Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Report on German Longsword Seminar at Gallowglass Academy

This last Saturday, June 21, eight students of the German longsword gathered at Gallowglass Academy to learn about the art from Josh Little of Ars Gladii, in Detriot, MI.

I started the day with a brief warm-up session of Farmer Burns stretching exercises, and then Josh got started. As there was at least one complete novice, Josh lead us through footwork exercises first.

Then Josh introduced the four major leger (sword positions) of vom Tag, Pflug, Ochs and Alber. We were then shown how to transition between the different leger.

When everyone seemed comfortable with the leger, Josh demonstrated the three major cuts in the German system: Oberhau, Unterhau and Zwerchau. We then worked with doing the three cuts from vom Tag.

With a solid grounding in the basics, a tired but satisfied group of students broke for lunch. Upon returning from lunch, Josh discussed the three all-important terms of Vor (Before), Nacht (After) and Indes. Josh explained that Indes is not just found when you come to the bind. Instead it means a decision point that can, and should, be found as you are making or defending from an attack.

Swords in hand, the students now started to learn about Absetzen, setting aside an attack. Josh emphasized that we should be watching the body movements of our partners as we were working through the Absetzen drills so we could start picking up on Indes as well.

First, we worked on how Oberhau can be used to break, and guard, against all three of the cuts. Then Josh had us work on Unterhau against Unterhau, and finally Zwerchau against Oberhau.

We wrapped up the day with these drills, and most of the crew departed to Gallowglass manor for dinner and much conversation.

Bright and early on Sunday, we all gathered to continue our session with Josh. I again started the festivities with the Farmer Burns exercises.

Josh reviewed the Absetzen drills from the end of Saturday. Then we started learning how to move on from setting aside the attack to flowing into counter attacks. Josh introduced us to Zucken, getting out of the bind. First we worked on Abnehmen, moving your sword over your partner’s and cutting to the head. Then we moved on to learn Durcwechseln, Changing Through. Finally, we worked on various windings.

To finish up the day we moved to a more free-form drill where the Agent, attacking partner, would tell the Patient Agent, defending partner, what attack was going to be made. It was then up to the Patient Agent to defend against the attack and move into a counter attack. When both partners felt comfortable with this drill, the Agent was allowed to use any of the three major cuts to attack, so the Patient Agent had to watch the body language and sword movement to decide how to defend.

All of us left the training hall well satisfied with the information that Josh had imparted to us.

I want to thank Josh for coming over to Gallowglass Academy. I am sure we will invite him back again.

Any mistakes made in this narrative are mine and do not reflect upon Josh’s training.