Liechtenauers Kunst des Fechtens (‘Liechtenauer’s Art of Fighting’) was developed by Johannes Liechtenauer, a 14th century fencing master. Liechtenauer documented his teachings in cryptic verse, ostensibly with dual purpose: to help his students remember the fundamentals of his methodology, and to obscure those fundamentals from those not instructed by him. Fortunately, later fencing masters, especially those in the 15th century, published their own fencing manuals (Fechtbücher) which included and interpreted Liechtenauer’s verses. There exist today a wealth of source material, uncovered in libraries and private collections, which have caught the attention of martial artists and academics alike.
The system itself is primarily based on the use of the longsword, but also includes unarmed combat (grappling) and other weapons such as the dagger, Langes Messer (similar to a machete), sword and buckler, spear, and poleaxe. Classes focus on the longsword, the exemplar weapon of the system. The longsword is the most difficult of the weapons to learn and master, needing complete body coordination and discipline. Once learned, however, the fundamentals of the longsword are transferable to every other weapon in the system.
Our approach to study is heavily focused on body mechanics, and emphasis is placed on drills (solo and paired). As students progress, an equal amount of emphasis will be placed on test-cutting and sparring. Ideally each type of practice (drilling, cutting, and sparring) should inform and validate one another: you spar the way you cut, you cut the way you drill, etc. Student and teacher alike should train earnestly and honestly, for to do anything less would be a disservice to the art.
- Tristan Zukowski, Sword Class NYC Lead Fencing Instructor