Dictionary of Terms
Abnehmen - taking off. When your opponent presses his sword against the weak of your own, lift your blade to the point of disengagement, so that the force of his blade makes it pass by, and then strike on the other side.
Absetzen - blocking and thrusting at the same time. This is accomplished by changing Pflug guards, left to right or vice versa, to intercept a rising stroke. Thumb grip provides the hilt control to make this work. Once the opponent's attack is stopped, administer a thrust using the protection of your cross guard. Step forward while during the thrust. It can also be accomplished against a downward stroke by winding up from the Pflug position to that of Ochs. Angle the cross-guard accordingly. One can practice the block alone with feet together, legs slightly bent, shifting from one guard position to the other. Can be used from other stances as well. Remember to include the thumb grip for correct positioning of hilt.
Acresare - small steps, either forward or to the side. The foot closest to the direction you are going moves first. The other foot compensates to maintain a proper stance. For example, moving acresare forward, move the front foot first. The back foot will slide into a new position to reclaim the balance of the stance. Acresare are sometimes used merely to adjust one's position. See Decresare for moving back.
Agreement of hand and foot - always try to lad your foot down as you complete your strike. This enhances timing and balance and adds your weight for power.
Alber - A middle guard position where the hilt is held low and to the center. The sword points upward toward the opponent's face. Similar to the Italian Mezza Porta di Ferro. Can easily transition into an Ochs for upper protection, or Pflug for thrusting.
Ansetzen - A sudden attack with the point of the sword while opponent prepares to attack. As the opponent repositions or pulls back to initiate an oberhau, hit high. Against an unterhau preparation, hit low.
Arte Dello Spadone - the actual name of Fiore di Liberi's style of swordsmanship.
Bach - literally "after," defining an defensive action that responds to the opponent's offense. The opposite is vor, meaning "before," an offensive action that controls the opponent's responses.
Backward Lunge - a quick step back performed while extending a defensive thrust. The resulting front leg is bent and low, with the back leg stretched out behind. The step back may be made with either leg. See Lunge.
Balance - a stance is said to be in balance when you can easily move in any direction.
Beat - striking your opponent's sword offline with your own sword.
Bicornio, Bicorno - Two Horned Guard. See Posta di Bicornio.
Boar's Tooth - See Posta Dente di Chingiale.
Close Guard - A middle guard, like Posta Breve, only the sword is held closer to the chest. With simple turns of the body, this allows middle blocks on either side. It also temporarily alleviates the weight of the sword. It does not hold much power fro blocks, since your own blade is so close to your center.
Coda Lunga - Extended Low Lying Tail. A back guard. See Posta di Coda Lunga.
Corona - Crown Guard, also known as Posta di Fronatale.
Coverta - covering from an attack.
Cross Step - when the rear foot crosses in front of the front foot in a specialized sidestep maneuver. In most martial arts this would be frowned upon, but a well positioned sword defense protects the practitioner during this motion.
Crown Guard - Posta di Corona, also known as Posta di Frontale.
Crucibus - cross guard of the sword.
Culpo, Culpi (plural) - striking with the sword. Not actually a cut, which denotes a push or pull slicing motion.
Culpo Dritti - a blow from the right (Vadi).
Decresare - small step back. The back foot initiates this, and the front foot slides to regain stance. Sometimes used to make small adjustments to one's stance.
Dente di Chinghiale (pronounced dente di chin-golly) - Boar's Tooth guard. See Posta di Denta di Chinghiale.
Disarmo Soprano - upper arm. A Giocco Stretto technique, grabbing the wrist after stifling the blade above the shoulder.
Double Step - a simple step to the side with the other foot following to claim its proper place for balance and direction.
Dritto - cuts made from right to left.
Duplieren - doubling. If your opponent blocks your strike, turn your sword while still in the cross and hit on the other side.
Durchlaufen - running through. Close in trapping that leads to a throw or other wresting move.
Durchwechseln - changing through. When you ropponent tries to displace your downward stroke (oberhau or fendente), dip the point of your sword whil ein transit so that it runs beneath his obstruction. As you pass underneath, wind into the Ox position and thrust. This can be done from either side.
Expended - when a strike is fully extended ad its energy is complete, there is a moment of vulnerability. At this point the movement is said to be expended.
Falconi - hawk. See Posta di Falconi.
Fendente - a downward, usually diagonal strike with the long sword. The same as the German Oberhau,
Finestra - Window Guard, similar, to the Ochs. but more squared, with blade near the temple/forehead area. See Posta di Fenestra.
Frontale or Posta di Corona or Kron - See Posta di Frontale.
Forteza - the third of the blade closest to the hilt, considered the strong of the blade.
Fuhlen - feeling. Sensing the opponent's intent through the pressure of his blade in a cross. Using that sense to decide how much pressure should be utilized in response, either strong (stark) or weak (swach).
Gioco Largo - fighting at long range.
Gioco Stretto - fighting at close range, incorporating traps, wrestling moves, throws and striking with cross guard or pummel.
Guardia / Guards - Fighting postures.
Halb-Schwert - half-sword. See Mezza Spada
Hanging Point / Hangetort - a fighting posture, usually transitory, where the sword is diagonally angled with point down and hilt up. Seen in Ochs and Posta di Donna Soprana. Posta Finestra can be included in this category, even though the blade is more horizontally squared.
Hanging positions / Hengen - refers to any position where the motion of a sword is stopped on line between you and your opponent for defensive purposes, not pushed out of line. When a sword passes out of the line of engagement, it leaves you open to attack. In the hanging position, point aimed at your opponent, it retains a measure of safety while maintaining distance.
High Guard - holding the sword up over the head at a 45 degree angle. Also known as Guardia Alta, Posta di Falconi, Hawk Guard and Vom Tag Oberhut. The Ochs position and Posta di Finestra are sometimes referred to as high guards, even though the sword is extended horizontally. They are differentiated from low or middle guards.
Hilt - that part of the sword that includes pommel, handle and cross-guard.
Huten - German guard positions. For pictures, see Guards. Liechtenhauer's treatise included the following:
Incrosada - the crossing of blades, which opens opportunities to controls the sword of one's opponent. Similar to the German Anbinden.
Instabile - refers to fighting pastures that are transitory, or unstable, not for use as a stationary guard. Included in this category are Posta Di Chinghale, Code Lunga, Posta di Frontale, Bicorio, and Posta di Finestra.
Iron Gate Guard - Tutta Porta di Ferro. A low guard in which the sword is held to the lower right, edge aiming at opponent. The Mezzana Porte di Ferro has the sword pointing low, front and center.
Kron or Frontale or Posta di Corona - A center position where the sword is held high with the cross-guard just below eye-level, ready to spring upward to catch an incoming downward strike on the blade, sliding down to the cross-guard. See Posta di Frontale.
Langort - This position extends the sword forward toward the opponent's face to protect one's distance. It is risky in that it offers the sword as an easy target for your opponent to cross blades and take control of the situation. This can be used deceptively, however, inviting a reaction that you can be ready for and work from. The point of the sword can also be used to probe your opponent's guard, testing reactions and therefore skill, and opening your opponent's guard. Similar to Posta Longa.
Line of Attack - the imaginary line between your ready to strike sword and your opponent. A sword is considered in-line when it is properly aimed to attack. It is considered off-line when the sword is not. Breaking a line is when you either sidestep away from your opponent's line, while maintaining your own, or beating your opponent's sword to the side as a preliminary move for entry.
Long Guard - see Posta Frontale or Langhort.
Low Guard - see Mazzana Porte di Ferro, or Alber.
Lunge - a quick step forward, usually with the front foot, while executing an extended thrust. The resulting front leg is bent and low, with the back leg stretched out behind. Can be initiated with either leg, as a lunge with the front, or pass with the rear. See Backward Lunge.
Manroverso - horizontal cut from the left.
Manudextri - strikes launched from the right side.
Manusinistri - strikes delivered from the left.
Master Strokes, Liechtenauer named the following:
Mezza - Italian for the middle section of the blade.
Mezza Spada - half-sword. Halb-Schwert in German. Techniques using one hand on the hilt and the other to hold the blade. Ideal for in-fighting, fighting in armor, and times when there is little room to swing a lengthy sword. Can be used for blocking, hitting, stabbing, slicing, and trapping. It has been suggested that medieval swords were not sharpened from the middle of the blade down to the hilt, to allow this hand hold. Protective gloves were also popular, especially when armor was employed. One technique, with both hands on the blade, uses the cross guard of the sword as a hammer to break through armor.
Mezza / Mezzane / Mezani - horizontal cuts, using either the true or false edges. The same as Mittelhau.
Mezzo Tempo - a timing maneuvere in which you strike while your opponent is attempting to strike you.
Mittelhau - horizontal strike, at the middle or low level, from either side. The same as Mezzane.
Nachreisen - chasing. When your adversary attacks your lead leg, withdarw your leg so that the blade harmlessly passes by. Step forward and strike high, following the direction of your opponent's sword for safety. Remember, striking high gives you more reach than a lower strike.
Oberhau - a downward strike from above, usually at an angle. Preferably, it should end in a hanger position to protect your line of engagement.
Oberstich - a thrust executed from the Ox position, left or right.
Ochs - a high, somewhat extended hanging position, sword reversed with thumb grip underneath for control. Used for thrusts, blocking and the end point of a strike.
Parare - Italian for parry. Versetzen, in German. A defensive maneuver which uses one's weapon to redirect the opponent's weapon to another line. Not really a block, which stands as a barrier, force against force.
Pass - a step, forward or back, in which one foot passes the other, similar to normal walking but while maintaining one's stance. Known as passare in Italian.
Passo, Passare - a pass. A step in which one foot passes the other.
Pflug (pronounced floog) - a middle guard, with the blade off centerline, held close to the back hip, aiming at opponent's face. Can be held on left or right side, depending which hip and leg are back. It is well-positioned for a thrust and provides good blocking for an unterhau. Can easily transition into an Ochs.
Posta, Poste (plural) - Italian for fighting posture or stance. For pictures, see Guards. Fiore dei Liberi's style Includes the following positions:
Pommel - the weighted butt of the sword next to your lower hand while holding it. It provides a convenient grabbing point and helps to balance the weight of the sword.
Pull the Hilt - normally when you strike with a medieval sword, it is either a thrust or a hit. By pulling the hilt toward you while hitting, you add a slicing motion to the blade. You can also do this by pushing the hilt forward instead.
Pulsavita - a fighting position that is fully powered. Includes the Poste di Donna variations and Tutta Porta di Ferro.
Punta, Punte (plural) - thrust with the point of the sword.
Punto Lunga - a deep lunge. The lunge is performed by stepping usually with the forward leg, rather than a pass, pushing forward with the rear. It can also be done with a pass.
Prelhau / Prelhawc - Plunge Strike.
Quillons (pronounced either kwill-ons or kee-yawn) - cross guard of the hilt.
Rebattemento - striking your opponent's sword offline with your own. The strike is called a beat.
Rebatter / Rebatir - to displace an opposing strike.
Ricossa - that section of the blade closest to the cross-guard where the thumb an be placed on the flat for added support. It is usually thicker than the rest of the blade, and flat.
Reposta - recoiling from an attack to a position of readiness.
Rota - a combination in which the false edge of the sword is raised to deflect the opponent's sword, and then lowered as a strike.
Roverso - strikes made from left to right.
Sotano, Sotani (pl) - Ascending strikes. In German, Unterhau.
Schranckhut - Blockade Guard. A very deceptive, seemingly awkward position, difficult to describe. The thumb grip is essential to making it work. To practitioners who are familiar with this stance, some of its deceptive qualities are lost. Start with left foot forward. Using the thumb grip, swing the sword down and to the right, until the tip is touching the ground, true edge to the right. The right hand and forearm are quite twisted, and located on the handle underneath the left, which rests on top. It appears that you are resting your sword, which serves as a blockade to the lower right side of the body. There does not appear to be any wind-up energy, but the twisting of the hand and forearm can instantly provide a quick whipping action up and to the left, like a windshield wiper. This can parry an incoming strike or, with a forward sidestep, attack the opponent's hand or head. A left handed version is possible, right foot forward and the blockade resting down on the left, false edge to the left. Generally, this is not as powerful or quick as the right side version.
Sloping Parry - a hanging guard, true edge up, point aiming down, which parries a downward strike. This can start as a Window position (Posta di Finestra) which seems to offer a block to in incoming fendente (oberhau). As the opponent's blade strikes it, instead of offering resistance, your blade slopes down, guiding your opponent's sword away from its intended target.
Stechen - stabbing thrust.
Three Woundings - Die Drei Wunder. According to Liechtenauer this includes the thrust, strike and cut.
Traverse / Traverse Step - an angled backstep, either left or right, that takes you away from your opponent's line of attack.
Unterhau - an upward strike. Preferably, it should end in a hanger position to protect your line of engagement.
Unterstich - a thrust executed from the Pflug position, left or right.
Tornare - a passing step backwards. A return step.
Traverse - side-stepping, usually back or forward to place one in a safer position that allows for parrying and a counter attack. It can also initiate an attack, such as side-stepping to the forward right to remove yourself from your opponent's line of attack to initiate your own.
Versetzen - German for parry. Parare in Italian. To displace an opposing strike.
Volta - turn.
Vor - literally "before," defining an offensive action that takes control of the fight before the opponent does. The opposite is "nach," meaning "after," a defensive response to the opponent's action.
Vom Tag - From the Roof. Two fighting positions of the Liechtenauer style. The first, Vom Tag over the shoulder is a comfortable position that holds the sword next to the rib cage on the right side, with the blade resting on the right shoulder. A left Vom Tag on the left shoulder is useful for special angles of attack and defense, but not as strong or versatile. The second position is Vom Tag over the head. The arms are lifted over the head, elbows apart to facilitate vision, pommel just above the upper sightline. The sword can be held vertically or at a 45 degree angle back. This allows for reaction speed and helps tolerate the sword's weight, which is a factor in prolonged battle.
Waster - A wooden sword used for practice.
Wechsel - Guard
of the Changer. A low guard which might be considered the reverse
of Tutta Porte di Ferro, with right foot forward and sword
angled low and to the left. It is the ending point of a Zornhau.
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