Meyer’s Forward – There Are Only Four Cuts

And the whole art of combat rests especially on two elements. The first consists of the cuts and thrusts with which you intent to harm and vanquish your opponent. The second element is the parries, which teaches you how to turn aside or strike out these cuts when they are sent in ay you or directed against you by your opponent.

Note that he writes “cuts and thrusts”. Neither is given supremacy here, you are expected to know both.

There are only four cuts

The next passage is incredibly important. Meyer says flat out that there are only four cuts: High, Wrath, Middle, and Low. That’s it. Every other cut that you are introduced to is embodied with one of those four.

This has important ramifications in regards to how we think about these cuts. In earlier German traditions such as Liechtenauer there is a common belief that a Zornhau (Wrath cut) isn’t just any diagonal cut, but one that has a specific purpose and thus must be used in a specific fashion.

That may be true, in Liechtenauer. But in Meyer, that is the wrong way to think about it. For us, Zornhau is any diagonal cut. Without context, you can’t say anything more about the strike. You can’t even say that one of those cuts is performed with the long edge.  He cites the fact that the Sturtzhauw (Plunge cut) is a Oberhau  (High cut) as an example of this.

Another example he offers is Wechselhauw (Change cut), which is a Zornhau (or Underhauw) that changes from one side to another. When he says Wechselhauw, he means “use a Zornhau for the purpose of changing sides”. It isn’t a different cut, but rather a specific use of a cut you already know.

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