Meyer’s Longsword – The Wechselhauw or Change Cut

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

The Change Cut is simply to change off before your opponent with your cuts, from one side to another, from above to below, and vice versa, in order to confuse him.

I’m tempted to interpret this as beginning the cut along one line and then changing to a different line midway through the action. This can be done with any sword, but is particularly effective with the longsword because of the extra mobility offered by the two-handed grip. However, I believe that is actually called Fehien or Failing.

So for the time being I’m sticking to what I wrote in Talhoffer 1467 Plate 2 Right. Specifically, this is just a cut used to change lines or guard rather than to attack with.

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Meyer’s Longsword – The Kniecheihauw or Wrist Cut

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

This is a subtype of the Zwerch used in the middle of the fight. It seems like more of an attack of opportunity than something one would do intentionally.

This is so called from the body part to which it is directed. Do it thus: After the initial Onset, when you have come under your opponent’s sword with your hands up above your head, and he holds his head thus between his arms, then cut with Thwart Cuts under his pommel up toward his wrist-bones or wrist-joints. If he holds his hands too high, then cut with these Thwart Cuts up from below toward the knob of his elbows; thus it is done.

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Meyer’s Longsword – The Blendthauw or Blind Cut

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

This is simply a tip cut to the face. It seems to be more of a harassing move in anticipation for a more definitive strike.

Bind your opponent from your right on his sword; in the bind, wind through below with your hilt or haft toward [your] left side. When your opponent tries to slip after the winding, then nimbly flick the foible, that is the point, at his head from your right at his left with crossed hands. Quickly wind back through, or wrench to your left side with the short edge; thus you have executed the Blind Cut. This Blind Cut is done in many ways; there will be more about it in the section on devices.

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Arguments for the Winding Krumphauw over the Windshield Wiper Krumphauw in Meyer

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

I know of three variants of the Krumphau, which I will refer to as the Pynenberg version, Knight’s version, and the Other version.

Knight uses a window-wiper motion as shown here: EDIT: I mistook Knight’s version for a short-edge, window-wiper krump. He uses a long edge window-wiper, which requires changing some of the arguments.

Pynenberg uses a long-edge cut that mutates into a short-edge:

Textual Argument 1

Meyer writes,

This cut is executed thus: stand in the Wrath Guard with your left foot forward; if your opponent cuts at you, then step with your right foot well out from his stroke toward his left side; cut with the long edge and crossed hands against his cut, or across on his hands between his head and blade, and let the blade shoot well over his arm, as can be seen in Image D in the figures on the upper…

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Practice Notes: Why Longsword Fencers should Learn Italian Rapier

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Take a look at Capoferro plate 11:


Imagine C’s right knee on the ground and D’s longsword laying flat and useless on his shoulder. That’s how I was punked last Wednesday.

I’m not saying that you should necessarily learn to throw this strike, it is enough to be aware that exists and works remarkably well with the longsword.

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Practice Notes: Scheitelhau, the Parting Strike, with Broken Steps

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Scheitelhau, or the Parting Cut, is the last of the five Master Cuts. Like the other master cuts it begins with the Zornhau, which the ancients call the Father Stroke. And like any other cut, it it to be performed with a step.

The trick here is that step is broken. Meyer writes,

Thirdly there are the broken or stolen steps, which are done thus: act as if you intend to step forward with the one foot, and before you set it down, step backwards with it behind the other foot. Since these properly belong in the rapier I swill save it for there.

I have to admit I discovered this by accident. As I started my Zornhau I thought, “Ha! You’ve over-reached and I can void your pitiful cut by aborting my step.” While I focused on that, my Zornhau was left to its own devices. Without my body…

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The Rose 2: Meyer’s techniques for the Longsword

From Drills to Free Play: Putting Practice into Practice (Part II)

Bill Grandy, Director of Historical Swordsmanship at the Virginia Academy of Fencing

In Part I of this article we explored a few variations of drills to help develop both tactical proficiency as well as fluidity between actions under pressure. Those drills allowed more dynamism than static drills, and yet they are still a step apart from full out free play.

When engaging in free play, one has to accept that it is less of a learning exercise and more of a test of one’s abilities under fire. While learning occurs, the moment your brain goes into competitive mode it is spending less time analyzing previous maneuvers and more time adapting to the present and future maneuvers. Because of this, in order to gain the most out of your free play, you should consider variations that limit you and force you to adapt certain tactics.

Here we will look at some…

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Why Fight? The Objectives of Liechtenauer’s Fencing

Meyer’s Longsword – The Sturtzhauw or Plunging Strike

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

This is a high cut with the short edge of the sword. It is used to attack over an obstacle such as a sword in Ochs or a shield. In the SCA this is known as a Scorpion or Sky Hook.

Although this cut is a High Cut, and so considered because there is not much difference between the two, yet this is called the Plunge Cut because in cutting through, it always plunges over above, so that the point comes against the opponent’s face in the Ox; and it is most used in the Approach or Onset.

If you want to skip ahead, you can see an example on page 36 of using the Sturtzhauw to transition into Ochs and from break your opponents Ochs.

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Girard Thibault – Chapter 1, Figures A thru E: More on Selecting a Sword

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Thibault appears to come from an era where stupidly long swords were fashionable. I cannot think of any other reason why he is so determined to instruct his students to use shorter blades.

Figure A

This shows how a proper gentleman hangs his sword as to not offend or annoy those around him. Note that the sword is vertical, possibly so that those behind him do not trip over it.


Figure B

This figure demonstrates our fencer grasping the scabbard just prior to drawing the sword. Note that it rests at a continent height so that one does not need to bend in order to reach it.


Figure C

The next figure actually draws the sword. The right foot must be raised to make this possible, and even then we are seeing the longest possible sword that one may draw without much inconvenience. Believe it or not, this is considered…

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Girard Thibault – Selecting a Sword

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Determining the proper length of the sword in Thibault’s system is easy:

Therefore the measure of the sword is such that the length of the blade from the point to the quillons is equal to the half-diameter, that is, if the point is set on the ground between the hollows of the two feet, the quillons come exactly to the height of the navel, as may be seen in circle 1.


For me this would be a 42” blade. By contrast, Capoferro would have me use a weapon that is 54” long (blade+hilt).

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Hanging Point with Longswords vs Greatswords

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

In the images below look at the orientation of the right hand. For the two longswords the thumb is towards the point, while Alfieri’s greatsword has the thumb towards the pommel.

Francesco Alfieri


Jakob Sutor

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.


Joachim Meyer

The figure on the right in the same image [F] teaches you how to execute the Hanging Point, except that it does not show the arms extended enough. Therefore position yourself in this guard thus: stand with your right foot forward, and hold your weapon with arms extended in front of you such that the blade hangs somewhat down toward the ground. This posture is quite similar to the Ox, except that in the Ox you hold the arms…

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SH1024 Wood Grip Rapier by CAS Hanwei

Henry de Sainct-Didier – Introduction to the French Single Sword

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Sainct-Didier is a French master who wrote his text in 1573. The publishers notes on Amazon say,

Written in 1573 by fencing master Henry de Sainct-Didier, this is believed to be the first French sword manual ever written. Noting that he “lived his whole life learning to fight with the single sword,” de Sainct-Didier says that his reason for writing this book was to “further serve his king.” During his 25-year career in the French army, de Sainct-Didier participated in the “Italian Wars,” and the influence of Italian swordplay is evident in this manual.
In addition to being the earliest surviving French sword-fighting manual, The Single Sword of Henry de Sainct-Didier is important in a couple of other ways. Its author was the first to institute geometrical ground plans and numbered footprints to indicate the correct sequence of movements. Also unique is the way de Sainct-Didier used his woodcut illustrations…

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Developing Tactical Skills at Longsword

Strategy differs materially from tactic; the latter belonging only to the mechanical movement of bodies, set in motion by the former.– Charles James, A New and Enlarged Military Dictionary (1810)

Before hostile armies or fleets are brought into contact (a word which perhaps better than any other indicates the dividing line between tactics and strategy), there are a number of questions to be decided, covering the whole plan of operations…– Alfred T. Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 (1890)

Fighting at any weapon is significantly more than simply knowing techniques and possessing courage in adequate degree – that is to say, successful fighting at any weapon involves more than just these elements. Students of any martial study frequently confuse technical ability, as learned and demonstrated in drills and exercises, with fighting ability. The former is necessary to the latter, but having technical skills is not…

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The Cutting Drill – Part 4

Ready, Set, Unsheathe

Last time I ended up in the weird guard pictured below. I don’t actually have any idea of what it’s called, but I suppose it might be related to dente di cinghiaro. You’ll notice that this time we’re holding the sword in our right hand only. That’s because this next part of the cutting drill – and indeed another big theme of this lesson – is sword in one hand.

Once again I’m defending. The attack is a simple mandritto fendente, a cut down from right to left. The defendant blocks it by swinging his sword up and to the right, while at the same time shifting his weight to his front foot (volta stabile) and taking a small step (accressere) to his off-right (off the strada). The way of defending here is similar to the second drill, only it feels a lot…

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Girard Thibault – Chapter 1 Circle 4, Measure

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Chapter 1 Circle 4

First Instance

Our fencer is standing on the quadrangle AC.  Across from him is his opponent standing on quadrangle ZX. Thibault considers this to be the First Instance or the widest range that they may hit each other in middle time. These are shown in yellow.

A note on scale. The sword, from quillon to point, has a length of 12 units.

The arm, being proportionate to the body and thus the sword, has a length of 8. After subtracting 1 for the fingers, this gives an fully extended reach of 19 units.

The circle itself is 24 units across, which means that reaching your opponent from the First Instance requires lengthening your reach by 5 units or just over half an arm. Since your opponent may hold his body somewhat back, you’ll need to gain a bit more using an increase of the forward foot.

Second Instance


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Girard Thibault – Chapter 1, Footwork Diagram

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Thibault’s footwork diagram can be found beneath the feet of nearly every fencer in his many drawings. The radius of the circle is the same length as the sword when measured from the quillons to the point. This is also the distance from the to the ground when standing upright. The foot line, marked in red, is length of the foot.

Footwork Diagram

Based on what I’ve read thus far in the text, the following terminology is going to be used when describing footwork.

CX: Diameter
OO, NN: Perpendicular  Diameter
GS: Oblique Diameter
CW, XD: Interior Collaterals
GT, SF: Outer Collaterals or simple Collaterals
NT, NF: Inner Transverses
WS, DG: Outer Transverses
AOZO: Circumscribed Square
AO: Side of Circumscribed Square
CDFN Center: Quadrant of the Circle
CNXN: Inscribed Square
CN: Side of Inscribed Square
ABCB: Quadrangle
CA: Extended Diameter
BB: Diagonal of the Quadrangle

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Training spear


Here’s a video showing how to make a boffer training spear and some simple spear fighting drills.

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