I.33: Concerning our interpretation

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I.33: Concerning our interpretation

Postby Roland Warzecha » 29 Apr 2008 11:18

Hi everybody.

Our recent suggestion that I.33's first play (and possibly others, as well) may be preceded and evolve from a direct blow cutting from second ward/right shoulder to first ward/underarm as presented in our latest technique clips stirred a vivid discussion on the most influential German speaking forum. Toke, Dimitri and myself have therefore re-evaluated our approach painstakingly counter-checking with the source.

Our suggestion was based on three assumptions:
1. I.33's wards are start and end positions of sword actions.
2. Direct attacks to openings are an implied part of the system.
3. Based on the interpretation of the text passage that states that 'three wards go first (or go forward/precede) the rest then follows' we were assuming that the even numbered wards second (to launch a right diagonal blow), fourth (for a vertical blow) and sixth (for a thrust) are more likely to be adopted as initial wards than the odd numbered ones which would rather result from a preceding action.

Regarding our first assumption there is virtually no evidence that I.33 suggests to cut from second ward to first. On the contrary, the author makes it absolutely clear that any action of the sword has to end in longpoint and in no other ward. This is even spoken of as the heart of the art of combat. It is neither a legitimate interpretation to regard committed blows from e.g. second to first as the so called common fencers' habit. It is true that he author considers their fencing inferior as they e.g. omit the shield strike (at least in the first play) and are neither familiar with krucke and use longpoint as an obsessio when they should not. However, they do work with sword binds and they are at least familiar with adopting halfshield. The issue of committed blows that end in any ward other than longpoint is not treated anyhere in the manual.
(What exactly is longpoint in I.33 shall be treated elsewhere.)
Our first assumption is therefor not backed up by the manuscript.

Concerning our second assumption:
Only a single direct attack that is not preceded by adopting some kind of schutzen is mentioned in the manuscript. That is a vertical blow from fifth or alternatively from second ward to separate an opponent's sword and shield, that is cutting to his hand basically. But this attack is easily countered according to the author. It is therefor not recommended. The author rather advises to first adopt an appropriate form of schutzen when entering - even if the opponent remains passive and omits his actions. Only after this deviation does the priest hit or thrust for the opening.
The only direct attacks that can be considered to be implied in the system are shots to the hands. Throughout the book the sword hand is consistently guarded by the buckler until the opposing sword is under conrol. So we reckon that if the opponent exposes his hand when entering, a direct attack to his hand would be the appropriate answer. Though this issue is not spoken of, either.

Our first two assumptions cannot live up to a critical inspection of the source. Wards 1 to 6 seem to exclusively be used as starting positions followed by entering measure with a form of schutzen (to close direct attack lines) and a result in longpoint. So I.33's first play (like all other plays in the book) have to be accepted exactly as presented: The first play shows an initial first guard/underarm that is being reacted to by halfshield. This situation is not only to be expected for the priest and his students but for the common fencers, too. This means that as the basic wards are used by all fencers that they are also considered as initial attack positions by all fencers (with the exception of longpoint, though). Because of that our third assumption cannot be considered valid anymore, either. For us, the mysterious statement about the 'three that precede' is open to interpretation again.

We therefor withdraw our suggestion to start I.33's plays the way described above. It works technically but is not backed by the source and thus unlikely to reflect 14th century swordplay reality.
However, we would like to point out that at this point we still consider our interpretations of the techniques following the establishment of a bind as valid reconstructions.

We have already started to re-examine I.33 wards regarding them as initial attack positions that precede a schutzen and result in longpoint. Eventually, wards may be used to launch a direct attack to the hands but this would require a grave mistake on the side of the opponent.

We will keep posting our results.

All the best,

P.S.: I am not sure if this is the right sub-forum to post on I.33. But I think of it as a German system even though it clearly predates Liechtenauer.
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Roland Warzecha
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Postby David Rawlings » 29 Apr 2008 14:26

as I said on sfi mate, well done.
Nice to see such open mindedness.
This thread sucks, screw you guys I'm going home....teehee
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David Rawlings
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