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Pol Hausbuch (MS 3227a)/13v - 17v

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Complete Translation Complete translation
by Thomas Stoeppler

by Dierk Hagedorn

Here begins Master Liechtenauer’s Art of fencing with the sword on foot and mounted as well as with Armour and without.

At first, you should note and know that there is only one art of the sword, and this art may have been developed some hundred years ago. And this art is the foundation and the core of any fencing art and Master Liechtenauer understood and practiced it in its completeness. It is not the case that he invented this art – as mentioned before – but he has travelled many lands, willing to learn and experience the same real and true art.

And this very art is honestly real and true and it is about moving straight and simple, to the nearest target, taking the most direct way. For example, if someone intends to strike or thrust, it goes just like if a string would be attached to the sword and the tip or edge would be pulled to an opening of the adversary - who should be the target for the strike or thrust - resulting in taking the shortest way to the nearest target as possibly. That is why the same true fencing will never employ beautiful and wide parries nor large round moves which are just useful to entertain spectators.

There are some Leychmeister (false masters) that tell they would invent new art and think that the art of fencing would get better day by day. I however would like to see just one who should come up with a fencing technique or a strike that is not part of Liechtenauer’s art. They just often try to change a technique just by giving it a new name, everyone just as he sees it fit. They also invent wide and large swinging moves and parries, and often use two or three strikes before the real strike. And all this just because they want to be praised by the uneducated people! They practice wide and beautiful parries and swings when they begin to fence for show, and execute long and far-reaching strikes slowly and clumsily and by doing this they miss and cannot recover again quickly – and thus exposing themselves easily. That is because they don’t have control and measure in their fencing; this really is not part of serious fencing. For school fencing and for practice using this may be useful, but serious fencing moves simply, directly and straight, without any hesitation and pause, just like a string or like everything would be exactly measured and calculated.

If someone intends to strike or thrust another who stands in front of him, no strike or thrust in any other direction or wide swings or many strikes will help. If he wants to bring it to a quick end, and yet hesitates and is slow, he should just leave the Schantze (place of combat)!

Therefore, he must instantly strike simply and directly to the man, at his head or body right to the nearest and most accessible target that he may reach there. And this he should do quickly and nimbly and better with one strike than with four or six, or spending precious time by looking and analysing. Also move lightly and nimbly.

The Vorschlag is a great advantage in fencing and you will hear more about this later in the text. Liechtenauer says only five strikes, with their following techniques are useful as opening methods for fencing. And he teaches these, according to the real art, to execute these straight and simply to the nearest and most accessible target as possible. And by this he leaves all the useless work and the newly invented methods of the Leychmeister that are falsely derived from his art.

[13v] HIe hebt sich an meister lichtenawers kunst des fechtens mit deme sw°te czu fusse vnd czu rosse / blos vnd yn harnüsche / Vnd vor allen dingen vnd sachen / saltu merke~ vnd wissen / das nür eyne kunst ist des swertes / vnd dy mag vor manche~ hvndert Jare~ seyn fvnden vnd irdocht / vnd dy ist eyn grunt vnd kern aller künsten des fechtens / vnd dy hat meist° lichtnaw° gancz vertik vnd gerecht gehabt vnd gekunst / Nicht das her sy selber habe~ fvnden vnd irdocht / als vor ist geschreben / Sonder / her hat manche lant / durchfaren vnd gesucht / durch der selbñ rechtvertigen vnd warhaftige~ kunst wille / das her dy io irvare~ vnd wissen welde / Vnd dy selbe kunst ist ernst gancz vnd rechtvertik / Vnd get of das aller neheste vnd kors körtzste / slecht vnd gerade czu / Recht zam wen eyn° eyne~ hawe~ ader stechen welde / vnd das man im deñe eyne~ vadem ader snure an seyne~ ort ader sneyde des sw°tes bünde / vnd leytet aber czöge dem selben ort ader sneide off ienes blössen [14r] den her hawe~ ader stechen selde / noch dem aller nehesten / kortzsten vnd endlichsten / als man das nür dar brege~ mochte / wen das selbe rechtvertige vechten / wil nicht hobisch vnd weislich paryre~ habñ / vnd weit vm~efechte~ / mit deme sich lewte mochte~ lassen vnd vorzümen / Als man noch manche leychmeistere vindet dy do sprechen / das sy selber newe kunst vinden vnd irdenke~ vnd meyne~ das sich dy kunst des fechtens von tage czu tage besser vnd mere / Aber ich wölde gerne eyne~ sehn der do / möchte nür ey~ gefechte / ader eyne~ haw / irdenke~ vnd tue~ / der do nicht aus lichtnaw°s kunst gynge / Nür das sy ofte eyn gefechte vorwandeln vnd vorkeren wöllen / mit deme / das sy im newe name~ gebñ / itzlicher noch seyme hawpte / Vnd das sy weit vm~efechten vnd paryrn irdenken / vnd oft vör eyne~ haw / czwene ader dreye tue~ / nür durch wolstehens wille / do von sy von den unvorstendige~ gelobt wolle~ werden / mit dem höbsche~ paryrn vnd weit vm~efechte~ / als sy sich veyntlich stellen / vnd weite vnd lange hewe dar brenge~ lanksam vnd trege / mit deme sy sich gar sere vorhawen [14v] vnd zeüme~ / vnd sich auch do mite vaste blos gebñ / we~ sy keyne mosse yn ire~ fechte~ nicht haben / vnd das gehört doch nicht czu ernstem fechte~ / zonder czu schulfechten durch vbunge vnd gebrawchu~ge wille mochte is wol eczwas gut seyn / Aber ernste vechten wil risch slecht vnd gar gerade dar gehen / an alles lassen vnd zümenüss / zam noch eyn° snure~ / ader zam itzlichs besunder gemessen vnd gewegen were / wen sal eyner eyne~ slaen ader stechen / der do vor im stet / zo hilft in io key~ slag ader stich / vor sich vn ader hindersich / ader nebñ sich / noch keynerley weitfechte~ / ader vil hewe / das mt eyme möchte ende~ / mit deme her sich zümet vnd last / das her dy schantcze vorsleft / Sonder her mus ir / slecht vnd gleich czuhawe~ / czu~ mañe / czu kop / ader czu leibe / noch dem aller nehesten / vnd schiresten als her in mir gehabñ mag vnd in eiche~ / v/risch vnd snelle vnd liber mt eyme slage we~ mt viern ader seche~ mt deme her sich möchte lassen / vnd das iener leichte queme deñe her / wen der vorslag / eyn gros vorteil ist / of deme vechten / als du es als hernoch wirst hore~ yn dem texte / Do neñet lichtnaw° / nür fümff hewe / mit andñ stöcken / dy do nütcze sey~ czu erstem vechten / vnd leret dy noch [15r] rechter kunst slecht vnd gerade dar brege~ noch dem aller neheste~ uvnd schireste~ / als mag is nür dar komen / Vnd lest alles trum~elwerk / vnd new fvnde~ hewe vnderwege~ / võ den leichmeistere / Dy doch gru~tlich aus syner kunst dar kome~ /
Also know and note that one cannot really talk about fencing in a meaningful manner or explain it with written words, as some might like. You can only show it and instruct it by hand. So use all your senses and pay close attention to the art and practice it more for fun and play. so it will be ready for you faster for fencing seriously. That is because practice is better than art, your practice may very well be useful without art, but your art is useless without practice. Auch merke das / vnd wisse das mã nicht gar eygentlich vnd bedewtlich von dem fechten mag sage~ vnd schreibñ ader auslege~ / als mã is wol mag / is wol mag czeige~ vnd weisen mit der hant / Dorvm~e tu of dyne syñen vnd betrachte is deste bas / Vnd ube dich doryñe deste mer yn schimpfe / zo gedenkestu ir deste bas in er~ste / wen ubu~ge ist besser weñe kunst / de~ne übu~ge tag w tawg wol ane ku~st aber ku~st tawg nicht wol ane übunge /
Also know that a good fencer should at first grip his sword safely in a secure manner with both hands between the cross and the pommel because this way he will hold his sword safer than by having one hand holding the pommel. He will also strike harder and more accurate this way if the pommel overthrows itself, swinging in behind the strike. This results in a much harder strike compared to having one hand at the pommel and drawing the strike. Drawing the strike this way is not as perfect and strongly, because the sword is like a pair of scales. If the sword is large and heavy, the pommel also must be heavy – just like on a pair of scales. Auch wisse das eyn guter fechter sal vör allen sachen syn swert gewisse vnd sicher füren vnd fassen / mit beiden henden / czwische~ gehilcze vnd l?c klos / wen alzo helt her das sw°t vil sicher / den das hers bey dem klosse vasset mit eyn° hant / vnd slet auch vil harter vnd sürer / alzo / wen der klos öberwirft sich vnd swenkt sich noch de~ slage das der slag vil harter / dar ku~pt / den das her das swert mit dem klosse vasset / wen alzo / czöge her den slag / mt dem klosse weder / das her nicht zo voelkömlich vnd zo stark möchte dar kome~ / Wen das swert [15v] ist recht zam eyn woge / den ist ey~ sw°t gros vnd swer / zo mus der klos auch dornoch swer syn / recht zam noch eyn° wogen
Also know when it comes to fencing one against another, he should be well aware of the adversary’s steps and be secure and well-trained with his own, just like he would be standing on scales. So he can step backwards or forwards, as appropriate, be adaptive and tread sparingly but also quickly and nimbly. Your fencing should be accompanied with a positive and resolute attitude and also with wits and your common sense and without any fear. You will learn about that later. Auch wisse wen eyn° mit eyme ficht / zo sol her syner schrete wol war neme~ / vnd sicher in den sey~ / wen her recht zam of eyner woge~ stehe~ sal / hindersich / ader vorsich czu trete~ / noch deme als sichs gepürt / gefüge vnd gerinklich / risch vnd snelle / vnd gar mt gute~ mute / vnd guter gewissen ader vornu~ft / sal deyn fechte~ dar gehe~ / vnd an alle vorchte / als mã das h°noch wirt höre~ /
Also you need control and measure in your fencing as it is appropriate and you should not step too far, forwards or backwards, so that you don’t lose time while recovering from your first step. So you still can step as appropriate. Also it is often advisable to do two small steps instead of one long step, and often it is necessary that one has to do a little run with many small steps. Also doing an explosive step or a jump is often necessary. Auch saltu mosse habñ yn deyme gefechte dornoch als sichs gepürt / vnd salt nicht czu weit schreite~ / das du dich deste bas ey~s- andñ schretes irholen magest / hinderdich / ader vordich czu tue~ / noch deme als sich wörde gepure~ / vnd das / Auch gepüren sich oft czwene korcze schrete vor eyne~ lange~ / vnd oft gepürt sich das eyñ e lewftche mus tue~ / mit korcze~ schrete~ / vnd oft das eyñ eyne~ gute~ schret ader spru~k mus tue~ /
That what one intends to execute for fun or in earnest, should be made strange and confusing to the eyes, so that the adversary will not notice what is going on. Vnd was eyñ redlichs wil treibñ czu schimpfe / ader czu ernste / das sal her eyme vor den ogen / fremde vnd vorworren machen / das ieñ nicht merkt was deser key~ im meynt czutreiben /
And then, if he manages to get to him, and he knows the measure and thinks the adversary can and will reach him now, so he should hurry to him without fear, quickly and nimbly, going for the head or body, not caring if he hits or misses. So he should win the Vorschlag and not let the adversary come to his own fencing. About this you will learn more in the general teachings. [16r] Vnd alsbald we~ her deñe czu im ku~pt vnd dy moße also czu im hat das in dünkt her welle in im wol haben vnd irreichen / zo sal her ku~lich czu im hurte~ vnd vare~ / snelle vnd risch / czu koppe ader czu leibe / her treffe ader vele / vnd sal io den vorslag gewyñen / vnd iene~ mt nichte lassen czu~ dinge~ kome~ / als du bas h°noch wirst hören yn der gemeyne~ lere etc
Also one should preferably aim for the upper openings and less to the lower openings, and also above the cross and not below. So all fencing is much safer and the upper openings is much better (to reach) than the lower openings – except that it occurs that the lower opening is closer and then one should aim for the lower opening, but that doesn’t happen too often. Auch sal eyn° allemal liber den öbñ blößen reme~ / deñe den vndñ / vnde eyme ober deme gehilcze yn vare~ / mt hewe~ ader mit stiche~ / künlich vnd risch / we~ eyn° irreicht eyne~ vil bas / vnd / verrer öber dem gehilcze / den dorvnder / vnd eyn° ist auch alzo vil sicher alles fechtens / vnd d° obñ rure eyne / ist vil besser deñe der vndñ eyne / Is we~ deñe / das is alzo queme das eyner neher hette czu der vndñ das her der reme~ müste / als das ofte ku~pt
Also know that one should move to someone’s right side with his attacks instead of moving directly in from the front, because, when one knows of this method, practices and succeeds in doing this in all fencing or wrestling, he certainly is not a bad fencer. Auch wisse / das eyner sal io eyme of dy rechte seiten kome~ / yn seyme gefechte / wen her eym~ do yn allen sachen / des fechtens ader ringens / bas gehabñ mag / deñe gleich vorne czu / vnd wer dis stöcke wol weis / vnd wol dar brengt / der ist ist nicht ey~ bözer fechter /
Also know, when one wants to fence in earnest, he should plan a ready technique, whichever he like, and that technique should be complete and well-practiced. And he should take this seriously into his mind and will, just if he should say “That I want to do”. And then he must gain the initiative and with the help of God it will not fail. He succeeds in doing what he should do, if he bravely hurries and rushes in with the Vorschlag; about that you will later hear often. [16v] Auch wisse / wen eyñ ernstlich wil fechten / der vasse im eyn vertik stöcke vör / wels her wil / das do gancz vnd gerecht sey / vnd neme im das ernstlich vnd stete in seyne~ syn vnd gemüte / wen her of eyne~ wil / Recht zam her sölde spreche~ das meyne ich io czutreibñ / vnd dal sal vnd mus vorgank habñ mt der hölfe gotes zo mag is im mt t nichte velen / her tut was her sal / wen her ku~lich dar hort vnd rawscht / mt dem vorslage / als mã das hernach oft wirt horen /

[This includes a stamp: "Germanisches Nationalmuseum".]

Oh, all fencing
requires the help of the righteus God
a straight and healthy body,
a complete and well-crafted sword
before, after, weak, strong,
indes the word you must remember,
strikes, thrusts, cuts. pressing,
guards, parries, shoves, feeling, pulling,
winding and hanging,
moving in and out, swipes, jumps, grabs, wrestles
wisdom and bravery,
carefulness, deceit, and wits,
measure, concealment,
sense, pre-anticipation, skilfulness
practice and positive attitude,
movement, agility, good steps.

These verses should be your foundation principles and these should permeate the whole matter of the art of fencing. You should carefully observe these and later you will especially hear or read about these, and what each of these principles mean and contain.

[17r] Czu allem fechten /
gehört dy hölfe gotes von rechte /
Gerader leip vnd gesvnder /
eyn gancz vertik swert pesu~dñ /
Vor noch swach sterke /
yndes das wort mete czu merke~ /
Hewe stiche snete drücke~ /
leger schütcze~ stöße fülen czücke~ /
Winden vnd he~ge~ /
rücken striche sprönge greiffen range~ /
Rischeit vnd kunheit /
vorsichtikeit list vnd klugheit /
Masse vörborgenheit /
vernu~ft vorbetrachtunge fetikeit /
Vbunge vnd guter mut /
motus gelenkheit schrete gut /

In den seben versen da / sint dir fu~dament pñcipia / Vnd ptine~cia / benumet vnd dy gancze mate~ia / Aller kunst des fechten / das saltu betrachten rechte / Als du auch eigentlich / hernocher vnd sönderlich / wirst hore~ ader lesen / itzlichs noch seynem wezen /

Fencer this understand
so the complete art will be revealed to you
of the whole sword
and many good techniques

ffechter des nym war /
zo wirt dir beu~kst bekant dy ku~st dy kunst gar /
Of dem gancze~ swerte /
vnd manch gut weidelich geverte /

Motus the word alone
is the heart and the crown of all fencing
and the whole matter
of fencing, with all principles
and the termini
of the foundation
previously mentioned
will be quickly understood.
When one fences,
he should be well instructed in these
And always stay in motion
and don’t hesitate when you
begin fencing with someone
So work righteously and bravely
with increasing speed
one after another.
In one constant rush,
without break, that
your adversary cannot come
to strikes. It takes away his will
and causes him damage
when he cannot get away
without being struck,
however you can get away before him.

[17v] MOtus • das worte schone /
ist des fechtens eyn hort vnd krone /
der gancze mat~iaz /
des fechtens / mit aller pertine~ciã /
Vnd der artikeln gar /
des fundamentes / dy var /
Mit name~ sint genant /
vnd werden dir hernoch bas bekant /
Wy deñe eyñ nur ficht /
zo sey her mit den wol bericht /
Vnd sey stetz i~ motu /
vnd nicht veyer wen her nit /
An hebt czu fechte~ /
zo treibe her mit rechte /
Vm~er in vnd endlich
eyns noch dem andñ künlich /
In eyme rawsche stete /
an vnderlos imediate /
Das iener nicht kome /
czu slage des nympt deser frome~ /
Vnd iener schaden /
wen her nicht ungeslage~ /
Von desem kome~ mag /
tut nur deser noch dem rat /

And after the teaching,
which is written here,
So I tell you truthfully,
no one defends safely
Have you learnt it,
he will not come to strikes.

Vnd noch der leren /
dy itczunt ist geschreben /
So sag ich vorwar /
sich schützt iener nicht ane var /
Hastu vornome~ /
czu slage mag her mit nichte komen /

Here learn the frequens motus which paralyses your adversary in begin, medium and end of all fencing according to this art and teaching. You should execute begin, medium and end in one rush without break and without being stifled by your adversary and under no circumstances let him gain the opportunity to strike. This is the meaning of the two words vor and nach, which means Vorschlag und Nachschlag, striking him just like one. And this should fool him prior I even have to move.[1] Hie merke~ das / freque~s motus / beslewst in im / begy~nis / mittel vnd ende / alles fechtens / noch deser kunst vnd lere / alzo das eyñ yn eyme rawsche / anhebu~ge / mittel vnde endu~ge / an vnderlos vnd an hindernis synes wedervechters volbrenge / vnd iene~ mit nichte lasse czu slage kome~ / we~ of das ge~t dy czwey wörter / vor / noch / das ist / vorslag vnd nochslag / i~ mete r i~ vna hõ / q~si dm p9 i~liqm sine ãqo meo /
  1. This has proven as untranslatable so far and here I can only guess the meaning! I guess this is about the concealed quality of the strikes, but I am not sure.