Mair’s Sickle fight 3: Incisio Contra Habitum Hostis Vellendi   1 comment

From the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The moment of Patiente’s counter-strike, Agente on left, Patiente on right.


Translation by Rachel Barkley

Incision against the Position of an Enemy Pulling Away

In this fight, if you will have come up nearer to your enemy than before [1], you will place forward the right foot and you will grasp the sickle in the right hand against him. You will hold the left hand to your left thigh. Thence if you will have pursued with the left foot you will graze the head of the enemy with the sickle. [2]

But if he has attempted the same against you placing forward the right foot, you will hold the sickle stretched out with your right hand, you turning the enemy, you will repel his blow on your right side, the left hand having been applied to the left thigh[3]. Thence however if you will have applied the sickle to his right arm, you quickly turning tear yourself away.

If by the same reckoning he has attempted to attack you, with your left hand grab his right hand and if you will have moved away from the blow of the enemy to your right flank, immediately plough up his head on the left side. You will retreat backwards. If the enemy  has moved backwards, quickly you should press on the retreating enemy and you will graze him on the right hand with the sickle.


[1] Starting within measure.

[2] Latine “perstringere”, which means “to graze” or “to scratch.” Obviously, you are not meant to make the kind of fatal blow that proscindere indicates.

[3] Your own thigh.  Attempts at this point to apply the left hand to the opponent’s thigh did not go smoothly.  Also, the application of the left hand to the thigh seems to be a means of keeping it out of the way, also possibly providing counter-balance as seen in modern strip fencing.


Interpretation by Owen Townes


Close measure
Right foot forward
Left hand at Left side
Sickle held forward and vertical

Close measure
Right foot forward
Left hand at Left side
Sickle held forward and vertical


Enters with Left foot[2]
Descending strike to Patiente’s head

Step forward[3] with R foot to void
Strike A’s R arm

With Left hand grab Patiente’s hand [4]
Rotate to Right
Onside descending cut to head [5]

Retreat from Agente’s cut

Pursue with passing steps and strike Patiente’s Right hand [6]

Observations and Notes:

[1] The only instance of an African that I’ve seen in these plates yet.  Still, a fairly impressive document that they were apparently teaching all comers how to fight. Or maybe the artist was just tired of old German guys.

[2] This step does not appear to be included in the art

[3] Also, to the inside, to provide for the void

[4] From underneath the Right arm

[5] Basically this pulls Patiente off-balance to his front, while also cutting into his face counter to his motion

[6] Mair tends to be vague about these final retreat/pursuit steps, but it seems to boil down to “If he slips away from you and tries to get out of measure, don’t let him.”

Posted July 3, 2012 by Wistric in German HMA

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