This decision tree is my personal interpretation of when to use various techniques described by Meyer. It is a work in progress, so as I learn more about Meyer’s system it may need to be revised.
Two factors play into which technique should be used: strength and measure.
The strength of the bind refers to the holistic quality of the situation. While how hard the opponent is pressing is part of the equation, there is far more to it than just that. Control of the center line also plays into the strength of the bind. Or in other words, if one fencer has a straight thrust then his bind should considered to be stronger. Balance is another factor. A fencer who is well grounded and prepared to move has a stronger bind than one who is unbalanced.
Measure dictates which techniques are feasible. ’If you are close to your opponent, ausreissen (wrenching) with the pommel or hendtrucken (pressing hands) makes more sense than trying an attack with the point. Conversely, if you are at a wide measure then you shouldn’t try to dive in for a grapple.
If you are weak in the bind, leave it. Don’t wait around for the opponent to figure out what happened and take advantage of the situation. The simplest way to leave the bind is Umbschlagen or Striking Around. This means to leave the bind and strike or flick your blade to the other side. It would always be done with a step, as the goal is to get away from the bad situation as quickly as possible.
Meyer doesn’t discuss this in the longsword section, but the response is fairly obvious. If you have a clear line, then wind to a safe guard while thrusting. Usually this means an extended Ochs or Pflug depending on where the opponent’s sword is.
Meyer gives us several options that I feel are appropriate for the neutral bind. The ones I am discussing today all begin the same way. In one tempo you need to:
- Turn the top edge of the sword inward so that the short edge is against the opponent’s blade. This is called Verkehren or Reversing.
- If his blade is the left of yours, push your pommel under your right arm such that your blade pushes down the opponent’s blade, creating a space for you to work in. If his blade is to your right, pull up on the pommel for the same effect. Either way, this is Ausreissen or Wrenching with the blade.
- Compass your rear foot around so that your body pivots in place and supports the Ausreissen.
These three actions must be performed at the same time. Think of them as notes in a chord, not distinct movements.
Don’t gather your rear foot to the lead foot, as you won’t have enough balance to resist a push or other grapple.
Likewise don’t cross your rear foot behind the front. The goal of the compass step is to change the orientation of the body. Your rear foot should move far enough to match the rotation of the torso, no further. Again, if you neglect this you will be unbalanced.
The rotation of the body and matching step are essential. The idea is to wrench with your body, not with your arms. If you leave your feet static then you left trying to fight the opponent’s whole body with just your arms.
Neutral Bind at a Moderate Measure
If you are at a moderate measure, then as soon as you have created the opening using reversing and wrenching, you need to take advantage of it by attacking again. This second attack is known as Doplieren or Doubling. Where you aim depends on the size of the opening.
If you have narrow opening, use a Zwerch or Schielhauw to the same opening that you originally targeted. If attacking his left shoulder, your Schielhauw will be with uncrossed arms. To his right, the arms will be crossed. After either attack, ward any potential counters using Ochs.
When attacking the narrow opening, your lead foot will step outwards along the diagonal. If necessary, the rear foot can then compass behind in order to further strike around to the side of the opponent.
If the opponent’s blade is no longer between his face and yours, I consider this to be a wide opening. When this occurs, the tactics for the narrow opening become dangerous. While you are still likely to land a blow, you leave yourself exposed to a counter-attack.
The risk comes from allowing a large space between your blade and his, as this space allows him to power a blow. You can mitigate this by attacking the opposite opening instead of the original opening.
For example, say you threw a cut from your right such that you bind his sword to the left of yours. You wrench to create an opening, but put too much power into it and now it is quite wide. Go ahead and perform a Schielhauw, but aim for the right shoulder. This leaves your blade close to his so that he cannot begin a blow without first pulling back his sword. Again, end your attack in Ochs for your defense.
Neutral Bind at a Close Measure
If you are close to your opponent, your next action will depend on the relative height of your hilt compared to his. Again, this begins with Verkehren and Ausreissen to create an opening.
Your hilt is lower
If your hilt is lower, use the technique known as Hendtrucken or Pressing Hands. Using your schilt, quillons, or knuckles, press his hands upwards. This will be especially easy if both fencers are binding strongly, as they have a tendency to push each other’s swords up.
As soon as his hands are above his face, you can push the pommel into the same. Alternately you can use one of the many grappling techniques that arise from this advantage.
Your hilt is higher
If instead your hilt is higher than your opponent’s, follow the Ausreissen of the blade with the Ausreissen of the pommel. Release your left hand as you wind the pommel between his arms, then wrench him downwards. Your left hand should be gainfully employed by seizing his right arm, your blade, or his as the situation dictates.
This is Just a Starting Point
This list is by no means comprehensive. In Meyer alone there are many other possible responses, and if you exhaust those you can look to other sources.