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More Meyer - Why we cut like we do; Straight Parrying

Submitted by Katherina Weyssin on October 27, 2010 - 10:55am

More on that 8-part play, with cuts : through eisenport, or through a barring?

Last week we noticed that William wanted to get his point low very quickly to defend, and slice off from below his opponent's weapon; Ludwig and Katherina wanted to keep their hilts low, and slice off above. This week we'd all swapped technique! After much talking, we worked out why (thanks to Emrys for this expression of it):

The basic principal of Meyer's defenses stands:

If an attack is coming in above your guard (or in this case, above where your guard would

normally be were you standing in eisenport) you defend in eisenport. In this case, you defend in eisenport, but rather than stopping there and sending off your opponent's weapon (absetzen), you catch it and then slice off into low guard (abschneiden).

If an attack is coming in below your guard (or in this case, above where your guard would normally be were you standing in eisenport), you drop your point, and catch it with a "barring" (sperren). In this case, again, you continue with a slicing off (abschneiden) rather than just blocking it and stopping.

This is nice because:

  • It explains why Meyer doesn't tell you which of these options to use - they both work, in different situations (which he has previously discussed)
  • It complies with the principal he gives in Longsword - that in making a cut from one guard to another, you move through a third guard on the way
  • It explains why we had different instinctive reactions, and why William's changed from one week to the next - we were reacting to the height at which our opponent's blows were coming in (William used the barring against Katherina, who is the same height; and eisenport against Ludwig, who is taller)
  • In practice, it answers the question "which one should I do?" without requiring you to learn a new theory or train new reactions: just apply the lessons already learned in Book 1 (high attack: eisenport; low attack: sperren)

An additional note: Ludwig and Katherina found that if you should judge wrong, and try to defend against a low cut in eisenport, the trick is to make the step long and get your hilt really, really low. At this point, however, you're using the parry Meyer calls "Suppressing" (Dempffen), not Slicing off.


Back to thrusts

We came back to this drill at the end of the evening, and tried it again with thrusts, as Meyer describes it.

Varying the thrusts:

Previously we'd had the opponent always aim squarely in the centre of the chest. This time we applied the principal Meyer gives in Chapter 8 of Book 1 : "Chasing" (Nachreisen) - that you should attack the place your opponent has just stopped defending; the place he is moving his blade away from.

Thus, since "you" start in Right Ox, the opponent thrusts first at your left hip. Next, you've just moved from Right Ox to left Low Guard, so the opponent thrusts at your right shoulder, and so on.

This certainly made the drill more interesting, and more plausible, for the opponent. Also a little harder for "you", because you have to move more quickly to defend.

The opponent rocks back:

One more addition: in the parts of this drill where "you" cease just defending, and thrust at your opponent before slicing off, we sometimes had trouble not landing the thrust, and having room to slice off. In practice of course, that's good: if the thrust lands solidly, there's no need for the slice off and cut. In order to make the drill work, and make it more plausible, we had "you" try to land the thrust, but had "the opponent" rock back out of the way.

This had several effects:

  • the whole thing became a little more plausible, on both sides
  • the foot work for "you" became clearer: you need a gathering step (can also be moving off line) with the back foot during the initial thrust+slice off, so as to be able to step forward in the cut
  • we finished at a better distance to continue the drill

Straight Parrying (aka "fight like an Italian")

In between, we make a high-speed trip through the next few sections of book two.

Meyer doesn't clearly define "straight parrying" in words, but he refers to a picture. It looks like eisenport, with the sword central, and your hilt higher and blade and arm straighter than you would otherwise have. I.e. not that different from an Italian stance, only with the weight forward.

Note: "straight parrying" in Meyer-speak is definitely a position, not a movement.

How you shall fight and defend yourself from the Straight Parrying [Gerade Versatzung]

2.74r, Forgeng p195

How you shall catch a cut he sends at you from his right, and quickly thrust straight at his left

2.74r, Forgeng p195

  • You start in straight parrying.
  • The opponent attacks (cut or thrust) on the inside line - his right diagonally to your left.
  • You turn your long edge against his attack; while pivoting on the back foot
  • Step forward with your front foot, thrusting at his face, in the high longpoint
  • As your recover, turn your long edge back against his blade, then retreat into straight parrying again
  • You can make this thrust "on his blade" (maintaining contact?) or "off it straight in before you" (losing his blade, regaining it only after the thrust?)

i.e. This is very like the "basic Meyer defense and counterattack" (parrying - or absetzen - in eisenport, then a thrust to the face) we've practiced so many times, only starting with a slightly higher guard. We've found that a cut is an equally effective counterattack.

Extra notes from Meyer in this description:

  • Catch his blade on your forte near your hilt
  • Defend yourself as you recover (thrust in longpoint then turn your true edge back to his blade) and recover into guard (go back into straight parrying and protect yourself until you see another opportunity)

How you shall catch his thrusts and cuts from his left, and before he recovers, quickly counterthrust against his right

2.74v, Forgeng p195

Pretty much the same, but on the other side: catch his blade on your true edge, swivelling on your back foot; step forward on your front foot and thrust at his face. The difference is in the preparation for the thrust. The passage above just says:

Just as the blades connect in the bind, then step with your right goot to him toward his left side, and at the saem time as you step forth, thrust on his blade . . .

This one says:

 . . . turn your long edge or hilt with extended arm against his incoming blade to parry or catch it; as you this extend your hilt to parry against his weapon . .


Then as soon as his blade clashes on yours in this parrying, pull your hilt back out behind you above your right shoulder to gather for a poweful thrust; thrust straight at his face on his right side . . .

So, this time we parry with the arm right out in front, then pull it back into Ochs for a really vigorous thrust? Presumably rocking back as required to gain time/space?

How you shall conduct yourself against an opponent who is overly aggressive against you with strokes

2.75v, Forgeng p196

The basic advice seems to be: defend yourself in straight parrying.without counterattacking, until he gets tired.

When he gets tired you defend, let's say on the inside, against a cut coming to your left. Then you:

  • cut at him on the same line: from your left to your right, so down through his right shoulder
  • let your blade come round into Right Ochs
  • thrust from Ochs

We had some disagreement about exactly how to do that - we came up with two distinct techniques for the first step, and deciding that the choice depends on whether you are hard or soft in the bind. Details of what Meyer said, and what we concluded, to come soon.


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