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Literature / Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship

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Secrets of German Medieval Swordsmanship is a martial arts manual written by Christian Tobler in 2001. The source material is Sigmund Ringeck's own combat manual from the 15th century, which itself draws on the merkversenote  of Grand Master Johannes Liechtenauer. For greatest clarity, the book presents each concept with photographic instruction and three "layers" of commentary:


  • Firstly is the merkverse of Liechtenauer, from which everything is drawn.
  • Secondly is the translated commentary of Sigmund Ringeck, which elaborates on the merkverse.
  • Last is Christian Tobler's own contemporary interpretation.

Almost the entire book contains the second and last text commentaries. Liechtenauer's merkverse is included where it is referenced by Ringeck in the original text.

The book includes the following sections:

While Christian Tobler's book is quite comprehensive and of excellent general quality, modern understanding of these Medieval techniques continues to improve with study. This makes the book an excellent resource, but by no means an object of strict adherence. As such, it's important to question techniques that don't seem to work, or those that don't seem practical. All the same, the book's combination of clarity in text and comprehensive visual explanation of physical techniques makes it a valued asset to any student of German Medieval swordsmanship.


See Bloßfechtennote  for further explanation of the origins and techniques of the martial art presented. The 2009 documentary Reclaiming the Blade devotes a considerable amount of time to modern efforts to reconstruct European Medieval swordsmanship, wherein the German manuals are most influential.


This work contains examples of:

  • BFS
  • Blade Lock: The binden, binds. As opposed to the standard image, there were lots of techniques other than "let's see who'll push stronger": The various masters suggests meeting an adversary's strength with weakness and their weakness with strength. This basically means that if you are in a Blade Lock, step out and countercut an adversary who relies on pushing with strength, but push through and strike directly an adversary who moves out.
  • Diagonal Cut: The basic hau is one of these, though the Clean Cut is not guaranteed. Most diagonal cuts, unlike the trope, aim to end at the centre line of the target.
    • Played straight with the Zornhau Master Strike, which is employed for its power and decisive nature.
  • Master Swordsman: Master Liechtenauer and his students, and by a liberal extension, we may say the authors of the manuals in general.
  • Special Attack: There are five, the Master Strikes.
  • Sword Fight
  • Truth in Television


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