Today we will begin a series to compare two sword and buckler systems; I.33 and the plays of Andre Lignitzer. Through this series, we will explore the two systems’ overlapping principles as well as their disagreements.
I.33 starts each of its 40 plays with a cross in the top left of the image. To compare Lignitzer’s system with I.33, a cross that is most similar to Lignitzer’s play will be selected. If the sixth play in I.33 is referenced, then it will be identified as cross 6.
To start the series, we will begin by exploring Andre Lignitzer’s first play and comparing it to a section from cross 1 of I.33.
About Andre Lignitzer and His System
Andre Ligntizer was a fencing master assumed to have lived from the late 14th century to the middle of the 15th century. His work can be found in a number of manuscripts from the Liechtenauer tradition that are from the middle of the 15th century. Andre Lignitzer is credited with authoring techniques on half-swording with a longsword, grappling, dagger fighting, and sword and buckler fencing.
Lignitzer’s sword and buckler system is structured into six short but detailed plays. These plays include terminology used in Liechtenauer longsword systems, such as the Oberhaw, to communicate technique. Lignitzer’s work captures a practical and concise look at the use of sword and buckler which seems to be intuitive enough to adopt once a fencer has learned the longsword vernacular.
More information on Andre Lignitzer can be found here: https://wiktenauer.com/wiki/Andre_Lignitzer
Comparing Lignitzer Play 1 to I.33 Cross 1
Both systems bring the sword and buckler together when the sword is engaged and in front of the fencer. In the case of I.33, this is supported by the images that show the sword and buckler together. In the case of Lignitzer, this is supported by the advice shown in the first play that recommends to bring the sword and buckler together when delivering an Oberhaw.
Another similarity is that in both systems, a thrust is delivered from the bind while using the sword (and presumably the buckler) to cover the lines of attack from the opponent.
I.33 appears to be a bit more conservative in this approach; recommending to perform the thrust-strike when the opponent tries to attack the head. I.33 also goes a step further to state that only common fencers think they can attack the head when they are bound from half-shield.
Lignitzer, on the other hand, does not qualify when this thrust should be performed. It appears that according to Lignitzer, this thrust from the bind can be performed whenever an Oberhaw is delivered. It is also possible that this thrust from the bind can be performed whenever the fencer can safely bind against the opponent’s blade with an over-bind (snap-over).
While I.33 would prefer to position the sword into an antagonizing position, Lignitzer’s system would prefer to attack into a bind. Lignitzer’s action in the play is similar to the advice given in longsword in the Liechtenauer tradition.
In contrast, I.33 prefers to place the sword and buckler into a position to provoke the opponent into responding. However, if both fencers attack from the wards, then binding may occur. This would result in the same binding sequences I.33 instructs. Further evidence of this can be found in cross 25 of I.33 where the sword and buckler in a cut are illustrated similarly to half-shield.
The main difference between play 1 of Lignitzer and this section in cross 1 of I.33 is the way the engagement begins. However, once the bind occurs, either systems’ fencers could be in a position where a thrust may be delivered.
It is clear that both systems are concerned with clean engagements that emphasize attacking the opponent while not putting the attacker at risk. Both systems recommend occupying the opponent’s sword while delivering a thrust from the bind to achieve a safe exchange.
This emphasis on safe exchanges will be further explored when we dive in to the second play of Lignitzer where the two systems will seemingly disagree quite heavily on the “best technique” for the situation.