5 ways to train the Abzug (and to avoid an afterblow)

Keith Farrell (left) fencing with Federico Malagutti (right). Not much protective gear, but suitable gear for the type of sparring and to achieve the purpose of the exercise.

Keith Farrell (left) fencing with Federico Malagutti (right). By slicing or pressing into the arms after an exchange, Keith can prevent Federico from making a further strike or afterblow, keeping himself safe in the Abzug. The action does require correct body structure to support the slicing or pressing, otherwise the opponent will be able to use strength to push through it and land a hit anyway.

The medieval and renaissance German martial arts (particularly those with the longsword) include the concept of the Abzug, or the “withdrawal” from an exchange.[1] Not only must a practitioner be able to enter safely and effectively with a blow, you must hit cleanly, and you must also withdraw under cover so that you can remain safe even after landing a hit.

Regardless of your personal point of view on the “afterblow”[2] and whether or not you think it is a good thing for practitioners to use in their fencing, it is nonetheless obvious that it is better to be able to protect yourself at all times and never to receive a hit that could have been parried easily if only you were paying attention.

To this end, I will suggest a few exercises and ideas to add into your regular training, to help promote the Abzug and to help defend against afterblows in sparring.

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Review of the Trnava from Regenyei

Recently I acquired a Trnava feder by Regenyei. The Trnava differs quite a lot from Regenyei’s standard feders, so I thought it would be worth doing a short review. There are different models of the Trnava, so you could buy a Trnava light if you wanted a slightly lighter sword. I decided to go for the original Trnava, which is heavier.

The weight is the most obvious difference. Regenyei’s standard feders are listed on his site as being 1.4 kg, while my Trnava weighs in at 1.77 kg. From a historical viewpoint, longswords of both these weights are known; however, the standard feder is underweight compared to the average 15th or 16th century longsword, while the Trnava is heavier than average[1].

While heavier, the weight of the Trnava is in no way unreasonable. One of the benefits of a slightly heavier sword is that it does a much better job of testing one’s structure. The first thing I noticed when cutting with this feder was that the weight of the sword generates quite a lot of forward momentum, which means the sword pulls you forward. You can either let the sword move how it wants to, and follow after it, which is especially useful if you want to make use of a fast Vorschlag from quite far away, or you need to have suitable grounding so that the sword can’t pull you off balance.

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Review of Edgebana 2015

Keith Farrell and Mark Wilkie sparring with sabres at Edgebana 2015.

Keith Farrell and Mark Wilkie sparring with sabres at Edgebana 2015. Photo by Thomas Naylor.

Last weekend, I participated in the Edgebana 2015 event at the IHA in Dundee. The event contained five competitions: synthetic and steel sabre, synthetic and steel longsword, and cutting. I decided to participate in all five competitions as a challenge for myself. This article will cover my thoughts and the goals I set for myself for the event.

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My updated 7 rules for instructors

Back in 2013 I wrote a post called Teaching Skills, and Presenting a Class, in which I presented seven rules for instructors. This post then inspired several other posts on the same subject[1] [2] [3]. However, as I said in my original article, we should all be trying to improve our skills at instructing, and as quite some time has passed since I wrote the article, I thought it would be worth revisiting and updating it.

I think the original rules are still good rules, however some are slightly redundant, and others too specific. We should always be trying to convey information to our students as effectively as we can, and this includes not giving them redundant information, and focusing on teaching them general principles they can apply to a wide variety of situations, rather than focusing on very specific applications of technique that they can only use in specific situations. Rules for how to instruct therefore should cover a principle of teaching that can applied to many situations, rather than being a specific rule that only applies in some situations.

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Review: the “Museum Replica” Feder from Regenyei Armory


I recently acquired one of the “Museum Replica” feders made by Péter Regenyei, and I would like to take the opportunity to write a review of this training tool.


Daniel Jaquet of GAGSchola took some measurements of an original federschwert[1] in the Swiss National Museum in Zürich, and provided these for Péter to make a replica. Péter writes on his website that his replica is 95% accurate to the original, which seems like a reasonably faithful reproduction.[2]


The specifications of the feder that I received are very slightly different from the specifications provided by Péter on his website, but it is important to note that since he makes each item by hand, it is only natural and reasonable to expect some minor variations.


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