Mair’s Longsword – Zwirchhaw from Both Sides

With the Right Foot Forward

When you come to the closing with the opponent, stand with the right foot forward such that the short edge is wound towards you. Then follow outward with your left leg and strike the Zwirchhaw with crossed arms. If he displaces this, then wind in the weak and strike him long to the upper opening.

This versatile play may begin from any guard such that the right foot is forward and the short edge is wound towards you. That would include left Ochs, Lichtenauer left Pflug, Meyer’s right Pflug, and left Hangetort.

From any of these, step out with the left foot and throw a Zwerch to your opponent’s right ear. The timing of this is important, as you will be vulnerable during the beginning of the Zwerch.

The first Zwerch can be easily parried by all but the most novice of fencers, but the trick lies in what comes next. Normally a parried Zwerch is accompanied with a second Zwerch. But here Mair tells us to do something different.

Wind your sword using where your wrists cross as the point of rotation so that you may cut with the long edge along the Zornlini (Zorn-line, a.k.a. Squalembrato or B cut) to the left side of the head. This winding action will push against the weak of his sword, opening it up like a swinging door. What’s more, your blade will be behind his, preventing any possibility of a parry once the winding is complete.

Striking a second cut into the same opening as the first cut, usually with the other edge of the sword, is called Doplieren or Doubling.

If you opponent is expecting the second Zwerch, he’ll be weak in the bind and all the more easier.  If he is really strong in the bind, proceed to the next technique.

With the Left Foot Forward

If rather you stand with the left foot forward and likewise lie against him in the Zwirch with crossed arms, then follow outward with your right foot and turn your hand so that the flat of the sword stands in front of him and strike with the Zwirch in towards his left ear. If he displaces your Zwirch, then let a double feint pass and strike him to the top of his head on the right side.

The second play starts whenever your left foot is forward and you “lie against him in the Zwirch”. You may have just thrown an actual Zwerch, as per the technique above, or perhaps you find yourself in right Ochs, right Schielhauw, or Versazung (Parry Position). It doesn’t matter so long as you can throw a right Zwerch to the left side of his head.

Read carefully how Mair describes throwing this cut. It isn’t a helicopter motion that takes your point behind your head. Rather the point inscribes a circle in front of you such that the strong of your blade is always between you and your opponent’s face. This is crucial for your safety.

If that Zwerch is parried, the rest of the technique requires that you maintain the vor or initiative. This is a subtle type of vor, this is an aggressive game of follow the leader where you throw two fake attacks that he will fruitlessly try to parry. After drawing him further and further off balance, you return to center for a simple strike to the top of the head.

The Double Feint

Mair doesn’t specify what to use for your double feint, just ensure that you don’t actually make contact. If they do touch he’ll know exactly where your sword is and can take the initiative from you.

I like using two more Zwerchs, as they are easy to abort once I’m sure my opponent is committed to a parry. Flinging his sword side-to-side, each missed parry is a little bit wider than the next.

My colleague prefers a Zwerch to the upper right opening followed by a Zwerch to the lower right. This draws the sword far away from the head, leaving it exposed to the quick long-edge cut.

Why a double feint? A single feint may not draw the sword off-line enough, while a third feint becomes predictable and may cause you to lose the vor. While certainly room for flexibility here, two feints seems to be a good choice most of the time.

This entry was posted in Longsword, Paulus Hector Mair and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Mair’s Longsword – Zwirchhaw from Both Sides

  1. Pingback: Mair’s Longsword – The Ochs from Both Sides | Grauenwolf's Study of Western Martial Arts

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