Meyer’s Rapier – Chapter 2

In Meyer’s divisions of the combatant the body is divided into four lines or openings, as is the head. While this is sufficient for the longsword and dusak, the rapier requires several more divisions.

In addition to the vertical line through the head, there is a vertical line through each shoulder. Thus there are four openings when making a vertical cut. Likewise the body is now split horizontally with a new line just above the shoulder and another through the knee. Finally there are three diagonal lines in each direction.

image  image

Meyer states in no uncertain terms that any cur or thrust must be thrown from the correct height for the line being assaulted. If the cut is starting at the head, one should be as upright as possible. If cutting or thrusting any other place, the shoulder should be level with the highest point of the cut.

In order to achieve the correct height the body must be lowered by means of a step. Looking at the image below, it is pretty clear he is talking about what we now refer to as the long thrust or lunge.


For the sake of comparison, here is the long thrust of Capoferro.


The theory behind this is pretty simple. If your body is lowered and you attack a high line then your range is reduced. Or as he says, your stroke is shortened. An attack to a low line while standing upright is even worse. Not only do you reduce your reach, you leave your upper body exposed. Again, we turn to Capoferro for an excellent illustration of this mistake.


Divisions of the Sword

This is the same four divisions as the longsword, that is the strong and the weak, the long and the short. As a reminder, the long is the “true” or front edge and the short the “false” or back edge. The strong is the midpoint of the blade to the hilt, the weak is the midpoint to the tip.


For the fight with rapiers Meyer has three ranges. He does not name these ranges so we will use generic terms.

Large or Wide Measure

This is the range from which you can just reach the foible of this blade with the foible of your own. From this range both thrusts and wide, sweeping cuts are allowed.

Close or Narrow Measure

Once the swords bind at their midpoints one can longer leave the opponent’s blade. Any attempt to pull back for a cut or other device the opponent will respond with “chasing”.

And chasing is executed thus: if your opponent cuts with his weapon either too far up or down, or too far out to the side, then you rush after him at his opening and thus prevent his cut coming to completion; for this may properly be used against those who fight with their cuts sweeping wide around them. So that you may better understand this, I will explain it for you with this example:

When an opponent is fighting with you, then observe in which part he holds his sword. Now if he holds it in the right Ox, that is in the upper right quarter, then the moment he takes his sword away from there to change to the other side, or simply pulls up for the stroke, you shall cut in quickly and skillfully, using those cuts and techniques from which you can at once achieve a parry.

Way Too Close

If you are already binding at the middle and either opponent steps even closer then the sword is no longer useful. At this point either step back or resort to gripping and wrestling.

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1 Response to Meyer’s Rapier – Chapter 2

  1. Lot says:

    2 notes:
    1. The difference in the diagrams of the Division of the Combatant between longsword and rapier, is that in longsword the lines divide the body into openings (essentially 4 quadrants) the attacks with come in the space between the lines. In rapier, the diagrams show the lines in which the sword travels. So, there are 3 vertical cuts, the middle line, the right line and the left line, (one for attacking – the middle, and 2 for suppressing cuts – left and right). There are 3 line of attack along the diagonal line, (the shoulder, the hip, and the thigh), and 3 lines of attack with the horizontal, (the neck, the belt, and the foot – which is actually just below the knee).
    2. I like to look at the distance in terms of action, Wide Measure = The Onset, Narrow Measure = The Bind, Way too close (which Meyer would not call it) = Crowding. The Onset is a good place for deceiving actions, the others are not.

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