Meyer’s Longsword: Intro to 1560

The introduction to Meyer’s 1560 longsword lists numbers guards and cuts. To my annoyance, it doesn’t actually cover all of these. Even the primary guard Fool and the master cut Scalper (i.e. vertext or parting cut) are omitted from the body of the text. So this is clearly not a Liechtenauer gloss, but an explanation of his own system.

The word “zedel” appears a number of times in the text. This appears to be just an alternate spelling of “zettel” which means piece of paper, notes, written collection of maxims, concise remarks, etc.

The four openings have already been discussed, so I’ll skip his passage on that topic except to say that there appears to be a missing illustration.

Sword Fencing

As with the 1570 text, he divides the fight into three parts: the onset, the handwork, and the withdrawal.

In regards to the vor and nach, Meyer says there “is a constant changing with the Vor and the Nach, now you have it, then he does”. This feels like the concept of tempo to me, where the initiative alternates between the fencers.

Others have described vor as something you can keep, where even if you are parrying his attack you can still be in the vor if it is an attack that you invited. To them the vor and the nach are a matter of control rather than tick-tock of the clock.

Of course Meyer wouldn’t have bothered explaining this concept if there was no debate about the concept even in his own time. If a description need not be said, then it won’t be.

Divisions of the Sword

Again, there appears to be a missing illustration. It appears that Meyer has two divisions:

Two parts of the blade: Strong and weak, split evenly

Four parts of the sword: The hilt and cross, the strong, the middle that can be used as either strong or weak, and the part that is solely weak.


Hard and Soft

Meyer warns us to be more concerned about the fencer who is weak at the bind than the one who is strong. I have to agree.

On many occasions I have left the bind and been published with a simultaneous strike thrown by an opponent that did the same. When he is strong, you know where he is. When he is weak, there is no telling where he’ll end up.

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