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Meyer's Rapier, parries

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on September 8, 2010 - 12:12pm
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(Katherine's Notes - Matt was teaching)
On the 1st we figured out how we think they go, slowly, unmasked, and with rapiers; on the 8th we tested them at higher speed with masks and shinai (using the instructions from the rapier section, but a longsword style, to test interchangeability of techniques - it worked pretty well; the next step would be to compare what we deduced with what Meyer actually says in the longsword section).
Meyer lists 8 parries:

Absetzen - Setting Off
Abschneiden - Slicing Off
Dempffen - Supressing
Durchgehn - Going Through
Verhengen - Hanging
Sperren - Barring
Ausschagen mit hangender Kling - Striking out with Hanging Blade
Aussnemen mit halber Schneid - Taking out with the Short Edge
We looked at them in an order that made sense on the night, not the order Meyer presents them in.

1. Absetzen - Setting Off

Our basic Meyer defense-and-counterattack: wherever the blow or thrust is coming from, swivel a little in the opposite direction, taking your body off-line and catching their weapon (with your true edge), then thrust at them in longpoint.

This can be done to either side, against thrusts and cuts: we've mostly practiced having the defender start in eisenport, and the attacker throw a mittelhau. Meyer implies that it can be done from any one of the four guards ("Setting off is when, from one of the four guards, you turn the long edge against his weapon, and turn into the Longpoint") but he describes it only from a low guard. Have we tried this from a high guard? It doesn't seem like it would be very strong . . .
2. Abschneiden - Slicing Off
The one where you slide down your opponent's blade.

Now we've worked out what he means (we think) I can't express it more clearly than Meyer:
(this one explaining a Slicing Off to the inside line)
" Do it thus: position yourself in the Low Guard on the right, and note as soon as your opponent pulls up his hand to cut or thrust at you; then raise your weapon at the same time, and extend your hand and weapon from your right against his left; as you extend, drop your hilt to the level of your knee, or even lower if possible, so that your blade stands with the point somewhat up and forward; catch his blade on your long edge, and send it in the manner of a slice down before you toward your left. This also takes place on both sides."
I found this one pretty hard to do well (to slice smoothly, not bounce off the blade) but it seemed to work. I think we came to the conclusion that the next parry - "suppressing" is a bit like the much-less-subtle version of this. Maybe Meyer's ordering is logical after all.
Does anyone remember to what extent we followed the instruction to lower our hilts to our knees, and whether it worked/what the purpose seemed to be?
Meyer doesn't describe a counterattack (here) but we have been following up with an Oberhau - continuing the circular motion of the sword, back and over, into something fairly unpleasant.
3. Dempffen - Supressing

A more vigorous version of the move above, smacking their blade into the ground instead of pushing it off to the side. Meyer says this is a version of the High Cut (Oberhau)
Start in the Low Guard on the right. When he raises his arm to strike at you, raise your arm too. "Step double out from his cut toward his left" - i.e. swivel/move your back foot, as usual, but in a longer step than usual. Cut down onto his sword, connecting with the true edge, and your hilt quite low, onto his forte, and leaning down onto it with your body, stepping forwards (towards him, even a bit to your right - not into the swords, towards your left) with the right foot.
Meyer further explains that if he gets his sword out from under yours and tries a cut to the other side, you can repeat the same procedure. He says it can be used against all other cuts. His final note is "Thus you can suppress with the High Cut from all the postures, until you so weaken and tire his arm that you can easily attack his body."
There seem to be plentiful options for a counterattack.
4. Durchgehn - Going Through

I'm flummoxed for now.

5. Verhengen - Hanging
For an attack on the inside line: raise your hilt and drop your point, so your sword is vertical (ish) and pointing down, swivel, and block with the flat of your blade.

Meyer says that you can do this on both sides, but it's most convenient for positions on the right (I think, based on the rest of the description, that he means it's best against attacks on the inside line).

I think, from memory, that we did this with the right arm bent, and that we blocked with the flat of the blade on the "fingernails side" (rather like Silver's True Guardant). However, Meyer refers to a picture here, and in the picture the right arm is straight, and the other side of the blade is used. I'd suspect the picture (because that seems a bit weak), but that there's this in his text: "you send your hilt above your face with your arm extended forward". Perhaps we can try this too? Do I remember correctly? This would make the action more exactly equivalent on the left and right sides - only the counterattack would differ.
The counterattacks that seemed natural to us were (I think):
- Having parried an attack on the inside/left side, to continue the backwards motion of the point and roll into an Oberhau
- Having parried an attack on the outside/right, to raise the hilt for a thrust
(The mechanics of human wrists mean that the same attack won't work on left and right here).
I think these will both work (though the first might be a little less natural?) if we parry with extended arm, and the flat of our hands facing to our left side.
Meyer also describes foot movement not unlike that in Suppressing (but without all the "double"s): in the attack comes to the inside/your left, swivel with your left foot then step towards him with your right foot. Meyer seems to say that the motion of the right foot coincides with the parry - did we do this?
6. Sperren - Barring
Like 1. above, only dropping the point/inverting the sword, so it protects against attacks coming in low.
Meyer says this is more fully described in the longsword section. I think we have been parrying with the true edge here. Meyer describes no counterattack (here), but we have been raising the point and thrusting upwards in Pflug, keeping his weapon tangled in your quillons.

7. Ausschagen mit hangender Kling - Striking out with Hanging Blade
The one where you get your foot out of the way - a defense against low cuts and thrusts.
I'm going to disagree with the rest of you here. Go on - explain why I'm wrong! :-P
What I think we did (as far as my sieve-like memory allows):
Invite a low attack by raising your hilt a little (Meyer says "or position yourself a little high in Longpoint"); pull your right foot back to your left (or only as far back as necessary); follow the cut with your sword (i.e. if they are cutting from your left to your right, you also cut from your left to your right), catch up, beat them out of the way (thus messing up their arm and blow), and then come back to do something nasty to them.

It didn't really work for me, but clearly worked for others, so very likely the problem here is me ;-)

However . . . I don't see anything in Meyer to suggest that this isn't a more normal block (i.e. your sword goes in the opposite direction to your opponents, meeting it, not chasing it). In fact, he says it follows on from Barring (6 above).

So, why not this?

If your opponent makes a low attack, defend as in 6. above; with the addition that you pull your front foot back a bit if you need to (instead of swiveling on the back foot).
Or (Meyer has an "or"), do the same, but inviting the attack by raising your guard a bit.
For reference, here's what Meyer says (Forgeng's translation):

"This striking out follows from the barring, thus:

If an opponent cuts or thrusts straight to your lower body, then as he send in his weapon, pull your right foot back to your rear foot, and at the same time lift up your weapon; thus cut out his blade down from above from your left toward your right, with extended weapon, yet such that the blade hangs somewhat downward.

Or position yourself high in the Longpoint; if your opponent thrusts at you below, then let your blade sink somewhat down from your left toward your right, and cut out his blade away to the side with lowered weapon between you and him; pursue quickly with your devices."

Hmmm. Still not seeing for sure where the "chasing" bit comes in, but no longer so sure of myself either. He definitely says YOUR sword moves left to right - are we assuming as default that your opponents does too (i.e. that the attack is to the inside)? Or is it that you cut down from above?
More experimentation required (at least for me).
8. Aussnemen mit halber Schneid - Taking out with the Short Edge
A beat with the short/false edge.

Start in a Low Guard to your left. When your opponent thrusts, cut upwards and to your right, beating his blade out of the way. Finish by rolling into Ochs. Once in Ochs, thrust at his chest, rolling back into Longpoint (true edge down - i.e. quillons rotating through 180 degrees), and withdraw into your original guard. Rinse and repeat as necessary (he might rock out of the way of your first thrust).
Note: no foot movement, just rocking forwards and back as required.
For me, this worked heaps better once David got me to separate the movements: FIRST smack the sword out of the way with the short edge (my blade moves in a straight line, motion is from the elbow), THEN roll into Ochs.
Meyer concludes with a note that, having learned to Take Out Upward with the Short Edge, we can also do it with the long edge, and with the flat, from both low postures. I *think* we tried it on both sides, but I'm pretty sure only with the short edge.

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