Having trouble finding information as to WHEN to use particular guards

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Having trouble finding information as to WHEN to use particular guards

Postby SkaSoulja » Thu Apr 27, 2017 4:15 am

I practice German Longsword (KDF).
So, I am a rather forgetful person. My HEMA instructor has already showed me about 3 different times now WHEN to use each particular guard. He keeps telling me to look on the Internet (because I never remember to bring stuff to write it down) and I have been having trouble finding this particular information.
What I mean is when you are in a 'fight' and your opponent is in VomTag should you be in Pflug, or Ochs? I can never remember.
We do a lot of sparring and it is rather embarrassing when they stop and ask if you know what guard you should be in. I am very new, only been doing HEMA for about a month.
Please help!
A simple Ochs > VomTag would suffice.

David Kite
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Joined: Fri Oct 17, 2014 5:32 am

Re: Having trouble finding information as to WHEN to use particular guards

Postby David Kite » Mon May 01, 2017 5:07 am

IMO, I don't think of the guards in quite that way. Such as, when an opponent is in Vom Tag, I don't think there is a particular guard that I "must" be in. Either Pflug or Ochs have there respective advantages of what you can do from each, but neither one is better than the other, or more "appropriate"

You could alter the question somewhat, and rather than ask what guard should be used against what guard, you could ask what strike should be used against each guard. So, for example, if you opponent is in Vom Tag, you should think what strike (or other action) is most appropriate in a given scenario. The Zwerchau is traditionally the strike that counters (versetzen) Vom Tag, though it isn't necessarily the only option available. So you might consider what guards you could effectively strike a Zwerchhau against your opponent's Vom Tag.

Make sense?
David Kite

Tea Kew
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Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:27 am
Location: Cambridge, UK

Re: Having trouble finding information as to WHEN to use particular guards

Postby Tea Kew » Mon May 01, 2017 9:30 am

The short answer is "Vom tag, for everything". The obvious follow-on question is then "well, why would I ever be somewhere which isn't vom tag?", and that's where it gets complicated.

Each of the four leger ('guards') can do different things. For ochs and pflug, they allow high or low thrusts. For vom tag and alber, descending and ascending cuts. So: look at your opponent's position, decide on how you are going to attack it, and move into the appropriate position to execute that attack from. If you want to cut down at them, start in vom tag. But if you'd prefer to thrust up, start in pflug.

The section describing the vier vorsetzen (four displacements) gives you one way to solve this problem, by pairing four of the five cuts with a corresponding leger. Then you can easily look at their position and determine what attack to use, and therefore what position to start in. Since all of these cuts start from vom tag, that's particularly easy in theory.

Overall, 'guards' are quite unimportant in KDF. A guard is just a position from which you do stuff, and its the stuff you do which matters far more than the guard itself. Make a plan, go into the guard to start that plan from, and then do it.

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