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Basic Medieval Sword-Fencing Terminology

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Basic Medieval Sword-Fencing Terminology Abschneiden - "cutting aside" also known as Schnitt ("slices") and Rakes in English. They are used at closer distance against the opponents forearms and hands.

Absetzen - "setting aside", word was used to signify a type of t move where the sword is hooked over the opponent's and forced downwards to trap. It mau simply mean parry with a thrust.

Abwenden - to "ward off", or deflect a

Am Schwert - "on the sword", attacks made while maintaining constant pressure on the opposing blade, also known as the Winden that means winding or turning.

Anbinden - The engaged position with weapons crossed

Back guard/ stance - weapon pointing down and diagonally backward, also called Mittelhut by Medieval German masters, and a Tail guard by the Italians.

Binden - "a bind" or trapping action by pressing blade upon blade or edge on edge.

Blossfechten - unarmored combat in the Fechtschulen

Cuts - The German schools recognized three major forms of cut: Oberhau (over cuts) - downward diagonal or vertical, Unterhau (under cuts) upward or rising, and Zwerchhau or Mittelhau (cross cuts) horizontal right-to-left and horizontal left-to-right. Further there were specific names for the cuts for forearms, neck, leg etc.

Cuts recogonized in early renaissance systems : vertical down (Fendente), vertical up (Montante), horizontal (Tonda), plus diagonal descending (Squalembrato) and diagonal rising (Ridoppio) which could be made from the left (Roversi) or from the right (Mandritti)

Close guard/stance - Called Boar's Tooth guard in the Italian styles, it is a position similar with the knees lowered and the weapon pulled in low closer to the hip to deflect the attacks.

Drey Wunder - the "three wonders" as taught in the German schools of swordsmanship. The three actions involved are the thrust, the cut, and Schnitt

Durchwechseln - "changing through" the move of evading contact with the opponent's blade while striking or simply changing the line of attack.

Durchführen - "disengage under" in close-combat leading your point under their sword to thrust at the opening on the other side.

En Garde - ("on guard") French term first used in 1400's to refer to simply a ready posture of both attack and defense with any sword or weapon.

English great-sword fighting - Double Rowndes (a "molinello"), Rakes (draw cuts), Haukse and Halfe Haukes (strikes from the high guard) are the terms form English fencing texts.

Fechtbuch - "fight book" or "fencing book" a German manual on fighting techniques and methods, particularly swordsmanship

Fechtmeister - ("Fight Master") a German Master of Defence or martial arts expert (Italian Meastro de' Arme' or Master of Arms)

Fechtschule - A German Medieval or Renaissance fencing school and competition

Federfechter - A German Renaissance fighting guild which favored the rapier among other weapons

Filo - Italian for the edge of a blade

Flech - German for the flat blade

Fuehlen - Gauging the opponent's mind.

The Four Openings - four areas to aim on - 1. Opponents right side, 2. Left side, above the belt, 3. Right below the belt, 4. Left below the belt.

Foyne - 14th century term for thrusting.

Gaukler - meaning "juggler" or "acrobat", for those teaching impressive but ineffective fencing.

Gioco stretto - "Close Playing", Italian for entering techniques, in the later English systems of cut-and-thrust sword these were known as "gryps". The actions involved grabbing the opponents arm, striking with a pommel etc. The german close-in techniques involve grappling and disarming techniques.

Gleich Fechten - attacking at the same time as the opponent or In des Fechten

Guards/Wards/Stances - Huten or fighting positions and postures. There are 14effective fighting postures. The five major ones are High, Middle, Low, Hanging, and Back positions.

Halb Schwert - "half-sword" techniques of gripping the middle of the blade with the second hand, gloved, armored or bare. This allows a range of striking and deflecting actions. They are called Mezza Spada ("middle sword") or even "false-point" blows in Italian.

Handarbeit - handwork, it is that phase of the combat where the distance between the opponents has closed in.

Hanging guard/stance - "Hengen" (left or right) are important long-sword postures, they are called the Ochs ("ox") stance in the German.

Harnischfechten - Combat in plate armor or "harness fighting" in the Fechtschulen, called Spada in arme' in Italian

Hart und Weich - hard and soft, the idea is that when the blades contact, gauge the opponents mind and oppose strength with weakness and weakness with strength to control and exploit.

High guard/stance - called a Falcon guard (Posta de falcone) by the Italians and Haukse Bill (as if "striking down like a bird or prey") by the English as a Haukse Bill (as if "striking down like a bird or prey") and Vom Dach or Von Tag ("from the roof") by the Germans

In Des Fechten - overcoming the opponent attack by counter attacking in the middle of his attack. The other two counter attacks being Gleich Fechten and Nachreissen

Inside guard/stance - used for warding, thrusting and parrying, it is called Finestra ("Window guard") in Italian, Hangentorte ("hanging point") in German. It is a position where blade pointing horizontally forward and the hilt is pulled in close.

Kampfplatz" - "Kampfring", an enclosed area where judicial duels took place. It was an open patch made up of square wooden barriers. Klopffechter - "clown-fighters", wandering, swordsmen and performers during the 15th and 16th century, not considered a true Fechtmeister

Kron - "crown", German for the Middle guard, called Corona in Italian. It was also a type of half-sword parry against a vertical downwards.

Kunst des Fechtens - the German art of fighting with long-sword, messer or wrestling. The unarmored combat was called Blossfechten, combat in plate armor was called Harnischfechten (or "harness fighting").

Kurze Schneide - back of the single edged sword.

Lange Schneide - the sharpened edge of the sword or the front of the sword.

Leger - German for position or stance, with reference to the fighting posture.

Leichmeister - "dance-master" a derogatory term used instructors teachin flashy but ineffective fencing techniques.

Long guard/stance - defensive thrusting position with the blade horizontal and arms extended straight forward, ideal for warding and making stabbing attacks or stop-thrusts Low guard/stance - called Alber, the "Fool's guard" In the Germans since it was thought foolish to rely only on defense, comanly known as the boar's tooth guard.

Luxbrueder (Company of St. Luke) - A Medieval German fighting guild, similar to later English schools of defence, they were headed by four adepts and a captain. Marxbrüder - Brotherhood of St. Mark, a successful group of masters who at one time organized and regulated the teaching and licensing of the fighting arts and the from Frankfurt during Renaissance

Middle guard/stance - It was the foundation of other stances and is called corona in Italian and pflug or plough in German. Here the blade is held centered out from the lower abdomen at a 45-degree angle aimed at the opponent's chest, throat or face

Meisterhau - "master cuts", prized techniques in which the swordsman strikes in a manner so that his sword deflects the incoming blow while simultaneously hitting the opponent.

Mittelhau - a horizontal left-to-right cross-cut.

Mordschlag - (or Morteschlag, "death blow") It is a rare blow made by holding the sword blade itself with both hands and striking with the pommel or guard, used to slam a foe in heavy armor

Nach - It is a technique of defensive countering, opposite of Vor.. Nach und Vor are two important concepts in the Fechtschulen.

Nachreissen - "traveling after", it is a method of overcoming the attack by attacking immediately after the adversary's own attack.

Obere Ansetzen - techniques delivered over or above the opponent's guard

Oberhau - "over cuts" or strikes above the waist that could be either diagonal or vertical

Ort - German for the tip of the sword

Pressing-the-hands - a move where the blade is pushed against the opponent's forearms or hands just as they lift or lower to strike.

Ringen Am Schwert - "wrestling at the sword", sometimes called Ringkunst, also involving Schwertnemen ("sword-taking") close in disarming moves and grappling (ground-fighting or Unterhalten, "holding down")

Rossfechten - Mounted combat

Rota - It is a countering technique where the back edge is raised to deflect the opponents blade and use a descending cut immediately with the forward edge.

Rownde /Double Rownde - It refers to change in line of attack by first bringing the weapon down, back and then high for rownde and twice for double rownde.

Schielhau - a sideways cut with the back or short edge of the blade, delivered with only one eye on your opponent .

Scheitelhau -a vertical cut, delivered either above or below the waist.

Schwech - weak, it is the weaker part of the long sword as per the German masters. It extends from the middle to the tip. It is also known as Schwech (or Schwäche )

Schwertnemen - "Sword taking" close-in disarming or trapping actions, called Gioco Stretto (Close Playing) in Italian, they are used in long sword fighting.

Short guard/stance - it is a close range posture with low hilt and vertical bladeand knees bent.

The "Spring" - (Das gayszlen) it is increasing the rang eof the blade by cluching the pommel with the other hand.

Stark - It is the stronger part of the long sword. It extends from the middle to the hilt.

Stuck und Bruch - ("technique and counter"), it is the basic proposition that every technique or stance has a counter and every counter has a technique.

Throwing-the-point - Converting a false cutting blow into a sudden straight thrust.

Ueberlauffen - (overrunning), another counter attack, implemented just when the opponent is attackingand striking their closer targets exposed by their attacking stance.

Untere Ansetzen - techniques delivered under or below the opponent's guard.

Unterhalten - "holding down", ground-fighting techniques wresting or grappling moves

Unterhau - (under cuts) upward or rising strikes below the waist, either diagonal (Zornhau) or vertical (Scheitelhau)

Versatzung - splacement or to displace, it is a defensive action to put off an attack by a deflecting blow or counter strike

Von Fechten - attacking before, one of the three ways of overcoming an opponent's attack

Vor - the offensive principle of fighting, aggressively taking the initiative.

Vorfechter - an advanced student in the Fechtschulen

Waage - ("balance") standard fighting position with legs and arms slightly bent.

"Was sehrt, das lehrt" - ("What hurts, teaches") the basic concept that the real knowledge is gained by the realistic instructions.

Winden - the "Winding", close binding actions to maintain pressure and dominate the opposing blade.

Zornhau - a diagonal cut, delivered either above or below the waist.

Zornhut - ("guard of wrath" or "rage guard") it is a rather vulneraple stance where the sword is point down behind the back but allows very powerful blows when effectively used.

Zwerchhau - "slanting cut" a horizontal right-to-left cross cut also called Geschrenckt Ort

Zuefechten - one of the two phases of combat where the combatants are closing together and their weapons make contact (prior to Anbinden or Handarbeit)








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