Strengthening exercises

Here are some very crude video clips we shot today of the strengthening exercises we have begun working with in the Meÿer Halben Stangen class at Gothenburg Historical Fencing School.

Since they are relevant to longsword practice, the article is cross-post into both the Halben Stangen and the Longsword project.

As you can see we are still not performing some of them properly as we are still building enough strength and balance to be able to do that. But, it will give you some ideas on what you can do.

Our focus is currently on building leg strength and balance, combined with the body mechanics and footwork of Meÿer.

We will record these again and replace these raw clips as we get better.

Oh, and sorry for the heavy breathing! Wish I could mute all clips, but YT does not allow that.

Pole Yoga


Make sure your feet, hips and shoulders extend and twist properly. This is basically done to stretch your joints and muscles, but also to train your balance and get you used to the body mechanics of Meyer’s Halben Stangen techniques.

Skipping rope or the “Tom Cruise” (not shown.)

To get some cardio and to strengthen your calves.

Kreutzhauw with weighted staff

The staff has 4kg of weight attached at the end.

Make sure to extend properly by passing through the stances Left Oberhut (Tag) – Gerader Versetzung – Unterhut – Wechselhut – Right Oberhut (Ochs) – (Steurhut) – Nebenhut and back into Left Oberhut.

Be extra careful with the twisting of feet, hips and shoulders.

Jumping Squats / Splits

Try to add some explosivity to the splits and squats here and avoid stabilizing by holding your thigh. If your knees are not good enough, then simply fall forward and push up and back without jumping or do regular squats.

Sideways squats with club

Try to squat a bit lower than I do in the clip (my knees are bad…) Do not swing the club, but rather lift it so you work properly with your shoulders.

The club weighs 6kg/14lbs.

Squat Jacks

Try to stay low throughout the exercise, close to 90 degrees. Look straight forward and try to keep a straight back.

The Clock

Similar to Jumping Splits, but with stepping 5 times with each leg straight and diagonally forwards and back and straight to the side.

Again, try to stay low, close to 90 degrees throughout the exercise and with your back “straight”.

Sexy Pole Dancing (You know you want it…) 

Start with the staff leaning a bit away from you and with your feet about a shoulder width apart. Drop straight down and when almost down; push your hips forward so that your knees almost touch the floor. Keep your back straight.

Try not to hang on to the staff too much when you go up.

Sideways pushups

This exercise should be done with a nice flow, always passing through the initial stance with your legs at almost a 90 degree angle. The pushups are done on one leg, Stretch your foot as far as you can as you go down in your pushup.

The Gorilla

Squat down. Keep your hands close together and your feet close to your hands but outside and slightly behind.

Throw your upper body as far forward as you can and land on your outstretched fingers (if you can) and let your lower body follow so you end up in the same stance you started in.

Sticky Tug-of-War

This exercise should not be done with much force. Instead you should try to mirror or oppose your partner’s actions. If he steps towards you, you retreat. If he steps to his right, you step to your right. If he leans out and steps behind himself you do the same.

Here, we clearly need to work a bit on the stances and footwork.

Cooperate and follow.

This exercise aims for you to later be able to do the same with two staffs and still maintaing a bind.

Roger Norling
Roger Norling is an instructor on Joachim Meÿer's Halben Stangen (Quarterstaff) with Gothenburg Historical Fencing School.

His main focus in his research is the "Kunst des Fechtens" and primarily the longsword, dussack and polearms. He has been focusing on the works of Joachim Meÿer since 2009. In this he has enjoyed collaborating with the Meyer Frei Fechter Guild and in May 2013 he became a Fechter of the MFFG. Recently, he has begun researching Meyer's dagger quite systematically using the same method he applied to his staff teachings.

Currently, he is writing on a series of books which will explore the teachings of Joachim Meyer, in collaboration with researcher friends in the HEMA community.

The upcoming two years he will be teaching Meÿer quarterstaff, dusack and longsword at various HEMA events in Europe and the USA. For more about this, read his instructor's profile.

6 Comments

  1. Francesco sent me here :) It’s goood stuff, very focused exercises. I’ve only a concern on the sexy pole one. When the knee’s projection on the ground get over the toes the force on the knee becomes worrying. So take care or consider some other exercises instead of that one. Like squat on the toes.
    And an advice to the guys doing the Jumping Squats / Splits and the Sideways pushups: don’t cheat! In the first don’t use the arms, in the second use them! XD
    Don’t forget that you are never alone in the hardships of training.
    best wishes for a good training.

    • Hi Giorgio!
      Thank you very much for the comments here!

      Regarding the knees in the “Sexy Pole Dancing“, I really don’t think the force is that bad. The key is the rolling with the hips. Your legs are already “locked” once you move your knees infront of the feet. I personally have really bad knees, both from an injury I had surgery for and from a joint condition I have had for 20 years, and I have no problems with this exercise.

      For the jumping squats/splits and sideways pushups, I agree with you. Keep in mind though, that while we have done some of these exercises for quite some time, others, like the Gorilla and the pushups were completely new to the students and they have not learnt to do them quite properly yet. It will come with time and exercise and we will be recording them again then.

  2. Another thought. Although I agree with you about the knee-in-front-of-foot thing, we also need to practice it, since it is used quite a lot by Meÿer, especially in his dussacken and rappier stucken. His longsword is more mixed and with the staff it is not used as much.

    With that in mind, we feel that we need to build the right muscles and I think those will protect our knees a bit. I actually feel that it is fundamental that we build proper musculature. If not we will not be doing things right and we risk more injuries while we try to do so.

  3. My only comment on this set of exercises is that there are no real strengthening exercises. They all work balance and form – which are important. And most are conditioning -which is also important. But there is no real strengthening stimulus. The jump squats will improve strength, but most people will rapidly move to an endurance level if weight isn’t added to that exercise.

    Cheers,
    Steven

    • I think I agree with you. To a certain degree we feel that they do give us more strength, particularly for the thighs, but only to the degree that I think we need to be able to perform the techniques of the Meyer Halben Stangen as they are intended, and especially the ability to maintain and use the very low stances. Beyond that, they only give more stamina through repetition.

      So, yes, these exercises do not continue to give you more and more strength once you reach a certain level and that is not the purpose either. Or do you not agree with this either?

      • Thinking about it even further I completely agree with you. It depends on how we think of strength and the strength to do these actions at least once is already there, at least for most of the exercises. The rest is up to stamina. Either way, we get what we need partly from these exercises. Some more than others.

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