Mair’s Longsword – A Play of Zornhau Against the Thrust

Translations:

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First Actor – Myer’s German Translation

Zornhau Against the Thrust

It happens that you stand with the Zornhaw (Wrath Strike) with the left foot forward. Then follow after with the right and hit him strongly from above to the left side. If he deflects this, then strike nimbly to the next opening.

The first actor is supposed to “follow after”, which implies a Nachreisen. Combine that with the title of the play, “Zornhau Against the Thrust” and I came up with this theory:

  1. The first fencer waits in the the guard Zornhut.
  2. The second fencer attacks with a thrust.
  3. The first fencer voids backwards so that the thrust just misses.
  4. The second fencer recovers from the thrust.
  5. During this recovery, the first fencer attacks with a Zornhau (diagonal downward cut).

My compatriots have mixed feelings about “reading between the lines” in this fashion. They acknowledge the action works, and enjoy the experimentation, but would rather the sequence be better spelled out.

First Actor – Delaney’s Latin Translation

About the blow which acquires its name from Wrath against the tip

In this manner you will conduct yourself in this blow: place the left foot before the right, and in the blow itself follow with the right foot, and you strongly strike above toward the left side. But if he opposes it, and resists your blow, at that time as fast as possible seek the nearest opening. 

This are several notable differences between the two versions.

In the German the fencer’s guard is described in terms of the blow he can throw. In the Latin, the guard is never named.

In the German the name of the cut is inferred from the guard. In the Latin, the cut is not named until the second paragraph (not shown).

The phrase “in the blow itself follow with the right foot” is completely unambiguous. There is no implied nachreisen, this is clearly just some basic footwork instructions.

Second Actor’s Response

If he strikes you wrathfully like this, then wind against the Zornhaw in the Hanging Point and let your point properly go forward shooting in (Einschiessen) to the face or chest.  If he perceives this thrust, then drive with the sword well up over your head, spring with your right foot to his left side and cut him with the Zwirchhaw (Across Strike) to the
head.

To understand this second we have to work backwards. First we need to figure out where that Zwerch is gong to land. For that we need to peek ahead at this line from the next paragraph,

If he strikes towards your head like this with the Zwirchhaw with crossed arms,

A Zwerch with crossed arms is a long-edge cut to the right side of the head.

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To throw a left Zwerch, you probably want to use a left hanging guard.

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Now the footwork is a little bit weird in this section. Even though you are throwing a left Zwerch, you step with the right foot. Experimentally we found that a step to the left exposes the second fencer to a number of attacks while a step to the right closes off those lines and constrains the first fencer’s sword.

Putting it all together we get,

  1. The first fencer attacks with a Zornhau
  2. The second fencer parries with a left hanging guard
  3. The second fencer immediately thrusts
  4. The first fencer, seeing this thrust turns his body away from the point. Probably by stepping back with the right foot.
  5. The second fencer steps to the right while throwing a left Zwerch towards the head

Refer to the fencer on the right in the first illustration for how this ends. (Ignore the fencer on the left for now.)

First Actor’s Counter-Response

If he strikes towards your head like this with the Zwirchhaw with crossed arms, then displace this with your long edge, then immediately yank back your sword (as in illustration) and wind your point from your left side to his face or chest.

As mentioned in the summary, the first fencer will probably avoid the thrust by stepping back and rotating the body out of the line of attack. When the subsequent Zwerch comes in, this can be parried with the long edge.

The next bit is interesting. First you yank your sword into the air. This is necessary to free your sword for the subsequent thrust. One of my compatriots like to expel the second fencers sword with his quillons on the way up to further unsettle his opponent.

As soon as the sword is free, rotate the point to the left until you come into Einhorn, then drop the tip into Ochs and thrust.

image image

Homework Assignment: The Second Actor’s Counter-Response

So the first fencer parried your long-edge zwerch. Now what? Do you do the usual next step, a short-edge Zwerch to the left ear? Or something else?

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