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Notes on Liechtenauer #54

This is on the Crooked Cut (Krumphau)

“Strike the Crooked Cut deftly, cast the point towards the hands. He who uses the Crooked Cut well with a step, he is able to defend against cuts.”

Johannes Liechtenauer – 1389

So let’s go there! The only defense is…NOT…a good offense. Defense is wonderful. It is a kind of glory. Picture Miyamoto Musashi. The myth has it that after 69 victorious duels he grew tired of killing, decided not to do so anymore, and never killed again. But, the myth further teaches us that he couldn’t live without dueling! What to do? No problem. He would enter into duels, often with a wooden sword going up against mighty steel, and would simply fight without hurting his enemy until his enemy conceded that Musashi won. Do you see? He could engage essentially no real offense in this form of dueling. His defense was so impregnable that the enemy realized “I can’t touch this guy!” Now that is victory.

I’ll post a video of one of my favorite swordsmen showing the technical aspects of this master strike, so we won’t discuss those things right now. Focus, rather, on the last lines above, “with a step, he is able to defend against cuts.”

Remember, this is the second of our master strikes. The first was the Wrath Strike. It was introduced with these words, “That which cuts from above, the Wrath Strike (Zornhau) threatens him with the point.” For a second time now, out of two, our master strikes are shown to us by our master, with a defensive orientation. Can you see it? Your Wrath Strike will threaten your enemy with your point, no matter which of the cuts from above he attacks you with. This is defense!

Ah, but watch for the subtlety. With our wonderful Crooked Strike while we’re defending ourselves, absolutely, those forward hands of our enemy are at risk. Our master strikes always sneak offense in right inside the safest of defenses.

Oh mine enemy, watch your hands!

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