detail, advertise, share, or otherwise record their teachings, some fencing masters authored fencing manuals, many of which have survived to the present day.

The earliest fencing manual preserved from Medieval Europe is a German book on fencing with the single-handed sword and buckler, dated to sometime around 1320 and written in Latin, known as Royal Armouries Ms I.33. Within this book is a complete system of guards, counter-guards, attacks, defenses, and other techniques, along with colored illustrations. Included is specific fencing terminology written in the vernacular, which may indicate that the art contained in this book was built upon an earlier oral or common fencing tradition. Although Ms I.33 is the only manual that is currently known to remain from this early period, it can be surmised that other distinct fencing traditions, as well as simplistic and intuitive common methods of fencing, existed in various places and times throughout Europe. It was from and in response to these traditions that Grandmaster Johannes Liechtenauer, the founder of the tradition detailed in this book, compiled his Art using the newly developed Langes Schwert or long sword.

The Art of the Long Sword

The Art of the Long Sword was derived from the use of the Messer or long-knife, a single-edged, sword-like weapon, used in one hand, usually without a shield. The long sword itself was most likely developed in Europe sometime in the 13th century, after which time it became extremely popular. Its development occurred because, as plate armor replaced mail, the use of a shield became increasingly unnecessary, freeing the knight to use both hands on his weapon, allowing the sword itself to be made longer, and resulting in quick and powerful attacks, and the ability to use more leverage and control in order to manipulate his opponent’s weapon, all leading to a new style of fencing. The term “long sword” itself does not necessarily refer to the size of the weapon, but instead to the manner in which the weapon is gripped with both hands on the handle, making full use of its length, as opposed to gripping it with the left hand on the blade for use in “shortened sword” techniques employed against an armored opponent. Therefore, the common term for the weapon itself, regardless of use, was simply “sword”.

Although the primary weapons of war in the Holy Roman Empire of the Late Medieval Period were mainly polearms of various forms, the sword filled the role of a versatile secondary or special purpose weapon. It was a utilitarian weapon, easily transportable when worn on the thigh in a scabbard, capable of both hews with the edge and stabs with the point. It was light enough to be used in one hand, but heavy enough for devastating attacks with two hands, and short enough to be used indoors, but long enough to keep opponents at a distance. The sword could be used in armor or out of armor, on foot or on horseback.

Grandmaster Liechtenauer

Grandmaster Johannes Liechtenauer was the progenitor of the Liechtenauer tradition of fencing, known as the Kunst des Fechtens or Art of Fencing, which consists of an organization of principles and techniques for a variety of knightly weapons on foot (zu Fuess) and on horseback (zu Ross), in armor (Harnischfechten), and unarmored (Blossfechten). Master Liechtenauer lived during the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking lands of the Holy Roman Empire, and did not himself invent the Art of Fencing, which had been in practice in various forms for centuries, but traveled though many lands and studied with their local masters in order to learn various aspects of this Art. In time, he is said to have come to fully understand the entire Art of Fencing, and went on to develop a series of rhyming verses known as the Zettel or Epitome in order to encapsulate it, so that with it he could educate nobles, knights, and soldiers in the Art’s use. Master Liechtenauer wrote this Epitome using secretive terminology and descriptions that only his students would understand, thereby protecting the meaning of its verses from reckless fencing masters and all others who were not meant to discern them, so that these teachings would not become commonly known.

The principal discipline of Master Liechtenauer’s tradition is fencing on foot, without armor, using the long sword, called the “Art of the Sword”. The weapon used in this discipline is the most artful and heroic of all in Germanic culture, and is the origin and source for the learning of every other weapon discipline within Master Liechtenauer’s tradition. This is because the sword is neither too big nor too small, neither too heavy nor too light, but is versatile, and may be employed with such a variety of techniques that through its study the proper use of many other weapons may be gleaned. In this book, the secret meaning of the Epitome of the Long Sword is plainly explained by students of Liechtenauer’s school, so that anyone who may otherwise fence may learn the hidden teachings of the Grandmaster.

The complete fencing system with the sword that Master Liechtenauer developed was a triumph of knowledge, skill, pedagogy, and efficiency. From a multitude of traditions and common fencing techniques, he developed a system that would both address and defeat these earlier practices, and also be effective against itself when used by a skilled fencer. His system, when explained by the commentaries of his disciples, was designed to instruct both new and experienced fencers, teaching first basic and then advanced actions. The teachings in his system are presented in a very efficient manner, with each lesson being presented only when necessary within the overall scheme of instruction. Once thoroughly understood and practiced, Grandmaster Liechtenauer’s Art is incredibly effective in its intended purpose.

The Epitome

The Epitome of Grandmaster Liechtenauer was composed in such a way that it may be used to instruct students in a highly efficient manner. It was recorded in rhyming verses with specific terms, which were used as a mnemonic device to aid in retention. The order in which the lessons are presented in the Zettel are deliberate and ingenious. Rather than taking an academic approach, Grandmaster Liechtenauer chose to teach his students in an organic manner by presenting techniques and concepts using a multitude of examples, and by divulging knowledge only when applicable during the course of instruction. To this end, he divided his Zettel into several main parts.

The Preface lays down the ethical, pedagogical, and strategic foundation of the entire Kunst des Fechtens. The General Lessons then provide us with the tactical framework which applies to all 17 Chief Techniques of the Zettel, which follow. After this, the Five Hews teach us different methods of entering the fight, and introduce us to the 12 Chief Techniques and other lessons in an organic way through specific examples. The 12 Chief Techniques, which are the main components of the fight, are then dissected using written explanations of principles and specific examples of techniques. All of this culminates in the Conclusion of the Zettel, which succinctly summarizes the entirety of the Art.

Alteration and Decline of the Art

Master Liechtenauer had many disciples who became fencing masters themselves, and the lineage of Liechtenauer’s tradition lasted for hundreds of years. These disciples frequently added their own teachings to that of Liechtenauer’s Art, leading to a number of additional techniques and lessons which were taught alongside the Grandmaster’s. As time went on, Liechtenauer’s teachings went from being the secret knowledge of the few to being learned in large fencing schools throughout the Empire, leading to the addition of new techniques and strategies to overcome the practiced and initiated. Some of these additional or alternate lessons dealt with judicial duels to the death; others with earnest fights under certain legal limitations such as thrusting to the face being forbidden; others with warfare, where trained swordsmen would receive double pay; others with sporting competitions, such as fighting with specific rules and blunted swords to the first blood for gold or honor; and still others with exercise for the health of the body. Fencing guilds, such as the Marxbrüder, were formed in order to regulate instruction of the Art and sanction its instruction, licensing of Masters, and public exhibition.

During the 16th century the Art was altered in order to adapt to the societal, political, and technological changes of the time. The long-held Germanic practice of combat in the judicial duel to the death, having been in decline for many years, seems to have been finally forbidden during this period, possibly by Emperor Maximilian I who, although a practitioner of the Art himself, was also a devout Christian and a shrewd ruler, and would have wished to stem violence amongst his people. This ban on the judicial duel, along with the increasing frequency in which weapons seem to have been worn openly, appear to have led to an increase in illicit dueling. Around the same time as this prohibition, the use of stabbing with the point of the sword became greatly discouraged among the Germans, despite the practice continuing to persist with the Italians and French. When defending themselves or fighting in illicit duels the Germans of this time period were said to use the flat of their sword to strike their opponents, only using the edge when necessary, but avoiding the use of the point, lest they face criminal penalties for stabbing their opponents. Even in war, stabbing with the sword was said to have not been practiced, although the pike, which made great use of the stab, was one of the dominate battlefield weapons of the time. Fencing culture seems to have grown with the emerging middle class during this period, with highly popular public matches being fought using blunt swords, usually to the highest bleeding wound, every Sunday in some German cities. These contests were not meant to be lethal, and thus fencers could not employ Liechtenauer’s Art fully, since several techniques were disallowed.

Eventually, due to the ever-increasing effectiveness of firearms, men began to wear armor less often, and handy single-handed swords, such as the rapier, became the dominant sidearm against such unarmored opponents, replacing the sword in this role. The use of firearms made the two-handed sword less and less necessary, before finally making it militarily obsolete by some time in the 17th century. After this time the two-handed sword was relegated more and more to sportive competition and exercise or ceremony, and eventually its use was abandoned altogether. The tradition of Grandmaster Liechtenauer was thus finally broken sometime in the late 18th century.

Revival of the Liechtenauer Tradition

In the late 19th and the 20th centuries there were a few scattered attempts to breathe new life into these lost Historical European Martial Arts by researchers who read and interpreted the surviving medieval and renaissance treatises written by the old masters, but these reconstructions ultimately faded away once more. It wasn’t until the widespread use of the internet in the late 20th century that researchers could communicate and share their work in reconstructing these Arts from the primary sources with one another, growing the communities of HEMA researchers and practitioners that we have today. At the time of the writing of this book, Liechtenauer’s Art is being practiced in many schools across the world, and is the most popular of the revived Historical European Martial Arts.

The work that follows here is a modern interpretation solely on the early tradition of Grandmaster Liechtenauer, which was applicable, as originally intended, to the deadly judicial duel, warfare, self-defense, sporting competition, and physical exercise. It is the result of many years of research and training, and hopefully will be of great help to both new and experienced practitioners of the Art of the Sword.

A Note on the Fechtkunst

The Fechtkunst or Fencing-Art was developed so that those who use skill, cunning, and cleverness may defeat those with little or no understanding of the Art who rely on natural abilities such as strength, speed, and reach alone. There are no artificialities in the Art of Fencing, and all possible actions and inactions may be employed at the correct time and place, depending on the actions of the opponent, in order to defeat him. Therefore, there is but one Art of Fencing, constrained only by the objective laws of physics, specifics of the tools involved, and employed accordingly to the subjective psychology and physiology of the opponent. The Art of Fencing is found in determining and enacting the correct tactics and techniques based on underlying universal principles in order to defeat an opponent.

Those tactics and techniques found to be most readily useful and reliable, relevant to the temporal culture, weapons, and fencers of the Holy Roman Empire in the 15th century, are presented in the work that follows. However, the universal principles of Fechtkunst are not limited only to such a narrow window of time and space, but are foundational to all things. Although the subject of the Fechtkunst is not itself wide, the Kunst or Art from which it draws is all-encompassing. Through the practice of the Art, one is masterfully guided to examine his life and actions, and use every kind of advantage for his own improvement. The in-depth study of any art will give you such insights, but Martial Arts in particular force you to directly face opponents, death, and yourself, so that the process of learning is quite poignant. So, think well on these teachings, so that they may help to guide your life well.

You shall know that this true Art is efficient, employing those actions which are most timely, direct and simple. No extraneous movements should be made, which would waste time and energy, as well as leave you open to your opponent’s attacks. Such superfluously wide and showy motions of the sword, which are slow and dangerous, are reserved for those who wish to entertain spectators. In Grandmaster Liechtenauer’s Art, the point of your sword should move in the straightest line possible towards your target when you attack your opponent, and you should hit him with one good hew or stab rather than having to make several actions, if possible. You must not hesitate or delay with your actions once you know what you should do, but the timing of your movements should reflect their physical efficiency. Therefore, always strive to remain true to the Art with your fencing, and do not allow yourself to become lax in your motions, or seduced by the theatrics of those who profess to understand the use of the sword, but really know nothing more than show-fighting.

You must also understand that, as there is a difference between having a map and making a journey, reading about the Art of Fencing is different than practicing it. In order to truly understand the Art, you must physically put it into use through training. Likewise, the Art is better taught and instructed physically with the hand than it is through speaking of it or reading it in a book. Therefore, you should think hard on the lessons that follow, and practice them as much as possible, so that the Art becomes better revealed to you.

Now follows the text, consisting of Liechtenauer’s verse and modern commentary. The italicized writing is the Epitome, and the standard writing is the interpretive explanation of the Epitome.

 

Preface

Grandmaster Liechtenauer’s Zettel begins here by laying the ethical, pedagogical, and strategic foundation for the entire Kunst des Fechtens.

Young knight learn
To have love for God, honor maidens,
So waxes your honor.
Practice Knighthood, and learn
Art that adorns you,
And in wars courts to honor.
Wrestle well, grappler.
Lance, spear, sword, and knife,
Manfully handle,
And in others’ hands ruin.
Hew therein, and swift there.
Rush in, hit or let drive.
Knowing this,
Hastens the man seen praised.
Thereon you grasp,

All art has length and measure.

Knightly Virtues

An ethical and disciplined lifestyle lends itself well to those who will learn this Art, and should be observed from the onset of study. Dedication to the chivalric ideals of Knighthood, including the virtues of faith, hope, charity, fortitude, moderation, prudence, justice, respect, and loyalty, contributes to the cultivation of personal honor. Focusing on these attributes is used to balance the performance of violent actions and harsh mentality which are necessary in the life of a warrior. Although the sword is a weapon designed to kill, in the hands of one who acts justly in accordance with the ideals of Knighthood, it may be used for personal development and even the preservation of life. Because a fencer deals with techniques that may take the lives of others, it is important for him to devoutly and unashamedly learn how to conduct himself properly in his life, so that he does not wrongly do evil with the Art.

In order to be an upright fencer, you should studiously learn the Art and reflect upon its application and use, as well as heed and contemplate all of your actions in life, so that you may act in peaceful accordance with the nature of reality. You should not unrestrainedly indulge in sensual pleasures, lest you be ruined, but should be diligent in the pursuit of discipline, virility, modesty, temperance, and moderation, so that you may live a good and balanced life. You should not fight over harsh words given to you by another, nor engage in mindless brawling, but only use your Art when absolutely necessary.

In all your use of the sword, you should adhere to the following rules:

  • Always use your sword with a level head, free from any affecting moods, especially anger, which will cloud your judgment and make you forget the Art.
  • Do not use your sword with overconfidence when it is likely to cause you injury, but know your limitations and temper your actions with humility.
  • Only use your sword for just reasons, whether for personal development or in defense of yourself or others, and never to overpower or compel another person, or in foolish vanity.

The Art of Fencing with the sword is primarily a means by which you may more easily vanquish your opponent. However, one should also learn the Art because it makes its’ practitioners spry, active, able, even-tempered, slim, agile, and ready for all things. When practiced seriously, the Art of Fencing contributes greatly to the development of agility, strategy, and wisdom, among other admirable qualities. A fencer who is practiced in the Art is prudent and discerning in all matters great and small, since his mind has been whetted in numerous trials against others and himself. In the face of an encounter in which he must fight to defend his body, it makes him stout and undaunted, valiant, and bold in the face of danger. In war, it makes him hardy and selfless, so that he may win praise, honor, and victory. In peace, it is praiseworthy and fine to show the practice of the Art before others to illustrate the beauty that it holds. Using the sword is an expression of one’s own free will, being called the Free Knightly Art, and the blade is a mirror which reflects the core of its wielder, clearly showing his faults and virtues. A fencer should have no reason to be ashamed of what his reflection shows him.

The Weapon and the Body

The sword consists of a number of parts, each of which has been designed to fulfill a necessary function. There are two main divisions of the sword, being the hilt (Gehilz) and the blade (Klinge). The hilt is further divided into the cross-guard (Kreutz), haft (Heft), and pommel (Knopf). The blade is divided into the Strong (Sterck), Weak (Swech), flat (Flech), long edge (lange Schneide), short edge (kurtze Schneide), and point (Ort). The hilt is used primarily as a means by which you may grip the sword safely and securely, and is also used when running-in on your opponent and wrestling him with your sword. The cross defends the hands and ensures that they do not make contact with your own blade. The haft is used to provide a good area in which to grip the sword. The pommel provides a counter-balance to the blade, keeps your hands from slipping from the end of the haft, and can be used to bludgeon your opponent. The blade is used primarily to attack your opponent and defend yourself from his attacks. The Strong, which extends from the cross to the middle of the blade, is generally used to defend against his attacks, and also for such close techniques as Slicing, Hand-pressing, and Winding. The Weak, which extends from the middle of the blade to the point, is most often used to attack, and is also employed in extended techniques such as Changing-through. The flat may be used to hit your opponent without severely injuring him, such as if you wish to warn or mock him. The long edge, which is the forward edge that faces directly out from your fingers towards your opponent, may be used for strong direct attacks and strong parrying. The short edge, which is the back edge that normally faces towards you when you hold the sword before you, is used primarily for specialized techniques which defend you and attack your opponent simultaneously. The point is used to stab your opponent and also to threaten or compel him to act in a certain desirable way.

First and foremost, you should have a complete and sound sword with which to employ your Art. This sword must be sturdy and well made, handy enough to use quickly, with sharp edges and a fine point. It must have a strong cross-guard in order to protect your hands, and be properly balanced with a pommel of appropriate size to counterweight the blade. If an alternative weapon is used, it too must be made correctly, according to its kind.

A fencer’s body should be straight and healthy. He should be agile and quick in all movements, with good agile steps. Good endurance and breathing are also important to have and develop, so that an opponent may not simply wear him down. Only an adequate amount of physical strength is necessary to perform the techniques of the Art, and although possessing more is advantageous in some situations, it is less important than the proper understanding and intelligent practiced use of the Art, since the employment of the Art is meant to overcome strength by using strategy, otherwise this would not be an Art. Study these teachings diligently and practice them regularly, for theory alone is not enough, but physical practice is essential if you wish to develop skill. Then you will be able to defend yourself in serious situations and also be well-respected by your peers.

It is also advisable to train with the multiple weapons described in the Art of Fighting, which will expand your understanding of the totality of the Art. It is also good to be experienced with several different weapons in case you find yourself forced to fight using or against one. Ringen or wrestling, the discipline of unarmed fighting, is the basis for all combat. Its practice develops fundamentals such as balance, agility, strength, timing, and perception, and is applicable with all other disciplines when the range is very close. Fighting with the Degen or dagger is also considered an aspect of, or closely related to Ringen and is fundamental since daggers were nearly universally carried during Master Liechtenauer’s time. Fencing with the Messer or long-knife teaches the basis of fighting with a weapon in one hand, and the Art of the Sword was derived from its use. The Stangen or staff teaches how to fight with all polearms, its own use being based upon the Art of the Sword. Wrestling, lance, spear, sword, and dagger, as listed above in the Zettel, represent those Knightly disciplines commonly employed in the Judicial Duels of the time, and are those which are specifically addressed in the teachings of Grandmaster Liechtenauer.

Overview of Strategy

When you will fence with another, before all things you shall ensure that you are well armed, and see that you trust in your sword. You should be previously well trained and practiced in the Art of Fencing, ready to drive your opponent from his advantage, and prepared to act appropriately in unforeseen circumstances. You shall bravely be in a good cheerful mood, though without overconfidence, not fearing his attacks, because this will make your opponent craven.

Observe the particulars of the location where you will fight, and whether your opponent is large or small, quick or slow, aggressive or defensive, trained or novice; discern how he intends to act against you, so that you may conduct yourself accordingly against him. Focus on nothing but earnestly defeating your opponent, using caution, cunning, and prudence. Do not only think of defending, but look for an opportunity to attack him. Likewise, do not only think of hitting your opponent, or else your mind will be distracted with this thought and you may not perceive something else that is vital.

When you come to your opponent, then when you perceive that you may do so, you should attack him prudently, with quick thoughtfulness, so that you do not tarry and miss your chance with overlong consideration; elsewise you will have to defend yourself using the Art. When you attack or counterattack, you shall do so with good reason, having a finished technique appropriate for the circumstances in your mind, which you will attempt to accomplish, but adapt as needed according to unfolding events. You shall act with forethought, concealment, and constancy, driving towards your opponent’s openings, all the time assessing his manner and actions while keeping your own intentions secret, never giving him an advantage, but always seizing upon your own.

Drive earnestly after your opponent, but shun foolhardiness and do not lose with recklessness what you have gained. Pay attention to all opportunities so that you may come away from your opponent safe and victorious. Otherwise, be sure to withdraw to safety when necessary if things do not go as wished, so that you may attack anew. In all things you shall trust and follow the Art, with which you keep yourself safe and defeat your opponents. The particulars of how to employ this Art will be explained in detail in the following sections of this book.

Length and Measure

In the Art of Fencing, no matter what weapon you use, you must always have Leng und Masse or Length and Measure in your actions. Leng describes extension, while Masse describes the moderation of extension. In the Art of the Sword, the utilization of Leng and Masse generally adhere to the following descriptions. Leng refers to adequate extension of your blade by reaching out with the arms towards your opponent. Masse refers to the proper moderation of your body by standing low and making yourself small with your body. However, it often occurs that your reach with the sword must be moderated as well, as you will learn later in the lessons on Winden. Together, the principles of Length and Measure describe the adequate management of space in regard to your own body and weapon, which directly affects your management of distance from your opponent.

Utilizing Leng by extending far out with your arms and sword is done in order to properly utilize your full reach with the weapon, because he who does not adequately extend his arms with his attacks fights short, and allows his opponent to outreach or otherwise defeat him. Utilizing Masse by sinking your body down in a balanced stance with your feet wide apart is done so that you have proper grounding and structure, and to present a smaller target to your opponent, because he who does not sink into a balanced stance is often easily knocked over, weak, and presents a larger target. However, always be sure not to hyperextend your arms, which would cause you to hew badly, nor should you place your feet too wide and body too low in stance, which would cause you to be slow with your steps, but temper all of your actions so that you benefit from them as much as possible. In general, you should stand in a balanced stance and extend your weapon long from you, so that you are small with your body and large with your weapon, ready to step quickly forward or backward, and maintain proper distance from your opponent for the technique which you are executing.

Both Length and Measure influence the proper management of distance from the opponent, and thus are very important things of which you should be aware at all times. This is because nothing that you do, no matter how artful, will matter whatsoever if done at the wrong distance and time. You must be sure that in everything you do, you may properly reach your opponent with your intended techniques, executing them neither too early nor too late, otherwise all your hews and stabs will be for naught, and you will be easily defeated by an opponent who properly utilizes timing and distance correctly according to the Art of Fencing.

 

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