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Sigmund ain Ringeck/Keith Farrell 2010

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HHere begins the explanation of the epitome.

In which lies recorded the knightly art of the longsword, composed and formed by Johannes Liechtenauer, who was a great master in the art, may God be merciful to him. He wrote the markverses with deep and hidden words, so that the art would not be widely known. And these deep and hidden words have been by Master Sigmund ain Ringeck, fencing master to the highborn prince and noble Lord Albrecht, Count Palatine of Rhine and Duke of Bavaria, recorded and explained in this little book which now follows, so that every fighter who otherwise can fight, shall be able to take these and understand them.

Foreword to the epitome.

1 Young knight, learn
 to always honour women, and love God,
2 so increase your honour.
 Practice chivalry and learn
3 arts which improve you
 and in the battle bring honour.
4 Wrestle well, understand the lance,
 spear and sword and use the knife
5 like a man.
6 Cut fiercely!
 Storm forwards: Hit or miss;
7 The well-experienced hate that
 which seeks to cut them.
8 This you shall understand:
 all arts have length and measure.</poem>

Many good general lessons about the longsword.

9 If you would like to see skill,
 see that you go to the left then right with the cuts.
10 And left with right,
 if you want to fight strongly.

Glosa. This is the longsword's first lesson; that you shall learn to cut properly from both sides, so that you can fight strongly and correctly. When you want to cut from the right side, stand with your left foot forwards; and when you want to cut from the left side, stand with your right foot forwards. If you cut with an Oberhau from the right side, follow after the cut with your right foot. If you do not do this then the cut is poor and insincere, because your right side lingers behind. Then the cut becomes too short and cannot follow the correct arc down towards the other side, in front of the left foot.

Similarly the cut is incorrect if you strike from the left side and do not follow after the cut with the left foot. So mark well, from which side you strike, that the foot follows after the cut. In this manner you can perform all of your techniques correctly and with strength. And in the same way should all the other cuts be performed.

A further lesson

11 He who goes after the cut,
 receives little joy from his skills.
12 Cut closely, then do what you want
 so he cannot to change-through your defence.
13 Strike to the head, to the body,
 do not refrain from swift strikes.
14 Fence with the whole body
 if you want do this with strength.

Glosa. When you come against him in Zufechten you shall not await his attack, and neither shall you wait to see what he is thinking about doing to you. All fencers who are hesitant and wait for the incoming attack, and do nothing other than to ward it away, they gain very little joy from this sort of practice because they are often beaten.

Always fight with the strength of the whole body! Cut close into him, to the head and to the body, so he cannot change-through in front of your point. And when the cut ends up in the bind you shall not hesitate but shall quickly and fluently make attacks against the nearest opening, using the five strikes and other techniques that will be described later.

Another lesson.

15 Hear what is bad,
 do not fence from the left if you are right-handed,
16 and if you are left-handed,
 you are weak from the right.

Glosa. This lesson applies to two types of people: those who are left-handed and those who are right-handed. When you come against him in Zufechten, if you are right-handed and want to strike him, you must not throw your first cut from your left side. That is because this is weak and cannot bring strength to bear if he binds the strong of his blade against you. Therefore, cut from your right side, so you can be strong and skillful in the bind and can do as you will.

Similarly, if you are left handed, do not cut from the right, because the art is pointless when a left-hander tries to fence from the right side. Likewise this statement applies to a right-hander fencing from the left side.

A lesson about "Before" and "After".

17 "Before" and "After", these two things,
 all other skills spring from these.
18 "Weak" and "Strong",
 "Instantly", mark well these words.
19 So you can learn
 to work skillfully and defend yourself.
20 If you become gentle and timid,
 you will never learn anything about fencing.

Glosa. Mark well that more than anything else you must understand "Before" and "After", because these two concepts are the grounding from which all fencing comes. Mark also: "Before" means that you shall always perform a strike or thrust against his openings, before he does the same to you. Then he must defend against you! And work deftly both in the defence and in moving your sword from one opening to another, so he cannot have the chance to perform his own techniques between yours. But if he rushes in close to you, deal with him through wrestling.

Mark, that which is called "After".

Mark, that if you cannot come in the "Before", wait for the "After". This will defeat all techniques that he does against you. When he comes at you so that you must defend yourself against him, so work deftly "in the Instant" with your defence against his nearest opening, so strike him before he can finish his technique. Thus you win the "Before" and he is left in the "After".

You shall also know how you can use "the Instant" against his "weak" and "strong" parts of the sword. From the hilt of the sword to the blade's centre the sword is "strong", and with this you can meet against his blade when you bind against it. And further, from the middle to the point the sword is "weak", which should not be brought against his blade. And when you really understand these things you can work skillfully and defend yourself well, and later teach princes and lords, so that they with these same skills can protect themselves well in play and earnest. But if you become frightened easily you should not learn fighting arts, because a weak and frightened heart—it does not help you—it defeats all of your skills.

The Five cuts.

21 Learn five cuts from the right hand.
 He who can defend himself with these,
22 he should be praised,
 his skill rewards him well.

Glosa. Mark well, the teaching verses present five secret cuts, which many swordmasters do not know to speak about. You will learn not to strike any other cuts when you come from the right side against one who stands against you in defence. And try if you can to hit an opponent with the first strike using one of these five cuts. The one who can counter with these against an opponent without being hurt will be praised by the master of the markverses, and his skill shall reward him more than another fencer who cannot fence with the five cuts. And how you shall throw the five cuts you will find hereafter recorded in the verses that talk about these same five cuts.

The techniques of the markverses.

23 Wrath strike, crooked strike, crosswise,
 squinting, with Parting
24 breaking the Fool,
 follow after, go over,
25 cut, change through, twitch,
 rush in, slice, press the hands,
26 hanging guard, and with openings,
 strike, catch, sweep and thrust with the point.

Glosa. Here are listed the correct and most important techniques in fighting with the longsword, they are named specifically so that you may understand them better. They are seventeen in number and begin with the five cuts.

The first cut is called the wrath strike,
the second is the crooked strike,
the third is the crosswise strike,
the fourth is the squinting strike,
the fifth is the parting strike,
the sixth: these are the four guards,
the seventh is the four displacements,
the eighth is travelling after,
the ninth is the over reaching,
the tenth is the setting aside,
the eleventh is changing through,
the twelfth is the twitching,
the thirteenth is the running through,
the fourteenth is the cutting],
the fifteenth is the hand pressing,
the sixteenth is the hanging,
the seventeenth: this is the windings.

And how you will perform the hanging and windings, and how you shall perform all these named techniques, all this you will find written hereafter.

Do the Zornhau with these techniques.

27 That which cuts from above,
 the Zornhau threatens him with the point.

Glosa. When someone cuts against you from above from their right side, so cut with a strong Zornhau (wrath strike) with the long edge from your right shoulder. If he is weak in the bind, thrust in with the point along his blade to his face, and threaten to stab him.

Another technique from the Zornhau.

28 If he recognises this,
 so lift off above without danger.

Glosa. When you thrust after a Zornhau and he becomes aware of the point and strongly defends against the thrust, twitch your sword up, over and away from his sword and cut him on the other side of his sword up into his head.

Another technique from the Zornhau.

29 Become stronger against
 and thrust! If he marks this, take it below.

Glosa. When you cut in against him with a Zornhau and he defends himself and holds backs, strong against you in the bind, so become strong again against him in the bind and push up with the "strong" of the sword against the "weak" of his sword, and wind your hilt high in front of your head, and thrust down from above into his face.[1]

Another technique from the Zornhau.

When you use the winding against him and thrust down from above—as mentioned already—and he pushes up high with the hands and uses the hilt to defend against your upper thrust, so stand in the winding and thrust your point downwards between his arms and chest.

A counter to the taking-away.

When you bind strongly against him and he twitches away his sword up and over your sword and in the bind cuts against you on the other side of your sword to your head, so bind (strike) strongly with the long edge in against his head.

A good lesson.

30 Note to train this:
 cut, thrusts, guards--soft and hard.
31 "Instant" and "Before", "After" without hurry.
 Do not seek close combat prematurely.
32 Those who aim for close combat
 before they are ready, are cut down.

Glosa. When one binds against your sword with a cut or thrust or anything else, you must find out whether he is soft or hard in the bind. And when you find this, you will "Instantly" know what is best to do, to attack him with "Before" or "After". But in the attack you shall not be too hasty to go into close combat, because close combat is nothing other than the windings in the bind.

Perform close combat like this: when you cut against him with a Zornhau, when he defends himself quickly, you shall go up in an orderly fashion with the arms and wind against his sword with your point in against the upper opening. If he defends against this thrust, stand in the winding and thrust with the point into the lower openings. If he follows further after the sword in self defence, go under his sword with the point through to the other side and hang your point over in against the other opening on his right side. In this way he will be cut down in close combat both above and below, because you (unlike he) can perform the movements correctly.

How one in all windings shall find correct cuts and thrusts.

33 In all windings
 learn correctly to find the cut and the thrust.
34 You shall also test
 with cut, thrust or slice,
35 in all fights
 if you want to beat the masters.

Glosa. That is to say that you should in all windings find the correct cut, thrust or slice in this manner: when you wind, you shall become immediately aware of which the three will work best for you to use. This is so that you do not cut when you should thrust, and that you do not slice when you should cut, and so that you do not thrust when you should slice. And mark: when your opponent defends against the one, you should strike with the other. Also: if one defends against your thrust then use the cut. If he rushes in towards you, use the lower slice against his arm. Remember this in all fights and binds with the sword, if you want to defeat the masters who set themselves against you.

The four openings.

36 Learn four openings,
 aim to strike these with safety,
37 without any risk,
 without doubt about what he can do.

Glosa. Here you will learn about people's four openings, against which you will always fence. The first opening is on the right sight, the second on the left side, above the man's belt. The other two are likewise on the right and left sides under the belt. Always pay attention to the openings in Zufechten. His openings you shall skillfully seek without danger: with thrusts with the the outstretched point, with travelling after and with all other techniques. And do not pay heed to what he tries to do with his techniques against you, but fence with belief and throw strikes that are excellent and that do not allow him to come at you with his own techniques.

Explanation of doubling and mutating: how these break the four openings.

38 If you would like to find revenge,
 skillfully break up the four openings:
39 double over,
 mutate below correctly.
40 Certainly I say this:
 no master defends himself without risk.
41 If you have understood this,
 he can hardly come to blows.

Glosa. When you would like to skillfully break up the four openings for him, use the doubling against the upper openings and the mutating against the other openings. Certainly I say to you that he cannot defend himself against this, and can succeed with neither cut nor thrust.


When you cut in with a Zornhau or another Oberhau and he defends himself strongly, so "Instantly" thrust your pommel in under your right arm with your left hand, and cut him in the bind over the face with crossed hands, between the sword and the man. Or cut him with the sword in the head.


When you bind against his sword with an Oberhau or something similar, so wind the short edge against his sword and go up in an orderly fashion with the arms; and hang your sword blade over his sword on the outside and thrust into him through the lower openings. This can be done on both sides.

Do the Krumphau (crooked strike) with these techniques.

42 Strike the Krumphau deftly,
 cast the point towards the hands.

Glosa. This is how you shall strike the Krumphau against the hands. When he cuts from his right side against an opening with an Oberhau or Underhau, take a spring away from the strike with your right foot, far out to his left side; and cut with crossed arms with the point to the hands. And even try this technique against him when he stands against you in the Ox guard.

Another technique from the Krumphau.

43 He who uses the Krumphau well
 with a step, he is able to defend against cuts.

Glosa. This is how you shall set aside all Oberhau attacks with the Krumphau. When he cuts in from above against your openings from his right side, step with your right foot out to his left side and throw your blade across his sword with the point to the ground in the Barrier guard. Test this on both sides. And from this setting aside you can cut him in the head.

Another technique from the Krumphau.

44 Cut crookedly against the flat side
 of the masters, if you want to weaken them.

Glosa. When you want to weak a master, use this technique: when he cuts in against you from above from his right side, strike crookedly with crossed hands against his cut above the sword.

Another technique from the Krumphau.

45 When it comes from above
 stand back, this I shall praise.

Glosa. When you cut a Krumphau onto his sword, so cut immediately back up from the sword with the short edge, in and down from above onto his head. Or wind the Krumphau with the short edge against his sword and thrust into his breast.

Another technique from the Krumphau.

46 Do not Krump, cut short,
 then see changing-through.

Glosa. When he wants to cut in from his right shoulder, pretend that you want to bind against his sword with a Krumphau. Cut short; and go through with the point under his sword and wind your hilt to your right side over your head, and stab him in the face.

How one should counter the Krumphau.

47 Krumps that foil you;
 the Noble War confuses him,
48 so that he truthfully
 does not know where he shall be without danger.

Glosa. When you cut against him from above or from below, from your right side; if he also cuts crookedly from him right side with crossed arms to your sword and thus foils your strike, so bind strongly with your sword. And shoot your point against his breast under the long edge of his sword.

Another counter against the Krumphau.

When you cut in against him from above from your right side and he also cuts crookedly from his right side with crossed arms onto your sword and thus presses it down towards the ground, wind towards your right side; go with your arms up over your head. And thrust with your point from above against his breast.

If he defends himself against this, stand with your hilt in front of your head, and work deftly with the point from one opening to the other, this is called "the Noble War." With this you will confuse him so totally that truthfully he will not know where he will find himself.

Do the Zwerchau (crosswise strike) with these techniques.

49 The Zwerchau takes away
 that which comes from above.

Glosa. The Zwerchau counters all strikes that cut down from above. When he cuts in from above against your head, spring with the right foot against him away from the cut, out to his left side. And as you spring turn your sword—with the hilt high in front of your head, so that your thumb comes under—and cut him with the short edge against his left side. So you catch his strike with your hilt and strike him in the head.

A technique from the Zwerchau.

50 Zwerch with the "strong";
 mark well your work with this.

Glosa. This is how you shall work with the "strong" from the Zwerchau. When you cut against him with the Zwerchau, think that you shall strike powerfully with the sword's "strong" against his. Hold him thus strongly in the bind then cut with crossed arms behind his sword blade, from above against the head, or cut him with the sword to the face.

Another technique from the Zwerchau.

When you bind against his sword from the Zwerchau with your sword's "Strong"; hold him strongly, then push his sword away from you with your hilt, down and out to your right side, and strike immediately round with the Zwerchau against his right side, against the head.

Another technique from the Zwerchau.

When you bind against his sword with the Zwerchau, if he is weak in the bind, so lay the short edge against the right side of his neck and spring with the right foot behind his left; and pull him over it with the sword.

Another technique

When you bind against his sword with the Zwerchau, if he is weak in the bind, so press down on his sword with the Zwerchau; and lay the short edge behind his arms in front of his neck.

A counter against the upper Zwerchau

When you bind against his sword from the right side with an Oberhau or similar attack, if he strikes round with the Zwerchau against your other side, do the same back to him, throw a Zwerchau under his sword against his neck.

How one shall strike against the four openings with the Zwerchau.

51 Zwerch against the plough,
 and strike powerfully against the ox.

Glosa. This is how you shall strike against the four openings with the Zwerchau when you go against someone. When you come against him in Zufechten; when it becomes suitable for you, spring against him and cut with the Zwerchau against the lower opening on his left side. This is called "to strike against the plough".

Another technique from the Zwerchau.

When you have cut against the lower opening with the Zwerchau, so strike immediately with the Zwerchau against the other side upwards into the head. This is called "to strike against the ox". And continue to strike quickly a Zwerchau against the ochs and another against the plough, crosswise from one side to the other. And cut him after with an Oberhau in against the head and thus draw yourself back from him.

52 He who Zwerches well
with a spring, threatens the head.

Glosa. That is to say, that in all of your Zwerchau strikes you shall take a proper spring out to the side where you want to strike him. So you can strike him well in the head. And see to it in the spring that you are properly protected from above with your hilt above and in front of your head.

A further technique from the Zwerchau, and it is called the feint (Feler).

53 He who does a good feint,
 strikes from below how he wishes.

Glosa. With the feint all fencers who quickly leap to the defence are mislead and defeated. When you come against him in Zufechten, pretend that you want to cut him with perhaps an Oberhau to his left side. In this manner you can strike him underneath however you want and defeat him.

Another technique from the Zwerchau, and it is called the turner (Verkehrer).

54 The turner subdues,
 runs through and grapples.
55 Take the elbow certainly,
 spring against him in the movement.

Glosa. When you bind against his sword with an Oberhau or Underhau, turn your sword so that your thumb comes underneath, and thrust him down from above into the face. In this way you force him to defend himself. And in the defence, grip his right elbow with your left hand and spring with your left foot in front of his right, and stab him over it. Or use the turner to rush through and grapple, in the same way that you will be told for running through.

Another technique from the feint.

56 Feint twofold,
 strike him, thus do the cut.

Glosa. This is called the double feint, because in the Zufechten you shall be misleading two times. Do the first like this: when you come against him in Zufechten, take a spring with the foot against him and pretend that you will cut with a Zwerchau against the left side of his head. And change the direction of the cut, to the right side of his head.

Another technique from the feint.

57 Continue doubly with this,
 step to the left and do not be slow.

Glosa. That is to say, when you have struck to the right side of his head with the first misleading—about which has just been written—so strike immediately round to the other side of the head, and go with the short edge with outstretched crossed arms over his sword: and "Imlincke", that is to say on the left side, and cut in with the long edge over the face.

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