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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 2:04 pm    Post subject: German versus Italian Longsword ?         Reply with quote

Oh, not a discussion of which is best " please " but rather some questions about how a theoretical fight between master of each style might highlight the differences and similarities in style.

I would imagine that in period a German style trained fighter might have to fight against an Italian style trained fighter and some questions or speculation on how this might look like might be interesting ? I would assume that each would train to be able to fight the other or at least study the strengths and weaknesses of each other's style.

( A heretical though but in the heat of a life and death fight a " practical " fighter might use a mix of both if they had to rather than staying strictly faithful to his prefered technique ? Naturally using what one knows best is usually better than changing styles on the fly, but some mix and matching might be observed if a master of either style had also studied the other style and mastered at least some of it ? )

Anyway, much better and relevant than the usual Knight versus Samurai type Topic, I hope !?

Before anyone is tempted to declare a winner, the winner in any specific fight would be the better fighter and what I am curious about is a theoretical discussion on how a specific German technique might be countered by the Italian technique and vice versa ?

I'm mostly throwing this out there to learn something and I am certainly not qualified or knowledgeable enough to participate except in a general way asking more questions or giving general tactical opinions and not get into the minutia of the specific techniques. Wink If I knew the answers or had a pre-established opinion(s) I would be writing them myself. Wink Laughing Out Loud Cool

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Richard Schneider




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ooohh. . . this should be interesting. I'm popping some popcorn and sitting back to watch. . . well, and to learn something too Happy
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Jakub Adam Janiszewski




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 4:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi, there. That's my first post on myArmoury so don't be to harsh on me( a specially for my "not so perfect English as I wish it to be").

Anyway back to the topic.
I've trained German longsword for about 3 or 4 years and changed recently (year ago) to Italian school (reviving teachings of master Fiore in my HEMA group). What I've noticed is that despite of so obvious differences, both traditions are really very similar. For example almost all 12 stances of master Fiore has got its equivalent posture in teachings of German masters. Similarities are also easy to notice when you look at basic concepts like footwork( excluding volta movement), giving the openings, constant attacks philosophy etc.

The more I train the more I believe that there was non specific tradition which you strictly had to follow. In fact Fiore himself mentioned that he was trained by many masters. He also use " Di corona" as for the other name for posta frontale which only proofs how interlinked those traditions were.
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Christopher H





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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 5:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fiore had studied under German teachers, so it's no surprise for his stuff to be similar... Would we need to specify someone other than Fiore to really look for differences?
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 6:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakub Adam Janiszewski wrote:
Hi, there. That's my first post on myArmoury so don't be to harsh on me( a specially for my "not so perfect English as I wish it to be").

Anyway back to the topic.
I've trained German longsword for about 3 or 4 years and changed recently (year ago) to Italian school (reviving teachings of master Fiore in my HEMA group). What I've noticed is that despite of so obvious differences, both traditions are really very similar. For example almost all 12 stances of master Fiore has got its equivalent posture in teachings of German masters. Similarities are also easy to notice when you look at basic concepts like footwork( excluding volta movement), giving the openings, constant attacks philosophy etc.

The more I train the more I believe that there was non specific tradition which you strictly had to follow. In fact Fiore himself mentioned that he was trained by many masters. He also use " Di corona" as for the other name for posta frontale which only proofs how interlinked those traditions were.


Oh, thanks for your first post here and welcome. Cool

I'm sure one can find differences if one focuses on style details but it's interesting that someone who has studied the German style(s) is now studying the Italian style(s?) and finding many points in common.

We do have large gaps in knowledge like I haven't read anything about a French style or very much at all about an English or Spanish style of the same period 14th to early 16th centuries. ( If there is some knowledge of other styles I think it mostly is of the later Medieval period and into the Renaissance ).

Asking questions again so don't take my words as positive affirmation of facts as they are mostly conjecture.

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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 7:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher H wrote:
Fiore had studied under German teachers, so it's no surprise for his stuff to be similar... Would we need to specify someone other than Fiore to really look for differences?

For 15th century Italian longsword, we only have two masters who left books: Fiore or Vadi. People who are into the 15th century German texts seem to think that not all are in the Liechtenauer tradition, and there are several different versions of the same commentary. I think interpretations of the English sources are still speculative, although Terry Brown's work looks promising. I don't think any of the 15th century longsword systems are radically different from each other, although some people will always emphasize similarities and some will emphasize differences.

Fiore's tactical ideal is to control the opponent's body and weapon (by techniques such as grappling both of the opponent's arms with his left arm, grabbing the opponent's weapon, or shoving the opponent's elbow with his left hand). He prefers double-time to single-time defenses, is willing to wait for his enemy to attack him, and doesn't like crossing his wrists. Does someone who knows another system want to make some similar generalizations?

Edit: Fixed typo
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Nicholas Rettig




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 7:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I probably know less about Italian style than anyone else posting and less about German than most people posting, so keep that in mind, I have to say if skill does not matter (if they were both masters) and if neither had some piece of equipment that gave him a huge advantage (like one being armored and the other one being in clothes) than I have no Idea. A sword is a steel bar with some sharp edges there's only so much you can do with it and I doubt there is a move that the Germans have that the Italians could not counter and visa-versa. My bet is they fight till their both too tired to properly fight and it just turns into an ugly brawl that the bigger guy wins. Or one guy gets unlucky and trips on a stone, or I mean the problem with a hypothetical fight like this is unless there is a clear advantage it becomes impossible to call without knowing the fighter. Also (on a different note) what weapon weapon would be typical of each style they are each mainly built around a two sided straight sword right?
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Christopher H





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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
Christopher H wrote:
Fiore had studied under German teachers, so it's no surprise for his stuff to be similar... Would we need to specify someone other than Fiore to really look for differences?

For 15th century Italian longsword, we only have two masters who left books: Fiore or Vadi. People who are into the 15th century German texts seem to think that not all are in the Liechtenauer tradition, and there are several different versions of the same commentary. I think interpretations of the English sources are still speculative, although Terry Brown's work looks promising. I don't think any of the 15th century longsword systems are radically different from each other, although some people will always emphasize similarities and some will emphasize differences.

Fiore's tactical ideal is to control the opponent's body and weapon (by techniques such as grappling both of the opponent's arms with his left arm, grabbing the opponent's weapon, or shoving the opponent's elbow with his left hand). He prefers double-time to single-time defenses, is willing to wait for his enemy to attack him, and doesn't like crossing his wrists. Does someone who knows another system want to make some similar generalizations?

Edit: Fixed typo

Your insight is much appreciated, thankyou!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas the emphasis of my question/Topic is more a comparison of systems for differences and similarities than trying to decide who would win as I mentioned in my first post: If " X " German technique was used the best or most probable Italian counter would be " Y " sort of thing, who actually won could be either and different for any two different fights or opponents.

One could also ask what, if any, weaknesses of one system could be exploited by the other system ?

For any specific fight the best and most skilled fighter would usually win I believe and many many factors including superior reaction times. good reflexes, strength, endurance/fitness, luck would affect the results.

Oh, a real fight is often very short and rarely become a long duration slugfest: Between equally matched " masters " there could be a very long period of observing and probing the other but the actual exchange of blows or a single successful blow would generally be very short and deadly which would motivate caution thus the long preamble before risking coming into measure ...... But, I'm just giving generalities in reality anything could happen.

A Topic like this is always risky if one speaks in absolutes and some tolerance for mere speculation(s) should be shown. Wink Big Grin

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From my experience interacting with Fiore practicioners and from reading a bit of the texts (the first text I read was actually Fiore), I think there is one crucial and fundamental diffference that, for me, renders Italian longsword compeltely unstudiable.

Here it is:

In German longsword, we use cool, manly words like "Zornhau!" and "Zwerchhau!" and "Duchrlauffen!" While in Eye-talian longsword they use horrible, sing songy words like "Posta di Dona" and "Dente di Chingiale" and "Bicorno!"

I mean seriously..."Bicorno! Bicorno! Bicorno! Dente di Chingiale! Fendente! Posta di la Donna Mobile! Qual Pume al vento! Muta d'accento — e di pensiero. Sempre un amabile, Leggiadro viso, In pianto o in riso, — è menzognero..." Is this a martial art or an opera??

Happy Happy

(Serious answer, not that much difference, I think. One that I don't think has been mentioned is that Fiore likes to withold the point in a bind, whereas Liechy likes to shoot it long into the face or chest.)

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 8:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
From my experience interacting with Fiore practicioners and from reading a bit of the texts (the first text I read was actually Fiore), I think there is one crucial and fundamental diffference that, for me, renders Italian longsword compeltely unstudiable.

Happy Happy


Michael, very very naughty Razz You know someone will take it seriously and get offended. Wink Razz

Well, just lucky for you that we don't have a French system with other " non-cool-German " names for stuff although my group uses it's own French versions of the German names for techniques ! ( Heresy Eek! ).

" LE COUP DE COLÈRE " : The Zornhau.

" LE COUP TORDU " : The Krumphau.

" LE COUP CROISÈ " : The Zwerchau.

" LE COUP LOUCHE " : The Schielhau.

" LE COUP CRÂNIEN " : The Scheitelhau.


Our French versions of the names of the techniques just to drive you crazy ..... crazieeeeer. Razz ( All written tongue in cheek. Big Grin cool: ]

NOTE: I find that " BICORNO " seems to slip into my bouting at times since our swordmaster showed us a little Italian style stuff i.e. I seem to like using it but not sure if I'm using it well but I some times use it to be menacing and centre line.

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Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Nicholas Rettig




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ja, Deutschland habt krieg gern. Thank you college for that German, three months and i probably mangled that. But back to my point, what I was saying is that in a sword fight you goal is to get the pointy part of your sword in the other guy and keep his pointy thing out of your body (much like a prison shower room, {sorry had to}). And I doubt that one style knows the invincible 10 pace death move from the end of Hero (the jet li movie). And given that they trained on very similar weapons I can't imagine that there would be a strike or grapple or throw or whatever that the other style has not accounted for. And finally it is impossible to discuss practice without discussing practitioner. And I realize these posts lack the imagination that this topic might require but you know just my opinion.
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Nicholas Rettig




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK just reread the original post and my posts were slightly out of order sorry about that, but not the shower joke I stand by that. But to further the conversation I guess this is more a discussion of response rather than versus. By that I mean how would a German master respond to x attack vs how would an Italian master respond to x attack. Well someone call an attack.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Rettig wrote:
but you know just my opinion.


I have no problem with opinion. Big Grin Cool

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Rettig wrote:
OK just reread the original post and my posts were slightly out of order sorry about that, but not the shower joke I stand by that. But to further the conversation I guess this is more a discussion of response rather than versus. By that I mean how would a German master respond to x attack vs how would an Italian master respond to x attack. Well someone call an attack.


Yes, if I understand you correctly it's not outcome it's like you said plus how they might respond to the other's typical attack and ripostes.

If we could take both systems chop them up into little pieces and basic principles put the puzzle pieces in the same box, shake and see what picture(s) we could come up with.

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David Teague




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 11:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean,

Silly topic IMO.

I hope everybody here knows that there was no unified German or Italian country at the time.

Both are valid systems, both systems produced renowned swordsmen. Both coexisted within the Holy Roman Empire, the Italian City states and the German City states.

Unlike today where we "German" students train with no "Italian" students near by, the 2 cultures coexisted side by side and the nobles had dealing with each other. Italians trained with German masters and Germans with Italians as we know Fiore trained with Germans and that Liechtenauer traveled" far and wide" in his studies before setting down his fight system in his secret merkeverse.

@ Nicholas. Please don't let the movies guide you on WMA or EMA. The fights are set up to tell a story and be entertaining, not martially sound.

I forget which period sword master said something along the lines of this... "If you both strike 5 times without hitting the other, you are both clods at the sword and nothing of the art." A good longsword fight should be over in 1 - 3 moves... 3-5 if they really are good. You can know hundreds of counters but if you misread the action... you're toast.

A swordfight is a math equation, once blades start movement, there is a diminishing amount of time to apply counters before somebody is struck X+Y+B= :dead as fried chicken. Long endless exchanges of blades only happens in drills and Hollywood.

So Jean, here's the deal, in period, if a practitioner of the German system met an practitioner of the Italian system in a Judicial duel, they both use every skill they had with a blade to be the victor...

and one of them would lose.

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

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"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."


Last edited by David Teague on Thu 01 Jul, 2010 12:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Christopher Valli
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jun, 2010 11:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
In German longsword, we use cool, manly words like "Zornhau!" and "Zwerchhau!" and "Duchrlauffen!" While in Eye-talian longsword they use horrible, sing songy words like "Posta di Dona" and "Dente di Chingiale" and "Bicorno!"

Yes, the German sword styles are definitely superior. The techniques sound angry and aggressive while the Italian names sound like specials at the local Italian restaurant Wink

In the end, no style is better than any other, its just swordsman to swordsman. If that's not good enough for people, I propose we have Christian and Greg fight to the death to decide for us Big Grin

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Jakub Adam Janiszewski




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 12:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The main difference between fiore and German masters is that he writes about battle situation where practitioner of his art is forced to fight against multiple adversaries. His teachings are also more systematized than German. We may laugh from the naming policy yet if we look at other sections of his treaty we can easily find out that names of positions and techniques are the same . What's more it is impossible to fully understand his teachings by simply omitting first few chapters by going strait to the longsword section( I know people who did the thing and end up with pretty much useless interpretations).

So after 4 years of German indoctrination, I found out that the Flos Duellatorum offers much more complete system where each of the chapters refer to another.
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David Teague




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jakub Adam Janiszewski wrote:
So after 4 years of German indoctrination, I found out that the Flos Duellatorum offers much more complete system where each of the chapters refer to another.


Hello Jakub,

Yes and no IMO. Flos Duellatorum is a very complete text, but you can learn a complete fight in the German system too... the big difference to me is that Flos Duellatorum starts with unarmed and builds up the students knowledge (as I understand it) and the German system teaches the principals of the "fight" with the longsword and then you learn other weapons. you might have to work with more than one manual in the German system to do so until the 16th century and Meyer.

Now in period, all squires and knights (and many of the peasant class) would know a basic fight ( the common fencer). It was the masters that would hone their fighting skills. It's easy to forget that. Squires started training at age 7...

Cheers,

David

This you shall know, that all things have length and measure.

Free Scholar/ Instructor Selohaar Fechtschule
The Historic Recrudescence Guild

"Yea though I walk through the valley of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou's sword art is with me; Thy poleaxe and Thy quarterstaff they comfort me."
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 01 Jul, 2010 1:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Teague wrote:
Hi Jean,

Silly topic IMO.

I hope everybody here knows that there was no unified German or Italian country at the time.

Both are valid systems, both systems produced renowned swordsmen. Both coexisted within the Holy Roman Empire, the Italian City states and the German City states.


So Jean, here's the deal, in period, if a practitioner of the German system met an practitioner of the Italian system in a Judicial duel, they both use every skill they had with a blade to be the victor...

and one of them would lose.

Cheers,

David


Actually it's good that you make these points as we may tend to see things in black & white / German versus Italian and from what you are saying here we may have two different traditions or styles but in period things where a lot more nuanced and a good fighter would know something of all the major styles. ( Well except maybe all the mysterious " secret " blows that every teacher wanted to keep secret and maybe never wrote down or are still hidden in an old forgotten very dusty book hidden in the sub-subbasement of the Vatican next to the Holy Grail. Wink Laughing Out Loud ).

Being practical men interested mostly in staying alive and winning fights the swordsmen of the period would use any trick or technique they could learn and probably where uninterested in keeping the art " pure " by studying only one of the dominant styles.

At least this the the way I interpret your post with maybe a little of my conjecturing added. Wink ).

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