Previous Up Next

Chapter ‍4 Meisterhaue

The Liechtenauer system uses five strikes, the so called Meisterhaue (German plural of Meisterhau, master strike), which we will discuss in the following sections.

4.1 Zornhau

The Zornhau is basically a number ‍1 strike, executed more in larga mano manner (cf. ‍3.2) than in cerrada manner (cf. ‍2.3.2). We will not practice the Zornhau explicitly in the framework of our Meisterhau exercises, however, the number ‍1 strike will appear as an attack strike, against which a Meisterhau is practiced.

4.2 Scheitelhau

We have practised the Scheitelhau within a larga mano drill (cf. ‍3.4.3) and larga mano free flow (cf. ‍3.6). We will practice it here within a one-sided Meisterhau concept (cf. ‍4.7).

4.3 Twerhau

The Twerhau is executed in the thumb grip. In the normal grip position, the cross guard of the sword is in line with the forearm. In the thumb grip, the sword is rotated in the hand and the thumb is positioned on the flat of the blade. Usually, a rotation of about 45 is recommended, however, for clarity, we here apply a rotation of 90, so that the cross guard is perpendicular to the forearm. For a less than 90 rotation, the still mostly forward pointing edge is called the long edge and the mostly backward pointing edge is called the short edge (which is related to the fact that strikes with the short edge require closer distance). With our 90 rotation, the left edge is is referred to as the long edge and the right edge as the short edge.

The Twerhau can be executed from the right or from the left. To elucidate the movement of these strikes, we refer to them also as the “helicopter strikes”. The hands are above the head and the sword moves in a plane which is slightly inclined forward (like the rotor of a helicopter flying forward), so that it is intercepted by the head of the opponent. The sword can move clockwise or counterclockwise in this plane, striking the opponent’s head from the right or from the left (as seen from the executor of the Twerhau), with the short edge or the long edge, respectively. We denote the Twerhau from the right T1 and the Twerhau from the left T2.

A T1 strike defends also against a number ‍1 strike (cf. ‍3.2), so it is defense and attack at the same time. Likewise, a T2 strike defends against a number ‍2 strike. We practice this with a drill where the attacker attacks four times with alternating number ‍1 and number ‍2 strikes and the defender defends (and simultaneously counterattacks) with alternating T1 and T2 strikes. Differently from the large mano drills, here the attacker steps backward (with the exception of the very first step of the exercise) and the defender steps forward. We note the Meisterhau drills similarly to the larga mano drills with arrows indicating the steps (cf. ‍3.4), but we use separate rows for attacker and defender.

Both partners start with the left foot in front (as indicated by the arrows beside A and B below) in larga mano distance, thus the attacker needs to step forward in order to reach the defender. The defender also steps forward, because the Twerhau requires closer distance than a regular strike. With his second strike (and all the following), the attacker steps backward to regain appropriate distance for his regular strike, while the defender keeps stepping forward to stay in Twerhau distance. So the first lane of the drill looks like this:


From the second lane onward, all attacks are with backward steps:


After each lane, attacker and defender swap their role.

It should be noted that in early manuscripts it is stated that Liechtenauer’s system only used strikes from the right, so T2 would be excluded. Later manuscripts diluted this principle by saying Liechtenauer only meant the first strike of a fight had to come from the right.

4.4 Krumphau

Like we denoted the Twerhau as helicopter strike, we can denote the Krumphau as windshield wiper strike. It is also executed in the thumb grip, but the plane in which the sword moves is now vertically in front of your body like a wind screen (upright, like of an antique car). Your body and this plane are rotated about 45 to the right relative to your opponent, so your left foot is in front and the plane is intercepted by your opponent. Your sword hits his head from the right (your right) with the long edge.

The Krumphau defends also against a (horizontal) number ‍4 strike (cf. ‍3.2), so it is also defense and attack at the same time.

4.5 Schielhau

In our view, the Schielhau is just the left side version of the Krumphau. Similarly, the sword moves in a plane vertically in front of your body. Now your body and this plane are rotated about 45 to the left relative to your opponent, so your right foot is in front and your sword hits his head from the left (your left) with the short edge. The Schielhau defends also against a (horizontal) number ‍3 strike (cf. ‍3.2).

In the Liechtenauer system, the Schielhau starts from the right, like the faint of a regular strike, then it swings to the left to attack from there as described. In fact, the Krumphau can be executed similarly, fainting from the left and then hitting from right. Possibly they are considered different strikes in the Liechtenauer system just because all strikes should come from the right, hence the the Krumphau is directly from the right and the Schielhau with a twist.

Here, we consider Krumphau and Schielhau as right and left versions of the same strike, like the two Twerhaue. We denote them by KH and SH, and practice them in a similar drill as the Twerhaue. This is the sequence for all but the first lane:


Like the Twerhaue drill, it starts at larga mano distance and the very first attack is with a step forward. From then onward all regular attack strikes are with a step backward, as depicted in the above sequence. After each lane, attacker and defender swap their roles.

4.6 Drill with all Meisterhaue

We can combine the drills introduced in sections ‍4.3 and ‍4.5 into one drill which comprises all Meisterhaue (in the narrower sense). It is similar to the former drills with the very first attack being with a forward step. Afterwards, the sequence is this:


Note that the sequence of attack strikes is the same as in the larga mano drill in section ‍3.4.2, just with backward steps instead of forward steps.

4.7 One-sided Meisterhau concept

When practicing the Meisterhaue (in the narrower sense: T1, T2, KH, SH) against free (not prearranged) attacks, we notice a problem: We need to decide very early during an attack whether it comes from the left (strike number 1 or 3) or from the right (number 2 or 4), because the end positions of our Meisterhaue counter strikes are very different for the two cases. To discriminate between, e. g., number 1 or number 3 is not that of a problem, because our counter strikes (T1 or KH) are relatively close to each other and we can adjust our reaction later during the attack.

These observations lead to a modified concept in the application of the the Meisterhaue againts different attacks:

Number 3 attack:
This is countered with KH, as described above.
Number 1 attack:
This is countered with T1, as described above. Also intermediate counter strikes (something in between T1 and KH) are possible. The counter flows with the attack and adjusts during its course.
Number 2 attack:
This is also countered with T1 (not T2). This works as long as the strike is mostly from above. If it comes too much from the side, it is treated as number ‍4.
Number 4 attach:
This is received with the wing block (cf. ‍2.3.2). From there, the left hand immobilizes the hands of the opponent and a Krumphau is delivered. The left hand first helps to provide momentum to the Krumphau and then slides from the grip and pushes the opponents hands downward and to the right while the Krumphau impacts.
Number 4 low to the leg:
This is treated like number ‍4, just with a lower wing block.
Number 3 low to the leg:
This is countered with a Scheitelhau while the leg is taken back (cf. ‍3.4.3).

This concept does not require a discrimination between the attacks in their early phases. All attacks are met with the same side of the sword. In fact, when practicing this concept, one may find himself in a position which resembles pretty much the ward called Ox, just with the point a little bit off to the right of the opponent. With this concept, we have removed T2, which brings us back in line with the original Liechtenauer system (somewhat — our one-handed execution of the Krumphau with immobilization cannot be found in the available manuscripts).

We do now present a drill to practice this one-sided Meisterhau concept. We denote the Krumphau with immobilization by KH. The drill comprises also a low number ‍3 strike to the leg (denoted by 3l) and the Scheitelhau (denoted by Sch), cf. ‍3.4.3. It also comprises sliding double steps (cf. ‍3.4.4). This is what it looks like:


Differently from the previous Meisterhau drills, the number 1 attack is always with forward step, not only in the first lane.

4.8 The 43 strikes Meisterhau form

The form comprises all Meisterhau drills. In some lanes the attack strikes are practiced after the respective defense strikes, in other lanes it is vice versa, and some lanes are replicated. All this served to get the stepping correct like in the drills. Start with the left foot in front:


Previous Up Next