Live Introductory Longsword Lesson


  • oberhau (pronounced like "ober-how")
  • vom tag (pronounced like "fom tag")
  • twerhau (pronounced like "tver-how")



  • I'm Nathan Weston, longsword instructor at Athena School of Arms
  • Today I'm giving a basic lesson in the use of the longsword

You'll need something to swing: stick, spatula, blunt sword, etc.

Before we start, check the space around you

  • Make sure you have room to swing your sword-like object safely
  • Look out for light fixtures, nearby furniture, pets

First, we're going to set up our basic stance

  • Feet about hip width apart, knees slightly bent
  • Put your right hand on the sword, just below the crossguard
  • If you don't have a crossguard, put it about 6 inches from the bottom of the stick
  • If you're left handed, you still put your right hand on top
  • Hold your arm straight out in front of you
  • Put your left hand on the sword, just below the right hand
  • Notice that if I extend my index fingers, they both point straight ahead
  • Bring the swords back to your right shoulder. Both index fingers should still point forward
  • Don't hold the sword like a baseball bat it will twist as you swing it and you won't be able to cut well
  • Finally, step back with your right foot
  • This position is called "vom tag" (from the day/roof/etc)

Now we'll learn how to cut

  • Hold the sword in your right hand only, with the thumb and index finger
  • It will tilt backward in your hand
  • Squeeze with the lower three fingers to snap it forward
  • You may feel the momentum of the sword pulling your arm forward let it go
  • Now put both hands on the sword, and squeeze with both hands
  • Reach out with your arms and let the sword swing all the way down toward the ground
  • Turn your hips and shoulders, let the sword pull your body forward, and take a step as you cut

Now we'll cut from the other side

  • With the right foot forward, bring the sword to your left shoulder
  • Cut from left to right, while taking a step
  • Alternate right and left cuts, taking a step with each one
  • When you run out of room, turn around

Next, we'll learn how to defend against a cut

  • For this section I'll have a stand with a sword attached to it, to stand in for an attacker
  • If they cut in at my left side, I'm going to turn my hips and shoulders
  • about 45 degrees to the left, to face the incoming cut
  • I drop my hands to about the level of my solar plexus, and angle the point forward toward their sword
  • This makes a barrier that will cover my chest and head
  • If they cut down toward my hip, I can drop my hands a little further to block that
  • If they cut at my right side, I do the same thing on the other side
  • Alternate right and left parries, standing in one place

Finally, we're going to learn a cut that uses the other edge of the sword

  • The edge that normally faces forward is called the long edge
  • The edge that normally faces backward is called the short edge
  • We don't really know why they're the same length
  • By cutting with the short edge we can do some neat things, like attack and defend at the same time
  • This cut is called the twerhau, which translates as something like "lateral cut" or "crosswise cut"
  • To do this cut I'm going to use a different grip, with the sword rotated in my hand so the long edge faces left and the short edge faces right
  • My thumb comes up on the at of the blade
  • Normally we'd change into this grip as we cut, but for the moment we'll start in this grip
  • As the cut comes toward me I'm going to turns my hips and shoulders toward it, just like I did with my parry
  • But instead of dropping my hands, I'm going to lift them up so the sword covers my head, and catch the cut on my crossguard
  • Then I can step out with my right foot and snap the sword around to hit my opponent in the side of the head
Last modified
07/20/1969 - 15:17