What's in the master strikes?

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What's in the master strikes?

Postby David Welch » 17 Nov 2007 11:48

What are the master strikes, really?

Meyer stated that the master strikes were called that because "Now from these both come five for further reading, as the Master Strikes will be named, not that one can thus fully use the weapon Rightly, and Master this art so soon, but that from them one can Master all proper artful elements which will be acted on from knowing them here, and thus you can Fence properly at need, and become an artfully striking Fencer, who retains all Master principles at the same time, and against whom nothing can be borne. These Strikes are Wrathful, Arc, Thwart, Glancer, and Vertex."

In other words, all the "proper artful elements" of fencing are found in them.

Maybe a better question would be what do the master strikes contain?

As an example, glancer (Schielhauw) used to break plow.

http://www.schielhau.org/Meyer.p11.html
"Glancing Strike

The Glancing Strike is also a High strike, but has been so named in that one closes with a small glancing blow, which is done thus: put yourself in the Guard of the Roof or Wrath (as shown in the third chapter) with your left foot forward, from which you will be striking, and while striking be sure to wind your short edge against his strike, and hit with inverting hands at the same time as closing with him, step fully with your Right Foot toward his left side, and so quickly take his head, thus have you done it rightly, and will stand as shown by the figures fighting on the left side of illustration G."

Our take? Make a wrath cut. If he doesn't get out of the way or cut off your stroke, game over.

But... suppose you are high and you see your opponent cut into plow. In the split second before he can thrust or change cut at you, make your wrath cut. You have now taken the vor, and he cuts into hanging to stop your wrath cut. Just as you come into the bind, thrust your pommel up and let your sword wind around his hanging, hitting him with the short edge or at least putting yourself in position to plunge thrust.

Your wrath cut just became the glancer.

This is our idea of what is in "the glancing cut". It has the possibility of a killing first cut, the vorslag, the Holy Grail of German longsword. It has winding, stepping close in the bind, taking the vor, and forcing your opponent to defend himself in a way that you have preplanned to defeat.

The master strikes may have been a tool to easily teach the basic principles of fencing. For us, this is also a great tool to use and examine to find the parts of fencing. Of course, I also think that swordfighting was combat simple and fast, with the ability to keep ahead of the OODA loop. So having everything you need contained in just 5 strikes makes sense to me.

How about the others? What can you find in them?
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Postby Andreas Engström » 17 Nov 2007 20:04

David, I think that what you're describing is perfectly valid technique and works well, but I don't think it's the schielhaw. It is a schielhaw, though, used from the bind.

But the schielhaw works well "stand-alone" also. If it dion't, if it were nothing more than a winding and a cut after a zornhaw, I really don't think it would qualify as a separate meisterhaw. Several techniques like that are described in connection to the zornhaw. If the schielhaw were one of those techniques following the zornhaw, I think it would have been incuded among them.

Or at the very least, the masters would have mentioned something at all about it starting like a zornhaw. Now no-one I'm aware of does this, they all describe it as a cut with the false edge and with inverted hands from the very beginning.

But, as I said, what you describe is sound technique, it is a schielhaw and it works well. I do something like that from time to time. I also use the schielhaw "stand-alone" as it is described, and find that (unsurprisingly) to work well also.

YMMV.

-Engström
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Postby MugginsToadwort » 17 Nov 2007 20:14

I tend to see the Meisterhau as representative of different principles in the fight.

Zornhau- countercutting defence. One cuts into the opponent while closing the line.
Zwerchau- cutting with the short edge to go round his sword.
Schielhau- blocking with the forte and using the short edge to attack in one movement.
Krumphau- beating the opponent's sword out of the way
Scheitelhau- overreaching your opponent.

(I should note that my notion of the Schielhau is apparently very different to yours. And that Mike Rasmussen's translation does have mistakes and is a little less useable than Jeff Forgeng's (from which I have modified the following:

The Squinting Cut is also a High Cut, but is so named as if delivered with a bit of a squint. It is done thus:

Position yourself in Vom Tag or Zornhut, with your left foot forward; when he cuts at you, then cut in return, but in the stroke, turn your short edge against his stroke, and strike in at the same time as your opponent, palm away from his sword; and with this, nimbly take your head out the way. Thus you have done it correctly against him....)

The Zwerchau and the Schielhau are the two which may be specific techniques. In the zwerch, I block his sword late and swivel underneath to attack (in one movement). In the schiel, I take his sword early, and then drop the cut on his head. In Meyer, these two are named almost continually throughout the Devices and the fighting advice, whereas the scheitel is never mentioned, the Zornhau almost never mentioned, and the krumphau used occassionally. Practically every device involves either a vertical short edge blow (akin to the schielhau) or a zwerch. The vertical short edge is used as an attack while in close, while the zwerch is used when the opponent may be able to get his sword in the way.

Some of the meisterhaue can definitely flow one into another- when I swing a zornhau, I can turn it into a krumphau or scheitel if needed. However, the two short edge blows are more difficult to use this way, especially against an opponent who strikes for your head.
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Postby Andreas Engström » 17 Nov 2007 20:19

Muggins, that sounds more or less exactly like the schielhaw-interpretation I favor. Same with your description of the other meisterhawe, with the caveat that the krumphaw doesn't necessarily have to target the sword. It also works very well against the hands, and is also described as targeting the hands in several places.

-Engström
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Postby MugginsToadwort » 17 Nov 2007 20:52

Andreas Engström wrote:Muggins, that sounds more or less exactly like the schielhaw-interpretation I favor. Same with your description of the other meisterhawe, with the caveat that the krumphaw doesn't necessarily have to target the sword. It also works very well against the hands, and is also described as targeting the hands in several places.

-Engström


Yup, the Krumphau can be thrown at the hands- but it is still a relatively "off-line" strike in all cases, and is always a two-time action. Hit the sword or the hands, follow up with a strike to the head.

I must have posted at the same time as you- I agree that some indication of turning one blow into another would be present in the texts if it was part of the corpus. Meyer does after all describe turning thrusts into cuts in his rappier section....
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Postby David Welch » 18 Nov 2007 11:44

Andreas Engström wrote:David, I think that what you're describing is perfectly valid technique and works well, but I don't think it's the schielhaw. It is a schielhaw, though, used from the bind.

But the schielhaw works well "stand-alone" also...


Andreas,

Where I see the master strikes as a collection of principle and technique rather than as a technique, I agree with you that what I posted was a schielhaw, but I doubt if I agree with there being a "the" schielhaw. The schielhaw is just an uberhaw that you wind indes at the bind. Where it starts from or what kind of uberhaw doesn't really matter all that much to me.

About you saying it works stand alone. I can see how it would, but if you didn't need to wind, why not just keep going and hit them with the long edge?
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Postby Andreas Engström » 18 Nov 2007 20:26

David Welch wrote:
Andreas Engström wrote:David, I think that what you're describing is perfectly valid technique and works well, but I don't think it's the schielhaw. It is a schielhaw, though, used from the bind.

But the schielhaw works well "stand-alone" also...


Andreas,

Where I see the master strikes as a collection of principle and technique rather than as a technique, I agree with you that what I posted was a schielhaw, but I doubt if I agree with there being a "the" schielhaw. The schielhaw is just an uberhaw that you wind indes at the bind. Where it starts from or what kind of uberhaw doesn't really matter all that much to me.

About you saying it works stand alone. I can see how it would, but if you didn't need to wind, why not just keep going and hit them with the long edge?

Mainly, I think, because using the false edge from the very beginning makes it easier to block a very powerful horizontal strike safely and still keep your point online for an immediate thrust. If you block a really powerful blow with the long edge, IMHO it's quite hard to also immediately hit or thrust your opponent. You'd have to wind and re-align first. If using the schielhaw neither is necessary.

I also agree with you that the meisterhawe are principles rather than specific techniques. I just don't think that the principle of the schielhaw is "first strike with the long edge, then wind and strike with the false edge". I think it is more like "strike immediately with the false edge, catching your opponent's weak with your forte and/or crossguard and striking him indes (or at least end up with the point perfectly aligned for an immediate thrust)".

I find it strange that you could consider the principle of the schielhaw to involve a winding when no master makes mention of such a winding? Or does anyone do that?

Ringeck certainly doesn't. He says "wan er dir eben ein hawet von siner rechten sytten, so haw och von dener rechten sytten mit der kurtzen schnyden mit vff gerechten armen gen sinen hawe jn die schwech sines schwerts vnd schlag jn vff sinen rechten achsel."

To me, this sounds like "strike with the false edge from the very beginning", not at all like "strike first with the long edge and then wind"..

-Engström
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Postby Andreas Engström » 18 Nov 2007 20:38

I think we're coming from slightly different directions here, me being very Ringeck-oriented and you more Meyer-oriented (or am I wrong in thinking so?).

But let's also discuss from what Meyer says. It's "stell dich in die Hut des Tags oder Zorns (davon im dritten Capitel) mit dem Lincken fuß vor / wirt auff dich gehauwen / so Hauwe hingegen / doch im streich verwende dein kurtze schneid gegen seinem streich / unnd Schlag mit ebichter hand zuglich mit ihme hinein" (my boldfacing)

Three reasons here to think that this is a strike that is with the false edge from the beginning and not a winding from the bind after hitting with the long edge:

Firstly, he says to turn to the short edge "im streich", that is, while you are striking, so before actually hitting the opponent's sword. Otherwise, wouldn't he have said "im band" (or "als bald es glitschet", as he seems to be fond of expressing it in other places when he means that you should do something immediately when the bind is accomplished)? And if a winding were involved, wouldn't he have said so?

Secondly, he says "verwende dein kurtze schneid gegen seinem streich", not "gegen seinem clingen" or "schwert". To me, this seems to definitely mean that the turning of your sword occurs well before the bind. It is towards the opponent's strike you turn the short edge. Not against the blade. So not a winding.

And thirdly, he says "Schlag... zuglich mit ihme hinein". So the strike with the short edge is simultaneous with the opponent's strike. Not something that comes afterwards.

Possibly we are talking past each other, these things are so much easier to show physically than discuss on a forum..

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Postby MugginsToadwort » 19 Nov 2007 13:58

David Welch wrote:
Andreas Engström wrote:David, I think that what you're describing is perfectly valid technique and works well, but I don't think it's the schielhaw. It is a schielhaw, though, used from the bind.

But the schielhaw works well "stand-alone" also...


Andreas,

Where I see the master strikes as a collection of principle and technique rather than as a technique, I agree with you that what I posted was a schielhaw, but I doubt if I agree with there being a "the" schielhaw. The schielhaw is just an uberhaw that you wind indes at the bind. Where it starts from or what kind of uberhaw doesn't really matter all that much to me.

About you saying it works stand alone. I can see how it would, but if you didn't need to wind, why not just keep going and hit them with the long edge?


The wind is a second action following the bind- and Meyer is no different from the others in dealing with it separately. The Forgeng translation I posted above is pretty clear- one motion, hitting with the short edge and dropping the point in a cut. The Schielhau is a single action- defend and hit in the same movement. You don't want to turn it into two motions, because your point is not on line, and the opponent can easily flow off. There is no "schielhau", in that you can use the single motion "block and strike" in several situations, but it is a mechanical action which fairly specific- turn the sword so the short edge faces the floor or your opponent, get your body behind the blade, and use the short edge to cut.
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Postby Andreas Engström » 19 Nov 2007 15:27

MugginsToadwort wrote:The wind is a second action following the bind- and Meyer is no different from the others in dealing with it separately. The Forgeng translation I posted above is pretty clear- one motion, hitting with the short edge and dropping the point in a cut. The Schielhau is a single action- defend and hit in the same movement. You don't want to turn it into two motions, because your point is not on line, and the opponent can easily flow off. There is no "schielhau", in that you can use the single motion "block and strike" in several situations, but it is a mechanical action which fairly specific- turn the sword so the short edge faces the floor or your opponent, get your body behind the blade, and use the short edge to cut.

Succinctly put. Unlike me. :-) But we mean exactly the same, I think.

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Postby David Welch » 19 Nov 2007 23:25

I have fallen behind. I'll try to catch up one at a time, but I might be repeating myself. Please be patient. :D

MugginsToadwort wrote:I tend to see the Meisterhau as representative of different principles in the fight.

Zornhau- countercutting defence. One cuts into the opponent while closing the line.
Zwerchau- cutting with the short edge to go round his sword.
Schielhau- blocking with the forte and using the short edge to attack in one movement.
Krumphau- beating the opponent's sword out of the way
Scheitelhau- overreaching your opponent.


I like your list, and think these principles are indeed in the master strikes. However I don't think they are linited to just these.

As for the "Schielhau- blocking with the forte and using the short edge to attack in one movement.", I agree that is one way of doing it.

Winding is nothing more, at it's very basic, than being in the bind with your short edge to give yourself a better angle behind your opponents sword.

There are several ways to do that. I like to change to the short edge indes with the contact, because the other guys cut actually powers my short edge into him. The impact whips the tip around.

That is just a way. I don't believe it is the way, and hope it is not being taken like that.
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Postby David Welch » 19 Nov 2007 23:49

Andreas Engström wrote:Mainly, I think, because using the false edge from the very beginning makes it easier to block a very powerful horizontal strike safely and still keep your point online for an immediate thrust. If you block a really powerful blow with the long edge, IMHO it's quite hard to also immediately hit or thrust your opponent. You'd have to wind and re-align first. If using the schielhaw neither is necessary.


I misunderstood your use of "stand alone". I was wondering why if your opponent dropped his sword you would hit him with a short edge uberhaw. :lol:

You are still talking about coming into a bind, and unless you are going to be making contact with the other sword, there is just no reason to do a glancer.

Andreas Engström wrote:I also agree with you that the meisterhawe are principles rather than specific techniques. I just don't think that the principle of the schielhaw is "first strike with the long edge, then wind and strike with the false edge". I think it is more like "strike immediately with the false edge, catching your opponent's weak with your forte and/or crossguard and striking him indes (or at least end up with the point perfectly aligned for an immediate thrust)".


You are starting from wrath or uberhut, and are starting a long edge uberhaw and swapping to the short edge.

I am not making a wrath strike, binding, and then winding. I am doing it all at once in a single strike. I just like to let the bind whip the point around. This is all the same thing, we just disagree when to swap edges, and I don't think that is very importaint.

Andreas Engström wrote:I find it strange that you could consider the principle of the schielhaw to involve a winding when no master makes mention of such a winding? Or does anyone do that?


Meyer stated that the master strikes were called that because "Now from these both come five for further reading, as the Master Strikes will be named, not that one can thus fully use the weapon Rightly, and Master this art so soon, but that from them one can Master all proper artful elements which will be acted on from knowing them here, and thus you can Fence properly at need, and become an artfully striking Fencer, who retains all Master principles at the same time, and against whom nothing can be borne. These Strikes are Wrathful, Arc, Thwart, Glancer, and Vertex."

If Meyer was right, then the 5 master strikes contain all the elements of fencing we need to know, and winding is one of them. The glancer is the only one I know of that has it.

As a plus, using it this way I don't have to worry about teaching "winding" at all. I just have to teach 5 strikes and tell people "as soon as you see you are going into a bind, turn your uberhaw into a glancer". :)
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Postby David Welch » 19 Nov 2007 23:56

Andreas Engström wrote:I think we're coming from slightly different directions here, me being very Ringeck-oriented and you more Meyer-oriented (or am I wrong in thinking so?).


We are an odd amalgam. We try to use Doebringer as our primary, Meyer as a technical explanation for it, and Talhoffer as a filter.

Doebringer tells us how to figh, Meyer explains it, and then Talhoffer giver the really relevant stuff "he cuts from above, so he cuts from below and stabs him in the head". :lol:
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Postby David Welch » 20 Nov 2007 00:20

Andreas Engström wrote:
MugginsToadwort wrote:The wind is a second action following the bind- and Meyer is no different from the others in dealing with it separately. The Forgeng translation I posted above is pretty clear- one motion, hitting with the short edge and dropping the point in a cut. The Schielhau is a single action- defend and hit in the same movement. You don't want to turn it into two motions, because your point is not on line, and the opponent can easily flow off. There is no "schielhau", in that you can use the single motion "block and strike" in several situations, but it is a mechanical action which fairly specific- turn the sword so the short edge faces the floor or your opponent, get your body behind the blade, and use the short edge to cut.

Succinctly put. Unlike me. :-) But we mean exactly the same, I think.

-Engström


Like I said, our glancer is all one motion in that we don't cut, bind, wind, but rather flow into the wind when we see we are going to bind.

As for the rest, maybe it is just interpretation of German fencing?

We try to follow the Liechtenauer vorshlag idea pretty close.

If I was fencing with you, I am always looking for a first, clean killing shot. In the prefight, we are both in a drag race to find the other guy in a position where we can make the vorshlag.

That said, your way of doing the glancer has never ocurred to me, because I would never take my first shot if I knew you are going to countercut it. My first is going to be a full on cut to you, and to an upper opening if at all possible. I favor a good wrath strike. I am only changing it to a glancer because you did something to screw up my killing you!

In my first example, I am cutting at you because you just cut to plow, I beat you to the first strike and think I can make my wrath strike work. If I didn't think it was possible I wouldn't have struck at you with the short edge... I would have looked for another opening.
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Postby Andreas Engström » 20 Nov 2007 07:46

Ah. Thanks for clarifying. To quote myself from a few posts back:
Andreas Engström wrote:Possibly we are talking past each other, these things are so much easier to show physically than discuss on a forum..

I'm fairly certain that our respective interpretations work out more or less the same. If we had been in the same room we could have worked out what the other was talking about in a minute.

I'm still convinced , though, that the texts say to turn to the short edge before binding.. but as you say, in the end it doesn't make that much of a difference.

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Postby David Welch » 20 Nov 2007 09:41

Just to clean up what I have been writing, I an going to stick with Forgeng's Art of Combat.

Excerpts from the above:

"Now among both of these, five are selected that are called the Master Cuts - not that whoever who can correctly execute them should at once be called a master of this art, but rather because... since all master techniques are hidden in them and one cannnot do without them. These are (the 5 master strike)."



Squinting Cut [Schielhauw]

The Squinting Cut is also a High Cut, but is so named because it is delivered as if with a bit of squint. It is done thus:

Position yourself in the guard of the day or wrath, with your left foot forward; when he cuts at you, then cut in return, but in the stroke , turn your short edge against his stroke, strike in at the same time as your opponent, palm away from his sword; step with your right foot (to his left, take your head out of the way). Thus you have executed it correctly...


The unterhauw mirror of this cut, the Winding Cut, cuts from below and it specifically says you do change edges "as soon as it clashes".

And in the rapier (C&T) section, he says of the Schielhauw:

"yet such that as it goes down you turn your hand around, so that you hit his blade not with long edge but somewhat with the short edge or flat."


On 1.18V under Deceiving, Meyer talks about how you act like you are going to cut at one opening but instead cut somewhere else and lists the squinter as one of the deceptive cuts. Funny enough, here he also points out there are as many ways to do this as there are fighters. :lol:

At 1.47R Meyer points out that the squinter is thrown with crossed hands and is also a crooked cut.

And finally, fighting from the wrath guard, 1.35v.1

Precept

When you stand in right of left Wrath, and an opponent cuts at you from below, either to the left or right opening, then cut on it with the long edge from above, and when it hits, then shoot your point on his sword in at his face; with this, go up with your hands, and attack to the nearest opening with such techniques as you will find above or below in this treatise.


I personally think this precept describes how to fight using the squinter. I just wished he had added a "with crossed hands" in there somewhere. :lol:

The above quotes are excerpts, with edited by me for length and clarity, from Dr. Jeffery L. Forgeng's Joachim Meyer translation The Art of Combat.,
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Postby David Welch » 20 Nov 2007 09:55

Andreas Engström wrote:Ah. Thanks for clarifying. To quote myself from a few posts back:
Andreas Engström wrote:Possibly we are talking past each other, these things are so much easier to show physically than discuss on a forum..

I'm fairly certain that our respective interpretations work out more or less the same. If we had been in the same room we could have worked out what the other was talking about in a minute.

I'm still convinced , though, that the texts say to turn to the short edge before binding.. but as you say, in the end it doesn't make that much of a difference.

-Engström


Oh, I am sure we are pretty close. I might be using it in one way that you are not, and you might be doing the same, but that is just the difference in people and how everybody uses their own strengths and weaknesses. We are not dogmatic at all and I don't think you could even be wrong about it as long as you are doing the core elements of the cuts. If you are throwing an uberhaw and trying to hit him with the short edge... you pretty much have a schielhauw.

But like I said when I started this, instead of what are the masterstrikes exactly, I am more concerned about the part where "all master techniques are hidden in them".

Like I said, I don't even teach winding. I teach the master strikes, and then just have them do a schielhauw. I think that is how the master strikes were used.

what, in your opinion, are the master techniques inn the master strikes?
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Postby MugginsToadwort » 20 Nov 2007 10:52

Okay, let's look at this idea, that the Masterstrikes embody a set of master techniques, or what we would call principles. Consider this list of essentials for swordsmanship:

1) Movement- Does the Zwerchau embody the principle of moving off line?
2) Counterstriking- Does the Zornhau embody the principle that one strikes into the opponent's blow while striving to hit him?
3) Setting Off (Absetzen)- does the Schielhau embody the principle of deflecting an incoming blow to the side?
4) Weak/Strong- does the Krumphau embody the principle that the weak can be used to displace the strong? (Not sure on this one- the Krumphau isn't quite two time parry-riposte)
5) Distance- does the Scheitelhau embody the principle that a high strike overreaches a low strike?

Effectively, we are then looking at the underlying ideas, and we would need to link each of the Meisterhau to one or more "principles".
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Postby David Welch » 20 Nov 2007 11:30

MugginsToadwort wrote:Effectively, we are then looking at the underlying ideas, and we would need to link each of the Meisterhau to one or more "principles".


Yes, that is what I am trying to do exactly.

Meyer has a ton of guards, but he has them so he can describe actions like frames in a movie... wrath to long point to plow to changer to hanging to roof. This gives him quite a bit of granularity for use in his descriptions. It's somewhat the same with his cuts.

But I don't need that because I don't have to communicate through written media only.

I believe, if Meyer was correct, that we should be able to teach a new student a core of 4 guards plus two (wrath and changer) and the 5 master strikes and then explain to them that they now have a full arsenal of techniques to do all of German long sword, they just now need to learn how the individual pieces go together, and that they can rechain them into completely other things.

If you know how to do a glancing strike, you already know how to wind, it can also displace, so you know displacement. If you know how to do the vertex strike, you already know Uberlauffen. You just don't know you know it. Etc, etc.
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Postby Claus Sørensen » 20 Nov 2007 11:36

Hello!

Andreas I agree that it is done with the short edge from the beginning! It is this part that makes contact with your opponents sword if he strikes against you!

VD: Wenn dein Gegner einen Oberhau zu deinem Kopf schlägt, dreh dein Schwert und schlag mit der kurzen Schneide. 23v. (tranlated into modern german by Dierk H)

A nice little sentence: Turn and strike with the short edge! And in that order to! :wink:

And so the strike is turned from the beginning, nothing else is mentioned! And what would be the point in changing edge on the opponents sword? it takes time and leaves your hands vulnerable at the moment where your cross doesn't cover your hand. The sword could slide over it by accident! And you would probably also often experience that the "incoming sword slides all the way down to your cross making the edge turning impossible!

And if you change the edge while on the opponents sword the strike does not hit "indes".

therefore I do believe that it makes a difference how it is done! And I really in my wildest dreams can't understand why mr. Welch states that it collides with you opponents sword with the long edge! I do not believe that the examples that he mentions says so, in fact I do believe that the say just the opposite! :)

Best wishes

Claus Sørensen
Laurentiusgildet Århus Denmark
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Claus Sørensen
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