This is my current translation of the 12 rules section of the fencing book of Andre Paurenfeindt, working from Michael Chidester’s transcription of the section in the Ergrundung Ritterlicher Kunst der Fechterey (1516) and Alex Kiermayer’s transcription of the section in the Der Altenn Fechter anfengliche Kunst (c.1531).
As this is a guide for beginners, I have chosen to translate most of the simple technical terms. However, I have left a couple of the more complicated technical terms untranslated as there was no simple translation to encapsulate the entirety of the technical meaning of these terms as I understand them. For each technical term, I have offered both the original term and a potential translation in the footnotes.
Please note that this translation is released under copyright, and that while I am more than happy for people to use it for their own training and study, you must contact me to request permission to use it in any publication or for any commercial use.
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Twelve lessons for the beginner fencer.
Do not be irked at these twelve lessons.
From them great art may spring.
The 1st lesson
Whichever foot stands forward, bend that leg.
The back leg is straight, supporting the body above.
The 2nd lesson
Fence upright, with a straight body.
Drive powerful blows from this length.
The 3rd lesson
The 4th lesson
Those who step after their cuts,
Will get no joy from their art.
The 5th lesson
Understand what the flat is.
Do not fight left if you are right-handed.
The 6th lesson
The 7th lesson
The 8th lesson
The 9th lesson
The 10th lesson
Enter close in the bind,
Otherwise you will be wounded.
The 11th lesson
The edge in front of the hand is called the long edge.
Rarely allow an obstruction upon your short edge.
The 12th lesson
If you are easily frightened,
Don’t learn fencing.
 It is all too easy to skim such basic instructions in one’s haste to get to the “interesting” stuff later. And yet many of the important lessons that underpin all of the more advanced fencing skills can be found in these twelve lessons, or in Liechtenauer’s gemeine lehre. I think this is an instruction that is trying to tell people to pay attention, even though the lessons may seem trivial.
 Ziert means “adorning” or “decorating”, but I think the sense here is that the good stance below “completes” and therefore supports the body above.
 It is a recurring statement in other sources that “all arts have lenge und masse” (length and mass), which could be understood in various situations as expansion and contraction, or reach and consolidation, or explosive and solid actions, or large and tight positions.
 I.e. with each other, with good coordination.
 I.e. don’t bring them together, maintain a suitably wide stance.
 The schwech is the “weak”, the further half of the blade from the middle to the point.
 The sterk is the “strong”, the closer half of the blade from the hilt to the middle.
 Indes can be translated as “instantly” “immediately” or “simultaneously” or “meanwhile” or “at the same time as” or “within”. These are also the same words and phrases that could be used to translate the technical term Gleich, although both Gleich and Indes as technical terms have quite different meanings.
 Waich is literally “weak”, but could also be “soft”, and this choice of word would help to distinguish this concept from schwech. Being “soft” in the bind is having little chance of winning the fight from that position without leaving the bind. Who has control and advantage? Not the person who is “soft”. It is not necessarily a judgement of how much strength is being used, but rather an impression of advantage or disadvantage.
 Hert is “hard”, and this choice of word would help to distinguish this concept from sterk. Being “hard” in the bind is having (or at least contesting) the chance to win the fight from that position without needing to leave the bind. Who has control and advantage? The person who is “hard”. It is not necessarily a judgement of how much strength is being used, but rather an impression of advantage or disadvantage.
 Nachraysen is literally “travelling after”, in the sense of following or chasing or going after something or something. Since there is a sense of chasing, simply “travelling after” doesn’t quite convey the sense of urgency and closeness of timing, so “chasing after” might render that idea better.
 Gefert can be “risk” or “danger”, and it might be reasonable to understand gfert as a variant of this word – after all, if you remain in the bind for too long while testing for soft and hard, you risk your opponent doing Nachraysen in the space and time you have given them.
 Vor is “before”, in that you must strike well before your opponent is compelled to respond to you.
 Nach is “after”, in that you must make a response after your opponent has struck at you, otherwise you will get hit.
 Einlauffen is “running in”, which is often used to describe the process of moving in for grappling, but could also be a general admonishment here to keep your distance properly, or to avoid being too hasty to “run in” with strikes at inopportune moments.
 This probably has the sense of cutting closely the person, rather than striking at their sword or letting your blade go wide to one side or the other.
 The Zeckrur are not really defined anywhere. The best sense for them is probably some swift, harassing kind of strike, created by an initial pull (zuck) of the sword to get it into motion to make the cut.
 Tritt can be “to step” or “to tread” but can also be “to enter” (“to move in”), which I think suits the instruction a bit more fully than merely stepping.
 A versatzung can of course be a “parry”, but more generally it can be an obstruction that prevents you from moving your sword where you want it to go.
This is currently version 1 of the work, translated into English in 2020 and released on this website in 2020.
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