The Messer of Johannes Lecküchner DVD Review


That’s not a knife!

This is a knife!


Those blokes from Ochs have done it again. In the vein of their first DVD, ‘The Longsword of Johannes Liechtenauer‘, they have released ‘The Messer of Johannes Lecküchner‘. This DVD is awesome.

Buy it.

Review over.

Or is it really over?

For those that are not familiar with the messer (German for knife), it is a falchion like blade popular in Germany during the 14th to 16th centuries. As opposed to the knightly ‘arming sword‘, the Messer is often considered the common man’s weapon- a medieval machete of sorts. Do not, however, believe this detracts from its effectiveness as a weapon. Some messer techniques can be seen on the videos in this post.

Johannes Lecküchner was a priest in the late 15th century and wrote two Fechtbüche, each on the messer. The first manual, somewhat of a draft for the second, is available through the Heidelberg University Library. His latter work, Cgm. 582, can be found online at the Bavarian State Library. It is an impressive ~432 pages long, with over 400 of them including pictures. What sets this manual apart from others, such as Talhoffer’s, is that a decent text explanation accompanies the picture. Another interesting feature, is the inclusion of ‘show techniques’, meant to amuse an audience (this is not, however, show fighting). A transcription can be found here, along with a translation into modern German.

As with their longsword DVD, the Ochs team have put together a very well presented DVD. The footage is shot in a proper film set, using multiple camera angles and easy to understand commentary. I have been unable to find any ‘play all’ selection in the dvd menu, but this is of little concern, as it is easy to navigate. The intro is not as exciting as the longsword DVD, but again, this is of little concern. At 150 minutes long, it is the longest HEMA instruction DVD I am aware of.

The DVD consists of-

  • Historical background.
  • Fencing terminology and theory.
  • General basics such as footwork, master strokes and guards.
  • Several expansions on advanced techniques.
  • Disarms and grappling with the messer.
  • Application examples.
  • Show techniques.
  • Drills and exercises.

I highly recommend this DVD if you are interested in medieval single sword. I see no reason why the principles and many of the techniques presented can not be used with other medieval single handed swords. The DVD can be ordered off the Agilitas’ Ebay website. A trailer to the DVD showing a Mordschlag with a sharp messer can be found here (German version).

For those wishing to delve deeper into Lecküchner’s text, but can’t read Mittelhochdeutch script, there is a transcription available.

~ by Magnus on 30 January, 2008.

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