Lately I’ve been thinking more about how to use guards. In the past I fear that I was overly concerned about what could be done from a guard rather than what should be done.
Take, for example, Pflug. Being a low guard, Manciolino and Marozzo would say that it should be used first to parry and then to attack. Or in other words, it is a defensive guard. In their respective discussions on low guards they then say that if you were to attack first, do so with a thrust or falso.
Meyer’s Thoughts on Pflug
Meyer doesn’t really say a lot about Pflug. This makes sense in a way. Pflug is primarily a guard used for thrusting, which Meyer rarely discusses with the longsword. To truly understand how Meyer uses Pflug, you have to study the equivalent guards in his dussak and rapier sections.
That said, he does have this useful drill for teaching people how to deal with those who try to open with a cut from Pflug.
Now if he attacks from the lower guards (whether he fights from the left or right side), then as soon as he goes up, see that you pursue him at once under his sword skillfully with the long edge and strike to the nearest opening.
In this Nachreisen drill, the patient punishes the agent for attempting a cut from Pflug while in measure. As soon as the agent raises, or lowers, his point in order to begin a cut the patient leaps in with a long edge cut to his arms.
Being in measure with the point on line, the agent should have instead opened with a thrust. Alternately, he could become patient and allow the other fencer to attack. However, Meyer does not encourage his students to be patient and allow the other fencer to dictate the fight. So this is another reason why Meyer downplays the guard.