I arrived late at practice to find a lesson already in progress. Lessons are rare at my Wednesday night practice, and longsword lessons even rarer, so naturally I accepted the vorfechter’s offer to join in.
The drill was simple enough. I attack with a thrust and he parries by means of a krumphauw at my hands or wrists. The drill worked beautifully with all the other students, but always failed against me. Sometimes he would take a wrist, and a few times he took both, but invariably it ended the point of my sword in his chest. Stepping narrow or wide, left or right, nothing seemed to help.
Switching roles, I didn’t reasonably well using his technique. So what was wrong?
Like the other winkelfechters, I was originally taught that Ochs was flat, with the quillons horizontal and the thumb under the flat of the blade. You can see this in Bill Grandy’s drawing.
But lately I’ve adopted Meyer’s stances. This includes putting an angle on the ochs.
Just an eighth of a turn made all the difference. Like a homing missile my point stayed online no matter where he moved. And the range as extended by a good three or four inches.
At practice we were calling it Meyer’s ochs versus Ringeck’s ochs, but that was not correct. Ringeck not only has an angle, that angle is practically vertical.
This allows my thrust, which originally threatened the neck, to smoothly drop to the upper chest as if that were the plan all along. We think this is what prevented the wrist strike from landing in time.
Through experimentation we found that the proper way to defeat this ochs was not to go low at the wrists but instead go high at the hands while passing back. It is still a krumphauw but it is a much safer one.
So where did the flat ochs come from?