We completely refactored our Zornort approach several times. It does not mean it’s perfect now, but it’s the most comfortable and most efficient version I have tried in many years. Many interpretations fulfill the original texts and it is not possible to say which one is the only and correct way of Zornort execution. And I strongly believe it was so also back in the fifteenth century. There was probably no uniform Zornort across the all countries of Lichtenauer’s tradition. So if you find our more straightforward interpretation appealing you can also try our way of training it.
We are trying to use similar methodology with all more complex techniques. There is always one master and student in the pair. Even if both of them are beginners. Each technique is practiced in different layers or phases. In each layer we add just one thing to focus on. If the master is satisfied with trainee, he raises the level of the exercise the next layer. If the trainee has hard time to perform all required things for the particular layer, the master switches back to the previous layer.
Levels of Zornort exercises:
- Rotation without a weapon. Left foot forward and left shoulder is leading. Rotation starts with pressure to the right foot toe. Rear leg pushes the center of gravity forwards above the tip of the front foot. Leading side changes during the motion. Right shoulder leads now and the left stays a bit behind. Both legs are stretching to the full extend.
- Exercise with weapon. Similar to the previous one. There is one more impulse now; (in addition to the rear foot) to the left hand. Trainee should pull the pommel downwards with the left hand. Right hand follows the motion. The sword ends at centerline in langort with shoulder and elbows relaxed.
- Cutting opponent's sword aside without thrusting. The goal is to clear centerline. Master is cutting an uppercut in symbolic way. Without real intention.
- Full Zornort against light cuts. No steps are allowed. Focus on proper fixed position. Keep your CoG low.
- Zornhau ort against full cut from static position and fixed distance. Master should regularly check if the trainee does not cut the Zornhau off-line. He should combine lighter and faster cuts with stronger and slower ones. Trainee can from time to time try not to counter with Zornhau in order to find out if the master is still aiming for the head properly.
- Zornort against an advancing opponent. The master is moving only forwards and pushing against the defender. (You need ideally 20m long free line) Once master decides to start with Oberhau, the defender should stop moving backwards and immediately fix the rear foot to the ground. Otherwise he won't be able to resist master's cut.
- The opposite situation to the previous exercise. Master is retreating and trainee is following him. They are moving in the fixed distance and when the master finds out the situation is suitable he stops motion backwards and strikes his Oberhau. Trainee keeps on his momentum and smashes the opponent's cut with his Zornhau. When the distance is close enough he hits the opponent's head directly with the Zornhaw. This exercise should be combined with pure Zornhau. If the retreating master doesn't keep proper distance and doesn't cut, the opponent is obliged to cut Zornhaw in Vor to the head without waiting for Nach.
- Zornhau ort against all types of uppercuts with full footwork. Various angles, speed and distance. The master is simulating free play conditions.
We use quite often one old fencing aid. A visual target on master's body. It can be a small dot or a cross made from a duct tape. Fencers often do not have exact idea where should their sword end. They make a cut and then they just want to place to point where it’s possible. The opposite approach seems more efficient to me. I lock my sight on the target even before my opponent starts his action. It helps me keep my sword traveling directly to the desired target without hesitation. The very same approach I use also in free plays and the result are more committed and more precise attacks.
I feel it’s necessary to add a video illustrating all these exercise sometimes in the future. We plan to bring you more videos with training sequences where you can faster get the idea how should each exercise looks like.