The real six Hungarian fencing cuts
About the method
To find the correct directions of leading the blade, the hussars painted a six cuts star on a wall. They started working on the cuts slowly, speeding up while progressing. They used both sticks and sabres. While preparing for a fight on a horse, firstly they worked on correct directions of the cuts standing on the ground. Having mastered that, they trained on… watermelons. The fruit, imitating a human head, was placed on a wooden stake. The cut part should have stayed on its place or slid down softly. Then the soldiers practised on horseback (at first cuts in mid-air, then on the watermelons). The most advanced part of the training was to hit the coins thrown at them with the six cuts. Not everyone was privileged enough to be trained that thoroughly. Not only aristocracy, but also village boys were among hussars. They were recruited for the sake of sudden battles, so there was not much time to train them. That is why the quickest possible training (lasting merely 3 months) of good attacks was the priority of the instructors, so they focused on the six cuts method.
There were many stories about extraordinary six cuts skills of the hussars going around. One of them, told by Csütörtöki Mihály (born 1909, died 1973), its eyewitness, is about two hussars who were supposed to spy in an Austrian military camp. The Austrian soldiers were questioning them about how they practice the famous six cuts. The hussars agreed to show them the method, and they asked for two sabres. The Austrians agreed. The hussars also asked for two horses, necessary to present the method. The Austrians were not keen on it, but finally they agreed. The hussars mounted the horses, performed some perfect cuts, cutting some Austrians’ heads off, and by the same token set themselves free.
Between World War I and World War II, despite the development of the arms (airplanes, tanks, etc.), the hussars did not stop practising the six cuts, doing everyday at least 600 for one hand. Foreign fencing schools in 63 countries added 2 or 3 cuts to the method, but in the Hungarian fencing tradition there remained only six.
Six cuts in music
The six cuts can also be found in classical music. Two Hungarian musicians: a famous violinist Bihari János and composer Franz Liszt (Liszt Ferenc) included the six cuts into playing the violin, changing the traditional way of drawing the bow (going smoothly from down to up and back) into “pulling” the strings with the bow from up to down. This characteristic way of playing the violin is still used in the Hungarian folk music.