Longsword Notes

These are from Christian Tobler’s interpretations of Johannes Liechtenauer’s longsword teachings.

Note, I am an escrima guy and look at this stuff through the lens of Latosa escrima concepts. I am gratified to have invested my time with Latosa’s concepts as they mesh quite well with the basic concepts of historical European weapons fighting. Since I am an escrima guy, it is quite likely I have gotten various terminology wrong or not using the right terms.


I find all information useful to some extent. I am not interested in who is arguing with whom.

Tobler Basics Notes

  • Von tag – hands high / tip up
  • Pflug – hands hip / tip up + forward
  • Ochs – ox = hands high, tip up + forward
  • Zuchen / Ahbnahmen – pulling out to re-attack
  • Durhwechseln – sliding out

Ochs is a lot like a roof block. but due to length of sword you have to shove tip forward to opponent, otherwise you are way off line of the attack.

Hitting drills

  • Striking from right, passing step
  • Same from left
  • Figure-8s with passing steps
  • Thrusts from pflug with various step combinations

Sensitivity drill patterns

  • Cross swords in left pflug, maintain point pressure on partner, readjust stance as necessary.
  • Do it on other side
  • Same thing with ochs, each side
  • Pflug vs. ochs… Ochs should feel like win

Note: don’t force it, don’t be super strong, just keep forward pressure on the blade. Keep shoulder back in the joint. Feeder releases, does side pressures, etc just to play around a bit and give attacker some material to work with. Feeder can do various things: let off pressure (attacker should push forward with BODY maintaining sword position. Tip of attacker’s sword should not follow the defender’s weapon but instead should move in.). Feeder can also do various sideways pressures to trigger the pressure responses cataloged below. Coaching tips: base of pressure is stance, and trunk. Too much arm involvement and you will end up doing crosswise pressure which is not what you want. Keep the arms close in with the pflug, don’t extend shoulders out of socket or arms too far forward.

Preemptive responses

  1. Passing step, left ochs (thrusting or striking with tip)
  2. Passing step, left pflug (thrusting) – extend the stab to threaten then body-absorb hands to hips and push forward?
  3. Attacker goes for lead leg, drop that leg back and strike to head
  4. Attacker goes for lateral or upward hit, large offline step with back leg circle (almost a tenkan) and strike to hands. Also try crossed-arm strike without back-leg circle.

Preemptive responses (attacked on right)

  1. Same 4 as above.

Zornhau (angry peasant) exchanges

Unless otherwise noted, attack is a #1 (strong side / right arm attack to head from the “von tag” which is a high position with the hands held at the right chest and the sword up). Footwork is a right passing step from left stance. Attacker initiates. Defender responds with same attack and parries. You meet in the bind. The following drill responses are meant to deal with various blade crossing positions and energy directions.

  • From the photos, timing aspect seems key… get on top of the timing, meet blade deep…
  • Experiment with arm position, Tobler’s photos show extended arm position, need to experiment with more balanced position
  • Attacker initiates (proper distance); feeder responds.
  1. Defender is weak or late. You can thrust to body or face.
  2. (Pulling out / Zuchen) Defender is strong, crossing mid blade, pressure is lateral. Offline step left, release sword entirely and swing sword around for #2 attack (wrists crossed).
  3. (Pulling out / Zuchen) Defender is strong, pressure is on you. Maintain pressure on the blade and only proceed with #2 attack once clear of the tip. (Either a quick upward jerk to clear the blade, or a fishtailing movement where tip remains high)
  4. (Snapping / Schnappen) Defender is strong, pressure on you and he is forcing the blade down, do similar to (3) but rotation occurs with blade tip low. Can do on both sides. From left lead, it will be false edge strike.
  5. (Sliding out / Durchwechseln) – Same general idea as In bind, defender is strong and forcing your blade tip down. Slide out to strike with pommel.
  6. (Sliding out / Durchwechseln) – Defender is parrying at your tip. Just withdraw it and stab / Ochs.
  7. (Winding) Wind to L Ochs from bind. Defender can raise his sword to respond, at which point you slide forward and raise your handle stab downward.
  8. (Winding with release) Same as 7, opponent presses sideways, release tip around bottom and stab on other side
  9. (Winding followed by slashing) Same as 7, defender raises hilt and offlines left. Offline left and slash hands.
  10. (Doubled / dupliere) From bind, do scalloped deflection with forward movement and strike to right side of defender’s face with long edge
  11. (Mutated / muterien) Variant of .. start the rise to left ochs, then roll tip to outside of defender’s blade and thrust downwards. Called “mutated” because you end up on the other side of his blade

You can vary these pressures in sequence to feel the differences.¬†Key here is that feeds vary in positioning and direction of force. We don’t have to vary power levels / crunchiness, in fact, an overage of power is dangerous and counter productive. Also, when practicing these, don’t chase bad technique by responding to a pressure that isn’t there, just because that’s the current drill.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *