Definitions & Study Terminology

In the effort to help practitioners apply a more accurate vocabulary and formal lexicon of Historical Fencing, ARMA presents a brief list of key terms, phrases, concepts, principles, and ideas from the works of a variety of major Medieval & Renaissance masters at arms.  This list is frequently updated.

Western Swordsmanship Today - Defining Historical Fencing

Rapier Fencing Terminology

Medieval & Renaissance Sword Forms and Companion Implements

Fundamental Sword Parts

...Man muss fleissig nachdencken
("You must study this dilgently")


NOTE: THIS PAGE IS BEING REVISED AND UPDATED

Medieval & Renaissance Fencing Terminology from the Source Manuals

The following list is compiled from 13th to 16th century fencing manuals and focuses on the long-sword.  It is divided into two sections, one from primarily English & Italian source manuals and one from German Fechtbuchs.

15th century Italian & English

Arte Dello Spadone

Fiore Dei Liberi’s name for his craft of the long-sword, symbolized by four virtues or qualities as represented by the Wolf (carefulness or prudence), the Tiger (swiftness or speed), the Lion (courage or bravery), and the Elephant (strength).

Backsteppe

In English swordplay, a simple step backward with the rear leg, sometimes followed by the lead leg.

Bicornio

See Posta di Bicornio. (“Two Horned Guard”)

Boar / Boar’s Tooth

See Posta di Dente Chingiale

Chase

A term from the 15th century English sword text MS 39564 likely referring to a following on or counter action.

“Close” guard

A modern generic term for the Pflug or “Plow” guard, with knees bent and the weapon held close into the hip and somewhat off to the side. A fundamental on-guard position. Essentially a defensive posture suited to protecting the hips, waist, and grip, as well as delivering thrusts and slices.

Cockstep

In the English style a koc stappis or kocstep, a forward skipping step of the lead foot, similar to the Balestro of later fencing.

Colpi Dritti

 (“right strokes”) Vadi blows from the right side used to defend.

Corona

(“Crown”) See Posta de Fronte

Coverta

(“Covering” – meaning ‘blanket”) Fiore’s term for the principle of covering a possible line or opening of attack by moving the body and weapon to close it. In Vadi the defensive controlling of the enemy’s sword with your own or your hand. It consists of maintaining contact while entering close.

Cownter / Cowntyr

A term in the English sword text MS 39564 referring to types of counter-striking technique or the action of counter-attacking. (also cowntris or cowntr)

Crown guard

See Corona.  A form of high center stance. Also Frontale. See Kron.

Dritto / Deritto

Cuts made from right to left. Fiore uses Dritto and Reverso Dritto. The term deritto is equivalent to dritto, Vadi uses both as well as diritto and Manreverso.  

Disarmo Soprano

(“upper disarm”) a Gico Stretto technique of Fiore’s for grabbing the opponent’s wrist  after closing and stifling their blade above their shoulders.

Downright blow

An Oberhau or Fendente in English swordplay, i.e., any descending strike with the forward edge.

Elza

Vadi’s term for “crosses” or the “cross-guard (what Fiore calls the crucibus).  See Croce.

En Garde

(“on guard”) A French term first used in 1400’s to refer to simply a ready posture of both attack and defense with any sword or weapon.

Falsita’

Vadi’s term referring, according to his diagram, to the false edge, but it may also mean “falsehood” in general.

Fendente

A downward blow in the Italian schools. Shown typically as a diagonal not a vertical cut.  Vadi refers to Diritto Fendente (right downward) and Riverso Fendente (left downward) cuts.

Filo

Italian for the “edge” of the sword. (Fil Falso or Falso Filo each mean “false edge”). Opposite of Filo Dritto.

Finestra

See Posta di Finestra. (“Window” guard). See Ochs.

Florishe / Florysch

“To Flourish” – An English term from at least the mid 1300s used in the brief English sword text, MS 39564, c. mid-1400s, to refer to the brandishing of a weapon with large showy movements during practice or prior to play or fight. Used now to mean a practice routine of cuts and thrusts with appropriate footwork.

Footwork

There are essential two ways of moving: simple steps, of the either the leading or rear foot, and passing steps where the rear legs moves past the forward or vice versa.  Additional types of footwork are traversing or diagonal steps (which may be followed by a second move to turn the body 90 degrees), double or great steps, cock steps, and false or broken / feinting steps.

Foyne or Foin

(“thrust”) A term used from at least the 1300’s to refer to a stabbing attack with a sword.  The Italian term is Ponta or Ponte.

Gioco Largo

(“far” or “large play” or “large game”) Combat without body contact and at cutting or striking range in the Italian schools as opposed to seizing or grappling range.

Gioco Stretto

(“close playing or “close game”) In the Italian schools a term for entering techniques used for body-contact fighting close-in at seizing and grappling range (in the later English systems of cut-and-thrust sword of the 1500’s, these were known as “gryps” or “seizures”). All are based essentially on a handful of key actions: reaching out to grab the opponent’s hilt or arm, striking with the pommel or guard, trapping their forearms with your second arm, slipping the blade against or between their forearms, using the second hand to hold the blade while binding/striking/slicing, and tripping and kicking. In the German schools close-in techniques for “wrestling at the sword” or Ringen Am Schwert, involved throws or grappling and disarming moves known as or Schwertnemen (“sword-taking”) there was also ground-fighting (Unterhalten, “holding down”).

Grete Steppe

A large or double step of the foot in the English style.

Guards / Guardia

(stances, wards, Huten, Leger) A term for fighting postures or ready positions.

Hanging guard

A right or left stance with the blade held hilt high and point down diagonally forward.  A versatile and useful defensive or countering position not actually described as a true stance in any 15th century manual but does appear in 16th century ones. Also depicted in most texts as an action occurring from a Ochs or Finestra (Ox or Window) guard. Later styles of swordplay actually incorporated a “hanging” or guardant ward, but Medieval manuals do not seem to actually show this as a true ready position or guard, but only a transitory position or action that occurs during weapon contact. In his 1570 text (written at a time when the old Medieval great-sword was more of a “tradition” than practical weapon). Joachim Meyer described a Hengenort (“Hanging Point guard) as this hanging stance with the blade forward and angled down.  Di Grassi in 1570 also describes this stance as being the “high ward”.  See Pendant.

Haukes/Half Haukes

(“Hawk”)  A term from the 15th century English text by J. Ledall (Harliean Manuscript BL MS. 3542), that refers to  “downright blows”, likely a downward cut, - as if  “striking down like a bird or prey. Forms include hauke, half hauke, broken hauke, broken half hauke, contrary hauke, and double hauke. Perhaps related to the Italian “Falcon” guard (Posta di Falcone).

High guard/stance

A modern generic term for any of the offensive postures of holding the sword or weapon over the head or shoulder, in a “Roof” position.  See Vom Dach / Vom Tag, Oberhut, (Vigianni in the 1550’s called it Guardia Alta).  Leckuechner actually referred to Hochort or Ochs as the “high guard”.

Incrosada / Incrosar a Mezzo Spada

(“crossing the swords”) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for the action of blade contacting against blade (“crossings of the blade” or “tied up”) just before any action is made. Possibly equivalent to Anbinden in the German schools, the engaged position with weapons crossed in which the weapons collide together in their moment of contact.

Instabile

Fiore describes his posta/stances as being either stable or unstable, or rather being active or reactive.  His unstable guards are the Window, Longa, Two-Horn, and Front/Crown. These stances are “unstable” positions in that they are intended to react to attacks.  Stabile (stable) positions are ones that move to receive. Pulsatina positions are those that provoke or offend.

Iron Door guard

See Porta di Ferro and Eiserne Pforte.  A type of low guard.

Long guard

See Posta Longa and Langerort.

Low guard

See Alber and Posta di Ferro . A defensive position with the blade pointing downward.

Manreverso

Vadi’s left side horizontal cut.

Manudextri

Pietro Monte’s blows from the right delivered from his Prima stance.

Manusinistri

Pietro Monte’s blows from the left from delivered from his Seconda stance.

Mezza Spada

(“Half-Sword”) Equivalent to the German “Halb-Schwert”.  Special techniques of grabbing the sword’s blade by the second hand (or both even hands) and thrusting, deflecting, or striking.  Often used in combat against heavy armor.  Fiore lists 6 Mezza Spada: Posta Serpentino, Posta Serpentino  Superiore, Posta Sagittarria, Posta Vera Croce, and Posta Croce Bastarda. Vadi used Mezza Mela ("half-blade") for Halb-Schwert and Mezza Spada for Incrosar a Mezzo Spada (perhaps a result of the universal linguistic tendency to shorten lengthy phrases).

Mezzane / Mezani

Fiore’s horizontal cut, as in Dritto Mezzane and Reverso Mezzane. Dritto cuts right to left with true edge, Reverso cuts left to right with false edge.

Parare

(“parry”) Vadi advises all parrying is to be done with the fendente (downward cut), definitely not a static block, but a deflecting striking blow.

Pendant / Pendante

A term from the 15th century English MS 39564 manuscript, by J. Ledall, referring seemingly to a hanging ward. See Hengen.

Posta

Italian for “position” (fighting posture or stance).

Posta Breve / Posta Breva

(“Short” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s thrusting middle guard with the pommel held close to the body.  Also called Spada Distesa (“lying sword”). A limited “entering” or close-range posture with the blade held more vertical, the hilt pulled in low and the knees bent more, it is used for both parrying and preparing to slice, thrust, or bind.

Posta di Bicornio

(“Two-Horned” position) Fiore’s thrusting guard holding the sword horizontally in a high middle position with the left hand in a reverse grip. Suited for thrusting in close.

Posta Breve Serpentina

(“Short Snake” guard) One of Fiore’s Mezza Spada postures, essentially a “Middle” guard with the left hand holding the blade at the ricasso, left leg leading.

Posta di Coda Lunga Distesa

(“Long Lying Tail” position) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for a right “Tail” guard, leading with the left leg and the blade held back and down at 45-degrees.

Posta Croce / Posta Vera Croce

(“Cross” guard or “True Cross Guard”) One of Fiore’s Mezza Spada postures, with the left hand holding the middle of the blade in a reverse grip. Essentially a low left “hanging” guard.

Posta Dente di Cinghiale

(“Boar’s Tooth” guard or “Wild Boar’s Tooth”) Fiore Dei Liberi’s Low guard leading with the right leg and the sword held forward and down at roughly 45-degrees, the hilt to the outside of the left side of the left knee. Suited to counter-thrusting and to ward off by lifting upward followed by an immediate cut downward.

Posta di Donna Soprano e Altera / Posta di Donna la Sinestra

(“Upward Proud Woman’s guard” or “Noblewoman’s” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for a position with the blade held over or on the right shoulder.  In one version it is held horizontal almost resting on the shoulder. In another it is held at a 45-degree angle as if in a shoulder-level “high” guard, but with the opposite shoulder turned more forward. While he only depicts a right-side version, Fiore does list both a left & right Woman’s guard (Posta Dominarum dextra and sinixtra). The Women’s guard seems related to horizontal cut, as the posture can be assumed both preliminary to such a blow and as a result of such a blow.  Yet it is more likely this guard is actually a shoulder-level Vom Dach (high guard). 

Posta di Falcone

Vadi’s name for a guard with the blade held centered close at chest level with the blade out forward at a 45-degree angle.  Perhaps similar to Fiore’s Posta Fronte.

Posta di Fronte

(“Front guard”) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for Corona (“crown guard”) or a middle position and the hilt held close to the chest or abdomen pointing forward. In Vadi the “Front” guard is shown as held much closer to the body and more vertical with the point directed upward.  Likely equivalent to the German Kron.

Porta di Ferro

(“Iron Door” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s low middle-right position, a form of Low guard (point forward, blade down at roughly 45 degrees) leading with the left leg and the blade turned slightly, point back and turned slightly to the right, the hilt turned slightly left.  Also called Porta di Ferro Piana Terrena or Tuta Porta di Ferro.  See Eiserne Pforte.

Porto di Ferro Mezzana

(“Middle Iron Door” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for the Low guard, leading with the right leg. Used to counter-strike and to defend against Gioco Stretto. See Alber.

Posta di Fronte

(“Front” guard) Fiore and Vadi’s term for a form of unstable high middle position poised to greet or intercept a downward blow with the ricasso or cross.  Also called Corona. See Kron.

Posta Longa

Fiore Dei Liberi’s name for an extended Middle guard, leading with the left leg bent, the rear leg stretched and the arms extended, the blade held more horizontal. Often resulting from a thrust and used for warding, threatening and thrusting to the throat or face as well as slicing to the arms.  See Langort.

Posta di Vera Finestra / Porta Reale di Vera Finestra

(“True Window” or “True Royal Window” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term for a stance leading with the left leg and the sword held horizontally out to the right, point aimed at the opponent’s face. The blade is held with the edge and cross upward and the hilt slightly behind the head, not in front of it or to its side. Essentially equivalent to the German right Ochs stance. While Fiore only depicts a right-side version, he does list both a left & right Window guard (Posta Fenestrarum dextra and sinixtra).

Posta di Vera Finestra Mancina

(“True Left Hand Window” guard) Fiore Dei Liberi’s posture of holding the sword over and behind the left shoulder. While called a “window” stance, it is not equivalent to the right-side “window”. This position can be interpreted as either form of “High” guard or one with the blade behind the head, horizontal or diagonal. Essentially a left-side Woman’s guard.

Posta Sagittarria

(“Archer” guard) One of Fiore’s Mezza Spada postures, a right “Window” guard with the sword pulled farther back and the left hand holding the blade knuckles up.

Posta Serpentina Superiore

(“Upper Snake” guard) One of Fiore’s Mezza Spada postures, a raised Serpentina guard consisting of a right “Window” guard with the left hand holding the blade in a reverse grip.

Prelhaw /Prelhau

(“Plunge Strike”) From a binding position, a plunging thrust down between the opponent’s arms.

Prima

Pietro Monte’s “first” guard, with the blade held over the right shoulder, possibly in an Ochs/Window stance.

Posta Vera Croce

(“True Cross” guard) One of Fiore’s Mezza Spada postures, a low right “hanging” position with the left hand holding the blade in a reverse grip.

Punta Falso

(“False Point”) Fiore Dei Liberi’s term in Mezza Spada for feinting a thrust and disengaging.

Raykes

A term from the 15th century English great-sword text by J. Ledall, MS 39564, likely referring to “draw cuts” from a high guard. Possibly equivalent to the German Schnitt or “slice cuts”.

Rebatter / Rebatir

(“Set aside”) Fiore’s defensive technique meaning essentially Versetzen, to displace an opposing blow.

Riversi

Fillipo Vadi’s blows made from the left to the right.

Rollyng Strokis

A type of blow from the MS 39564, possibly a round strike or a molinello.

Rota

A countering technique described by Filippo Vadi (c. 1480). A cut wherein the back edge (fil falso) is quickly raised to smack or deflect an opposing blade prior to an immediate descending cut with the forward edge. The word “rota” comes from the verb “rotare”, which means “to turn”.

Rownde / Double Rownde

Following through and back around with a cut once or twice. An English term from the 15th century text  MS 3542 which likely refers to a change-in-line strike by bringing the point of the weapon first down and back, and then up and around high, or by first bringing the weapon down and then back up high right then left (a molinello/molinet or “windmill”), once for “Ye single rownde” or twice for “Ye double”.  It may be accomplished with the hilt held at chest level or higher above the shoulders. The action generates power while being deceptive. See Rundstreich and Doppelrundtstreich

Seconda

Pietro Monte’s “second” guard, with the blade held over the left shoulder, possibly in an Ochs/Window stance.

Segno

A training aid consisting of a circular wall or floor diagram of 8 intersecting lines representing all possible cutting angles and thrust, or when placed on the floor, stepping positions for the feet.

Segno Cuts

Fiore Dei Liberi described seven cuts or blows, two Fendenti (right or left downward cuts from a high position) two Sottani (right or left upward cuts from a low position), two Mezani or Mezzane (horizontal cuts), and Ponte (the straight thrust).  Filippo Vadi taught the same six cuts and one thrust, but called his horizontal cuts Volanti. Vadi’s right-to-left cuts are Derito and his left-to-right cuts were Manreverso. While Filippo Vadi speaks of “seven cuts”, he lists only three (Fendente, Volanti, and the Rota), but as each of these can be employed either left or right, along with Punte (his thrust) they make for seven attacks. Neither Fiore Dei Liberi nor Fillipo Vadi distinguished between different angles vertical or diagonal) of cut, all descending cuts were Fendenti.  Pietro Monte advised Manudextri (blows from right to left) and Manusinistri (from left to right). Monte taught only 2 primary cuts: both diagonal rising cuts from either right or left (and a thrust, Stocchata Vel Puncta). These cuts and thrusts were invariably used in swift combinations of 2 to 3 strokes. See Cuts (German).

Short guard

See Posta Breve.

Sottani

Fiore Dei Liberi’s upward cuts from a low position (essentially an Unterhau).

Spada in Arme’

(“Sword and Armor”) Italian for combat in plate armor or “heavy armor” (called Harnischfechten in German).

Stocchata Vel Puncta

Pietro Monte’s “thrust” or straight thrust delivered from either side from a high or low position and which he considered the most effective of all attacks.

Stramazzone

A term Vadi uses for a cut he does not describe except to say “do it with a little turn in front of the face”. This is consistent with the later use of the term stromacione meaning a quick, light slash or scratch to the face with the point.

Varco

Vadi uses the phrase “varco to varco” (“opening to opening” or “step to step”) to mean attacking the opponent’s various targets with different strokes.

Viste

(“feints”) Vadi’s term for actions which confuse the opponent’s defense preventing him from understanding clearly from which side you will act.

Volanti

Vadi’s term for horizontal or cross cuts. (Tonda, Mezzane, Mittelhau)

Voydyng / Voyding

A term used from at least the 15th century and found English sword text, MS 39564, and other sources, referring to a defensive evading movement such as “voydyng bake with the lyffte legge”.

Window guard

See Porta di Vera Finestra Mancina & Porta Reale di Vera Finestra.

   

Medieval German Martial Terms

Ablauffen 

(“Running Off”) Withdrawing the blade from an attack, before or after contact, by rotating it around the hilt to hit with the false edge on the other side. Can be done singularly or doubly.  One of the primary ways of using a Kurze Schneide attack.  See Duplieren.

Abnemen

To move away or free yourself from a bind and make another attack.

Abrayssen / Abraisen

(to “break away”) To push the opponent’s hand or weapon downward with the Gehiltz (hilt).

Abschnappen

(“to snap off”) To get free of a Band (bind) by sliding or batting the blade away with a strong, controlled blow.

Abschneiden / Abschnyden

(“cutting aside” or “cutting off’ or “to slice off”) 1. Short drawing cuts known also as Schnitt (“slices”), called Rakes in English, used at closer distances against the opponent’s forearms and hands, they can be made with both the lead and the back edges. These are drawing cuts generally used against the opponent’s arms at close range.  Made singly or doubly (i.e., upwards and then down, or downwards and then up.) 2. To Slice over the arms from below or above; usually with Langer Schnyde  (Long edge). Abschneid = Cut Away

Absetzen / Absezen

(“setting aside”) 1. The principle of timed counter attack to deflect a thrust or parry a cut. While Absetzen in a specialized sense refers to thrusts with opposition the word can also be used to mean a simple parry, usually followed by a thrust. It is also used to denote a type of trapping move in which the sword is hooked over the opponent’s blade, dragging the opponent’s blade down to the ground.  2. To parry an attack on the lower Blossen (openings), the attack is put down by leading his weapon with the Langer Schnyde (long edge) while moving towards the side that the attack came from.

Abwenden

("turning aside") To “ward off” a blow as with a deflecting strike.

Abzug

(“Withdrawal”) According to Meyer, a stage of engagement where the combatant tries to disengage without being hit, usually delivering a retreating strike to cover the withdrawal.

Alber

(“fool’s guard”) A low middle stance with point down.

This stance takes its name from Liechtenauer’s belief that only a fool stays on the defensive, relinquishing the initiative to his opponent.  He acknowledged the superior defensive qualities of this stance by including it among his four. See Posta Tuta di Ferro.

Alter Schnitt

(“After Slice” or “The Ancient Slice”) A cut over the arm of the opponent when he has repulsed a Nachreissen. To move in to slice on the opponent’s extended arms as a Nach action following the completion of his strike.  Part of the “secrets” of fencing –in contrast to the fundamentals of the art.

Am Schwert

 (“on the sword”) Attacks made while maintaining constant pressure on the opposing blade, also known as the Winden (winding or turning).  The second grouping of attacks made in the Krieg phase of combat.  These are attacks made without leaving the opposing blade, maintaining constant blade contact throughout the course of the attack.  Better known as the Winden (Winding or Turning).

Anbinden / Ambinden

(“crossings of the blade” or “tied up”) The engaged position with weapons crossed in which the weapons collide together in their moment of contact.  Called Incrosar a Mezzo Spada (“crossed at half-sword”) by Fiore.

Ansetzen

(“place”) An attack (or thrusts) aimed at a certain body part.

Auffangen 

(“Catching”) According to Meyer, a simple block, wherein the opponent’s attack, rather than deflected off or struck down, is stopped by interposing your own weapon in its path.  Essentially an edge parry. Meyer recognized it conferred no particular advantage and recommended against it (in favor of setting aside, Absetzen, and warding off, Abwenden). But he acknowledged it was sometimes necessary.

Außreissen ("Pull away"). According to Lecküchner, “When somebody binds at your sword and remains strong in the binding, move with your hilt over both his hands and pull them down towards you again. You create an opening and hit him.”

Aussernym

(“Outertaking” or “Outerwinding”) In a crossed sword position, to pressure the opponent’s blade in a bind so as to press it aside or down, thereby creating a small opening to which you suddenly reverse pressure and slice forward.

Bainbruch

(“leg break”) A wrestling-grip made exclusively or partially at the legs, which throws an opponent to ground.

Bedebern / Bedebren

To defend with stabs or blows.

Bleiben

(“Remaining”) In a binding position to maintain the blades pressing in contact and thereby sense the opponent’s intentions through feeling the pressure on his blade (i.e., Fühlen).

Binden / Band

(“bind”) The moment of contact between weapons and the actual contact of two weapons.  A bind or trapping action by pressing blade upon blade (usually edge on edge at the ricasso). See Band.

Binden an das Schwert ("binding on the sword") A term from the Codex Wallerstein.

Blizen / Blitzen

(“flashes”) To strike with a shower of sparks.  See Glutzen and Klitzen.

Blossen / Bloßen

(“openings”) The fencer’s body divided by two imaginary lines –across the belt and vertexes –into four Blossen: a right and left upper and lower Blossen. The name probably came from organized fight practice, particularly from the instructions and theory part, where it was in the first lesson as a term for any unprotected body parts. The Four Openings are areas to aim at in combat, the first opening is the opponent’s right side, the second opening is their left side above the belt, and the other openings are their right and left sides below the belt. Liechtenauer first proposed the idea of there being only “four quarters” or openings” high and low, left and right.  English text MS. 39564 also refers to “smyting” the quarters or to “pley a quarter”.

Blossfechten

Unarmored combat in the Fechtschulen as distinguished from armored fighting.

Brechen

(“breaks”) To penetrate by force, to wound, or to defend effectively.

Brechfenster

“breaking window”, see Sprechfenster

Das Brentschirn / Das Brentschürn

According to Talhoffer, a bind or an entanglement with the shortened sword during Halb-Schwert. Also a state of battle in which the edges of the swords rub together in the Band. In attempt to usurp the opposing sword from this position.

Bruch

(“break”) In swordplay, the action of an effective defense being a counterattack that “breaks “ the adversary’s own strike.  See Stuck.

Brysen

(“breezes”) A defensive push, to press hard, cornering.

Buffel / Püffel

(“buffalo”) An expletive for fighters without the art of defense, those who use the virtue of strength alone.

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, (crosscuts) horizontal right-to-left and horizontal left-to-right. Diagonal cuts were Zornhau and vertical were Scheitelhau. There were several names for various specific individual cuts such as: Streithau (the “battle cut”), and Vater Streich (the “father strike”). draw cuts and slicing pulls were usually known as Schnitt. The grand master Johannes Liechtenauer distinguished five principal cuts: Zornhau (“rage cut” or “strike of wrath”), made diagonally from behind the right shoulder; Krumphau (“twisted” or “crooked” cut), made downwards with the false edge, and effected with crossed or twisted wrists; Zwerchhau (horizontal side cut); the Schielhau (“squinting cut”), made downwards with the false edge at the enemy’s shoulder or neck; and Scheittelhau (the “crown cut” or “parting strike”), made vertically downwards and literally aimed at the crown of the head. See Segno cuts. Sigmund Ringeck (c. 1440) refers Liechtenauer’s cuts as the “five strikes”.  Meyer calls all blows delivered with the true edge “straight blows”.

Dal Wegbinden

(“The sling-away” or the “sling-behind”) In Talhoffer, the act of puling the sword blade away from contact or opposition and turning or withdrawing the body to use the second hand to seize or strike.

Das Gayszlen

The “Spring” –throwing a cut from one hand to increase its range by clutching the pommel with the second hand.  English text MS. 39564 frequently refers to the use of blows from the “spryng”.

“DGZPS”

An acronym used by Duerer meaning, Das geht zu paiden seiten (“that works on both sides”).  This refers to the bilateral symmetry of German fighting arts that multiplies the number and variations of techniques.

Doppelhau

Liechtenauer’s  “double-cut”.  Cutting the same way again or by following around or reversing the strike.

Doppelrundtstreich

(“double round-strike”) Quickly striking through with two left-to-right horizontal cuts delivered from the elbow (or half-arm and following around to strike again.) See Rundstreich. Equivalent to the English Double Rownde Strike.

Doppelstich

(“double thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Drey Hewe

(“three blows”) A series of three main blows: an Oberhau from the right, followed by an Unterhau from the left, then a powerful Scheitelhau, or vertical downward blow.

Drey Wunder 

(the “three wonders”) The three principle actions used in the Krieg or Handarbeit phase of sword close combat, the cut (Hau), the thrust (Stoss), and the Schnitt (a slicing or drawing cut). The thrust was used primarily at longer range, the cut at medium range, and the slice more at closer range.

Duplieren / Doplieren

(“Doubling”) To instantly follow up a parried true-edge strike with a false edge strike around the opponent’s blade.  A Winden variant; or an Oberhau that turns into a Dupliert (snatch), through a swift crossing over of the arms - the left hand, that guides the sword pommel, goes under the right - in this position your sword is between the weapon and body of the opponent, hit with a backhand with the Kurtzen Schnyde against his unprotected head and a Zeckruroren against the arms. See also Abluaffen.

Durchführen

(“Changing Through”) In close-combat, to disengage under by moving your point under the opponent’s sword to thrust at an opening on the other side. Durchfuehren means “continuing”,  “going along” and “pressing through”, and could also mean “to lead through”.

Durchlauffer / Durchlauffen

(“pass through”, “running through” or “to run though”) A term for two actions: 1. To run under a highly directed attack of the opponent, while you keep the hilt of your sword on the left side of your head and put the blade across the back, and move through under the opponent’s weapon.  2. To pass all the way under the opponents raised right arm, so that you can reach his back and do a wrestling throw.

Durchsetzen

(“pushes through” or “to push though”) A timed thrust from above or below that passes between the opponent’s held out arm and his body.

Durchstreychen / Straichen

(“Striking Through” or “Stretch Through”) A falsing action by a  circling-motion along the opposing sword, that disengages from one opening and stabs or cuts into another.   Also a type of Durchwechselns.  According to Meyer, sweeping or flourishing the sword in front of the opponent, to stall, confuse, intimidate, or provoke.

Durchwechseln / Wechslen

(“changing through”) The move of evading contact with the opponent’s blade as you strike (e.g., changing line of attack).  To change into another opening with the point. Also called Durchwechsel.

Einhorn

(the “unicorn”) A posture similar to the Ochs, but with the point aimed high like a unicorn’s horn.  Also, from the Sprechfenster straight thrust to the face; a Valsch Ortt, a thrust, that was regarded as dangerous and malicious The term instills a visual image that the executing fencer leaves behind his weapon.  The position may be equivalent to Fore’s Posta Finestra.

Einlauffen

(“Running In”) To duck under the opposing weapon or employ closing and entering techniques (Einlauff).

Eiserne Pforte

(“Iron Gate” or “Iron Door”). Another name for Alber, the “Fool’s Guard”.  See Low guard. In the German schools, the may be made in the center, left or right.

Ernst Fechten

(“fighting in earnest”) The idea of practicing real killing techniques and not play or show fighting.

Falso Filo

The false edge. Also filo falso. Opposite of filo dritto, true edge.

Fechtbuch

(“fight book” or “fencing book”) a German manual on fighting techniques and methods, particularly swordsmanship, (plural Fechtbuecher), among the more famous are those by the masters Johannes Liechtenauer’s of 1389 (by Hanko Doebringer), Sigmund Ringneck of c. 1440, Hans Talhoffer of 1443, Peter von Danzig of 1452, Paulus Kal of c.1460, Johannes Leckuechner (“Lebkomer”) of 1482, Peter Falkner of 1490, H. von Speyer of 1491, Joerg Wilhalm of 1523, Andre Pauerfeindts of 1516, and Gregor Erhart from the early 1500’s. (plural is Fechtbucher). Medieval Italian fighting manuals include those of Tarcirotti of c. 1400, Fiore dei Liberi from 1410, Boris Ferres of 1428, Fillipo Vadi of c. 1480, and Pietro Monte of 1509, and there is also the Spaniard Diego de Valera’s of c. 1490.

Fechtmeister

(“Fight Master”) - a German Master of Defence or martial arts expert  (Italian Meastro de’ Arme’ or Master of Arms)

Fechtschule

(“Fight School”) A Medieval or Renaissance fencing school or public fighting exhibition and competition in Germany.

Federfechter

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

Ferzücken

Sudden abrupt changes of the direction of the attack (i.e., “changes in line”).

Filo Dritto

The true edge. Opposite of filo falso, false edge.

Fixura

A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295).

A thrust either crossed over or under the buckler or occasionally without crossing the buckler at all (not always distinguishable from the Stich).

Flech

German for the flat of the blade.

Fliegender

(“flying thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Fuehlen

(“Feeling”). Feeling or gauging an opponent’s pressure. To judge or “sense” the Harte or Weiche (hard or soft) through the feel of your weapon when pressed in Anbinden. Also called Fullen / Fulen / Fuhlen.

Fusshau

Liechtenauer’s  “foot-cut”.

Gaukler

(“juggler” or “acrobat”) A derogatory term for those masters who taught flowery, ineffective forms of swordsmanship as opposed to Ernst Fechten.  See Leichmeister and Klopffechter.

Gefechten

Foot combat. As contrasted with mounted combat.

Geferte

The intended attacks and their manner of execution; the movement of blow combinations. Gevert and Vart with significant adaptation and application in a fight. Also called Gefarte / Gefahrte.

Gehiltz / Gehultz

The cross guard of the hilt.  See Croce.

Gemechstich

(“groin thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Geschrenckt Ortt

 A thrust, in which the hands are held crossed over, the left hand under right. See Langer Ort.

Gesicht Stich

(“face thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Gewapent Stehen / Gewappnete Hand

A half-sword (Halb Schwerdt) stance where the sword becomes a barrier in front of the body, by grasping the middle of the blade with the left hand and the hilt in the right hand. The Term expresses the idea that the position covers and protects the body against attacks.

Gewappet Ort / Gewappent Ortt

To thrust forth from the Stehen or shielded half-sword position.

Gleich Fechten

Attacking at the same time as the opponent or In des Fechten (as opposed to Nach Reissen and Vor Fechten).

Glietzhaw 

(“Clashing Blow”)  According to Meyer a forehand blow in which the right hand comes in with knuckles upward to catch an opponent’s blow on the flat, then rolls counterclockwise to deliver a false edge blow.

Glutzen (glow)

To make a shower of sparks. Also Klutzen.

Gurgelstich

(“throat thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Halb Schwert / Halbem Schwert

(“half-sword”) techniques of gripping the middle of the blade itself with the second hand or typically left hand (often by gloves or armored gauntlets). Also called Halt-Schwert or Kurzen Schwert, they allow a wide range of offensive and defensive striking and deflecting actions as well as thrusts. It is used for the more powerful and more accurate stabs. The term comes from the pose of the left hand on the blade cutting the sword in half.  Called Mezza-Spada in Italian.

Halbschilt

(“half shield”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295).  A defensive position with both arms extended close together and the sword pointing upwards at approximately forty-five degrees.

Hals Fahen

A Winden variant. Also known as a Zu Legen.  The swordsman on the left lifts his arms up into the left Ochs position, pressing his Starck / Stark against the opponent’s Schwech.  He then slides his back edge down between the opposing blade and the opponent’s head, striking to his neck.  The opponent’s instinctive parry adds force to the blow.  From here, the swordsman levers up with his back hand the slicing pressure of the back edge on his neck forces the defender over the attacker’s right leg, which is placed in a tripping or barring position next to the defender’s leg.

Halshau / Halsshau

Liechtenauer’s  “neck-cut”. A horizontal strike to the throat

Handarbeit

(Handwork). Phase of sword combat where the swordsmen have closed distance and the blades have crossed, follows from Anbinden, both Schwertnemen and Abschneiden are often used here. Also known as Kreig or Mittel (Middle).

Handhabe

“Hilt”. See also Gehiltz.

Handhau

Liechtenauer’s “hand-cut”.

Harnischfechten

(“harness fighting”) Combat in plate armor or “harness fighting” in the Fechtschulen as distinguished from light or unarmored fighting, called Spada in arme’ in Italian.

Hart / Horte

(“hard”) A strongly aimed or forcefully controlled cut, blow, attack or bind.  The principle of hardness or force rather than softness or yielding.

Hart und Weich

(“hard and soft”) The idea when ever contact is made of gauging the pressure the opponent places upon your blade (either strong or weak), oppose strength with weakness and weakness with strength to control and exploit. Leckuechner stated to “Test “Weych” (soft) or “Hert” (hard)”.

Hende Trucken / Hande Drucken

(“pressing the hands” or “to press the hand”). A term of Liechtenauer likely meaning stop cuts to the opponent’s hands or forearms. The term refers to the pressure of the hands exerted by means of the sword-blade against the arms of the opponent.

Das Hängen / Hengen / Hen / Hangend

(“The Hanging” or “to hang”) An important and very versatile long-sword movement referring to positions or actions where the point “hangs” downward from above, covering the body. The Hängen is not a guard (but in a sense, results in one), but an action, or more precisely a series of techniques delivered from the Ochs or Finestra position, usually as a Winden. Sigmund Ringeck described a classic hanging action. Ringeck describes two hanging techniques used when the blades are pressed or crossed, and the point can thrust from under or over. It may be delivered from the Pflug by raising the hilt and closing as the opponent strikes. He also instructs to learn all cuts, thrusts, and slices while in the hanging. Meyer also calls the Hengen a technique.  Also called: Hanging Point, Hangetort, Hengetort, hengeten Ort.

Herzstich

(“heart thrust”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Hochort

(“high thrust/point”) Possibly the “Fenster” or Window guard (Italian Finestra).

Hüffthau

Liechtenauer’s  “hip-cut”

Hut / Huot

See Leger. The expression is based on the idea of the “ protective vigilance “, that the fencer occupies in the Huten.

Huten

For the Medieval long-sword in the German schools there are various fighting guards/stances/wards/postures (Leger or “position”). Of these four are major universal ones of Liechtenauer correspond to High, Middle, Low, and Outside positions. Editions of Talhoffer show high, middle, low, outside, back, plus three Halb-Schwert and a few other postures not exactly clear.

In Des Fechten / In Des

(“meanwhile” or “in the middle of”) Attacking during the adversary’s own attack, one of the three ways of overcoming an opponent’s attack along with Vor Fechten and Nachreissen. The concept In des or Indess means to strike "just as" they do rather than actually simultaneously with them.

Kampfplatz / Kampfring

An enclosed area where judicial duels and some foot challenges took place, it was made up of a square wooden barrier or “ring”, equivalent to the Champ Clos.

Klitzen  (claps)

To collide with noise.

Klopffechter

(“clown-fighter”) itinerant, crude fighting swordsmen performers during the later 1500s and 1600s in Germany, not considered a true Fechtmeister

Knopf

The sword pommel.

Krawthacke 

(“garden hoe”) A swift sequence of vertical blows to the upper and lower Blossen (openings) during which you step towards the opponent. The term comes from the resemblance to the motion of a garden hoe.

Kreuz

(“Cross”). The long sword’s cross hilt.  See Gefeß and Croce.

Krieg

(“war”) The phase of sword combat where the swordsmen have closed distance and the blades have crossed at close combat. The meaning comes from war, the effort, going against, the resistance. See Handarbeit.

Kron / Krone

(“Crown”) The German Kron is not a stance, but actually a strike of Liechtenauer described by Sigmund Ringeck (c. 1440). This action is essentially that of lifting the blade to stifle and bind an on coming blow with the ricasso and guard prior to counter-cutting.  Also type of Halb Schwert (half-sword) parry against a vertical downwards cut with the sword held point forward over the head, used against a vertical downwards cut to the head.  Holding the sword over the head with the point forward, catching the incoming cut on the portion of the blade between the hands.  Can be followed by a thrust over the opponent’s right arm at his face as a single-time or double-time technique. In this posture the sword is “crowning “ and protective over the head.  Leckuechner’s definition of the Kron from c. 1482 is similar: “Step and strike from above with your true edge to his left ear. The other step and strike from above with your short edge to his right ear.”   See also Corona or Posta di Fronte.

Kronhaw 

(“Crown Blow”) According to Meyer, a false-edge blow made from the Kron position after catching the incoming attack with on the ricasso or cross.

Krucke

(“crutch”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295). A movement in which the sword is held almost vertically, point downward with the buckler turned outward and very close to the sword hand.

Krumpen / krumphawen

To execute a Krumphau. See Krumphau. Lecküchner described that from the tailgaurd: "When somebody strikes from above, or elsewhere, step out of line and strike krump to his opening."

Krumphau / Krump

(“Crooked” or “Twisted Cut” or "Bend Strike") 1. A downwards curt with the false edge made with crossed or twisted wrists. 2. Any strike with crossed hands. One of the Meisterhau. The Krumphau may be delivered with a slicing or pulling action by the back edge of the blade while close-in and blades are crossed. The German system taught cuts in the opening phase of combat not to be made from the offside, so that the arms & wrists would not be twisted.

Kunst des Fechtens

The German Medieval (and Renaissance) art of fighting, consisting primarily of the arts of the langenschwert or long-sword, the Messer (a sort of falchion), and Ringkunst or Ringen (wrestling). Unarmored combat was known as Blossfechten. Combat in plate armor was known as Harnischfechten (or “harness fighting”). Fighting on foot was also distinguished from Rossfechten, or mounted combat. Similar distinctions appear to have been made in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.

Kurtze Schneide / Kurze Schnyde

(“short edge”) The back or “false” upper edge of the sword, proceeding in the extension of the thumb. The controlled upward backhand blow with the Kurtzen Schnyde can only hit short distance. Opposite of the Long edge (Lange Schnyde or “true” edge).  Also called falso filo in Italian.

Kurtzes Schwert

In half-swording, to shorten the sword-edge with the left hand.

Langer Schnyde / Langen Schnyde

(“long edge”) The forward or true edge of the sword, opposite of the Kurtze Schnyde (Short back or “false” edge). Also called filo dritto in Italian.

Langer Ort / Langortt / Lang Ortt

(“long guard” or “long point”) To thrust over a long distance with stretched out arms. The Ort in means “tip of the weapon “ and “direction aimed”. Also a defensive thrusting position with the blade horizontal and arms extended straight forward more, designed to create safer distance between the opponent and ideal for warding and making stabbing attacks or stop-thrusts. Also Das lang Zorn ortt (“The Long Thrust of Wrath”) according to Talhoffer.

Lazen varn

To miss with a cut or thrust.

Legen

To take a position like one of the Hutens or Legers. See Hut. Also, in the Codex wallerstein, placing the blade at the adversary’s neck), followed either by a slicing cut or a throw.

Leger / Ligen / Läger

“Position” in German, referring to a fighting posture or guard. Another name for Hut; vantage ground or ground-position with the weapon from which a change-hit begins and attacks can be advantageously repulsed.  In contrast to hut, Leger doesn’t indicate the function of the position but the position, the “ appropriate storage “ of the weapon. See Huten.

Leng und Masse ("length and reach") A term from the Codex Wallersten,  referring to properdistance and stance.

Leichmeister / Leychmeister

(“dance-master”) a derogatory term used by the German master Doebringer of 1389, for those instructors who taught flashy but impractical and ineffective fighting techniques,  particularly for arms-dance and arms-plays. Also possibly known as Knopfmeistern.  See Gaukler and Klopffechter.   

Lincke Clinge

To control the blade with the Kurze Schneide using only short, quick, nimble, yet “clumsy” cuts.  Akin to making small upward beats.

Linker Ochs

 (“left ox”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Luxbrueder / Luxbrüder

(Company of St. Luke) – another major Medieval German fighting guilds, similar to later English schools of defence, they were headed by four adepts and a captain.

Man muss fleissig nachdencken” 

A frequent Fechtmeister saying that, “one must think about this diligently”, meaning to ponder the meaning of a technique or principle.

Meisterhau

(“master cuts”) The most prized techniques described by the grand-master Liechtenauer, mostly in which the swordsman strikes in a manner so that his sword deflects the incoming blow while simultaneously hitting the opponent. The 5 Meisterhau consist of: Zornhau, Zwerchhau, Scheitelhau, Krumphau, and Schielhau. They essentially correspond to a diagonal, horizontal, vertical, crossed-hand, and false-edge cut.

Mittelhau / Mittelhaw

(“middle cut”) A left-to-right horizontal or slightly diagonal side cut. In contrast to that directed Oberhau from above and the strokes or, Unterhau from below, the Mittelhau lies in a middle position.

Mortschlag / Mordschlag

(“death blow” or “the Murder-stroke”) A type of rare Halb Schwert 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. The name came to be, because of the dangerousness of choosing to direct a blow to face or head. See Schlachender Ort.

Mutare Gladium

(“exchanging the sword”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German text, MS. I.33, or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295) to indicate a disengage by passing over or under the opponent’s blade so it is engaged in the line opposite to the original position.

Mutieren

A Winden variant. To direct the course of attack from the upper to the lower Blossen.
After the Anbinden with the Langen Schneide, wind the Kurze Schneide into a Band, lift your arms and the hilt high and change means Schiessen, with a thrust into the lower Blossen, sliding away, over the opponent’s sword.

Nach

(“After”) The defensive or countering principle of fighting, opposite of Vor (“before”), Nach und Vor are two important concepts in the Fechtschulen. If the opponent attacks first, the swordsman is left with the Nach, or defensive principle.  Liechtenauer taught that a swordsman who accepts this turn of events passively and merely parries his opponent’s blows will eventually be struck and defeated.  On the contrary, a good swordsman seeks to turn the tide by somehow regaining the initiative and going on the offensive.

Nachreisen / Nachraisen

(“traveling after” or “attacking after”) A timed attack immediately after the adversary’s own attack. One of the three ways of overcoming an opponent’s attack (contrasted with Gleich Fechten or In Des Fechten and Vor Fechten).  An advanced concept of inviting the opponent to attack rather than taking the offensive, as is the general tenet of German swordsmanship.  These are techniques in which the opponent is allowed to attack first, then counterattacked when he is either in the middle of his strike, or after his strike has missed.

Nebenhut

(“Near Ward”) The name for the “Tail” or low under guard. Ringeck says it is used best on the left, but can be performed on the right with the long edge forward. Also meaning “beside” or “at your side” in Lecküchner in 1488 and Joachim Meyer in 1560s. See Post Coda Longa.

Noterczunge

A fast repeated series of thrusts over the Gehiltz of the opposing sword, by which a Durchwechseln (change through) is initiated again and again, but is not executed, until the opponent is overwhelmed and leaves a Blossen (opening) for a thrust. The sword in its movement is like the “hissing tongue of an adder”.

Obere Ansetzen

Techniques or thrusts delivered from above or over the opponent’s guard (opposite of Untere Ansetzen).  Essentially a Stoccata.

Oberhau

(“Over cut”).  Any cut or strikes made from above the waist (Oberhuten) either diagonal (Zornhau) or vertical (Scheitelhau). Any blow directed from above usually made with the Langer Schneide (long edge). Also called Oberhawen.

Oberhut

(“upper guard”) The high or roof guard/stance in the German schools, usually referred to as Vom Dach or Von Tag (“from the roof”).

Oberschnitt

Downward slices made from above. See Schnitt.

Ochs

(“Ox”) One of the two upper Huten or Leger, with a left or right side. In this stance, the swordsman holds the weapon next to his head, with the point sloping down toward his opponent’s face.  This drooping blade position gives the stance its name, as it resembles the lowered horns of an ox or protrudes from the fighter’s head like a horn. They are confused and misunderstood more than any other. One variation places the blade diagonal and the other more horizontal as in the Finestra.  

Offen

(“open”). The Germans preferred cuts in the opening phase to be made from the right side, with the arms & wrists uncrossed (open) so as to deliver more power and prevent the hands from being tied up.

Ort

German for the point of the sword. Also spelled Ortt. See Langer Ort.

Pflug

(“plow”). One of the two lower Leger. A middle stance of a slightly bent position with the arms and the hilt close to the body next to the upper thigh, and the blade on a 45-degree angle pointed at the adversary’s face. It is well suited to making thrusts and defending against middle cuts. This is the fundamental “middle” stance and may appear to be more “left” or “right” depending upon which leg leads.  However, the arms are only extended when an action or counter-action is executed. The posture is similar to the position taken when walking behind a yoke or a plow, hence giving the stance its name.

Pfoberr Zagel

A circular-motion with the Ort in front of the opponent’s eyes, until a favorable Blossen (opening) is discovered; corresponds approximately to the Redel. With the Pfoberr Zagel (foper zagle), the fencer executes a sword-movement that resembles a pummeling wheel from the tail of a peacock.

Pforte

(“Door”) A defense-position, where you place the Ort in front pointed towards the ground, like the Schrankhut and the Alber. Often called the Eiserne Pfortes, since the idea is that the sword is placed before the body like an “iron door” and deny the enemy attack access to any Blossen.

Platzen

(“burst through”) To meet with an attack that reaches the target. The noise of the entering weapon is described.

Rauschen

(“rustles”) To attack with a swift series of hits. This expresses the swiftness of movements and the sound of the attacks.

Rawsch

A wild attack. See Rauschen.

Rechter Ochs

(“right ox”) From Joachim Meyer, 1570.

Redel

To hold the sword with outstretched arms and execute a swift circular-motion of the blade in front as a falsing. The name comes from similarity to the rotation of a wheel.

Religando

(“binding”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295) to indicate sword contact (engagement of opposing blades).

Ringen am Schwert

(“Wrestling at the sword”) Close-in techniques based essentially on a handful of key actions: reaching out to grab the opponent’s hilt or arm, striking with the pommel or guard, trapping their forearms with your second arm, slipping the blade against or between their forearms, using the second hand to hold the blade while binding/striking/slicing, and tripping and kicking, involved throws or grappling and disarming moves known as or Schwertnemen (“sword-taking”) there was also ground-fighting (Unterhalten, “holding down”). Also referred to as the Durchlauffen “running through”.

Ritterliche Kunst

“The knightly art”, i.e. noble martial skills such as jousting, poleaxe, and swordplay

Rossfechten

Mounted combat in the Fechtschulen as distinguished from fighting on foot (Blossfechten) or strictly heavy armored combat (Harnischefechten)

Rundstreich

(“round-strike”) Striking through with a horizontal cut delivered from the elbow (or half-arm) and recovering by bringing the weapon around from one side or the other to strike again. Also to strike by bringing the weapon up around one way and hitting from the other, acquiring power and deceiving the line of attack. See Doppelrundtstreich. Equivalent to the English Rownde Strike.

Ruren

To reach with a cut or thrust to the body.

Ryssen

To tear with the Uebergesetzten Gehiltzes at the body joints or on the arms.

Schaide

Any kind of Band (bind), even between a hand and a weapon. The idea of a close contact lies, in the grounds, as well as that which exists between a sword and a sword-scabbard.

Scheitelhau / Schedelhau

(“scalp cut”, “crown-cut”, or “skull cut” or the “parting strike” or "vertex strike") Liechtenauer’s short, quick, high horizontal blow at the opponent’s forehead.  Also a vertical downward cut, from either side, and aimed literally at the crown of the head. A vertical Oberhau. One of the Meisterhau.  Also called Schaytler, Scheytelhau, or Schaittelhaw.  It may be called the “parting” strike because it is delivered as you pass back away from the opponent and the blades momentarily engage.  According to Meyer, a vertical downwards cut with the true edge, also called an Oberhaw (“over blow” or “high blow”). Schaitler = Apex

Schielhau

(the “squinting cut” or “squinter”) A downward cut with the false edge at the enemy’s shoulder or neck. 2. A sideways cut (from above) with the back or short edge (Kurze Schneide) of the blade, delivered with only one eye on your opponent due to the manner in which the head and torso turn in delivering the blow. Used mostly to deflect the opponent’s blade and at the same time inflict an injury with the point. One of the Meisterhau. Also called Schilhaw, Schiller, Squinters, Schilcher. The Schielhau may be delivered by bringing the blade back around behind the head to strike with the false edge and passing with the leg.

Schiessen / Schussen

To execute a sudden and powerful stab; in close combat, slide your weapon along the opponents and use theirs as a guide.

Schiller

(the “squinting cut” or “squinter” or "glance strike") One of the Meisterhau. 1. According to Ringeck, to step in and strike at the opponent’s weak when they are in the Pflug in order to knock it aside and then thrust or cut. Often used to break the Langen Ort. 2. A downward cut with the false edge at the enemy’s shoulder or neck. 3. A sideways cut (from above) with the back or short edge (Kurze Schneide) of the blade, delivered with only one eye on your opponent due to the manner in which the head and torso turn in delivering the blow. Used mostly to deflect the opponent’s blade and at the same time inflict an injury with the point. The Schielhau may be delivered by bringing the blade back around behind the head to strike with the false edge and passing with the leg. Also called Schilhaw, Schiller, Squinters, Schilcher.

Schiltslac

(“shield blow”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295). The use of the buckler to strike an opponent’s sword and/or buckler to one side, while instantaneously delivering an attack of one’s own. To knock aside the opponent’s buckler and leave him open to an attack.

Schlachender Ort

Another form of Mortsclag but one that grasps the blade in both hands in order to make a thrust.

Schlaudern 

(“Slinging”) An overhand slinging blow akin to Das Gayszlen.

Schlüssel 

(“Key”)  A ward from Joachim Meyer where the sword is held horizontally in front of the upper chest with the point forward and the false edge resting on the forward arm.

Schnall

(“flick”) A flicking blow with the tip of the sword, equivalent to the Italian stromacione.

Schnappen

(“to snap”) To execute a sudden movement of the weapon from the bind by using the hard press of the opponent’s own weapon to lift off and hit back. The suddenness and noise of the movement are described.

Schnitt

(“slice”) Draw cuts and slicing pulls.  To direct with strength and bodies movement, Bruch over the arms or the joints with the sword-edge, from above Oberers Schnitts, or from below Unterer Schnitts.  One of the “three wonders (Drey Wunder)

Schnitt durch die kron

(“slice through the crown”) A horizontal slice from below with the Langer Schneide and your hands or arms raised over the Kron

Schrankhut / Schranckhut

(“Crossed Ward” or “Barrier Ward”)  Leading with the left leg, the blade is held before the body on the right side, pointing down and with the arms uncrossed. Cuts are made stepping forward with the right foot.  According to Meyer, a position equivalent to a low Hengen usually with the left foot forward. Meyer indicates that this is also called the “Iron Gate”.  Perhaps equivalent to the Italian “Boar’s Tooth”.

Schut

The disruption that results when touching weapons in the Band.

Schutten

To jar, to knock together, with strength and noise, and Anbinden.

Schutze

(“protection”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295). A form of parry or deflect which is less well-defined and inconsistently illustrated.

Schwech

(“weak”) German masters divided the long-sword into two portions, the weaker section of blade from middle to point was known as Schwech (or Schwäche, i.e. foible), used for most thrusting and slicing but not parrying or binding (equivalent to the Foible of later renaissance fencing), opposite of Stark (Starck). The further you move from the center-of-percussion towards the hilt (Stark or forte’), the weaker the strength when cutting and parry. The blade middle was regarded as the starting point of the Schwech that increased further towards the ort.

Schwert Wechszlen

(“Shifting the sword” or “sword change”) In Talhoffer, reversing the grip and grabbing the blade in Halb-Schwert.

Schwertnemen / Schwertsnehmen

(“Sword taking”) Close-in disarming or trapping actions. In the German schools close-in techniques for “wrestling at the sword” or Ringen Am Schwert, involved throws or grappling and disarming moves known as or Schwertnemen (“sword-taking”) there was also ground-fighting (Unterhalten, “holding down”). Called Gioco Stretto (Close Playing) in Italian, very useful and effective moves in long-sword fighting, called Grypes and Seizures in some later Renaissance styles.

Schwuch

A lever-grip on the arm, with momentum that forces the opponent to fall. To “Schwuchten”, is to “teeter-totter”.

Sprechfenster

(“Talking Window”) The action of staying on guard in a strong bind (Band) after an Oberhau is parried with an upper Hengen, keeping the point directed at the opponent’s face in order to forestall his action. The two weapons form a kind of close window-cross. Ringeck describes it as useful for anticipating the opponent’s action. Also called Brechfenster ("breaking window").

Stark / Starck

The stronger part of the blade nearer the hilt (i.e., the forte’) less effective for cutting but used for parrying and binding. Opposite of Schwech.  Also, powerful, effective attacks or operations in the moment of contact between two weapons (i.e., “the Band”).

Stercken

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

Stich

A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295). A special kind of Langort thrust in which the buckler is drawn back to the left hip and the right elbow is advanced but sharply bent so that the sword (held in supination) points down and backwards.

Storck / Sterck / Sterk

1. A strong Anbinden on the weapon.  2. The part of the sword-blade from the Gehiltz up to the middle of the blade. 3. Attack of particular effectiveness and skill (art). Also called Sterck, Sterk.

Streithau

(the “battle cut”) One of Liechtenauer’s blows.

Streychen / Straichen

To direct a blow from below against the opponent’s blade to cancel their action. See Rota.

Stücke / Stuke

(“device” or “piece”, “fighting trick”).  Techniques or attack combinations designed to get past an opponent’s defenses.  A chain of techniques possibly in the manner of a series of attack and counter drills.  Key was the idea of knowing the opponent’s likely response to each attack, and attacking the opening that it creates.  As the German masters would say, one technique paves the way for the next. This was not used initially, but appears in the later manuals. See Bruch.

Stücke und Bruch

(“performance/maneuver and stopping”) Moving to strike so that the opponents attack is “broken” or blocked before you strike. 2. “Technique and counter” or the idea that every technique has a counter and every counter has a technique, two major components of the German systems of swordsmanship.

Sturtzhaw / Sturtzhow

(“plunging cut”, “plunge blow”, or “shifting cut”) According to Talhoffer, a straight thrust from the Hengen.  According to Meyer a high strike used in Zuefechten and made with the false edge with the hands high and the point aimed at the opponent’s face.  See also Talhoffer’s Prelhaw.

Taschenhaw

A Versatzung for mounted combat - a blow with the Langen Schneide from the chief hut from mounted combat, with which the sword is held in the “ bag “ of the slightly bent left arm.

Tenner

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

“Through the roses” A 1555 edition of Johannes Leckuechner’s late 15th century fechtbuch, defines this as circular strike with the lowest point of the arc aimed at the thigh.  

Tuck lauff

A fast, secretive movement for the purpose of gaining a wrestling grip.

Tunrschlag

(“From the Thunderclap”) A close-in throw or wrench according to Talhoffer.

Uberfallen

A cutting or thrusting over the opponent’s weapon when it is held too low and his upper openings then become exposed. Also, to hook and pull down, with your right hand close to the Gehiltz, on the inside or outside of the opponents’ weapon over his hilt, in the proximity of or directly over his hand. See Uberlauffen.

Übergreiffen 

(“Gripping Over”)  Using the fingers of the right hand to wrap around or over the quillon (i.e., fingering). Leckuechner’s late 15th century fechtbuch described it from the Ochs position as: “Grip with your right hand over your cross guard into the blade, so that your fingers are standing in the flat of the blade. If somebody is hitting at you, hit him with strength that you just outdo his sword and twitch him your flat of the blade at his right ear and go high in a displacement.”

Ueberlauffen / Überlauffen

(“overrunning”) 1. The concept of timed counter-attack by outreaching the adversary just as they attack, you move into or out of their action and strike their closer targets exposed by their own attack. To outreach an opponent who attacks a distant target by targeting one closer.   If the opponent attacks a lower target, the swordsman doesn’t bother to parry; rather, he simply attacks a higher (and therefore closer) target, outreaching the opponent.  Typically a thrust, or a cut using the very tip of the blade. 2. Any cut or thrust over the opponent’s weapon, when he attacks the lower openings.

Umschlagen 

To pull away after a blow for another to the opposite side. Similar to Talhoffer’s Dal Wegbinden

Untere Ansetzen

Thrusts or techniques delivered under or below the opponent’s guard (opposite of Obere Ansetzen)

Unterhalten / Underhalten

(“holding down”). Ground-fighting techniques wresting or grappling moves included in the curriculum of the German systems of fighting, entering techniques involving stepping in to trap the opponent’s forearms or grip with you second hand or arm. Also a series of wrestling holds used to immobilize and opponent once the opponent was thrown to the ground. Once immobilized, the knight used his dagger to kill the opponent, or tied his arms and feet with cord, taking him prisoner. Also to hang on with a particular grip to an opponent already thrown to the ground.

Unterhau

(“under cuts”) Any upward or rising strikes made from below the waist (Unterhuten), either diagonal (Zornhau) or vertical (Scheitelhau). Usually made with the Langer Schneide (long edge).

Unter Schnitt / Undern Schnitt

To slice upward from below.

Valsch Ortt

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

Vater Streich

 (the “father strike”) One of Liechtenauer’s Meisterhau.

Verborgenes Ringen

(“wrestling secrets”) Dangerous wrestling-grips that were allowed only in serious fights and not for the public during fight school; Introductory remarks to their use were demonstrated but not allowed to be used.

Verführen 

(“Misleading”) Meyer said Misleading enables many moves and to remember when you show your intent, as if to strike to one of your opponent's openings, do not do so, but instead strike at another opening. Misleading is performed not only with the sword, but also by presenting various false stances to the opponent to lure or bait him into acting. The term might also cover provoking tactics in this sense, similar to Vadi’s falsità’.

Verhawen

An offensive cut, made before the opponent can attack.

Verkehren / Das Verkehrer

According to Ringeck, a technique where if you bind at the adversaries sword with an Oberhau or an Unterhau, turn your sword so that your thumb is down and you thrust to his face from above, forcing him to displace the thrust, then grabbing his right elbow with your left hand place your left leg in front of his right leg and to toss him over.  Also, a trapping technique of Joachim Meyer  where the swordsman hooks the opposing blade and carries it down to the ground, sensing soft pressure from his opponent in engagement.  Once the opponent’s blade is trapped, he can strike at his head or use a variety of other techniques. 

Verkerer / Verkehrer

To thrust from the Band with swords rotated about 180 degrees. The expression refers to the sword-posture. (backwards upside-down, turn or turning)

Veller / Fehler

To fake a cut or thrust from an upper Blossen (opening) to a lower one, the concept of feinting high to low.

Verschieben 

(“Sliding”)  From the Zornhut (Guard of Wrath) to lift your hilt over your head with your thumb on the blade (or ecussion) and catch a blow on the flat, then immediately wind in and slice.

Versetzen / Versatzung

(literally “displacement” or “to displace”) The concept of a defensive action to put off an attack by a deflecting blow or counter strike as opposed to an opposition block, employed with evasive stepping (or the “displacements” are four of these cuts). Ringeck stated there were four Versatzungen techniques. Abwenden and Absetzen are examples of Versetzen.

Verstüllen 

According to Meyer, the action of keeping the blade’s stark pressed against the opponent’s arm or weapon until an opening appears and a quick slice is used.  See Bleiben and Umschlagen.

Verzuckter Hau (“twitched strike”)  A term from the mid-15th century Codex Wallerstein text.

Vidilpoge

(literally the “fiddle-stick”) A sword & buckler technique from the anonymous German MS. I.33 or “Tower Fechtbuch” (c. 1295).  A movement in which the fighter holds his sword essentially at right angles across his outstretched left arm.

Vom Dach / Vom tag

(“from the roof” or “from above”)  A high guard, with the arms high over the head and the left foot is forward. Best suited for delivering strong cuts and threatening blows.

Vom Schwert

(“from the sword”)  The first group of techniques allocated to the Krieg phase. These are made by suddenly lifting off pressure or moving away from the opponent’s blade. 

Vor

(“before”)  The offensive principle of fighting, aggressively taking the initiative, opposite of Nach (After).

According to Liechtenauer’s teachings, a good swordsman always attacks first, seizing the initiative before his opponent has the chance. 

Vor Fechten

(“attacking before”) One of the three ways of overcoming an opponent’s attack.

Vorfechter

A provost or advanced student in the Fechtschulen.

Waage

("scale" or “balance”) A low firm body position of balance in whatever stance you use.  The standard fighting position with legs and arms slightly bent. Also: To make a Wrestling grip on the elbow of the opponent and throw over your left foot, before he puts his right foot down and is in a delicate equilibrium. The term assumes that the throw - like with a scales - is only possible through the delicate balance-relationship corresponding.

“Was sehrt, das lehrt”

(“What hurts, teaches”) The idea in the Fechtschulen that pragmatic knowledge follows only from realistic instruction and earnest practice (i.e., “no pain, no gain”).

Wechsel

(“Change”) A term used by Joachim Meyer when referring to turning over the blade in a Tail guard from one edge to the other. Wechsel can mean a change of the stance from a position with short-edge facing the opponent (right leg lead, the blade forward, point down and to the left). This is a position which actually results from a diagonal right-to-left downward (Zornhau) cut. Similar to Fiore’s Boar guard.

Wechselhau / Wechssler

(“changing cut” or “Changer”  ) An attack, that is parried/deflected, suddenly changes into a cut directed against another unprotected target. 

Weckemeister

From the Pflug stance, to displace an attack then deliver an upward thrust to the face from below.

Winden / Wennden / Wenden

(“winding” / “wind” or “turning”) Any turning of the point or pommel around to strike or ward. Close actions to maintain pressure and dominate the opposing blade to get in and use either edge to slice (also allows you to bind, trap, close, and seize). Any turning of the blade while pressing on the opponent’s blade in order to bring one end or the other of your sword (point or pommel) against them. To wind the opponent’s weapon by the wrists before attacking. Hallmarks of the Kunst des Fechtens. They typically involve the application of superior leverage against the opponent’s blade. The name is derived from the winding, turning motion of the sword. Major variations of the Winden are the Duplieren, Mutieren, and Hals Fahen.

Werffen ("throwing" or "armlocks") From the Codex Wallerstein, techniques, performed usually, although not always, with the help of the blade.

Zeck / Zeckrur / Zecke / Zecken / Zeckruroren

(“tick”) To deliver a slight hit with the weapon when in close combat. A distracting hit or provocation. A light cut as a result of a “Winden” that often catches the opponent by surprise.

Zecken

Taps with the sword as a result of a “Winden” that are comparatively light, but often catch the opponent by surprise.

Zornhau / Zorenuhau /  Zorn haw

(“rage cut” or “anger cut”) A powerful diagonal cut delivered from behind the right shoulder or back, either Oberhau (above the waist) or Unterhau (below the waist). Also any diagonal cut. One of the Meisterhau.

Zornhut

(“guard of wrath” or “rage guard”) A sparingly used and vulnerable posture with the weapon pulled all the way point down behind the back, but which allows the most powerful blows such as Zornhau.

Zornort

To swing the sword back wide and then lifted over the head to thrust. This is done with good body control.

Zu Legen

(“laying on”). A Winden variant, also known as a Hals Fahen (“neck catching”).

Zucken

(Drawing) Generally applied to side-to-side cutting, in a “rownde” or wind-milling/moulinet-type fashion.  Alternately a linear disengage or blade evasion.

Zucken

(“twitches”) A jerky freeing of the weapon from the Band. When an opponent has over-stepped in the Band bringing himself nearer to you, you may take renewed cuts or thrusts at the first opening. You will notice that during this, you remain for another moment in the Band.

Zuefechten

(“The Approach”) The initial phase of combat, the pre-fight or in pre-fencing before any engagement of weapons. One of the two phases of combat where the combatants are closing distance together to engage and an attack is made or their weapons make contact (prior to Anbinden or else Handarbeit).

Zulaufent Ringen

Wrestling techniques used when first running together.  Analogous to Zuefechten.

Zwerchhau / Zwerchhaw / Zwerch

(“Thwart Blow”) A horizontal or “cross cut” (also a “slanting cut”) made from either side. A horizontal-strike to displace downward blows from above. One of the Meisterhau. Also called Zwerch, Zwer Twerehaw, Twerchhau, or Geschrenckt Ort. Zwer = Thwart

Zwerchen

to execute a Zwerchhau.

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