i.33, aka the Tower Fechtbuch is a sword and buckler system characterized by low stances, and a combination of very subtle and defensive sword and buckler work with vigorous attacking strategy. It is the earliest documented fighting system under the HEMA umbrella, dating back to the late 1200s or early 1300s. While the book is mostly complete and contains pictures and text in a mix of Latin and German, the quirks of medieval drawing and difficulties in translation make this a particularly interesting text to interpret. As part of training at Lonin you’ll encounter and take part in some of the ‘cutting edge’ research in interpretation of this historical document. We train using a series of semi-competitive drills and games to bring out the core elements of the system, followed by sparring. These drills, while suitable for developing competitive sparring technique, can be scaled for beginners while they get their feet under them. We practice this fighting style with arming swords and bucklers, our weapons being either foam or steel depending on the drill and how much protective equipment we feel like wearing that day! Expect to get a workout over the 1 1/2 hour class and ache in some strange places while you get used to it.
As yet there are no particularly good modern books on the application of i.33, which is something we’re trying to fix at the moment! To keep you going, here’s a link to Dieter Bachmann’s website that includes a copy and his translation of the original text Dieter Bachmann’s I.33 website
and a lovely new hard cover translation by Jeffrey Forgeng: The Medieval Art of Swordsmanship: Royal Armouries MS I.33
Here is an article describing the manuscript by the Leeds Armoury, the museum where the only copy is kept:
Leed’s Armoury – Tower Fechtbuch
Other important stuff
We have some loaner swords and bucklers available. To join in with light steel weapon drills you will need a fencing mask and protective gloves. Steel sparring requires a full tournament kit.