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“Hie hatt er für getretten vnd Ryszt mit dem messer. Des stosz zu der Elbogen sol man nit vergessen.” – “Here he had stepped forward and tears (pulls) with the messer. The blow at the ellbow shall not be forgotten”. The first motion named here is the step and the dragging with the messer. Part of the pulling action is the blow with the ellbow which is often forgotten but should be remembered.

On this picture to the left here you see Richards (the right guy) hands in a close up. And to the big suprise, Richard’s left hand does not touch Ludwig (the left one) and the right hand with the messer is touching only the back of the hand with the knuckles. There is obvious no “reißen” (tearing, dragging, pulling) to see in this picture. Richard might prepare the blow to the ellbow but he is not there right now. But you see in the complete picture that Ludwig is already leaning heavily to the side as he had been pushed already. Had the illustrator something wrong here, or is there something hidden in this picture?

Before we move to the possible answers, let me just explain the “Reißen”. This is a very common technique in nearly every martial arts. You grab the hand of the attacker with your right hand, tear it to you and a little bit downwards so that the arm is elongated completely. While this is done your left hand hits hard at the ellbow or just press it down friendly so that the arm does not break instantly. You got a perfect arm lock which hurts a lot. Like with the dagger or long handle of the longsword it is with the messer: you do not have to drop the weapon to grab the wrist. You use your long handle and pommel and jam the wrist by bending your wrist downwards (like shaking hands) between the pommel and your forearm. Then you tear him. What you see in this picture is the hand with the messer on the way to grab the wrist and the free hand is prepared to push at the ellbow.

Ludwig leans to heavily to the left. That may be a result of the push and pull done by Richard. But as we know that Richards pushing left hand did not touch Ludwig at this moment and that he has not grabbed him to pull, it may be the case, that the illustrator made a mistake and is showing us the situation after the successfull pushing and pulling. But if this would be the case, the Reißen would not let Ludwig lean to the left but to the front and to the right.

Gewicht nehmen

The reason why Ludwig is leaning to the left is easily found if you move your eyes to the knees and the words “für getretten”. Richard lifted and destabilized Ludwig by a wrestling with the knees.  He is probably using technique is called “Gewicht nehmen” (taking the weight away) and is found in Hans Lecküchner at several occasions handeling the opponents ellbow. This way of attacking with the legs is mostly found in mounted combat. Fighting on horse was essential, thus several mechanics were trained and applied on foot.

Stepping hard into Ludwig comming from below with an extended stretched front leg, which is on contact with the ground suddenly and powerfully bend will bring Ludwig in exact this destabilized position.

Another variation is the blocking of the right leg of Ludwig if Richard is stepping with a bend leg in contact with the knee and brings in his hip, thus breaking the stand. This will too destabilize Ludwig, but it is more risky.

Des stosz zu der Elbogen sol man nit vergessen

Because of this successfull wrestling with the left leg and knee, the push to the elbow is not really needed in most situations. Ludwig’s weapon arm is blocked and he is destabilzed enough to lose this fight. For that reason wrote Talhoffer that you shall not forget the push to the ellbow. It secures the situation by still having the option to complete the pulling and continue the “Reißen” with a throw over the left leg (“Armringen” in the longsword), if the attack by the left leg fails.

Talhoffer Munich, Plate 227, page 115r

But this is not all.

There may be another reason for Ludwigs position: one way to avoid beeing pulled is to push in the same direction. But if Ludwig pushes to the right in this position he will be pulled to the ground by the arm lock. He has to turn around. Let us have a look at one possible outcome in the next picture.

In the same book there is plate 179. It illustrates a piece with the long rondell dagger and the counter technigue to it. The dagger arm bar differs in the way the wrist is locked. The wrestler uses both dagger as levers. It is a mixture between a wristlock and the armlock of the messer plates.
But the princible of the armlocks are the same and if Richard is not going for the “Grosse Wurff” or the “werffen mit dem tegen”, Ludwig is able to present the counter attack: “Der bruch ker dich gar umb und würff In über die huffen.” – “The break: turn outright around and throw him over the hips”.

We can’t be sure that Ludwig is preparing the counterattack here and is ready for the break. There are small hints in this picture allowing us to think so. One is the position of the back and of the left arm of Ludwig. But in the moment clever Richard is the winner as always. He is ready to complete the Reißen of the leg attack fails and I am sure, he has a plan in his mind if Ludwig wants to try something.

>> Continue with the next plate

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Note: The speculative interpretation here was created to inspire an open minded martial artist to have a second and deeper look on the plates of that manual. The author of this article has the opinion that during the creation of the book the illustrator and the author had some misunderstanding. It seems that some of the illustrations had been created and afterwards commented for whatever reasons with a different matching story than the original planned one.

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