Meyer’s Longsword – Part 1, Divisions of the Fight

Previous interpretation: Meyer’s Longsword – Divisions of the Fight

Zufechten – Onset

The onset is the first intention, the first action taken from a posture to begin an  engagement. Unless you fall into the bad habit of “one-attack, one-counter, break”, very little actual fencing occurs during the onset. Yet it is vital to perform skillfully during the onset if you wish to be in an advantageous position for the rest of the exchange.

In the past I wrote,

Immediately it becomes apparent that Meyer’s system is more aggressive than that of the Italians. Whereas Fabris or Capo Ferro would start at wide measure with a series of small closing actions to gain control of the opponent’s blade, Meyer’s Onset starts boldly with a cut from one of the postures. While he doesn’t necessarily expect the cut to land, it does immediately move one into range for handwork.

I now think that I over-estimated the aggressiveness of the system relative to the Italians. While it s true that Meyer doesn’t try to “gain the blade” when using the longsword, many of his opening actions have the same effect. The goal here isn’t to rush in and hope for the best, but rather to simply keep moving to ever increasingly advantageous positions using whatever techniques are appropriate for the weapon and the situation.

Handtarbeit – Handwork

This is where the bulk of the fighting occurs, and thus is the most important part of the art. While opening actions shouldn’t be ignored, the bulk of ones training should be focused on this aspect.

The handwork is a bit difficult to classify in terms of other systems. Fiore and the Bolognese tend to divide the fight into wide and narrow (stretta) plays. Meyer doesn’t  make this distinction. His definition of handwork spans both wide and narrow actions.

Abzug – Withdrawal

I have nothing new to say on this topic.

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