Longsword practice 8-6-2010

Zornhau pressure drills plus counters to Zwerchhau attacks. Used the new Purpleheart Armoury synthetic type II swords for the first time. In escrima terms, a zwerchhau is an abanico.

Zornhau pressure drill

Partners begin with swords crossed as if both had entered with zornhau / number #1 attacks. The baseline is sword contact, very light pressure. The teacher moves around, and the student has to follow and maintain body alignment with the teacher’s changing position, and maintaining contact on the sword.

The teacher can feed various pressure variants: weak/soft pressure, allowing a stab; crossing without forcing the tip down, allowing the student to simply let it go and strike around the other side; crossing and forcing the tip down, encouraging a charge and pommel strike; or pressuring forward, threatening the student with the tip, requiring winding.

Teacher does not counter-counter-attack, in other words he lets the student win. Three minutes per role and work both right side and left side. Great drill. Aerobically intensive and technically challenging.

Zwerchhau attacks counters from Tobler FWGL pages 125-126

  1. Zwerch free attacks in response to zornhau attack. Teacher initiates with passing step and overhead strike from right high guard position. Student counterstrikes with zwerch. Student’s timing is early so free strike, no bind.
  2. Same as #1 but student’s timing is later and ends in bind. Student clears teacher’s blade with crossguard strike and swing zwerch around to other side. If teacher is late or soft, no bind, a free attack (e.g., 1). If teacher is overpressured to the side, just release and zwerch the other side, no need for crossguard strike.
  3. Teacher free attacks with zwerch. Student steps forward aggressively, beats the strike down with an oberhau, and body drives forward in pflug (point forward at face level, handle on hips). Teacher can change body position to bring point onto the student.
  4. Same as #3. The teacher attempts a zwerch to the other side to counter (see all #2 variants). The student brings the hands up and transitions from pflug to zwerch. This looks similar to winding to ochs… if you get confused remember, the student is doing a really small movement, really just raising the hands with the abanico. See FWGL page 126.

Note, we didn’t have time to get into this, but I thought a great pflug drill would be having a teacher hold the end of the sword and the student would move with the teacher, working stabs and maintaining good line throughout the teacher’s movements. We do a lot of these type of drills in the context of staff work. Very helpful to work movements under bodily pressure from a partner.

Notes/Feedback on the Purpleheart Amoury type II synthetics

I ordered a pair of synthetic longswords from Purpleheart Armoury. They differ a bit from the web page in that the crossguard seems to be machined from the same vinyl material as the blade. Today was the first vigorous partner practice with them. Overall they worked great. They are less “grabby” than steel, or stated alternatively, are slipperier in the bind. Weight is just about right and the blade is soft enough that we were able to make light contact (not striking contact, just incidental slicing and the occasional stab) to the body with just t-shirt protection. No problem. This would not work with a steel blade, obviously. There is some flex in the blade but not enough to do strong stabs without protection. They seem to be indestructible. The only drawback we noticed is that there are three rivets that connect the crossguard to the blade, and they continually work themselves free during practice. So we had to tap them back in a few times. At $75, they are a great deal, I would give them a grade A- overall. It would be a full A except for the rivets.

The blades seem to be machined from a solid slab of this vinyl material. As mentioned, it is a very strong, somewhat flexible and soft vinyl. The blades sustained a few nicks from my partner’s helm. Otherwise, un-damaged despite a pretty rigorous 90 minute training session.

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