Meyer’s first device was a counter to attacks from above. This is the most basic attack from Tag, and the most easily countered. So students of Meyer will often start with a rising cut from Tag to the left or right arms and flank. This device concerns itself with attacks to the left.
The context for this device is any time both you and your opponent are in Tag and you see that he intends to strike before you. This can happen in the onset, but it is just as likely to occur in the middle of an exchange when you both pull back to make a strike.
Initial Parry: Krump
When you see your opponent throwing the blow from below to your left side, step out wide to his left side and cut his forte with your long edge.
Parries are normally against the weak of the sword, with the exception of the Krumphauw or Crooked/Arc Cut.
Note: We believe that this is known as a “Traversato” in the Bolognese sources.
First Counter-Attack: Short to the Left Ear
The first attack against the opponent is done using the short edge against the left ear. In this passage he explicitly says “down with the short edge”, but it is our belief that all of these short edge cuts to the ear always nearly vertical in nature. When Meyer wants us to cut more horizontally, he tells us to use a Zwerch (Thwart) instead.
Note: We’ve seen this before. In the first device, we counter-attack with a rising cut to the right arm, then immediately follow with the short edge cut to the left ear.
A weakness of the Krumphauw is that it leaves the opponent’s blade near the left leg. If not dealt with, you are susceptible to an afterblow in the form of a cut against said leg or a thrust to the belly.
Meyer’s way of avoiding this is to tell us to further step to the left when performing the cut to the left ear. This moves away from their blade, encouraging them to parry rather than retaliate.
The final position of this attack is Ochs with crossed arms and the right foot forward. Somewhat like this illustration from Ringeck.
The Theory of Vor
When talking about the Vor, it is easy to believe that it merely means you are attacking and your opponent is just responding. But it is more subtle than that. To truly be in the Vor, your opponent must respond in a way that is favorable to you. If he is free to do whatever he wants, you are both operating in the Gleich or “simultaneously”.
One way to maintain the Vor is to perform actions that the opponent will desire to parry. Attacks to the head are a good way of doing this because your opponent will see it coming. Conversely, it is hard to establish the vor using attacks to the low flank or legs. Even if your opponent can see them coming, they are hard to parry so he’ll probably try a void (moving the leg/body out of the way) while striking you in the head.
Note that it really doesn’t matter if the parry is successful or not in Meyer’s system. Because the longsword is well suited to combination attacks, you should be well on your way to the next attack before you consciously determine whether or not the last attack landed successfully. So long as your opponent is still trying to parry, you will eventually land a blow or three.
Note: In the Italian treatises, the concept of the Vor is sometimes referred to as putting your opponent into “obedience”. The theory is the same, you perform actions that have a correct and obvious response, but none the less still leave you in a better position.
Second Attack: Long to the Right Ear
As I implied above, Meyer expects the opponent to try to parry the cut to the ear. As soon as he does, step well to his right and cut him in the ear with the long edge. When doing so, keep the hands high and the quillons over your head.
Given this description, the attack resembles this Scheitelhauw, but probably with the left foot forward. I say probably because Meyer doesn’t specify which foot to step with.
Note: I need to figure out where I got this illustration from. Anyone recognize it?
Controlling the Fight by Slicing the Arms
At this stage your opponent may be eager to make his own attack. In order to prevent him from doing so, as soon as he cuts around push your blade into his arms. You may end up in a position like this from Mair:
However you do it, maintain contact when he tries to escape. Then when he is least expecting it, cut to another opening and then cut away.