Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fiore vs. Liechtenauer

There have been a couple of recent (relatively) threads on Schola Forum that deal with the differences between Fiore and Liechtenauer. A lot of the discussion has seemed to focus on specific techniques used between the two - for instance, Fiore has the rompere de punta, scambiar de punta, and the colpo di villiano. The problem is that to me the answer isn't about specific techniques, but should be about tactics because tactics determine techniques.

Here's the kicker though - there really isn't much (if any) difference in the tactics used by Fiore and Liechtenauer.

The difference is in the footwork - specifically the first step in response to an attack. While there are no absolutes (especially not in the martial arts), in general we can say that:
  • Fiore prefers to step into the blow (in the direction of the blow) with the forward foot. This means that you are intercepting the attack before it develops it's full power.
  • Liechtenauer prefers to step away from the attack by passing diagonally forward with the rear foot. This means that you are intercepting the attack after it has reached it's maximum extension.
Lets look at one example - the defense against a right fendente/Oberhau. Both authors defend my cutting your own fendente/Oberhau into your opponent's attack. The difference is in the footwork. Oh, look! I made some pretty pictures!

Both figures are left-foot forward. The attacker will be throwing a right fendente/Oberhau with a pass forward of the rear foot.

Fiore - as Defender cuts into Attacker's blade, they step diagonally forward with the left foot.
Liechtenauer - as Defender cuts into Attacker's blade, they pass diagonally forward with the right foot.
Okay, so they step differently. So what? Well, the difference in that step leads to different measures - which is what leads to the different techniques we see. Both authors agree that if you win the bind, you thrust them in the face, so no discussion there. But in a neutral bind Fiore grabs the opponent's weak with his left hand while striking him in the face. Liechtenauer instead winds, displacing the opponent's sword and placing his own point at the same time.

This idea that Fiore steps into the attack and Liechtenauer away from it is repeated throughout each author's corpus of work.

BTW, Greg Mele and Christian Tobler taught a class on this at Chivalric Weekend 2010. I don't remember how I got the PDF of their class-notes, but I'm sure they are out there. Their class says pretty much the same thing I just did so my thanks to both of them :-)