Sword Skills: Disarming and Throwing the Opponent, according to Roux

He may’ve been one of the most outspoken opponents of the Jena students’ thrust duel with the elongated “wälsche Banditendolch“—the “Frog” bandit dagger, as his colleague from the philosophical faculty, Dr. Scheidler, called the disgraceful French dueling sword.

But F.A.W.L. Roux continued to teach Kreußlerian thrust fencing with the “Rappier” way into the second half of the 19th century—both as a healthy exercise and part of the German Turnkunst, and as a practical martial art for military men.

Included in his repertoire were some disarms and throws that few of his colleagues ever bothered mentioning in print…

—by Friedrich August Wilhelm Ludwig Roux, Fencing Master at the Grand-Ducal and Ducal Saxon University at Jena

Disarming belongs into no pure theory of thrust fencing, since in its application, not only the sword is used, but the art of wrestling has to be used to assist; it is suitable mostly for military men and is only applied in serious cases, especially when one wants to protect the opponent or take him prisoner. It is only to be used against those, who push, blindly and raging with the sword, without thinking and without a great knowledge of the art of fencing into the close measure (enge Mensur), yet holding the sword so that beats (Battuten) and binds (Liganden) are without success. Several examples will clarify this:

Tafel 19, Figure 3 B

1. If the opponent advances by executing a simple inside feint and thrusts Quart over the arm while at the same time entering into the close measure, one passes (passiert) with an outside Quart parry of this thrust (äußere Quartparade) while simultaneously grasping the opponent’s wrist firmly from below with one’s left hand and presses with the forte (Stärke) of our blade in Tierce against the back of the opponent’s blade, where it will be impossible for him to hold on to the blade, even if he is stronger than us. (Taf. 19, Fig. 3B., see above) This disarmament can also be applied by binding (belegen) the opponent’s blade and move into close measure ourselves, but one has to be careful, considering the Contrelection, a simple or double feint, can be made very easily against it.

2. If the opponent executes a simple outside feint while avancing, and thrusts an inner fleeting Quart (innere flüchtige Quart), one parries with a half Quart on a simultaneous Pass, reaching with one’s left hand over the right arm, firmly grasping the opponent’s wrist from above, and pressing with a hanging Seconde against the back of his blade, at which point the sword can be taken from him easily. (Taf. 20, Fig. 1 A., see the top image below) Die Contrelection is a double feint.

Tafel 20—As usual, click on the image to get a bigger view.

3. Should, as he advances or is inside the close measure, the opponent thrust a Quart across the arm, one should parry this thrust high in Seconde, almost simultaneously putting one’s left foot in front of one’s right, encircle his wrist from below with the left hand (Taf. 20, Fig. 2 A), turn your back toward him by turning on your left heel, pull his fist over your left armpit and press down on it strongly, as you press the forte of your blade in Tierce strongly against the back of his blade: Thus the sword will jump from his hand. Since the opponent’s arm now rests with the elbow on our shoulder, where it would have to break should he not willingly allow himself to be disarmed, you can easily throw him to the ground over your left shoulder, notwithstanding the mass of his body. (Taf. 20. Fig. 3) To make this better understandable, we used two illustrations; still, this is not all as difficult to apply as it may seem at first glance. I’ve often enjoyed to surprise and throw even the strongest fencers when they voiced doubts against this seemingly difficult disarmament. The Contrelection against this disarm is a simple feint.

I could list several other disarmaments here, but I consider the descriptions of these few sufficient. I only note that every disarmament (Desarmade) requires that the forte of our blade presses against the forte and back of our opponent’s blade, while always firmly grasping his wrist with the left hand as you press of wind the sword from his hand.

Source: Roux, Friedrich August Wilhelm Ludwig (also writing as W. or Wilhelm Roux), Die Kreussler’sche Stoßfechtschule. Zum Gebrauch für Academieen und Militärschulen nach mathematischen Grundsätzen bearbeitet, Jena: Druck und Verlag von Friedrich Mauke, 1849; p. 69 f.

From a copy in the Amberger Collection. Reproduction of the images above is encouraged, unencumbered by copyrights, and free.

6 responses to “Sword Skills: Disarming and Throwing the Opponent, according to Roux

  1. Thank you Chris. Now let’s give your readers access to the entire Die Kreussler’sche Stossfechtschule to begin–and only to begin–putting your remarks in context. Maybe after that can we can make some progress, and fair is fair. And possibly some will be encouraged to learn some real German history, although that requires reading those awful professional historians. I’ll be on holiday for a couple of weeks, perhaps sufficient time for others to absorb this:


  2. All this rasslin’ junk? Why was it abandoned by others? Its persistence in Roux, by the way, is not an echt-German phenomenon, but later for that. I saw that stuff in the States used by bullies who thought they were teachers to dominate beginners. They smirked and said it was real combat, etc. Here in Soest we smoke’em out with a direct feint. Most imitate what they saw in….Domenico Angelo, but there are other authentic warriors out there who see darkly through the mists of time.

    This is what Angelo in the 1787 English edition (79) said:

    “In my opinion, all those disarms which I have explained, are more brilliant and fine in a fencing school, with a foil in hand, when very well executed, with the utmost precision and judgement (sic), than they are useful sword in hand…..”

    Yeah, foil. Yeah, school bouts. He got that right. Gotta hop a train to Düsseldorf airport.

  3. Christoph Amberger

    Which, in the world according to Leckie, is of course diametrically opposed to what Roux—the opponent of the thrust duel and proponent of thrust fencing with the Kreußlerian, German-style foil (as depicted in every single illustration)—says here and elsewhere.

    You’ve inspired me to look for an additional feature for the comment board: A little [eyeroll] emoticon.

    Hope you have the chance to actually read the sources whose names you drop so, shall I say, liberally?

  4. Christoph Amberger

    I’ll do you one better. A free vintage Hammerterz T-Shirt for everyone who can show me where Roux says (as an expression of personal, first-person opinion) that fencing creates demagogues.

  5. Sorry about the delay….been busy….to answer your comment would require first actually teaching some real German history. Oh, well. Good place to start would be a decent, middle-of-the-road work such as Heinrich August Winkler’s. Then again, maybe you should first learn a little bit about the University of Jena. Hit the library and learn about Beamterliberalismus. Check on the relationship between Stoßfechten a la the Kreusslers and Kahn and administrative reform. You can get away with assertion and eyeball-rolling here. Serious German-speaking fencers who participated in a seminar held by Klassisches Fechten Soest e.V. on Roux and 1848, and who read him, discussed his text, worked with his Handlüngen, when referred here, told me I was right–that what passes for “fencing history” today is in sore need of professional help. By which I mean that of professional historians.

  6. Christoph Amberger

    If all the participants read of the illustrious Soester brain tank read the Roux the same way as you, may I suggest a call to Hooked-on-Phonics may be more useful than a professional historian.

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