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This post is part of a series. It is reflecting all the plays of Hans Lecküchner, a late medieval fencing master and author of a superior fencing book. Most of the plays had been presented at various national and international events in workshops by the author of this blog. To promote the plays to a wider public the writing of Hans Lecküchner I translated them in modern language from the transcription once made by the group “Gesellschaft für Pragmatische Schriftlichkeit” (here Julia Lorbeer, Johann Heim, Robert Brunner and Alexander Kiermayer).

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Who only displaces, will get hurt by all the art

As now the master has finished the preface, he gives you a good advice. Listen closely. When you you fight to him and come closer to the man, you shall not stand still with the knife and wait until he strikes. Because all the fencers, who only want to displace, will be hit badly. They always try to displace, and they bring no other martial art than to displace and wait for the strikes and actions of others to see what to do. But they will get beaten and get exhausted regardless of all their skills.

Inbetween, Before and After.
These words form the hoard of the art.
Weak and Strong, try wisely
If you want to fight artfully

Here the master speaks and announces the foundation of knife fighting, and says “Inbetween”, Before and After” etc. And it is to understand, that first and foremost you must exactly detect two things, which are “Before” and “After”, and then the “Weak” and the “Strong”. Also there is the word “Inbetween”, which is the foundation of the art of which all martial arts are created. If you can read and understand them well and amongst all did not forget the word “Inbetween” in all the techniques you use, then you may be a good master of the knife, and you may instruct the nobles and burgers, such that they will stand victorious in competition and earnest fights.

The “Before” is: if you are earlier (not faster) with your strike, such that he needs to displace you, so work “Inbetween” nimbly with the knife in front or with other techniques. See that he himself may not find the chance to start some of that kind of work. In that way you have bound the “Before”.

But if he is earlier and starts to work because you had to displace his strike, again work nimbly with the knife or other techniques. That way you take away his “Before” with the “After”.
This is the meaning of “Before and After”.

You shall know before all other the „Weak“ and the „Strong“ of the knife. Remember: from the hilt until the mid of the blade is the “Strong”, and from the mid until the point is the “Weak”. How you can use that in your fights and what the word “Inbetween” means, you find hereafter written (in the first plays on “Wrath Strike and the Point”).

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Six strikes to learn, with one hand against the weapon
The left hand lay on your back, on the chest if you want to pull the weapon

Here the master teaches the stance of knife fighting, and how to move in it. Firstly you must fight with the knife using one hand and the other hand is on your back. Only if you want to fight with the empty hand and want to move the hand from the inside over his arm in plays like “Taking the knife away”, “Taking over”, “Closing the arms”, than you turn the hand of the back to the chest.

Furthermore to this there is the text of the “Six Hidden Strikes”, how out of them many good plays come, how to know when to bring them, and how to move in them skillfully. Further on you will be taught to bring three plays to each of them:  wrath, strike, waking, disarm: has the forcer, danger with, waver.

Now the master names the “Hidden Strikes” with each name, such that you may remember their plays better. The first one is named “Wrath Strike”, the next the “Waking Strike”, the third the “Disarming Strike”, the fourth the “Forcer”, the fifth the “Danger Strike”, and the sixth the “Waver”.

More to this six strikes you find the main plays in this list: the “Bastion”, “Displace”-“Thereafter-Riding”, “Pass-over”, and “Push-off” the “Change”, “Drawback-through”-“Pass-through”, “Cut off”, “Press”-“Let run off”, “Take”-“Let Go”, “Fiddlebow”, “Take the weapon”-“Hang the Winding”, towards the “Openings”

Strike the strikes, learn exhaustively

Now the master makes a list of the other major plays, seventeen pieces.

  1. The “Four Sieges”, starting with the Bastion
  2. The “Displace”
  3. The “Thereafter-riding”, in the book it is written “Pass-over” the “Thereafter-ride”
  4. The “Pass-over”
  5. The “Push-off”
  6. The “Changing”
  7. The “Drawback”
  8. The „Pass-through“
  9. The „Cut-off“
  10. The „Press of hands“
  11. The „Let run off“
  12. The „Taking“
  13. The „Let Go“
  14. The „Fiddlebow“
  15. The „Take away oft he knife“
  16. The “Hangings”
  17. The “Windings” against the openings

So together with the six strikes you got 23 major plays.

Next post: Lecküchner’s Messerfechten: The Zornhau (folios 3r-9r)

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Note: This is a not proofread, uncorrected version. My first draft. If you have any recommendations, corrections, or annotations that will improve the content on this page, please help me by commenting.

Tranlation Rules

This is not a word by word translation but a translation that solves the riddles of the text to make it more understandable. Therefore even nearly untranslatable words were transferred in modern English (or what the native German author thinks is English). E.g. the word “Indes” is transferred depending on the context into “on contact”, “immediatly”, “meanwhile”.

See the Glossary of translated terms for more information.

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