Meyer’s Longsword – His Pedagogy for Tag and Defeating the Opening Zwerch

I am a firm believer in learning how to use a guard as a static posture before learning how to break it. My theory is that you should never linger in a guard if you don’t know how to deal with all of the simple attacks against it.

This is why I was excited to see that first devices Meyer covers in chapter 11 are all parries for Tag. Using just three parries, you are safe from any single cut that may offend you. And if executed correctly, you should steal the vor in the process.

Having thus taught us how to be safely stay in Tag, he then offers us a technique in the fourth device to make us not want to. I am speaking, of course, of the threatened thrust followed by a Zwerch.

But what if I led with a Zwerch?

There are actually several problems with this. First of all, the Zwerch has a shortened range. This means that before you even get close enough to use it, your opponent may drop his point and thrust. (Hey, another use for the fourth Tag device.)

But for the sake of argument, let’s say for whatever reason you are already in range. Since the Zwerch is a rising cut to the left, your opponent will just go back to Tag device 2. So you are giving him exactly what he wants.

How about the Double Zwerch?

The double Zwerch, where you feint to his left and then connect on the right, has a better chance of being successful. But even here, you could be playing right into his hands. From Ringeck, passage 40.

Here note the break against the upper thwart-cut

Item. Note, when you bind him from your right side with an over-cut (or otherwise on his sword), if he then strikes-around with the thwart to the other side, so come forward as well with the thwart-cut under his sword on his neck (as stands pictured hereafter next to this), such that he strikes himself the same with your sword.

MS E.1939.65.341 001r.jpg

This will be much harder for him if you manage to avoid blade contact during the feint, but he has the advantage of controlling the center while you have to go the long way around.

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