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Meyer rapier - first two plays in Book 2

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on October 11, 2010 - 7:26pm

Wednesday the 6th of October, and St John's (9th and 10th of October).

Katherine's notes; Matt and David teaching (mostly).


We have all be thinking of "ochs" as being with the point low, and "einhorn" with the point high, then fretting over defenses in ochs that would seem to work better in einhorn. The solution: we've been conflating longsword and rapier terminology - they are differentiated in longsword, but in rapier Meyer only uses "ochs" (aka "high guard"). Ochs is usually depicted with the point a little down, but the description seems to cover any position with the hands up by the head and the point directed broadly at the opponent's face.

First play  in book 2: (2.72r; Forgeng p193-4)

Introduction - Meyer explains what this play/drill is for:

Since I now intend to describe the practice in itself, and how you shall carry it out against your opponent in the work, I will return to the postures, and since it is necessary and very useful, I will teach you how to slice off, set off, and change off diagonally from one into another, as follows:

Indeed, this drill practises defenses and attacks, in low guard and ochs, from both sides, and the way to move between these. It's an eight-part sequence, falling naturally into two sections, one on each side: begin with an invitation, move between high and low guards responding to attacks; then again initiating attacks.

1. Right Ochs to left Low Guard, defending

Position yourself in the High Guard of the right Ochs, and approach him with your body presented upright, such that your right foot always goes in front; provoke him thus with lively or defiant comportment.

Start in right ochs, as an invitation (upright enough to leave a nice big target)

If meanwhile he thrusts in at your body, then as he sends  in his thrust, step with your right foot around to him toward his left, and at the same time turn your long edge down toward your left; and as you turn down, lean your body well forward after your weapon with flexed knee; and thus slice or send his blade down from you with your long edge. Thus after this slicing off, you come withyour weapon and lowered bodydown into the left Low Guard.

He thrusts at your torso.

Hands: Defend by moving into left Low Guard; on the way you will turn your true edge down, pick up his weapon, and slice it off (sliding down the blade and sending it sideways – blades will probably end up apart, not crossed).

Feet: Step forward and to your right with your front foot.

For slicing off vs. setting off (abschneiden and absetzen) see part of Book 1 on parries (Forgeng p189-191; notes from May12, Sept 8,Sept 15)

2. Left Low Guard to Right Ochs, defending

From there, as soon as he thrusts or cuts back to the right opening you have presented, go rapidly with your hilt and long edge and upright body back up into the High Guard.

He thrusts again. You defend by going back into right Ochs. We have been moving the back foot here (though Meyer doesn't mention it): in 1. you stepped forwards and to the right with your front foot; if here you step to the right with your back foot, gathering a little, you end up back in your original stance, "pointed" at your partner again, but having moved a little to the right.

3. Right Ochs to left low guard, attacking.

And if you will, you may quickly counterthrust at his face from this High Guard with a broad step forward; but when you wish to do this, then as you thrust in and step forward, turn the long edge forcefully down with your body lowered after it.

This step is very like 1 but done offensively instead of defensively - you are pre-empting, not responding to an attack.

Hands: begin thrusting at his face, turning the long edge down as you do so; continue the motion down and to the left, slicing off again.

Feet: step toward your opponent with your front foot.

4. Cut - Underhauw ending in right Low Guard.

Then rapidly turn your weapon back beside your left for a stroke, and cut from there with extended arm diagonally against his right through his face, so that at the end of this cut you come into the Low Guard on your right.

Having sliced off in 3 allow the motion of your sword to continue, raising it for a cut from high on your left to low on your right, across his face.

I think we've actually been making the "broad step forward" with the cut (4) not the thrust/wind (3). I guess you could step forward with the front foot for the thrust, gather with the back for the wind, then forward again for the cut in 4. (but you'll get awfully close, if your opponent isn't retreating).

Summary so far:

  1. Start in Right Ochs. He thrusts at your body. Defend by slicing off into the Low Left Guard; stepping off line with the front foot.
  2. He thrusts again. Defend by returning to Right Ochs, stepping with the back foot.
  3. Thrust at him from Ochs, and winding/slicing off again into Low left Guard.
  4. Cut at his face, from high on the left to low on the right; finish
    in Low Right Guard.

The second half:

5. Right Low Guard to Left Ochs, defending

In this guard you again stand before him with your face open; therefore watch diligently for when he thrusts to this opening of yours, and step out with your left foot behind your right toward his left, and send your hilt and long edge with extended arm out of this Low Guard up toward your left unto the same High Guard of the Ochs.

Again it starts with an invitation, only this time you are in right Low Guard, not right Ochs.

He thrusts, you defend by moving into left Ochs (making sure you collect his blade with your long edge); stepping to your right with your back foot at the same time.

This is very like 2 above, but on the other side.

Have we considered the importance of "with extended arm"?

6. Left Ochs to right Low Guard, defending

From there when he thrusts further at you, rapidly turn the long edge back down toward your right; and in this turning, step well out from his thrust toward his right side; thus send his blade down with extended long edge, from the left Ochs back toward your right Low Guard. And when you slice off his thrust as I have said, you shall extend after the cut well over your forward bent knee with lowered body; then when this has taken place you stand back in the right Low Guard as at the beginning.

He thrusts again. You again defend by moving back to right Low Guard, slicing off. This time we think you move the back foot again, only in the opposite direction (to your left) - i.e. you are swivelling back and forth on your back foot, not stepping with front and back turn.

This is very like 1. above, only on the other side.

7.Right Low Guard to Left Ochs, defending

If he should thrust at your further, then go in the same way with the long edge back up unto the left High Guard.

He thrusts yet again; you defend in the the usual way, moving the back foot and returning to left Ochs (very like 5.)

8. Thrust, slice off, cut to his left shoulder

From there thrust quickly long before you at his face, with a spring out toward his right; in this thrust you shall again turn the long edge strongly down toward your right, and with this slicing off you shall turn your blade beside your right for the stroke, so that afterwards you may have a swift cut for a Defense Stroke diagonally through his left shoulder.

Here we go on the offensive again: like 3 and 4 above.

Thrust at his face from left Ochs; slice off into right Low Guard stepping again with your back foot to your left, but further this time ("spring out"); allow the motion of your sword to continue, though right Low Guard, around and up, to cut down through his left shoulder(from your right to your left), while stepping on the front foot.

And it goes on . . .

When you have completed that, then you will have your weapon on the left in the Low Guard; from there you can parry with the long edge back up into the right High Guard, and so on.

You finish in left Low Guard, from which you could parry again into Right Ochs, where you started 1. . . i.e. you could keep this up all day, starting wherever in the sequence you require, until you finally get him.

Summary of the second part:

  • Start in right Low Guard. He thrusts, you go into Left Ochs to defend, moving your back foot.
  • He thrusts. You slice off into right Low Guard, moving your back foot.
  • He thrusts. You go into Left Ochs to defend, moving your back foot, again.
  • You attack, thrusting at his face and slicing off into right Low Guard, moving your back foot again to the left, but further than usual.
  • You complete the attack with a Defense cut: from high on your right to low on your left, through his left shoulder, finishing in left Low Guard, ready to start the whole thing again.

Meyer summarises what this is supposed to teach you:

Thus you have now been taught to parry from the right High Guard and from the left Low Guard, down and up diagonally opposite one another,along the diagonal line, and then change around from the left Low Guard with a Defense Stroke through his right to the other side into the right Low Guard; then from that guard as from the other, to parry diagonally up and down, and change around again according to your opportunity with a Wrath Cut or Defense Stroke. In this way you can always parry, slice off, and send up from one guard into the other, down and up with the long edge, diagonally and horizontally opposite one another.

How would that work horizontally? Would that be our basic defenses in eisenport, where we swap sides but don't otherwise alter our posture?

Then he gives some other options

Further you can also set off from all four side postures into the Longpoint, with stepping out, as follows:

Position yourself as you have been taught in the High Guard of the right Ochs, and approach him thus. If he thrusts forward at your face, then turn the long edge out of the High Guard against his blade, extending your arm into the Longpoint; and meanwhile as you thus set him off, then at the same time also step out sideways from his blade with your left foot behind your right, and thrust on his blade in before you at his face or chest.

As you now have set off downward from the High Guard, so you shall also set off upward from the right Low Guard, also into the Longpoint; and this shall be executed from both sides.

I think this comes to nothing more than: at any stage in the process above, if you think you can get away with it, you can set off instead of slicing off, and thrust at him in longpoint (i.e. you're not required to go through all 8 moves before you're allowed to hit him ;-).

Changing off [Abwechseln]

(Forgeng p 194-5)

Meyer suggests moving from one guard to another to provoke an attack.
The series he suggests is:

  • eisenport or straight parrying
  • right ochs
  • left low guard
  • left ochs
  • right low guard.

Other advice:

  • in this changing off, always hold the tip before you
  • if he thrusts in the mean time, whenever he will, then slice it away from you with the long edge in the aforementioned manner through the Cross Line from one guard into another as you have already learned.
  • Thus you can step around and change off from one posture into
    another, presenting openings before him, until you see your

i.e. Present an invitation (knowing what you're going to do if he takes it); if that doesn't work, present another, and so on. Whenever he attacks, revert to the appropriate point of the first drill, and continue.

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