Higgins Armory Sword Guild

longsword demo grapple

The combatant in the foreground (Blue) has just converted the sword fight into a wrestling match against his opponent (Black). One of the techniques taught in the medieval German longsword tradition is closing the distance between combatants in order to grapple.

The photo shows a position from a combat sequence in Joachim Meyer's 1570 fight manual. This particular sequence teaches grappling techniques with a longsword.

Earlier in the sequence, Black delivered a horizontal cut from his left. Blue ducked under the cut and stepped right up to Black, under Black's attacking blade. At the same time, Blue released his left hand from the pommel and grabbed the blade of his sword to use the "half-sword" technique. As Black finished his cut, Blue pressed the flat of his sword blade against Black's arms, both trapping Black's arms and forcing him off balance.

At this point in the sequence, Black has few options. He can't use his sword because his arms are trapped, and he can't step backward without Blue's pressure pushing him off his feet. Black is still set up for combat at a distance, while Blue is at grappling distance with his sword set for close work.

Blue can continue the attack by bringing his point around to the right side of Black's head or neck. This target would be especially attractive if the combatants were wearing armor, since there would be a weak spot between shoulder and neck through which Blue could stab. 

But Meyer suggests ways that Black can escape, illustrated in a later photo interpretation.

Meyer's description of this exchange is:

As soon as the blow has hit, at once pull your blade directly up away, and remain thus with your hands up over your head, but let the blade then sink downward by your left side for a Low Blow against his right arm; then lower yourself down quickly with the upper body, and at the same time release your left hand from the haft and grip your sword's blade in the middle with it; thus go at his arms quickly up from below while he is up with his arms to parry the first stroke; when you now have thus caught his arms between your hands with the true edge of your sword, then wind powerfully with the point in over his arms.

Translation 2001-2009 Dr. Jeffrey L. Forgeng