Meyer’s Longsword – Why the Outside Flat in Tag 1?

In Tag Device 1, Meyer tells us to throw the first parry with the outside flat. Why that flat and not the inside flat. Here are some theories.

Transverse Sword Positioning

When you parry from right to left with the inside flat, the sword naturally lines up with your right arm and shoulder. Which means the bulk of your body is between your sword and theirs, which doesn’t make for a very effect parry.

By turning the short edge out and down, thus striking with the outside flat, the sword naturally lines up with your left arm. Meaning most of your body is on the proper side of your sword.

Hilt Height

When parrying with the inside flat you have options, oh so many options, in terms of hilt height. You can hold it anywhere from head high to about your knee. With the outside flat you are limited to either the shoulder or head height.

But options aren’t always a good thing. For this parry you really do want your sword high and your arms extended forward. Unlike most parries, this one relies on movement, not static structure, to displace the incoming attack. Having the hilt low and the point high would be like swinging

Follow-up Actions

The outside flat leaves you in a very good position to perform a long edge cut to the other side. All you have to do is push the pommel down and through and the sword naturally follows the rest of the arc, rotating around the right hand.

The inside flat requires you to pull both hands back, which takes more time to initiate, weakens your defenses, and results in a slower cut. I’m not saying it can’t be done, it just isn’t as fast as the cut from the outside flat.

So is the Inside Flat Useless?

No, not at all. If you attack with the inside flat, you have the option to reverse and wrench, creating room for a second attack to the same opening. It would be harder to wrench with the outside flat because the blade has to rotate that much farther.

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3 Responses to Meyer’s Longsword – Why the Outside Flat in Tag 1?

  1. Nice article but the thing that I really wanted to know is not touched by this article. The fact that you should use the outside flat and not the inside flat seemed pretty obvious to me because when I use the outside flat, then I stand behind my sword and I’m shielded by my sword whereas this is not the case with the inside flat.
    What interests me more (and this is also a question that I get asked more), is the reason why he uses the flat and doesn’t parry with a real strike edge on edge. This could be for numerous reasons:
    1)It gives your opponent the idea that you are defending using a glutzhau, which would force him to defend his head, leaving an opening on his elbow below (Liechtenauer: He who fights above gets shamed below). But knowing a bit the work of Meyer, he would probably have stated something like ‘threaten with the glutzhua’.

    2)A strike with the flat gives your opponent little opportunity to feel the bind because it is hard for someone to feel how hard it is when something is elastic, if you understand what I mean. As such, your opponent will have a difficult time to know when you are leaving the bind.

    3)If you are fighting with sharps then you will notice that edge on edge contact will bite into each other, which means that you cannot execute the second strike without first turning the bind to the flat which would inform your opponent and will give him time to react.

    Probably there are even more reasons for this (and most probably the reason is a combination of some of these reasons) but since they are not described in the treatise, we can only guess.

    Anyway, I like the work that you do with Meyer, so keep up the good work!

    With kind regards,
    Davy Van Elst

    • Grauenwolf says:

      I like to think of it as there is no bind. The rebound happens so quickly that by the time my opponent realizes we touched I’m already well on my way to the other side. I find it especially useful against people who practice a lot of work from the bind but little or no wide play.

  2. Grauenwolf says:

    So I’d like to add one more detail to using “outer flat” in strikes\parries. When using the outside flat to meet opponents sword, not only the left hand lines naturally with the hilt, but the right hand also is lined in such a way, that the incoming force is opposed by the support of the arms’s bone, not by palm, thus allowing more solid and hard structure. I suppose, Fiore uses some alike mechanics in his “Bicorna”.

    This effect is also used in right Zwerch, which is told to “take all that comes from above” and in “Schiel vs Buffalo”- as it is able to counter much more incoming energy without yielding.

    So maybe that’s why Meyer tells the sword would likely hit the opponent- not due to the extra-flexibility of training sword, but due to the extra-hardness of the blade-hilt-arm system, which is formed during that strike.

    Suc Scrofa

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