Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Liechtenauer lineage and related sources (eg. Sigmund Ringeck, Peter von Danzig, Paulus Kal, Hans Talhoffer), interpretation and practice. Open to public view.

Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Postby KeithFarrell » 04 May 2012 14:28

http://historical-academy.co.uk/blog/2012/05/04/liechtenauer-or-a-derivative/

I posted an article on Encased in Steel today discussing the style of longsword fencing that I teach in the Academy of Historical Arts. Do I teach precisely the same style as Johannes Liechtenauer, or am I teaching a derivative system of Farrell's longsword? Or am I doing both while remaining true to the principles of Liechtenauer?

It would be very interesting to hear points of view from other people who practice or who teach German longsword, or even any other discipline reconstructed from historical sources. Do you think you teach precisely the same information or do you think you do something a little different?
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Re: Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Postby Motley » 04 May 2012 18:16

Ah interesting discussion, you teach Keith-jitsu! That is after all, all you can do.

It is informed by your background and your reading of the sources. Depending on what your desire* is (from reading your posts I would say pretty high) you try and get it as close to Liechtenauers art as you can, or rather as close to the art as described by one of the masters who glossed him as you can. That is really all you can do. Would old man Liechty recognise it as what he taught? We cannot know. You can just do as you say in your blog post, reference your sources and explain why you do it that way, while also keeping an open mind.

For example you must have seen many times in your class, where you have just explained and demonstrated a techniques in person and some students are doing it completely differently. Way out of the stadium differently. And they just saw it! We are trying to follow advice separated by hundreds of years, culture and language. How can it ever be 'right'?

As to how do you teach it like him? No big no. I doubt he had 10 - 30 people lined up in a sports hall. I suspect from what we see in I.33 it was more one on one lessons like we actually see with, God forbid, modern fencing.

The best I think we can hope for is 'informed' by and actually that is good enough :-)

* dare I say 'integrity'?
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Re: Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Postby KeithFarrell » 05 May 2012 00:05

Motley wrote:Ah interesting discussion, you teach Keith-jitsu! That is after all, all you can do.


I like that term. Keith-jitsu is what I shall be teaching form hereon. Problem solved :D

Motley wrote:For example you must have seen many times in your class, where you have just explained and demonstrated a techniques in person and some students are doing it completely differently. Way out of the stadium differently. And they just saw it! We are trying to follow advice separated by hundreds of years, culture and language. How can it ever be 'right'?


Oh yes, it drives me up the wall! Means I just need to get better at expressing/demonstrating precisely what I want my students to do. In any case, it is a good comparison. My students are trying to learn historical fencing from me, as best they can, given the learning materials that I provide for them. Likewise I am trying to learn historical styles of fencing from the historical masters, as best I can, given the learning materials that have been preserved so far and also those that have been produced by modern translators. I think it is certainly worth trying to get it as right as I can.

On the flip side, since there are so many good reasons why I am teaching a derivative of Liechtenauer's system, the same rationale means that people have fewer reasons to say that I'm wrong about certain things :D after all, if none of us are teaching the style precisely as Liechtenauer himself, then what qualification do modern practitioners have to tell me that my Krumphaw or my Zwerhaw is wrong?

Of course, that is an entirely different discussion just threatening to happen!


Motley wrote:As to how do you teach it like him? No big no. I doubt he had 10 - 30 people lined up in a sports hall. I suspect from what we see in I.33 it was more one on one lessons like we actually see with, God forbid, modern fencing.

The best I think we can hope for is 'informed' by and actually that is good enough :-)


Interesting observation about the one-on-one lesson thing, I have to agree with you there. "Informed by" is probably the safest term and is quite a reasonable way of qualifying quite what I teach.
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Re: Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Postby Herbert » 05 May 2012 07:02

I think you see this from the wrong end.

I tell my students and my audience when I give demonstrations or lectures that what we do is historical european swordsmanship. That signifies that every technique we use has to be found in a manual. Everything (well, almost) we do can be backed up by a manuscript. But that does not necessarily mean that we do everything that is in the manuscript which is, as you say, often impossible.

So while what I teach is in the manuscripts of the Liechtenauer lineage that does not at the same time mean that I teach what Liechtenauer taught.

We always have this difference. For example. What Roland Warzecha and I teach when we teach the I.33 is sometimes quite different but both can be backed up by the manuscript. This is because the manuscript is sometimes vague and can be interpreted in different ways. One of has HAS to be wrong in the sense that he is not doing what Lutegerus did. But there is no way of telling today. So both are valid interpretations.

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Re: Liechtenauer's style or a derivative?

Postby KeithFarrell » 05 May 2012 11:52

Thanks for the input, Herbert. I quite like that point of view, that everything we do can be backed up from a historical source, as opposed to trying to recreate it exactly as it was from the source. A subtle difference in meaning perhaps, but a valuable distinction nonetheless.
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