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(This page is still under construction)

Introduction - Dictionary of Terms - Guards - Footwork - Practice

 

(Please note: Chivalry-Now does not accept liability for anyone who is harmed in the performance of
these exercises, or damage to property. One should practice any martial art with utmost safety in mind and under the guidance of a qualified teacher. The following exercises are meant for intellectual study or to be practiced alone, without a partner, and not with a sharpened sword. When practicing, keep a safe distance from any person or property that might be hurt or damaged.)


Guards

An excellent way to learn this overview of the long-sword is to practice the individual guards or postures, shown below by transitioning from one to the other. Try to visualize how you would step, strike, parry and thrust from each position. Analyze the guards to figure out what advantages and disadvantages each one offers. In a real fight, you do best to keep moving from one position to another unpredictably with appropriate footwork so that your opponent has to adjust and cannot exploit any weaknesses.
 

 

 

The Renewed Commitment: "Arete' " (pronounced ah-ree-tay in English)

The battle cry of Chivalry-Now is Arete', a Greek term which means "the greatest good" or "highest virtue." For human beings, the highest virtue is a fusion of reason and compassion.
    During the commitment, we remind ourselves of the meaning of Arete' and re-dedicate ourselves to it. The word is also used as a greeting of recognition between the members of Chivalry-Now.

 

 

 

Normal grip of two-hand sword

The right hand aims the blade, the left provides power.
    In this position, the top edge of the blade is called the false or short edge.
    The lower edge is called the true or long edge.

 

 

"Thumb grip" used for special techniques in the Liechtenauer style.
    In this position, the top edge of the blade is called the false or short edge.
    The lower edge is called the true or long edge.
    (Please notice that the relationship of the edge to the right hand is different because the grip is to the side compared to the normal grip.)
   
By gripping the hilt sideways and supporting it with the thumb on the ricasso, a number of blocks and strikes are possible that otherwise would not be. The thumb grip allows the sword to be fanned sideways left and right by turning the right hand. It assures that the blade of your opponent can be collected in your cross guard in such positions as the Pflug and Ox. The Shrankhut position depends upon this grip for its surprising angles of defense and attack.

 

 
The positions in this first section are from the Italian de Liberi tradition
 

 

Boar's Tooth Guard (Denti di Chinghalli)

A very stable guard (stabile, in Italian)) with the right foot forward, hilt position at the left hip, with sword pointing down and forward, false edge up. Weight can be distributed on the front leg more than usual so that the back leg is in a position to quickly spring forward. This position can cut upward with the false edge at the opponent's hands, or administer a quick thrust to the abdomen. Lifting the hilt, it can easily assume a Two Horn Guard (Posta Bicornio) for added power. For defense, it pays to practice guard transitions from this position. For example, moving to a quick hanging guard, like the Window Guard (Posta Finestra). Although the weight of the body is slightly forward, leaning in an aggressive posture, the front leg should be set and ready to push back or to the side for evasive maneuvers.
 

 

 

Middle Iron Gate (Mezzana Porta di Ferro)

A low, center guard, similar to the German Alber. While this position leaves the upper body open, the sword is ready for quick responses. Like all center guards, it can be held with left or right foot forward.

 

 

Complete (or True) Iron Gate (Tutta Porta di Ferro)

Porta di Ferro or Tutta Porta di Ferro - is one of the main guards of Fiore's style. Left foot forward, the sword is held down and to the right, true edge facing the opponent. This stable stance is valuable because of the potential energy generated from the hips and arms for quick strikes, low, medium and high. It can be pulled back into the Extended Long Tail (Code Lunga) for even more power. A quick step and body turn can produce a left-sided bicornio, ready to thrust. It does not offer the blade for the opponent to control and is easily transitioned into other guards. A step forward or back with a twist of the hips results in Boar's Tooth (Denti di Chinghale).

 

 

Extended Long Tail Guard (Coda Lunga)

A guard position with the sword in back. With the left foot forward, the sword is pulled back and down behind the right leg, like a tail dragging behind. It is hidden from the opponent's view. Powerful strokes can be generated from this position. It is not good for close distance, since it takes time to make defensive responses. Hiding the sword in such a fashion conceals its length and throws off the opponent's sense of distance. It opens the body up to attack, while issuing an unseen threat at the same time. Coda Lunga is considered a transitional position (instabile), during which the sword is swung back to gain power and direction, and then quickly swings forward.

 

 

 

Long Guard (Posta Longo)

This position, similar to Leichtenauer's Longhort, extends the sword forward toward the opponent's face to protect one's distance. Do not lock the arms straight. It is a risky guard in that it offers the sword as an easy target for your opponent to cross blades and steal control. 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 for reactions to measure skill, and opening your opponent's guard. It is considered unstable (instabile) and therefore transitional.
   
This is also the position that a sword enters while delivering a long fendente, or downward stroke.

 

 

Woman's Guard (Posta di Donna)

A position that pulls back the sword dramatically over the should and behind in order to generate as much power as possible. Can be administered from back or front stance. Pull the sword over the right shoulder, winding the arms like a baseball player, yet even more so. The point can actually be aiming at the opponent. While this looks exaggerated and slow with the blade way off centerline, it is also provocatively threatening. A blow from this position is difficult to block.

 

 

Left Woman's Guard (Posta di Donna Sinestra)

The left side version of Posta di Donna. Right foot forward, pull the sword over the left shoulder.

 

 

 

Proud Woman's Guard (Posta di Donna Soprana)

An interesting variation of Posta di Donna in which the body is turned even more in a back stance, the heels facing the opponent. The sword runs down the back as if to cover from behind. The arms should be up and open, so that you can see a larger area. This position is valuable when fighting multiple opponents who surround you. It is a strong, threatening position that provides good visibility, and easily transitions to a guard facing the opposite direction, just by turning the head. It pays to remember that holding the head slightly down increases the range of peripheral vision when dealing with multiple attackers.

 

 

 

Crown Guard (Posta di Corona, also known as Posta di Frontale)

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. Once the opponent's sword is collected, it can be dragged down to the side, expended, or otherwise redirected to make an opening for a strike or thrust. While the blade is initially held perfectly straight, the hilt (not the point) is brought a little to the side while collecting the opponent's sword, turning the cross guard to catch the downward blade. Can also be used to bind and bridge the gap for grappling.
    The picture shows the position meant to gather the opponent's downward stroke coming in from the left. To gather one coming in from the right, turn the blade to utilize the true edge. Make sure that the cross guard is ready to stop his blade.

 

 

Middle Guard (Posta Breve)

A middle guard position where the hilt is held low and to the center. The sword points upward toward the opponent's face.

 

 

Two Horn Guard center (Posta Bicorno)

A position that prepares for a powerful thrust. Originally, one lifted the sword's hilt on the centerline from a Middle Guard (Posta Breve) position to about the middle of one's chest. The left hand naturally slides to the base of the pummel, so that the pummel is braced in the palm of the hand. From here, a strong push is possible.

 

 

Two Horn Guard left (Posta Bicorno)

Later alternatives of the Two Horn Guard pull the sword back toward either armpit to generate thrusting power. From this position, the sword is thrust forward, preferably with a step.

 

 

Two Horn Guard right (Posta Bicorno)

The right hand version of the Two Horn Guard.

 

 

Hanging Guard right

The Hanging Guards are actually transitions, also known as Sloping Parries. One meets an incoming downward stroke with the blade offering just enough resistance so as to divert its course. The objective is for your opponent’s blade to slide down and away from its intended target. Keep in mind that an actual block, edge against edge, would damage your sword and might not stop a full powered blow. The weak point is the wrist.
   
You perform this maneuver by sidestepping and lifting the sword, point down, in a sloping manner to provide cover. The step provides your first protection. The sloping angle guides the opponent’s sword safely downward, leaving you in position for a powerful strike of your own or to initiate another sloping guard on the other side.

 

 

 

Hanging Guard left

(See summary above.)

 

The following positions are from the German Liechtenauer tradition

 

 

 

Guard of the Roof (Vom Tag on the Shoulder)

Vom Tag over the Shoulder holds the hilt of the sword near the rib cage on the right side, with the blade resting on the right shoulder.
   
A left Vom Tag over the Left Shoulder (see picture below) can be used, but is not as strong or versatile.
   
It sometimes uses the thumb grip, depending upon what you are planning.

 

 

Guard of the Roof left (Vom Tag over the Shoulder)
 

 

Guard of the Roof Oberhut (Vom Tag over the Head)

Vom Tag over the Head. The arms are lifted over the head, elbows apart for visibility, and 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 power, and also adds more tolerance of the sword's weight, which is a factor in prolonged battle.

 

 

Alber (Fool's Guard)

A low, center guard, similar to the Italian Mezza Porta di Ferro. While this position leaves the upper body open (hence the reference to fool), the sword is ready for quick responses. Like all center guards, it can be held with left or right foot forward.

 

 

Ox right (Ochs)

A high, somewhat extended hanging position, sword reversed with thumb grip underneath for control. Used for thrusts, blocking and as the end point of a strike. The Zwerchhau strike can be used from this position.

 

 

Detail from Ox, showing grip. Notice placement of thumb.
    Note also that the cross guard is horizonal, pointing side to side.
 

Ox left (Ochs)

Left version of the above, with thumb grip underneath for control. Used for thrusts, blocking and the end point of a strike. The Zwerchhau strike can be used from this position.

 

 

Blockade Guard right (Schrankhut)

A very deceptive, seemingly awkward guard. The thumb grip is essential to making it work. Start with left foot forward. Using the thumb grip, swing the sword down and to the right, until the tip touches 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 offers 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.
 

 

 

Detail from Shrankhut, showing grip. Notice placement of thumb.
 

 

Blockade Guard left (Schrankhut)

Left variation of the above. Because of the arm crossing, this position is not as fast or powerful as the right one, and needs to be practiced more in order to master it.

 

 

Plow (Pflug) right

A middle guard, with the blade off centerline, held close to the back (right) hip, aiming at opponent's face. It is well-positioned for a thrust and provides good interception for an unterhau. Can easily transition into an Ox (Ochs).
    Generally uses thumb grip.

 

 

Plow (Pflug) left

A middle guard, with the blade off centerline, held close to the back (left) hip, aiming at opponent's face. It is well-positioned for a thrust and provides good interception for an unterhau. Can easily transition into an Ochs.
    Generally uses thumb grip.

 

 

Detail from Pflug, showing grip. Note placement of thumb.
 

 

Wechel (Guard of the Changer)

A low guard that might be considered a reverse of Complete Iron Gate (Tutta Porte di Ferro), with right foot forward and sword to the left, pointing down. It is the ending point of a Zornhau strike. It can be used as a Boar's Tooth Guard, capable of striking upward with the false edge to the opponent's hands or abdomen.

 

 

 

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, and sometimes as a pass with the rear foot.
    Stepping back is also possible to form what is called a Backward Lunge
.

 

 

Guard of the Hanging Point (Hangetort)

This is a transitional guard used for protection. One passes through it when moving from a low guard to a high, such as the Middle Iron Gate to Ox.

 

 

 

Guard of Wrath (Zornhut)

Similar to dei Liberi's Woman's Postion (Posta di Donna), this guard presents a ready position that is well wound for a powerful stroke. This can be intimidating. The entire body is brought into play, and the opponent can see that.

 

 

Long Guard (Langort)

This position, simiular to Dei Liberia's Posta Longo, extends the sword forward toward the opponent's face to protect one's distance. Do not lock the arms straight. It is a risky guard in that it offers the sword as an easy target for your opponent to cross blades and steal control. 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 for reactions to measure skill, and opening your opponent's guard. It is considered transitional, not a position to hold while waiting for attack.

     

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