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Informatii Generale

General information

🧾Our curriculum is written only in modern English with some terms having their equivalent in Middle High German as well.

The motivation is simple: English is the most used language at an international level and the most used in the HEMA community, both to share the results of ongoing research and in interactions between HEMA practitioners from different countries at various events or competitions.

Middle High German is used by all serious HEMA practitioners that practice the Liechtenauer (German School) tradition to refer to concepts and techniques in that tradition, because it is the language in which the historical sources we work with were written, and because there are still debates regarding the accuracy of the translation of these specific terms into modern English, as there are several alternatives.

In this context, in order to minimize any risk of inaccuracy, we have created our curriculum directly in modern English, with the equivalent terms for those specific concepts also attached in Middle High German, in square brackets [ ] and written in blue next to the English terms, so that our students can quickly familiarize themselves with this way of working, be able to participate in international HEMA events (especially seminars) and interact with their colleagues from abroad in a language common to both parties.


Not only the curriculum on this site, but also the actual lessons are taught in the classroom with the names of the concepts in English and Middle High German, although the rest of the information is predominantly presented in Romanian. Of course, for any doubts, the students may ask the instructors for additional explanations.

🧾Our curriculum reflects our current interpretations of the concepts and techniques that make up the Longsword discipline in the Liechtenauer tradition. But because we are constantly working on testing and refining them, as are our colleagues in other clubs that take HEMA seriously, it is quite possible that these interpretations will change and, consequently, the theoretical concepts and practical implementation will also change in accordance with the new interpretations.

🧾Another important aspect to clarify is that the society of the timeframe in which the sources we are working on were written (approximately the 14th-15th centuries), was functioning according to other paradigms.


Specifically, those to whom the fighting treaties were intended for were actually training for combat with weapons from a very young age (sometimes as young as 8 years old).


Thus, basic concepts that would be extremely important for someone who has never had any contact with Longsword combat are unfortunately not explained in the sources!


All these basic concepts (posture, footwork, how to grip the weapon etc.) were extrapolated by the HEMA Instructors of each club as they knew best, via comparison with other martial arts and with modern discoveries in science (anatomy, biomechanics, sports analysis, etc.). And they have been empirically tested in the gym to find the best solution.


This is also the situation with us at our Club. So for all the concepts where you do not see the equivalent term in Middle High German, the explanation is that that concept is not described in detail in the sources.

🧾The concepts in our curriculum are organized into sections (chapters) that have their own title and sometimes sub-sections (sub-chapters) that also have their own title.


For example, the ways in which the weapon can be gripped are brought together under the section: "Types of Grips". But there are several ways to grip the weapon with the dominant hand (right for right handed fencers), and several ways to position the non-dominant hand (left for right-handed fencers) relative to the dominant hand, on the grip.


So, within this section, there are also sub-sections "Types of Grips for the Dominant Hand" and "Types of Grips for the Relation Between the Dominant Hand and the Non-Dominant Hand".


🧾Another important note here is that although all of the dominant hand grips, as in the example above, are part of the same conceptual section, they are not taught in the same lesson!


That is because some of them are used for different techniques, taught at different levels of study.


So, it is quite possible that you will come across the same title or subtitle several times, in different lessons and with different, related concepts. Because the order in which the curriculum is presented here is the actual order of instruction and in which the students will go through the concepts and techniques while training in the Academic study branch, in order to achieve an efficient progression from simple to complex.


🧾To sum up, the concepts of the Curriculum are divided for each Theme (lesson) into "Drilled" and "Auxiliary".


As their names suggest, "Drilled" refers to those that the students will study during a particular Theme, through specific practical exercises, and "Auxilliary" are important concepts for a technique, but taught in relation to it, without specific practical exercises.

Metoda IWHA

IWHA Method

The IWHA method consists of the pedagogical principles that we generally apply while training in order to achieve our goal of transferring knowledge and skills as effectively as possible to as many Students as possible, regardless of their anatomy and experience.


These principles are: 


1. The Isolation Principle


2. The Principle of Evolution from Simple to Complex


3. The Static // Dynamic binomial


4. The Technique // Reaction binomial

1. The Isolation Principle

Any technique in the full set we have available in the Longsword Sword discipline is a complex matter (although it may not seem like it!). Both from the point of view of the movements that must be executed and chained correctly, with their parameters within certain precise limits, as well as from the point of view of the correct unfolding of these movements on the axis of time, at the right moments.

Because of this, we at IWHA believe that the most effective way to teach someone a technique is to break it down into the smallest possible components that make it up. And then to isolate each element separately and teach it in this way, in isolation, until the Student has assimilated it and can execute it correctly.

2. The Principle of Evolution from Simple to Complex

This principle is very simple: the order of teaching is from the simplest things within the discipline studied, to the most complex ones.

This principle applies on several aspects. On the one hand, it applies to a single technique. Specifically, we start from the component that is absolutely fundamental, that underpins a technique. Then we add the following elements of the technique, one by one, until we arrive at the complete technique, with all its defining elements.

On the other hand, this principle also applies to the Curriculum for any Study Level of the Academic branch, taken individually. Specifically, the topics within a level progress from the simplest to the most complex.

And last but not least, this principle also applies between the Study Levels of the Academic branch themselves, regarded as an evolution, from the simplest knowledge and techniques (Beginner level), to some more difficult ones (Practitioner level) and to the most advanced ones (Expert level).

At the Freestyle study branch we intentionally disobey this principle, to serve the unstructured nature of this study branch. (See more details about the 2 study branches - Academic and Freestyle - on the page "The Club's Activity", section "Modes of Study").

3. Static // Dynamic binomial

All the exercises we perform during the training sessions (drills) fall into one of these two categories.

On the one side, there are the drills where the Students need to perform a technique within a defined Distance, which will stay the same (Static mode), regardless of whether the technique in question involves stepping or not. (If the technique implies stepping, it will always be a single step, the same type of step, of the same length).

On the other side, there are drills where the Students will need to perform a technique within a variable Distance, dictated by their partner, who will step unpredictably, and they must remain within this distance as much as possible, adjusting it by the steps they take to compensate for the partner's unpredictable movements (Dynamic mode).

This way, we train our Students to be able to not only understand and execute a technique in a controlled (Static) setting, which is pedagogically useful and more comfortable for Beginners, but also to be able to execute that technique against a partner who moves, Dynamically, which prepares them for sparring with an uncooperating partner.

It should be mentioned that, obviously, following the Principle of Evolution from Simple to Complex, for the Academic branch, the amount of Dynamic drills increases (relative to the total drills in a certain Curriculum, for a certain level of study), as a Student progresses from the Beginner level to the Expert level. We have the biggest number of Static drills at the Beginner level and the smallest number of such drills at the Experts level.

As a final note, we are aware that the terms Static // Dynamic may not be 100% accurate, since Static drills also involve movement (sometimes even stepping), but we find them suggestive and concise enough to be easy to remember. And that's why we use them.

4. Technique // Reaction binomial

Just like Static // Dynamic, but now using this new criteria to classify them, all the drills we do at the gym fall into one of these two categories.


A Technique Drill is a drill in which the objective is for a Student to understand and correctly execute a single technique when given a single stimulus which is the trigger for executing that very technique.


If we were to describe it as a formula, considering several iterations, where S = Stimulus, and R = Response, we would get:
S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

... etc. 

A Reaction Drill is a drill where the objective is for a Student to be able to process quickly and tactically WHEN to execute a certain technique or a different one, depending on a specific stimulus, which he receives, out of 2 possible stimuli. Attention! This in the context in which the partner RANDOMLY chooses which stimulus to offer to the Student. Therefore, the Student does not know which of the stimuli will be presented and must train their central nervous system to quickly identify which one is being offered, so that they can perform the technique associated with the stimulus just as quickly (and correctly!).

If we were to describe it as a formula, considering several iterations, where S = Stimulus and R = Response, we would get: 
S2 -> R2 

S2 -> R2 

S1 -> R1 

S2 -> R2 

S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

S1 -> R1 

S2 -> R2 

... etc. 

The reason why we work (predominantly ;) ) with only 2 possible stimuli is that the studies we've seen show that our CONSCIOUS processing power, when trying to learn something new (in this case the association of a technique to a stimulus), is very limited. 

2 randomly presented stimuli are challenging enough for a Student who has passed the Beginner level. When learning something new and presented with 3 stimuli or more, we are already talking about an out-of-the-ordinary processing capacity. Attention! When we are referring to learning something new.

If we are talking about the ability to SUBCONSCIOUSLY execute whatever technique is needed, that corresponds with a specific stimulus we receive, BUT these techniques have already been assimilated (through Reaction Drills or Technique Drills) in the past, then we're bringing into question a whole different type of processing power. Our subconscious is capable of doing many things, very quickly, and correctly.

The hardest part (and the ideal for a fighter!) is to bring, through training, all the techniques into the subconscious, and to associate them with the correct stimuli.

As a final note, we are aware that the terms Technique // Reaction may not be 100% accurate. Because the Technique Drills also involve a reaction (a unique one, to that very unique stimulus, but we're still talking about a reaction). And Reaction Drills, on the other hand, involve... technique. To execute the required response for any of the stimuli. However, we find these terms suggestive and concise enough to be easy to remember. That's why we use them.

Toate Conceptele

All the Concepts and Techniques

Below you can see all the themes assigned to each Study Level of the Academic branch, within the club. (For the Freestyle branch, the same concepts are taught, but unstructured, ad-hoc. See more details about the 2 study branches on the page "Club's Activity", section "Modes of Study"). 

If you click on the "More" button next to each theme, you can see the concepts and techniques taught and practiced that day, at that Theme (for that lesson), of the Academic branch. 

If you click on the "Evaluation Items" button for each level, you can see the Evaluation form used in the actual exam that is taken, to graduate that Study Level of the Academic branch. This form mentions both the exam procedure, the theoretical items (along with their correct answers!), and the practical items that must be demonstrated. 

This way, you can prepare for each Evaluation separately, in advance. 

If you are interested in an overview of all the concepts and techniques taught and practiced within the club (for both the Academic and Freestyle branches), click on the "All Concepts" button immediately below. 

Curriculum Incepatori

Beginners Curriculum

Theme 1 - Posture and Stability

Theme 2 - Grips, Stance, Footwork and Loose / Tense Principle

Theme 3 - Basic Cutting Mechanics 1 - Degrees of Extension (Minimum extension)

Theme 4 - Basic Cutting Mechanics 2 - Degrees of Extension (Fully extended)

Theme 5 - Basic Cutting Mechanics 3 - Cuts from Below AND Basic Thrusting

Theme 6 - Basic Cutting Mechanics 4 - Short Edge Cuts

    Percentage required to pass:  

- minimum 60% success rate for each practical item
- minimum 75% overall success rate in the Evaluation (all items)

Curriculum Practicanti

Practitioners Curriculum

Theme 1A - Attacks: Thrusts to All Four Openings

Theme 1B - Attacks: Main Cuts, Long Edge Combinations, Umbschlagen

Theme 1C - Attacks: Short Edge Long Edge Combinations

Theme 2A - Defence: Static Parries - Common Fencing Parries

Theme 2B - Defence: Dynamic Parries - Sweeping Parries

Theme 2C - Defence: Dynamic Parries - Hanging Parry

Theme 3A - Basic Tactics 1 - Retreat With a Threat, Nachreissen, Ansetzen

Theme 3B - Basic Tactics 2 - Nachreissen, Uberlauffen

Theme 3C - Basic Tactics 3 - Vor/Nach Choice, Shortening Distance, Flow

    Percentage required to pass:  

- minimum 80% success rate at practical items - Technique Drills

- minimum 60% success rate at practical items - Reaction Drills
- minimum 85% overall success rate in the Evaluation (all items)

Curriculum Experti

Experts Curriculum

Theme 1 - Timing: Vor, Nach, Indes

Theme 2 - Focus and Fuhlen

Theme 3 - Threat and Tactics to Minimize Risk

Theme 4 - The Hangings: Binden, Winden and Endings

Theme 5 - Fighting Indes 1: Schiessen and Absetzen

Theme 6 - Fighting Indes 2: the Meisterhauen

Theme 7 - Ringen and Abschneiden 

    Percentage required to pass:  

- minimum 90% success rate at practical items - Technique Drills

- minimum 70% success rate at practical items - Reaction Drills  
- minimum 90% overall success rate in the Evaluation (all items)

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