Meyer’s Longsword Workbook 2, Chapter 3 – The Middle and End of the Fight

This is the final chapter on the Example Device. Next up is the cutting patterns, which focuses more on techniques than broad topics.

Chapter 3 – The Middle and End of the Fight

In this chapter we shall look at the vor and the nach, slicing, pressing hands, and cutting away.

Vor – Before

The guiding philosophy behind the devices is that the fencer wants to obtain and maintain the initiative. This is known as have the vor.

Joachim Meyer

It is called Vor when you attack your opponent with your cutting in the first Onset, and further drive on, so that he cannot come to his undertaking or device, but must restrict himself to parrying so that he may defend himself from you.

Sigmund Schining ein Ringeck

Mark well that more than anything else you must understand “Before” and “After”, because these two concepts are the grounding from which all fencing comes.

Mark also: “Before” means that you shall always perform a strike or thrust against his openings, before he does the same to you. Then he must defend against you! And work deftly both in the defence and in moving your sword from one opening to another, so he cannot have the chance to perform his own techniques between yours. But if he rushes in close to you, deal with him through wrestling.

Nach – After

Conversely, the fencer who is just reacting to his opponent, especially one who waits for the other to attack or is on the defensive, is in the nach or after.

Joachim Meyer

Now the Nach is when you are rushed on by your opponent, as has been described before, so that you cannot carry out your intentions.

Sigmund Schining ein Ringeck

Mark, that if you cannot come in the “Before”, wait for the “After”. This will defeat all techniques that he does against you. When he comes at you so that you must defend yourself against him, so work deftly “in the Instant” with your defense against his nearest opening, so strike him before he can finish his technique. Thus you win the “Before” and he is left in the “After”. You shall also know how you can use “the Instant” against his “weak” and “strong” parts of the sword.

In the context of the example, device, the fencer gains the Vor when he slashes up at the very beginning. After that he is controlling the fight, with his opponent merely reacting in a predicable fashion. But to maintain the Vor throughout the entire fight requires understanding a few more techniques.

Schneiden – Slicing

One such technique is Schneiden or Slicing. In old German fencing, Schneiden is considered to be one of the “three wounders”, the three ways one may injure the opponent. The other two wounders are of course the cut and the thrust.

Joachim Meyer

This is also one of the true core techniques in the handwork; for when your opponent rushes upon you with quick and swift devices, you can stop and hinder him with no other technique better than with the slice, which you should hold in stock for yourself among all techniques as a particular gem to discover. Now you must execute the slice thus: After you have caught your opponent’s sword with the bind, you shall remain there to feel whether he intends to withdraw from the bind or strike around. As soon as he strikes around, then pursue him with the long edge on his arm; push him back from you with your forte or shield, let your weapon fly, and cut to the nearest opening before he can recover.

Illustration is from Paulus Hector Mair.


Exercise 1 Slicing

After you perform the second Zwerch in the example device, the opponent may be eager to perform his own attack. Assuming he has just parried your Zwerch, you can feel the moment he leaves your sword to begin his cut. As he does this, drop your blade onto his right arm (catching both arms if you can).

Do not wait for him to power up his blow. The purpose of the slice in this context is not to parry an attack but rather to prevent it from starting in the first place. In this sense it is a form of Nachreisen.

Example Device

For this exercise we add step 4 to the device. Steps 5 and 6 will follow in later exercises in this chapter.

4: If he strikes around from your sword to the other side, then chase him with the slice on his arm.

5: Push him from you with the forte of your blade or with your shield with a jerk;

6: while he is still faltering from the push and has not yet recovered, then go rapidly up with crossed arms and strike with the short edge over his right arm at his head, and this (as I have said) before he recovers from the push.

Hendtrucken – Pressing Hands

After you have sliced the arms, you will want to unbalance him so that he doesn’t attempt to grapple. A technique known as Hendtrucken or Pressing Hands can be effective for this.

Further Reading

Art of Combat, Book 1, Chapter 5, Pressing Hands.

Exercise 2 Pressing Hands

Continue the example device, adding in step 5 as described above.

Exercise 3 Defeating Kron using Hendtucken

In this drill, the agent will begin by throwing a Zornhauw from his right side. The patient will start in any low guard and defend himself with a Kronhauw.

As soon as the blades touch, the agent will step forward while using his hilt to push his opponent’s hands up high. If timed correctly, the opponent’s own desire to raise the hands for the Kron will assist in this action.


Fencing masks are not designed to withstand a hard blow from a pommel. So when using the pommel to strike the opponent, stop before it actually touches the mask. This way if you make a mistake you only touch the mask. Had you intended to touch the mask and misjudged, then you are likely to dent it or injury its wearer.

Sturtzhauw – Plunge Cut

The historic author Hans Sachs considered the Sturtzhauw or Plunge cut to be one of the master cuts. Meyer describes it as thus:

Joachim Meyer

Although this cut is a High Cut, and so considered because there is not much difference between the two, yet this is called the Plunge Cut because in cutting through, it always plunges over above, so that the point comes against the opponent’s face in the Ox; and it is most used in the Approach or Onset.

The Sturtzhauw is performed with the short edge so that it can go up and over most parries.

Exercise 4 Sturtzhauw in the Example Device

Continue the example device, adding in step 6 as described above.

Abzug or Leaving the Fight

[TODO Quote from Meyer]

Meyer has several options for leaving the fight by cutting away. The one he starts with is simply one or more Zwerch strikes. It is important that these cross in front of the face, as the goal is to make the opponent not want to follow. Large swings, or blows that go too high or too low, may leave an opening for the opponent to take advantage of.

Exercise 5 Cutting Away in the Example Device

This exercise concludes the example device. Work from the beginning and perform all seven steps of the device.

1: In the Onset come into the right Change; take heed as soon as he pulls up his sword for a stroke, and quickly slash through upward before him,

2: and cut in with a Thwart from your right at the same time as him; in the cut, step well to his left side. If he sends his cut straight to your head, then you will hit him with the Thwart on his left ear.

3: But if you see that he does not cut straight to your head, but turns his Cut with the long edge against your Thwart to parry, then before it touches, cut quickly with a long Thwart at his right ear; step at the same time with your left foot well around to his right. Now you have laid on with two Thwart Cuts to both sides, opposite each other; this you take from the first section of this treatise.

4: If he strikes around from your sword to the other side, then chase him with the slice on his arm.

5: Push him from you with the forte of your blade or with your shield with a jerk;

6: while he is still faltering from the push and has not yet recovered, then go rapidly up with crossed arms and strike with the short edge over his right arm at his head, and this (as I have said) before he recovers from the push.

7: Now if he should recover and slip upward to parry, then let your sword fly back away and deliver a Thwart to his left ear with a back-step on your left foot.

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