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Historic Longsword Combat Techniques
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There is nothing quite like standing in a rock solid stance gripping a solid, perfectly balanced blade which rises majestically above. One of the most widely recognized medieval weapons and often misrepresented by public media, the longsword served as the knights weapon of choice from the mid-1300's until the mid-1500's. This is on account of its sleek, lethal, and versatile nature.

Debut of the Longsword Originally a longer arming sword with space for two hands on the pommel, longswords gradually began to extend in length and evolve to incorporate both hands. Often referred to as hand-and-a-half swords or bastard swords, soldiers had plenty of options when it came to holding the sword. As armor quality improved, soldiers and knights did not need to rely as heavily upon shields in combat, which freed up their second arm to assist with the employment of longsword fighting techniques.

Schools of Longsword combat In addition to changes in the sword design, schools of the sword are documented as having become central to training. Specific medieval sword techniques were drilled into students by a host of sword masters hailing from both Germany and Italy. They built medieval sword fighting into an efficient and lethal art, which employed every aspect of the sword from the blade to the cross-guard and pommel. Longsword fighting techniques were, according to the German swordmaster Johannes Liechtenauer, pivotal in the mastery of medieval combat arts in general. Therefore he taught longsword fighting techniques as a cross-disciplinary subject.

Basic Techniques and Theories Longsword fighting techniques were designed to take advantage of the added length of the handle to provide maximum striking power behind the blade. By utilizing two hands more control could be delivered with each strike in addition to the increased power. This enabled the knight to utilize the weapon for powerful hewing and slicing strikes against lightly armored opponents. The longsword's most lethal attack, however is the thrust. As armorers improved the quality of the armor, it became increasingly difficult to penetrate with traditional weapons. Therefore thrusting became one of the principle offensive techniques taught and used in these situations. In order to increase the power and accuracy of the longsword's thrust, soldiers would adopt the half-sword position, whereupon the off-hand would grip the mid-point of the blade rather than the pommel, effectively turning the longsword into a short 'spear'. This fighting position enabled soldiers to accurately target crevices and joints with armor-piercing thrusts. Additionally, many throws and pins could be achieved from the half-sword stance, which provided opportunities to break joints or open the opponent to a critical strike that could penetrate their armor.

The Renaissance brought new advancements, which eventually displaced the longsword from common use in battle. By the end of the 1500's all the longsword fighting techniques had ceased to be taught in almost all of the weapon's schools throughout Europe, bringing a close to the days medieval sword prominence. From this point onward, gunpowder increasing became the greatest threat upon the field of battle.


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