The text in this chapter of the book is one of the easiest to understand in comparison to some of the other parts of this book. That does not mean, that it is easy at all. Here I added some comments of my understanding side by side to the propositions in this medieval text.
And despite the comments that I left untouched under this posting, I still do not think, that I “have made a fairly large number of mistakes of interpretation in this material”. I still feel that I really know what I am talking about.
See the GMN 3227A 64r-65r Bloßfechten (transcribed, translated) for the original text.
|>64r> Here anew and again / the pieces and rules of / The armorless fencing of Master Liechtenauer / with short and simple words / by greater and better information / and explanation, what /I had said and written before in the rhymes / and in the adjected explanations, hard to interpret and in-/comprehensible, that is with simple words short /are repeated.||The introduction to that chapter tells us that he is repeating the same thing again, that you can find in the Liechtenauer Zedel. He will try to explain us the Rhymes with his own words in form of a recapitulation.|
|First mark and remember that Liechtenaur’s /Fencing is aligned at the Five Words / Vor , Nach, Schwach , Stark, Indes; these are the / principles and the fundament of all fighting. And / [regardless] how good one can fight, if he does only not know / the fundament, he will be humiliated often by all /his art. And these Words are /covered often before.||The five words of Liechtenauer are describing qualities in opposite categories. This is based on the philosophy of Aristotle. The elementary thing is that these words are not quantities but qualities. It does not matter how much you are in the Vor (before) ore Nach (after), as long as you are. But it does matter a lot how you are and how good. The same in schwach (feable) and stark (strong). There is nothing like “a lot of feable” but you are very feable or very strong. There is a quality in it that you have to recognize.“Indes” (engaged and meanwhile) is a quality too, you can be in a perfect “Indes” or in a bad one, where you do not feel anything. But this quality has no extremes and linguistic attributes.
To be a good fencer you must know, recognize, appraise, and assess the qualities. That is the fundament of a fight.
|Cause they are solely based / that one is always in motion, and does not / celebrate or slacken, so that the other cannot counter. /||There is no recognition of quality if there is no change of quality. This is one of the most remarkable sentence in the whole manual. And it goes together with the “opposita iuxta se posita magis elucescunt”. You need something to compare for recognizing a quality. So if you are not changing and so the other, there is no quality to detect. To ensure there is one, it is enough that you move.|
|Cause „Vor“, „Nach“ are meaning „Vorschlag“ and / “Nachschlag”, as mentioned often before. And that /is based on that ,what is called principium and / finis, beginning and ending. If a earnest, / good Fencer therefore fences with someone, and / wants to beat him by his art, and not / wants to be beaten, than he should not do it / without beginning and without ending. Wants he / to beginn well, he should labor, that he / gains against him the „Vorschlag“ and wins, and not / the other. For he, who hits like this at the other, he is / >64v> safe and protected better because of that / the other must observe the blows and / take care. If ones wins the „Vorschlag“ / and he does hit or fail, so / he should thereafter inmediately without stop-/ ping in the same momentum do the „Nachschlag“ / (that is the next beat, than the third, / the fourth or the fifth, if it is a blow /or a thrust, so that he is always in motion / and carries on with one following another without / stopping , so that the other / cannot counter. That’s why Liechtenauer is telling / „I say truly, no man guards without / moving (but not without damage – s[ed] n[on] sine da[m]pno). Have you recognized that, / he may not counter you.”. Do exactly like / it is written often before: stay in motion.||By being the one who begins, you determin the first quality by being in „Vor“. So you do not have to appraise, you know. By laboring to win the “Vorschlag” (an action that endangers someone’s life directly that comes unexpected) you assure yourself to be in the position to know exactly what is going on in this fight right now and what will be the next quality, which is a remarkable advantage. The other one has to observe and try to detect the qualities of your next action, like it is written in the text. So all you have to do is presenting the “Nachschlag” (an action that endangers someone’s life directly that is expected). The Nachschlag is nothing special. They are used to enlarge the defensive motions of the opponent and to create openings as it is written in the Zedel: “And who makes big movements, will be humiliated”. So it does not matter if they hit or fail as long as they endanger him and you do not stop. Because he needs to move to protect himself. By guarding himself the other one is getting more and more in danger. Due to your constant motions he is unable to appraise the qualities correctly. If he cannot recognize or appraise, he is unable to decide how to present a counter to your labor.|
|The word „Indes“ arises from the words „Vor“-„Nach“ if / one does the „Vorschlag“ and the other / parries it. „Indes“ and meanwhile the other is / parrying and guarding himself, the first one may get a good / chance to get the „Nachschlag“.||The quality of Indes has two aspects: strength and time. By arising from Vor-Nach the moment of engagement or the moment of the biggest reach in a movement is meant. If the other is active or passive protecting himself you may have the chance to start your series of Nachschlag.|
|As well it arises / from the words „Schwach“-„Stark“, that implies the / „Fühlen“, in the case that one is “am Schwert” with / the other and feels, if the other is strong or feable, / he can therefore act according the / described lore.||The other quality is of the assessment of strength. This only happens in engagement, when you have physical contact to the opponent. Is he feable or strong, how is the contact? Where is the contact?|
|And the fundament needs / above all the principles: boldness, / quickness, wariness, cunning, and prudence. /||Here we come to five virtues of the fighting. To have five virtues is elementary in the medieval philosophy. They are pretty much self explaining.|
|And in all things be modest, if he wins / the Vorschlag, than do not be too / hasty, so that you are ready for the Nach-/Schlag. And do not take too large / steps, so that you are ready for / >65r> another step back or forward as it may / be appropriate. Like Liechtenauer said: / „On this you can mount, all things have largeness / and smallness“.||But the highest virtue (is number 6) being modest. Do not move more as necessary, do not be greedy. Suppress your desires, be even-tempered and modest.
And here we got other extremes: big/large and small/short. But this time they are no qualities, they are quantities. So they are not listed in the five words.
|Therefore one should not be absent-minded / and should in advance consider well what he wants to do / and exactly that he should than keenly execute / and drive swiftly to the other’s head or /body and not to the sword. As long / as one hits properly at the other’s / head or body, than this happens to the Four / Openings, but for all that one arrives at the (other’s) sword without / his proposition. That is why as the other is protecting, he / protects himself with the sword, so that the sword arrives at the sword / at last. Hence Liechtenauer said: “Do not hit at / the sword always the aim to openings hold. / At the head or the body, so that harm stays away. / If you hit or fail, seek to aim at the openings. /||A fighter must concentrate on what he is doing. He must put his mind to the labor. This chapter is not about making plans, but about putting your focus to the task before you start the fight.And if you start, keep your focus to the task. Concentrate to attack to the four openings; do not get distracted by his doings. Do proper and effective movements. Do not hit to his sword to ensure an “Indes” situation.Indes does happen. You should not force it to happen. It happens if you concentrate to hit at the four openings.|
|In all lore turn your point / keen in his face. / And who makes big / movements, will be humiliated. At the / very nearest bring hits and thrusts properly. And hurry, that the other will not be the / first to arrive. So you may stand against /a good fighter.||Keep the point directed at the face, so you are able to thrust and he has problems to judge the reach properly.The danger to get beaten in a larger distance is directly related to the hardship it takes to appraise the qualities of the situation. As nearer you get, as easier it gets. If you are the one that gets nearer, you are probably the one who is judging the situation correctly.The rest of the verses repeat what is said above.|