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



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.

This is just a basic opening strike with a Zornhau to the upper-left opening. Nothing is said about the timing, but presumably you wouldn’t do this against an opponent whose just resting in his guard waiting for you to attack.

The “next opening” can be pretty much anywhere. Most people expect a Zwerch to the right-side, so I like to follow up the Zornhau with a strike to the lower-left. But really you can’t plan for this, you have to just see what the person leaves open and go for it.

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

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.


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


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

But we’re not done yet. How do you parry with a hanging guard? There are two options here:

The first is to parry normally with the point up, probably in a pflug-like position. Then wind into the hanging guard and thrust or Zwerch as appropriate.

The second option is to wind into the hanging guard before the blades clash. This is done with a step to the left so that your hands are well past the arc of your opponent’s sword. Without the step you are liable to parry with your hands, which hurts a lot. Also remember to extend your arms, otherwise your parry will be weak and the Zornhau may still land.

I like the second option because the rest of the play flows without thought. As the blades clash, you thrust. If the thrust misses because your opponent pushed it off to the side, take that energy and use it for your Zwerch to the right ear.

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 being “strong in the bind”. That is to say, by pushing the point offline. When the subsequent Zwerch comes in, this can be parried with the long edge in a guard that looks like right vom Tag with the arms pushed out.

The next bit is interesting. First you yank your sword into the air, then you wind it from the left into what’s basically Einhorn, then drop the tip into Ochs and thrust.

image image

At first we thought the upwards yank was to free the sword. And you can do it that way, but it’s a bad idea. If you free your sword, you also free his. And if his sword is free who knows what he’ll do with it.

Instead you yank your sword up to maintain contact and control. As you wind your point down, you want to keep his sword trapped in the triangle between your blade and quillon. Raising your hilt makes that easier to do and protects your head in case he does escape.

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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1 Response to Mair’s Longsword – A Play of Zornhau Against the Thrust (revised)

  1. Pingback: Hanging Against Zornhau | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

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