'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

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'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby MichaelOvens » 16 Jun 2015 23:20

I've been doing some (chiefly academic) work on I.33 lately and I have a theory as to the meaning of the 'ligans ligati' verse which I'd like to share and, hopefully, receive some feedback on.

The verse, for reference:

Ligans ligati contrarij sunt & irati
ligatus fugit ad partes laterum peto sequi

Binder and bound are adverse and irate;
The bound flees to the side, I try to follow
.


The interpretation on Wiktenauer suggests that this 'refers to side-stepping, i.e. taking into account the 3rd dimension not rendered in the images.' But what if it referred not to side-stepping but to the earlier description of four of the seven wards as 'fleeing'?

Tres sunt que preeunt relique tunc fugiunt

Three of these precede, the rest flee [fol. 1v]


The word in both cases - fugio - is the same, suggesting that the fighter is to flee not with a lateral motion but by shifting to one of the 'side' wards - first, second, third, and fifth. When you look at what I believe is the only case of this being demonstrated, on fol. 20v, you see that this 'flight' is indeed a flight to one of the wards rather than to the side:

Ex illa ligatura superius tacta que ducta est per sacerdotem scolaris fugit vt supra dictum est vt patet hic quia fugit sub brachio quod immediate sequitur sacerdos percutiendo capud vt hic

From this bind treated above, executed by the priest, the pupil flees as said above, and as shown here: Because he flees under the arm, the priest immediately follows, cutting his head like here.[fol. 20v]


What the ligans ligati verse instructs, therefore, would be that in all bindings it is possible for the one who is bound to flee to one of the four 'fleeing' wards, at which point the one who was binding follows with an aggressive action - an aggressive action such as halpschilt, which begins a new sequence of combat.

Is this interpretation already floating out there in ether? Are there alternative interpretations of this verse? Any thoughts are welcome and would be appreciated.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Mink » 19 Jun 2015 06:34

I was thinking of something similar, yes. Pretty much for the same reasons you do!

One difference is in what ward you'd consider 'fleeing'. It's not explicit, although we do know as you point out that underarm is one of them. When you are dominated in a bind, you'll often end up with your blade below that of the opponent, which makes it hard to flee to second or third. On the other hand going to sixth disengages your blade quite neatly. To me the guard you flee into are first, fifth, sixth and seventh. That leaves second, third and fourth as more 'offensive' ward that most people would use when they want to hit you in the head with a sword.

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 19 Jun 2015 19:36

You open up a big discussion here.

First of all the verse is not only used in your described manner. Have a look at 24r and you will see a totally different situation.

We are generally at a loss as to why the student acts the way he does on 20v. When you are overbound it is quite pointless to go to the first ward. So why does he do it? So far I have not come up with a good answer that makes sense from a fencing viewpoint. So why is going on?

Take a look at 7r. Here again nobody is "fleeing into one of the wards". Instead the verse seems to hint to another concept.

Look at 4v…again no "fleeing" motion there. Instead the verse seems to be an afterthought to the whole situation.

What about 27r. Again no fleeing motion here, but the play ends there. Still it would be suicidal to "flee" in this situation into the first, second, third or fifth ward.

From these and other observations and thoughts, I respectfully disagree with your proposed solution. I do not agree with the Wiktenauer explanation either.

best wishes

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby MichaelOvens » 20 Jun 2015 04:23

Mink/Vincent:

I can see why you would want to flee to those wards, but how do you make sense of fleeing to the side in that context?

Herbert:

I don't believe that every time the rhyme is used we actually see a fleeing deployed; indeed I think the only time we see a fleeing occur is in fol. 20v. Consider what is said when the bind first occurs:

Note that whenever binder and bound are competing as here, then the bound may flee whither he chooses, if he likes, and this is required in all bindings. But of this you must be admonished, that where ever the bound (flees to), you should follow him.


What this suggests to me is that although the flight back to a ward is a possibility in every bind, rather than just end every engagement at a bind the author goes on to show alternatives. From the various binds, the author shows us techniques which can be executed, but they remind us that it's always possible to flee to a ward, which starts a new sequence. In those circumstances where the author has no techniques to add, the play just add with the 'ligans ligati' verse.

I think this concept of flight only works with the very hunched position of I.33 (which literary evidence suggests is an actual thing rather than a stylistic abnormality). By stretching out and fighting at range, it's a lot easier to flee back to a ward than it would be if you were engaging more fully like in Talhoffer's sword and buckler stuff. This is not to say that all flights are equally viable - 20v shows that not to be the case. I imagine that one flees to a high ward from a low bind and vice versa, following that folio, but I don't know for sure.

Do you have any alternative ideas, Herbert? I mean this sincerely - I posted this not only to get feedback on my own interpretation, but also to see what other interpretations might be out there.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Mink » 21 Jun 2015 08:38

MichaelOvens wrote:I can see why you would want to flee to those wards, but how do you make sense of fleeing to the side in that context?

I'm making a mix of the interpretations :) Basically what I'm thinking is that the fleeing motion includes retracting into a (fleeing) ward and lateral footwork, which seems like it would be a good safety measure anyway...
I must say that I had not thought that 'ad partes laterum' referred to moving the sword to the side. Could well be!

For what is worth I agree with you that most of the instances of the verse point out what you could do, not what happens in the plays.

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Megalophias » 22 Jun 2015 18:44

My interpretation (based on nothing much) was that "fleeing" refers to disengaging from the bind, which you can do either to the left (turning the point back) or the right (trying to get your point into the centre). And when the underbound fencer disengages, you can try to hit him in that moment - chase him as he flees, i.e. nachreisen.

Showing the guy who is fleeing all the way back in first ward I don't think necessarily means you have to retract all the way in practice. It's like the image where the underbound tries to do a schiltschlac and is struck in the middle of his motion - he is shown all the way up in 4th ward. That would be in my view another point in the same sort of movement.

But this doesn't really explain the first verse about the wards that flee and those that don't.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 22 Jun 2015 19:32

Sigh…I'm in the process of writing a new book about the I.33 so naturally I don't want to spill everything here.

So far I'd say that the fleeing wards have nothing to do with the verse of Ligans ligati.
I do have an idea about the wards as well, but let's stick to the topic here.

As I wrote earlier, every interpretation should be viable regarding fencing under pressure (meaning: it should work and be sensible) and be consistent with the rest of the manuscript.
In my opinion, which may be wrong, the fleeing is limited to the blade.
Maybe I am giving away too much now, but consider the fleeing as fleeing with the blade from the bind - a very natural and quick thing to do, which also makes sense in a martial aspect.

Now combine this with techniques mentioned earlier in the manuscript and … voila! … you have a working and consistent interpretation that fulfills all criteria:
a) it is martially viable
b) it is according to the text
c) it is consistent with the manuscript
d) it works under pressure every time

Now I will go into more detail in my book…once it is written.

all the best

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby MichaelOvens » 22 Jun 2015 19:54

Mink:

I agree it's very likely that there would be a lateral move included there - it just seems like good practice. I don't think it's what's being referred to in the rhyme simply because the manuscript doesn't in general (or at all, to wit?) talk about bodily movement anywhere else :)

Megalophias:

I think that's a good point - it's not necessary to withdraw the blade all the way to the ward; or, even if this is done, it's probably only a fleeting moment in the ward, like in the Liechtenauer wards with the principle of continuous movement. I think that the idea that 'fleeing' refers to fleeing to one of the side wards is consistent with your idea of disengaging from the bind towards the left, though I think the disengage to the right in order to keep the point on line is a bit different.

Herbert:

That's fair, I understand the limitations of not wanting to reveal the game prior to the release of the book. Given that the wards are primarily methods of holding the blade though, I would imagine that your idea of fleeing with the blade from the bind is not that dissimilar from fleeing to a ward? I understand if I'll have to wait for the publication of your book for an answer :)

I'm currently hampered from trying this at speed due to being away from my study group, but when I get back in a couple of weeks time I'll be trying it out in earnest.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 22 Jun 2015 20:13

MichaelOvens wrote:Herbert:

That's fair, I understand the limitations of not wanting to reveal the game prior to the release of the book. Given that the wards are primarily methods of holding the blade though, I would imagine that your idea of fleeing with the blade from the bind is not that dissimilar from fleeing to a ward? I understand if I'll have to wait for the publication of your book for an answer :)
.

Thanks for understanding.
No - it is not going back into a ward because that would be nonsensical (well…most of the time).
It is instead a counter attack from the bind to gain the initiative in the fight. So if you let this happen then you are buggered, so you have to disrupt this intention by following.

A bit hard to describe without pictures. It would be explained in 5 min. with blades in hand.

Come over and I show you!

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby MichaelOvens » 23 Jun 2015 21:21

I'm actually going to be in Germany early next year for a conference - might see if I can swing by to get your thoughts!
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 24 Jun 2015 06:30

Please do so! It would be great to cross blades with you.

all the best

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Cutlery Penguin » 26 Jun 2015 10:40

Personally I think the word "flee" has connotations that aren't really very helpful.

I think that in the case of the wards there are some that lead to an engagement of blades, and some that escape an engagement. I don't think it is anything to do with running away.

As to the binder and the bound I tend to think that it is pretty basic in that it is saying that when the swords are bound they are both opposed and competing to force the other sword aside, and so if one attempts to move away from the bind the other will follow.

I don't think it is anything secret that opens up a whole new way of thinking, but I do think the act of binding the other person's sword is fundamental to the system and so understanding how the bind works is essential. The exchange of swords for example works because the pressure from their bind causes their sword to move as you disengage (at least it does the way I do it.)

I think it is very easy to overthink these things, and I.33 seems to be a victim of this more than most sources.

Just my thoughts of course, it's been a while since I focussed on it.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 26 Jun 2015 13:24

Cutlery Penguin wrote:I think that in the case of the wards there are some that lead to an engagement of blades, and some that escape an engagement. I don't think it is anything to do with running away.

I absolutely agree that is why my interpretation doesn't go in that direction.

Cutlery Penguin wrote:As to the binder and the bound I tend to think that it is pretty basic in that it is saying that when the swords are bound they are both opposed and competing to force the other sword aside, and so if one attempts to move away from the bind the other will follow.

Something along these lines…question is how to follow and when and how to disengage.

Cutlery Penguin wrote:I don't think it is anything secret that opens up a whole new way of thinking, but I do think the act of binding the other person's sword is fundamental to the system and so understanding how the bind works is essential. The exchange of swords for example works because the pressure from their bind causes their sword to move as you disengage (at least it does the way I do it.)

I agree that it is not a secret. I do see the last sentence of yours a bit differently though.

I think it is about movement of the blades as well as closing lines and going from there.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Mink » 03 Aug 2015 16:04

Hello all,

Johnatan Allen pointed out (for other reasons initially) this passage in Manciolino:
Thus do the high guards relate to the low wards: that the principles of the high guards is striking, and naturally the warding subsequently; and of the low guards contrarily is warding the principle, and then striking subsequently; but in these low ones alone is the giving of the thrust the natural strike.


Never made the parallel before, but now I wonder if that is not actually more or less equivalent to what is found in I.33 verse about the wards. Pretty much embodies why I believe 2nd, 3rd and 4th are the 'tres que preunt'.

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 03 Aug 2015 20:39

Mink wrote:Hello all,

Johnatan Allen pointed out (for other reasons initially) this passage in Manciolino:
Thus do the high guards relate to the low wards: that the principles of the high guards is striking, and naturally the warding subsequently; and of the low guards contrarily is warding the principle, and then striking subsequently; but in these low ones alone is the giving of the thrust the natural strike.


Never made the parallel before, but now I wonder if that is not actually more or less equivalent to what is found in I.33 verse about the wards. Pretty much embodies why I believe 2nd, 3rd and 4th are the 'tres que preunt'.

Regards,

It is tempting, but not really consistent. The 6th for example is not warding at all, as is the 7th. The 1st equally doesn't ward, or close any lines…neither does the 5th. No guard actually closes a line, wards or does anything similar. The only warding is done with the buckler but then again, the buckler is out front in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and depending on the interpretation the 1st. So again not concise.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Mink » 03 Aug 2015 21:36

But the same is true of the Bolognese guards, Herbert. As far as I understand it is not the guard that defend, but the moves that you throw from the guard. Bolognese include a whole lot of active parries that hit into the enemy's sword, especially from low guards.

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 04 Aug 2015 06:25

Thanks for the clarification. We have to look at the main attack (move) from a guard then. The Schützen don't count because you can do these from every guard.

The 1st has at least two depending on the opponents opposition - falling under s&b and the crutch. Only the crutch is warding.
The 5th has a thrust as a main attack move which is mentioned in your text but is not warding at all.
The same holds true for the 6th. The 7th isn't mentioned with any attack or movement at all.

So only the 1st really have a move that wards, the crutch.
All other really are not that defensive, all of them are attacking guards which take the initiative.
Most do this with a thrust, but nevertheless are they attacking first.

I don't have a conclusive answer to this rhyme myself, but I have thought about it a lot and know what it can't be.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Mink » 04 Aug 2015 08:44

I get what you are saying but if you took Manciolino without the introduction, your conclusion could be mostly the same. I mean he has whole chapters on the attacks you can throw from low guards, and whole chapters on how to defend from the high guards...

It seems quite possible to me that the verses in fact refers to a part of the system that is not detailed in the manuscript, hence why they seem so unclear. They could point to why you are in a guard in the first place, something that is not detailed as far as I remember.

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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Herbert » 04 Aug 2015 09:51

Mink wrote:
It seems quite possible to me that the verses in fact refers to a part of the system that is not detailed in the manuscript, hence why they seem so unclear. They could point to why you are in a guard in the first place, something that is not detailed as far as I remember.

Could well be…
Personally I think it is a hint towards the tactical considerations. Which guards show initiative and portray the offensive attitude.

Unfortunately I am not really familiar with Manciolino so I can't really comment on the text itself.
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Re: 'Ligans ligati': Interpreting I.33's Central Rhyme

Postby Cosmoline » 25 Aug 2015 00:12

When you are overbound it is quite pointless to go to the first ward. So why does he do it?


Hmm. I wonder if it is pointless. Thinking this through, if I'm overbound I can expect a shield strike followed by the sword typically, correct? If I withdraw my blade and revert to prima, stepping back, would that put me outside the range of a successful shield strike? In a way he'd just be pushing my buckler, with my sword now moving independently back. So he doesn't secure my blade, which can pass through prima as it then comes back around to intercept his blade?

http://wiktenauer.com/wiki/File:MS_I.33_20v.jpg

So in other words, imagine the attacker doesn't follow and go for the head fast enough? The way we're doing prima (which I realize is controversial) we are not stuck under the arm or limited to underbinds and crutches. The sword can keep going in an arc after passing through prima, to intercept any high or low strike or thrust. So if the text is doing it that way, and the attacker is too slow or caught off guard by the "fleeing" defense, a second later his attack will be intercepted and he will either be overbound (if coming in low) or have an ober-thrust plunging in (if coming in high). I'll have to play around with this on Wednesday. Anyone going to be at WMAW next month? I could show you what I'm thinking.

Sigh…I'm in the process of writing a new book about the I.33 so naturally I don't want to spill everything here.


Loved your longsword treatment and I'm eagerly awaiting the next one on pre-order! In fact I loaned out the longsword text to a fellow student and I fear I may have to get another one.
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