The Cutting Drill – Part 1

Ready, Set, Unsheathe

Do you know what the cutting drill is? I’ve thrown the name around in my posts maybe once or twice, but have actually neglected to clearly define it. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I had described it on this blog at all. Apparently I have – sort of, anyway: Week 1 – Swords Are Heavy. About half-way through that post I start to describe the first version of the cutting drill I learned. Further into the beginner’s course this was expanded on and named the cutting drill (although we still only knew the first half of it). It is an exercise that, as the name implies, is for practicing your cutting technique. We usually spend at least a few minutes on it in the middle of every class.

The first half of the cutting drill can be summed up like this: cut down from the right, cut…

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Fiore Longsword – Works of Richard Marsden

Discussion on Sturtzhauw, the plunging strike

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts


Meyer often describes cuts that seem a lot more like plays to me and I believe the sturtzhauw is a two step attack rather than a strike you throw directly. The way I see it the sturtzhauw begins with a scheidelhauw thrown either as a feint or clearing stroke that is followed by a thrust or cut to the face using the short edge to wrap around the opponent’s blade. That’s probably clear as mud in text but it’s a simple, continuous motion when executed… too bad I don’t have a video. Meyer specifically says that the sturtzhauw is mostly used as an opener in both his longsword and dusack sections but it can work when the fur is flying too since the scheidelhauw can often be used as a parry and that will initiate the process.

The sturtzhauw is actually one of the techniques that makes me think…

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Medieval Anachronisms, Part 2: Tournaments


The Role of Filippo Vadi in the dei Liberi Tradition, Pt. I

Galina Krasskove recently responded to my post on patronage. You can read her response at You can read my post at I am not going to address her post here as I have already done that in the comments section of her blog. What I want to do here is clear up a misunderstanding. A few people took it to mean from my post on patronage that I do not believe the gods interact with us. Nothing can be farther from the truth. I do think the gods interact with us on rare and special occasions sometimes in big ways. Let me share an experience with you. Many, many years ago, longer than some of you have been alive when I had not been Heathen very long I was still unsure if Heathenry was for me. I could not sleep one night, so I left my bed and laid down on the couch as I would often do when I could not sleep. I fell asleep rather quickly. Next thing I knew I was face to face with a large man with one eye. I knew instinctively that he was Woden. He then took me up on the back of his horse, and gave me a tour of the World Tree. I saw the gates of Osgeard (Asgard), the gates of Hel, the edge of Wanaham (Vanaheim), and many other places. He never spoke a word. I then awoke. It was all so vivid, so real. Ever since I have never questioned being Heathen. Was it real? Was it just a dream? I do not know and feel I am not in a position to say. I do know it set me firmly on the path of Heathenry. There are other times I feel I have felt the hands of the gods and goddesses. I was almost killed in a head on collision once at night about twelve years ago. I pulled out in the left lane to pass a car when headlights came on not more than fifty to seventy feet in front of me. Some idiot had been running dark. The car I was passing pulled onto the shoulder. The fool took the other shoulder. I passed safely between the two. I cannot credit my survival to the other drivers or to myself. I feel the gods were with me that night. I feel the gods and goddesses have gifted me in other ways. I feel I met my ex-wife because of the gods (my ruining our marriage was all my doing), and I feel being blessed with the son of my dreams was too a gift from the gods. My books stem from gifts the gods have given me. I feel the gods have interacted with me.

However, that does not mean I think I was chosen by Woden. I do not see myself as unique amongst Heathens. Indeed, I think most Heathens have had such experiences. So much so that it is nothing really special to say the gods did this or that for me when something important happens. I think it is not an everyday thing. I do not think Woden guides my every move. Indeed, one I think can go years between truly special experiences. But it does happen. The gods do interact with us. That said, I do not think there is anyone alive today that has been especially chosen by the gods. I see no one like Starkad or Sigurd. I see no one who is so blessed that it is clear they have a god as a patron. And that is where I stand. That is not to say that someday Woden or some other god or goddess will not choose someone for something special. We know from the lore, that some people were chosen by the gods and enjoyed their blessings as well as suffered their curses. It is to say that time is not now.

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

Part of Vadi’s goal may have been to show his art as unique, which is certainly how he promoted his work to the court of Urbino. Another possibility is that all of these guards likely originated from older sources. The Bolognese masters also used coda longa (or properly, coda longa e distessa),dente di chinghiale and porta di ferro (but these two terms mean an entire class of guards).Eisenpforte (“iron gate”) and Kron (“crown” – corona) are old German guard names, for the same positions Fiore shows as porta di ferro mezzana (“middle iron gate”) and posta frontale o corona(“frontal guard, called crown”). We have to remember that what we have is a snapshot in time of how the guards look c.1409 in Ferrara, c.1482 in Urbino, and c.1500 – 1570 in Bologna. We have no linking information per se, nor anything on their origin.


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Black & White: Portrait of a Medieval Sword Fighter

M. Mason Photography

portrait of a medieval sword fighter

Took in an awesome display of medieval martial arts this afternoon

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Giving Ancient Masters a New Voice: an interview with Tom Leoni, translator of Fiore dei Liberi’s the Flower of Battle.

The Freelancer

Tom Leoni is well-known in the Western Martial Arts community as a researcher and translator of Renaissance Italian fencing texts. His The Art of Dueling (2005) brought the magnum opus of the famed 17th century sword-master, Salvatore Fabris to an English-language audience for the first time. Now out of print, used copies are eagerly sought, often commanding ridiculously high prices on Ebay or ABEBooks.

In 2010 and 2011 Tom expanded on his investigation into 17th c swordplay with Freelance’s Venetian Rapier and Ridolfo Capoferro’s The Art and Practice of Fencing, thereby making the complete “holy trinity” of Italian rapier available in clear, concise English. In 2010’s Complete Renaissance Swordsman: A guide to the use of all manner of weapons, Tom stepped further back in time, opening the doors to earliest surviving text of the Bolognese school of swordplay, which contained a vast curriculum of weapons.

But before joining Freelance…

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The Role of Filippo Vadi in the dei Liberi Tradition, Pt. I

(c) 2010 Gregory Mele, Chicago Swordplay Guild

When I teach at workshops and seminars, I am often told something along the lines of this:

I’m surprised that the man who co-authored the reproduction on De arte gladiatoria dimicandi doesn’t work more with the hallmarks of Vadi.

It’s a fair question, and suggests that in 2001, when I was working on my edition of Vadi, I did not yet have enough understanding of the larger dei Liberi tradition to separate Vadi’s brilliance from the marketing hype aimed at securing him a position at the court of Urbino. While Filippo Vadi defines his art as “newly made”, and specifically draws attention to several supposedly unique features, a study of his work against Fiore dei Liberi’s shows that this is a bit of clever marketing on Vadi’s part. As such, Vadi’s value is not in the tweaks he provides to the mainline of…

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That’s not vom Tag!

Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

I’ve been playing at German longsword for nearly as long as I’ve been playing at rapier. But only last night did I come to the realization that I, and everyone who taught me or trained with me, has been doing vom Tag wrong.

Look at Danzing, then look at everybody else.

Peter Von Danzig


Hans Talhoffer


Jakob Sutor


Joachim Meyer


Paulus Hector Mair

image image



Conan the Barbarian

Ok, so there is one person besides Danzig uses vom Tag on the right.

Danzig and I Got It All Wrong

Until now I haven’t properly considered using the center vom Tag. I even thought that is was an inferior position, used by people who didn’t know what they were doing or were forced into it by circumstances.

Now I’m pretty sure I’ve got it all backwards. Experience tells me that I can defeat von Tag on the right in numerous ways…

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Rope Drill


St. Maximilian Landsknecht Re-enactment Guild

Worth a look;

“The von Fürstenberg Fähnlein is the name of our company of German mercenaries calledLandsknechte. We operate under the official name of the Renaissance re-enactment group called St. Maximilian Landsknecht Re-enactment Guild. It is our purpose to portray a historical, but theatrical, representation of camp life of Landsknechte circa 1536 on the Northern California small faire circuit, for public education and entertainment.”

De Re Militari