Talk:Johannes Liechtenauer

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Comparison with asian martial arts, then and now[edit]

Fencing is a ridiculously misleading term.

Having looked at the unarmed combat contents alone, it's pretty clear that what is there is as sophisticated as any of the asian martial arts and is a complete unarmed fighting system in itself. It includes throws, arm and wrist locks, kicks, punches, elbows, knees, takedowns, attacks with and defences against knives, and more. In fact the unarmed "grappling" sections alone compare favourably against any and all unarmed martial arts you could care to mention.

Virtually all of the techniques I have seen have direct (basically identical) analogs in asian systems, despite several thousand miles (and hundreds of years) of separation, which isn't too surprising given the limitations of the human body. Slightly more emphasis on grappling than striking as you might expect from a military system which often deals with armour as opposed to a mainly civilian system which largely doesn't.


One thing missing from the Lichtenauer which you find extensively in asian martial arts is "forms" or "kata". These are sequences of movements which are learned and passed down teacher to student. There are several uses for them.

  • A library of techniques. The primary reason for forms is the tendency of the historic asians martial artists not to write things down. They coded them into forms and taught the form instead.
    • a transmission mechanism. They are the primary mechanism for recording and passing techniques on. One of the main disadvantages of this mechanism is the tendency for mutation; the tendency for the form to change over time.
  • Strategy and tactics; Typically a form will contain several sets of sequences which make sense when executed one after another against an opponent. Often taking you from a point of disadvantage (e.g. having been attacked) to having decisively ended the fight with the opponent disabled. In practice the techniques would rarely be executed exactly as in the form but they serve as useful examples of strategy and tactics that can be used in a fight.
  • A useful practice tool; by performing a form you are practicing all of the techniques found within it.

Recommend also: Category:Martial arts writers


Liechtenhauer is technically a fencer, yes, but not in the sense that the fencing category suggests. Fechten is just one of many german (also old English and Scottish) words used to refer to martial arts. It has no connection to modern classical or sport fencing. Liechtenhauer has no connection to modern classical or sport fencing. Classifying him as a fencer is therefore misleading. He was the Grand Master of Medieval and Renaissance martial arts, and belongs in 'martial arts practitioners' with other martial arts creators.

The new classification also doesn't make sense given that 1) his students and the later Masters of his style all still remained in the initial category, 2) you invented a new category just for him ('Germany fencers'), and 3) he was from the Holy Roman Empire, since there wouldn't be a political entity called Germany for centuries still. Jaerom Darkwind (Talk) 05:45, 17 November 2005 (MST)

Well, I suggest we create a more fitting category then, "German school fencers", or something, so far, I have lumped anything pertaining to HEMA into Category:HEMA, but it may be time to do subcategories. Liechtenauer was clearly "German", even if there was no "Bundesrepublik" in his day, so we can put him in Category:German martial artists at least. The point of the "martial artists" category is not that these were "creators" or something, it is just the default category lacking further specification. dab () 15:44, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Well, the fact that he spoke old German has, I think, been the cause of more confusion in the HEMA world. (For example, the idea that some have proposed that the style of the Masters who spoke Italian was completely distinct from that of those who spoke German, even though they lived in the same empire, trade betwen their regions was constant, and the content of their respective manuals is extremely similar.)
But anyway, I'd say that a Category:Masters of Defence would be great, and appropriate.Jaerom Darkwind (Talk) 13:27, 17 November 2005 (MST)
I daresay the German and Italian styles did have notable differences, even if they are not as different as some people believe. You have to realize that in the 15th century, "German" and "Italian" became the two big cultural poles in Europe. While it may be meaningless to talk of "German" nationality in the 10th century, it is certainly not meaningless in the 15th century. Anyway, I would perfer a category without the "Masters" characterization, so all practitioners can be listed, without debate of whether or not they were masters. Paulus Hector Mair for example probably wasn't a master, but it would still make sense to list him with the other fechtbuch authors. Fwiiw, these people were fencers, so it makes sense to list both Lichtenauer and Mair as "German fencers". Lichtenauer can furthermore be in Category:Martial arts school founders. dab () 08:42, 18 November 2005 (UTC)

Note: Germany is a modern nation. The correct term might be "Germanic" or "Teutonic", not German.

I'd say that Mair was almost certainly a Master. His manual is among the most extensive we have, and it is all original material (in the sense that it was not copied in whole or in any part from any manual that we know of). No one who was not a Master could have knowledge that extensive. As to the Italians v Germans, keep in mind that the two regions had a common army that was very active--Italians and Germans were fighting side by side all during this time period. It's highly improbable to assume that the two ethnic groups had dissimilar fighting styles in these conditions.Jaerom Darkwind (Talk) 17:02, 21 November 2005 (MST)

Modern Schools[edit]

A list of links to the web sites of organizations, groups, and schools make sense in some related articles. However, in this article the list of schools come off as just Link Spam. If this section remains then the list could grow to include links by every McDojo owner who has taken a workshop on Liechtenhauer's art. Unless someone can describe how these links add real value to the article I think we should plan on deleting this section.Ranp 23:45, 1 November 2006 (UTC)

I deleted the links to the schools. It just looked too tacky.Ranp 16:19, 2 November 2006 (UTC)

Cleanup, factuality[edit]

Much of this article was just lifted off the wiktenauer page. As there is nothing to suggest a free licence on that page, this is questionable already on legal grounds. But the wiktenauer page is also not a quotable source, and much of its content is itself questionable to say the least.

  • The suggestion that Liechtenauer may have been active in the 13th century is completely unsubstantiated. It is not true that the date of MS 3227a is "the only" clue to Liechtenauer's floruit. He taught unarmoured longsword, so he can hardly have lived in the 12th century, can he. There is no shred of evidence of any kind of unarmoured longsword fighting in the 13th century. Also, if we know anything about Lichtenauer the man, we know that he came up with rhymes like kunst dy dich czyret / vnd in krigen sere hofiret . This is 14th century German, as is frenchified terminology like mutieren or duplieren. So, there is a lot of internal evidence that Lichtenauer's floruit falls squat into the 14th century. We don't know if he was active in the 1340s, 1350s, 1360s, 1370s or 1380s, but we can be damn sure he wasn't active in the 1280s. It is questionable whether his language may still even classify as Middle High German, because the dates listed above are just on the conventional boundary of the period described by that term.
  • Also, the identification of Lichtenau as "Lichtenau, Mittelfranken" is completely unsubstantiated. His verses were transmitted orally, so we cannot identify their original provenience by means of dialectal analysis. There are lots of places called "Lichtenau" in Germany, so this is at best idle guesswork.
  • thirdly, the supposition that he may still have been alive in 1389 can be referenced, but it is simply guesswork. I think the idea is forwarded by Hils (1985), or perhaps even earlier, so it is hardly proper to attribute it to Tobler (2010), who apparently references this. The idea is simply that if Lichtenauer had been dead when the text was written, it would have been conventional to add "may God have mercy on his soul" or a similar formula to his name. But it is anyone's guess if this would have been observed in a notebook for personal use and not intended for "publication", as is the case with 3227a.

So, Lichtenauer's floruit was somewhere in the mid 14th century, give or take 20 years or so, so it is equally possible that he may or may not have been alive in 1389. Nobody knows. --dab (𒁳) 10:25, 22 January 2012 (UTC)