Art of Combat Notes

Art of Combat: Longsword


Key for terms used in the notes:

  • EP - End play. A temporary place to stop the play to let the students try out the play before continuing.
  • [] - pick one in this list
  • () - perform in order


Roger Norling Blade workshop: IMG_4196.MOV - 
Joachim Meyer - The Art of Combat, Book 2

Norling Workshop

Digression: The Nature of Stances and guards

Guards are not guards. They are more like stances. They don’t really protect much. Example Tag or Ox, part is protected and most is not. Stances are positions you pass through or end up in. They are connected to the movements.

Therefore always shift between guards. Same as Dagger and Dusack.

Aim: Constantly be moving, Looking for position/advantage.

These are the places you end up in when you [cut, thrust, deflect, are deflected]. Decide on the way to the guard (the “crossroads”) what you are going to do. Once you get into your stance you then act on what you decided to do.

Meyer: You stay in guard for a blink of an eye.

Therefore you move into position to see the reaction and immediately make new plans given that information.

Grips: Start in hammer. As you cut it goes to V. With thumb on the back of the hilt. Reasoning is: with hammer, it prevents the full strike, the V allows the complete extention of the swing.

emphasis: allows the strike to flow.

The Guards and Cutting through them

emphasis: A cut is a move from one guard to another, and at each point, you can then choose to continue the flow or change into a new strike.

Cycle through these in order:

Start left foot forward: (Guards on the left)

Tag: Hands above head, with blade pointing backwards. (to upwards)

step right foot forward.

Langort: blade directly in front at full extention

Olber: blade down in front at 45 degrees to ground on your left

Wechsel: blade down to the left pointing towards the ground (think straight down), right hand in front, hanging down on left side of right leg. long edge away from opponent

Nebenhut: long edge towards opponent, blade pointing backwardsd 45 degrees towards the ground, leaning weight on back leg.

Einhorn: short edge towards ground, 45 degrees up towards the sky facing towards opponent. hands above head.

Ochs: point directly towards opponent, hands above head, cross forward.

Step forward passing (Guards on the right)

Langort: thrust into langort.

Wechsel: right wechsel as above

Nebenhut: right nebenhut as above

Einhorn: right einhorn as above

Ochs: right ochs as above

Hangetort: from ochs, drop the tip to be 45 degress towards the ground.

Step back passing

Pflug: left foot forward, arms straigh and down in front of you at 40 degrees angle with the flat of the blade facing the line of attack (right). and thumb on the back of the flat. (reverse for other side)

Eisenport: push forward pflug

emphasis: view the combination of pflug, ochs, eisenport, schlussel as a cone with which you defend yourself.
emphasis: The point must always be towards your opponents midpoint.

Last guards:

Zornhut: left foot forward, wieght on right leg, blade resting on right shoulder, with the tip pointing downwards.

Schlussel: start in ochs, drop the cross into the crook of the forward elbow.

Activity L1: Work through the above guards in order shown slowly.

Follow on: work through [pflug, ochs, eisenport, schlussel] in pairs moving for advantage and position.

Activity L2: Stand in place, switch from left foot forward to right and back again, oberhut long edge from both sides. [Wrath cuts].

Follow on: Gradually increase the speed while reducing the steps. ie: cut faster to the point of doing two cuts in a single step.

emphasis: keep moving your feet
emphasis: make sure to use the v grip when cutting and feel the edge alignment.

Activity L3: Stand in place as L2 and cut long edge unterhauw (nebenhut, langort, ochs, einhorn)

Follow on: go from unter to ober

Activity L4: Safe behind a sword, A defends with pflug, B attacks with ober and unter.

Short edge to long edge

Activity L5: Stand in place exercise like L3, start left foot forward, Short cut from right to left, long edge cut from right to left and step. repeat.

In depth: Left Ochs, Hangetort (right foot forward), cut around your head by bring the blade back on the right and cut left to right into langort and step, right weschel, right nebenhut, right einhorn, right ochs, right hangetort. Repeat.

Follow on: Do this from bellow.

emphasis: its all about the flow, from stance to stance

Activity L6: Paired Exercise, B left foot forward, A cuts Oberhauw at B, B short edge cuts the weapon away while first step of right foot to the front and out, then long edge cut and step left behind right.

B starts in [Ochs, Einhorn, Wacht, Tag]. Basically doing a Krumphauw followed by [zornhauw, shieldhauw].

Follow on: Same exercise from below, A still attacks from above.

Follow on: Apply from both sides against the same attack, experiment to understand application.

Activity L7: A performs left right zorn attacks, B does short edge long edge.

Follow on: One step out of phase, both short long each other, going for the weapon and the body.


Activity L8: crooked strike from dusack with two hands, cut in a figure of 8, long edge, short edge. Crossing and uncrossing the arms. Must keep the thumb on the shield of the blade.

Principle: Cut with an edge, then follow up with the other. IE: Short edge into long, long into short.

Follow on: use short edge from right hand side, instead of long edge from right hand side.

emphasis: you are cutting from your right side, aiming to have the tip of the blade hit to your opponent on their right shoulder, (on your left side)

Follow on: Pair up, A obers, B krumphs.

emphasis: Must place hands out to the side.
emphasis: Must cross over the line between A and B, then move both hands to the other side.

Activity L9 Flow drill, A obers, B krumphs. For A strike and then let blade be deflected down to the side of hit then pull blade back around head for another strike.

Activity L10: Flow drill, both perform krumphauw against each other however just out of phase, so one long edges into a short, etc

Sword Strikes and Defenses

Refer to Dusack > The Secondary Cuts > Observations.

Oberhauw (High cut) counters everything directed at you besides another ober. Zornhauw (Wrath cut) counters an ober directed at you.

Oberhauw is the fastes cut to make

Wrath, Starts from above or wrath guard

Zwerch (not happy with this description):

  • Start in Wrath guard on the right. (left foot forward)
  • Opponent cuts wrath at you
  • cut their blade away by bringing the flat of the blade infront of you from right to left.
  • Then keep moving the hilt to the left, and twist your right hand so that thumb is upside down (palm up) and this makes the sword strike from the right.

Activity L11: Do [Ober (High), Zorn (Wrath), Zwerch (Thwart)] cut to Langeort from left and right. Then Schrankhut and continue from other side.

Do these in isolation.

Follow on: Pair up, both stand square, facing each other, A with thumb on the flat does safe behind the sword, B peforms just one of the above cuts, left and right.

Activity L12: Go from Zwerch to Zorn and back, To show striking to the four openings and simultaneously guarding the 4 openings.

Digression on Meyer Square: Key points

  • If you attack on the right half, your hands must be on the left half (and vice a versa), division across the vertical line.
  • There are exceptions like shieldhauw where you divid on top bottom halfs (attack top with hands in bottom) (horizontal Line)
  • point of the cutting pattern is to remember you are exposing yourself as you are attacking.
  • NB Hands cant be on the horizontal or vertical line, must be in a quadrant that is not the one you are attacking.

Activity L13: A attacks Zornhauw, B counters schielhauw.

Schielhauw: This is a High line cut. Left foot forward, as your opponent cuts perform a counter cut, as you cut step to the right, and turn blade so as to hit with short edge. Aim to hit the blade with your forte and your opponent with your foible. Similar to Krumph except hand and blade are on the same side.

emphasis: thumb against the flat, can be down with short or long edge. Think krumph from above.
emphasis: Person doing the Zornhauw must keep where they place there hands in mind, ie, attack right quadrant, hands in left quad.

Follow on: Krumph Schielhauw flow drill

Follow on: Pick Two cuts flow drill

Follow on: Pick 3 Random cuts per person flow drill

Follow on: L12 Zwerch to Ochs, Schiel to Pflug.

Activity L14: Aim here is to work through the cuts [Ober, Zorn, Krumph, Zwerch, Schielhauw] while working through the Meyer Square standing in place.

Follow On: Moving forwards and backwards

Activity L15: Experiment time. A cuts at B, B peforms one of the above 5 cuts and then at the moment of bind changes it to a different cut. Do this slowly before going fast. EG: Zorn into Schielhauw. Try do all of the possible combinations.

Activity L16: A attacks B in all four openings, in order, (for eg, ul, br, bl, ur), B cuts to (zwerch into ochs, schiel into pflug)

Follow on 1: A attacks B while A advances and B retreats, B defends as above, at a moment in time chosen by A, A says “switch” and then A and B switch, B attacks and A defends. Keep the flow going with no pauses going back and forth. Attack must keep the principle of attack structure, ie (high, low, low, high) or (low, high, high, low).

Follow on 2: As above, however instead of attacker saying switch, just stop attacking. The defender must watch for the right moment and then take the initiative to launch the attack.

emphasis: both sides use the same cuts to attack and defend. ie, just the limited sub set discussed so far

Follow on 3: From the weapon to the body to the weapon to the body. Both do a dusack flow drill where holding the longsword with one hand, attack the person, then the weapon. use attacks as defences, stick to just the 5 cuts discussed so far.

Expanded info: The exercises are meant to promote free flow between guards, attacks and parries, primarily using “master strikes”, i.e. Zornhau, Zwerchhauw, Schielhauw, Krumphauw and Scheitelhauw. While it may initially seem as if the fencers take turns in attacking and defending, once both are using primarily the master strikes, the difference in actions between the two become very small, and is more down to a very slight difference in who strikes before the other. This difference is often difficult for the viewer to perceive, but is felt by the fencers. Still, make sure to not fall into the trap of becoming static or just exchanging blow/parry, as that is the exact opposite of the goal of the exercise, which is to enable you to strike and defend from any stance against any incoming attack.

Follow on 4: As above L16-F3, however mid way through the engagement start using both hands.

Secondary Cuts

Activity L17: Windthauw from the left:

  • A cuts zorn at B
  • B Stands right foot forward in olber, cuts up from below left with arms crossed. (hilt on right side, blade on left side) to meet A’s blade in a bind

Optional 1: move point towards face, step with left foot forward and thrust in.

Optional 2: Step far out to the left and cut long edge at his arm (ober, zorn)

Optional 3: then cut to A’s left side (not at A) as push, opening A up, followed by an attack to the face from the right. Or anywhere from the right.

Optional 4: Rotate the blade up and over and around A’s blade to bring B’s hilt up with the pommel pointing upwards. Then strike A with pommel. Helps to put fingers under blade? sword rotates around the thumb as placed at the junction of the hilt and the cross guard on the short edge side.

Follow on: Windthauw from the right. Basic principle is raise the long edge to the roof. from the right the arms don’t cross. Just raise long edge straight up, reverse left hand grip. with hilt to the right, blade to the left. Apply Optionals 1-4.

Flow games

Activity L18: B cuts unter left right in flow, A looks for an oppurtune moment to attack, B cuts with the shortest possible long or short edge cut with the most direct path. Do in a flow. Post counter do a zorn attack in flow.

Activity L19: Targeted Sparring. Figure out 2 long range techniques (a particular cut, or thrust, or disengage) and 1 close range. Slow PAT sparring at 30% speed with the aim of using the footwork, and opening ideas as shown here.


What to do after the first attack from an opponent, here are some thought to keep in mind. General guiding principles so to speak:

  • (Stay in the bind) Simple parry and counter attack from the bind
  • (Leave the bind) simple parry into bind, disengage and cut around at a different opening
  • (attack the same opening) you attack, he blocks and presses out and you wind and attack the same opening.
  • (Stay in the bind, but attack around the sword)

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