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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Apr, 2006 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a question about the 'touching the blade" issue. You sometimes see the thumb pressed against the base of the blade in some styles of grip. The fellows at Ochs mention the "Thumb grip" when delievering certain strokes, but you also have the 'thumb pressed on top of the cross" grip, which is nessicarily against the blade.

So is would seem that touching the blade there is normal.... or am I missing something? Do they 'always' clean it somehow after touching it this way?

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Apr, 2006 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The thumb on the blade is primarily a German thing. It's used to support the blade during certain strikes, such as the zwerchau, in which the thumb supports the base while the sword makes a horizontal strike above the head into ochs. I've never seen it used in other styles. Nonetheless, I don't think medieval warriors were too concerned about getting a finger print on the blade, at least when compared to a modern swordsman... I'm sure when they had the chance they wiped it off. Happy
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Jeff Ross




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The use of gloves will also protect the blade to a great extent.

Jeff
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a 15th century Italian painting of St. George. He seems to be wrapping his thumb and index finger around the crossguard and ricasso. Maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me.


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Herbert Schmidt




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In swordplay - today and back then - you almost always use gloves which makes it not much of an issue.
Anyway you would have your blade lightly oiled or you wouldn't have cared much for the blade. Either way it is not really an issue.

To take the good analogy from Peter Johnsson - people today use their cars in all sorts of ways which makes them vulnerable to scratches and little dents. Just think of a parking lot.

Herbert

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Herbert Schmidt wrote:
In swordplay - today and back then - you almost always use gloves which makes it not much of an issue.


Hi Herbert,
I don't know that I agree with you. I've seen too many illustrations that do not show gloves at all. Most medieval manuscripts in fact show ungloved fencers. That doesn't mean gloves weren't used, but I wouldn't say that they were almost always worn.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
There's a 15th century Italian painting of St. George. He seems to be wrapping his thumb and index finger around the crossguard and ricasso. Maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me.


It looks like the standard "ham fisted" grip to me. I haven't seen anything that involves using the thumb to wrap around the guard, and that would seem awkward to me. (But then again, if I didn't study from the Liechtenauer tradition, I probably would think the thumb being on the flat of the blade was awkward as well!)

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Wolfgang et. al.,

I hate to be the nit-picker here, but the picture is actually of St. Michael, not St. George. He has wings, so he's the angelic character, not the mortal.

I've always loved that image.

All the best,

Christian

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Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian Henry Tobler wrote:
Hello Wolfgang et. al.,

I hate to be the nit-picker here, but the picture is actually of St. Michael, not St. George. He has wings, so he's the angelic character, not the mortal.

I've always loved that image.

All the best,

Christian


Ah I see Happy
Thx for the clarification.

On the thumb grip: I think that this technique changed or disappeared in Germany as time went by, at least I get this impression when I look at later complex hilted longswords from the mid 16th century. A lot of them offer more hand-protection but at the same time make it increasingly difficult (or impossible) to use the thumb-grip.
I've seen a longsword in the armoury in Ingolstadt that featured a thumbring just like a cut and thrust singlehander.

On the other hand, if you look at the woodcuts in the Joachim Meyer Fechtbuch you see the fencers employing the typical thumb-grip.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 8:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:

On the thumb grip: I think that this technique changed or disappeared in Germany as time went by, at least I get this impression when I look at later complex hilted longswords from the mid 16th century. A lot of them offer more hand-protection but at the same time make it increasingly difficult (or impossible) to use the thumb-grip.
I've seen a longsword in the armoury in Ingolstadt that featured a thumbring just like a cut and thrust singlehander.

On the other hand, if you look at the woodcuts in the Joachim Meyer Fechtbuch you see the fencers employing the typical thumb-grip.


Hi Wolfgang,
You bring up a point that I've had in my mind for some time now. You're right, longswords with thumb rings can't be employed with the thumb grip shown in the Liechtenauer tradition, and there are many Renaissance German swords that have them. And you're right: Meyer clearly shows the thumb grip in the same time period of these thumb ring swords. This has more to do with the fact that not all Germans faught in the Liechtenauer tradition moreso than because the Germans changed over time. There were many German schools that existed side by side with Liechtenauer's teachings, though many of us modern practitioners (myself included) are guilty of simplifying things and just saying "German" when we really mean "Liechtenauer". It's like a batto-ryu-jutsu practitioner saying he studies Japanese sword arts, even though there are many different Japanese sword arts.

But tying this back to your point, we moderns tend to lump things up into broad categories and paint it with one color, forgeting that not all Germans fought in one way. In this light it makes sense to see swords that actually hinder certain techniques of one school, or are specialized to allow certain techniques to be more easily performed from another school.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 9:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:

On the thumb grip: I think that this technique changed or disappeared in Germany as time went by, at least I get this impression when I look at later complex hilted longswords from the mid 16th century. A lot of them offer more hand-protection but at the same time make it increasingly difficult (or impossible) to use the thumb-grip.
I've seen a longsword in the armoury in Ingolstadt that featured a thumbring just like a cut and thrust singlehander.

On the other hand, if you look at the woodcuts in the Joachim Meyer Fechtbuch you see the fencers employing the typical thumb-grip.


Hi Wolfgang,
You bring up a point that I've had in my mind for some time now. You're right, longswords with thumb rings can't be employed with the thumb grip shown in the Liechtenauer tradition, and there are many Renaissance German swords that have them. And you're right: Meyer clearly shows the thumb grip in the same time period of these thumb ring swords. This has more to do with the fact that not all Germans faught in the Liechtenauer tradition moreso than because the Germans changed over time. There were many German schools that existed side by side with Liechtenauer's teachings, though many of us modern practitioners (myself included) are guilty of simplifying things and just saying "German" when we really mean "Liechtenauer". It's like a batto-ryu-jutsu practitioner saying he studies Japanese sword arts, even though there are many different Japanese sword arts.

But tying this back to your point, we moderns tend to lump things up into broad categories and paint it with one color, forgeting that not all Germans fought in one way. In this light it makes sense to see swords that actually hinder certain techniques of one school, or are specialized to allow certain techniques to be more easily performed from another school.


Sounds very plausible to me Happy
If we assume that the paintings in the Goliath manual are accurate, then there were people performing Zwerch- and Kumphau without the thumb-grip technique. Sometimes the fencers appear to use the thumb-grip, but instead of resting the thumb und the blade they put the thumb on the grip in a similar fashion. Again, maybe I'm looking at the pics incorrectly.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good call on the Goliath manuscript. I've used the thumb on the flat of the grip myself from time to time to avoid getting hit on the fingers.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:

If we assume that the paintings in the Goliath manual are accurate, then there were people performing Zwerch- and Kumphau without the thumb-grip technique. Sometimes the fencers appear to use the thumb-grip, but instead of resting the thumb und the blade they put the thumb on the grip in a similar fashion. Again, maybe I'm looking at the pics incorrectly.


Hi Wolfgang,

In my opinion, some of the illustrations in Goliath are suspect. Goliath is an incomplete, and partially illustrated, redaction of the 1452 von Danzig Fechtbuch. In the case of the Zwerchhau, the illustration doesn't jive with the text, which does specify the thumb grip.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Christian,
Is there an English translation of Goliath that's publically available? I've lurked on some of the discussion about Goliath on SFI, and find myself wishing I could just read it myself. Happy There're a few things in it that seem like they'd either change some interpretations of mine, or support certain others, but I can't be sure without a closer look that I'm unable to do.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Hey Christian,
Is there an English translation of Goliath that's publically available? I've lurked on some of the discussion about Goliath on SFI, and find myself wishing I could just read it myself. Happy There're a few things in it that seem like they'd either change some interpretations of mine, or support certain others, but I can't be sure without a closer look that I'm unable to do.


www.schielhau.org

Big Grin
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, Wolfgang!

Funny thing is that I've been to their page a million times for Meyer, and for whatever reason never looked at Goliath there. Happy

Off to do some reading...

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The position of the thumb is also much less critical to execution of some of these German style moves when sword grip length is increased to 8" or longer (which I like to believe actually was something of a trend for duelng style swords...i.e. the Albion Munich..... between 1300 to 1500 A.D..) It largely has to do with leverage or the torque/ moment between positions of the two hands that goes up dramatically with just a couple of extra inches in that grip length.
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Thu 20 Apr, 2006 11:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The angel shows just what I mean by a 'standerd grip' with the thumb over the crossguard, as opposed to the ochs "Thumb grip."

And whilst the angel is using gloves.... not everyone would be.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Fri 21 Apr, 2006 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has anybody actually tried to do a Zwerchhau or Krumphau with a sword having a thumb-ring? Is that even possible without taking the thumb out of the ring? Question

Another theory: Maybe the complex-hilts (thumb- and finger rings, half and full baskets) where the reason why those master-strike like techniques dissapeared from fencing. On the other hand I know almost knothing about fencing with such swords, so I could be totally wrong. As far as I know Hungarian saber techniques include downward cuts with the (clipped) backedge. Just wild guessing on my part here Wink
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Apr, 2006 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wolfgang Armbruster wrote:
Has anybody actually tried to do a Zwerchhau or Krumphau with a sword having a thumb-ring? Is that even possible without taking the thumb out of the ring? Question


I have, and they feel awkward, though not impossible. I found that yes, I did have to remove my thumb from the ring to do so.

Quote:
Another theory: Maybe the complex-hilts (thumb- and finger rings, half and full baskets) where the reason why those master-strike like techniques dissapeared from fencing. On the other hand I know almost knothing about fencing with such swords, so I could be totally wrong. As far as I know Hungarian saber techniques include downward cuts with the (clipped) backedge. Just wild guessing on my part here Wink


I don't think so... those types of strikes can be seen in various forms of fencing beyond the days of the longsword. My personal opinion is that the thumb ringed swords are excellent for Silver's "downright blows", which would probably be a little more common on the battlefield. Strikes such as a zwerchau, while still plausible, particularly as a counter thrust, would probably be a little less common. So in my eyes, swords that have thumb rings were probably intended to be a little more specialized for this type of combat. But once again, that's just my thought, I don't actually have any concrete evidence for this.

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