What is the Vorschlag or First Strike? My New Theory

The vorschlag is a poorly understood concept. A lot of people think that “winning the vorschlag” means being the first person to throw a strike with the intention of hitting.

Now Meyer doesn’t seem to use the term vorschlag, but I think his cutting patterns teach it none the less. Under my new theory, winning the vorschlag means to throw the first viable strike. Let us use the indes drill as an example.

  • The agent’s slash to the face isn’t viable, it is just to get a reaction. So that’s not the vorschlag.
  • The patient’s reaction could be a vorschlag, but is usually not. If the provocation was done correctly, the patient can only reach by stepping directly forward into a space that is already occupied by a blade.
  • The agent’s response to the reaction, that’s the vorschlag we’re going for. That the first real strike to an opening with a legitimate chance of landing. It is also a first strike in the sense that further strikes will follow.

The vorschlag has to be won. You can’t just scream “Vor!” and leap forward against a competent opponent unless he is visibly distracted. You have to play the game of distance and timing and nerves in order to safely get into an attacking position. And ideally this is a dynamic position such that your opponent is too preoccupied to immediately throw an after blow.

In short, the vorschlag is not swinging your sword first; it is your reward for fencing better than your opponent.

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