Category: Meyer Rappier

Meyer Pilgrimage Part 2 – Basel

Almost exactly a year ago I was lucky enough to be taken on a small journey that has been a long time dream of mine; walking in the footsteps of 16th cent fencing master Joachim Meyer, visiting the city where he spent many years teaching as Fechtmeister; Straßburg. I shared some of the things we believe we know about his life then, in an article entitled ‘Meyer Pilgrimage Part 1 – Straßburg‘. This year I was very happy to be invited to take on leg 2 of that pilgrimage, to visit the city where Joachim Meyer was born; Basel, and...

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The Ringen of Joachim Meyer

This article shall group Joachim Meyer’s Ringen into collections of similar throws. Hopefully this will better aid the modern student in learning Meyer’s Ringen. All of the throws have been rewritten into a modern step-by-step method from Dr. Forgeng’s translation along with some interpretation of my own. In Joachim Meyer’s Ringen section we find an amalgamation of several different techniques. In the Ringen section Meyer gives us seventeen different techniques. These techniques appear to be more of a haphazard collection of throws, holds, and general advice. However, while they are scattered over the various plays, these throws can be...

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A key to Meyer’s mechanics & footwork – part 1

Here is a rough diagram that tries to explain the core mechanics that go through all of Meyers fencing and which are the foundation for the footwork and weapon mechanics, regardless of weapon. These mechanics apply to pretty much all of Meyer’s teachings, with somewhat different emphasis for especially rappier and dagger. They unlock certain things in regards to moving & coordination as well as extension & reach. It also makes it easier to fight multiple opponents as you can change direction easily by just looking in the opposite direction, already prepared in stance. Somewhat unusual to some, this also includes moving the body...

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Meyerozzo: The influences of the Bolognese method in German Rappier

There are many reasons why I devote much of my time and my energies on what Joachim Meyer has exhibited in his treatises. But the main reason I decided to get closer to the Freifechter of Basel was the desire to learn his method of two-handed sword, and possibly the influence of the Bolognese school, which was my best reference point some years ago. But what was my desire really born from? The answer can be found in a very popular figure in historical fencing, at least here in Italy. Of course, I am referring to Jacopo Gelli. Over the years, with...

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System vs Syllabus: Meyer’s 1560 and 1570 sidesword texts

As a professional educator as well as a long-time amateur martial arts instructor, one of the issues that fascinates me about the historical fighting manuscripts is their approach to teaching. Broadly speaking, there are two types of texts: a)      “Reference” texts which attempt to preserve a system of fighting b)      “Teaching” texts which attempt to sequence the teaching of a weapon or style Reference texts aim to list everything of importance or to present memory cues for techniques learnt through physical instruction. For instance, the early German corpus revolves around the Lichtenauer verses, which are mnemonic in nature[1]. Terms in the verses are not explained, and the verses can be broken down into sections which do not necessarily link to ideas previously mentioned. Each subsequent author added a commentary or “glossa” to the verses, but retained the sequence of verses. Such a reference text works well for a reader already submerged in the art illustrated, but is not necessarily the ideal vehicle for teaching a raw beginner. A teaching text, on the other hand, aims to present material in a sequence to facilitate learning. Ideas are introduced in order from simple to complex, each building on the previous work. Many works of the 16th and later centuries are built on this model, potentially/possibly reflecting a change in mind-set by the writers from preserving an art, to transmitting an art....

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 9

This time I will speak rather briefly about stances and the ideas behind them. This does not just apply to the longsword, but is applicable to all weapons. So, without further ado, let’s dig into it. Joachim Meyer describes stances in relation to the first attack in the following words: Now the guards or postures are a graceful but also necessary positioning and comportment of the whole body with the sword, in which the combatant places and positions himself when he is the first to come to his opponent in the place of encounter, as often happens, so that he will not be unexpectedly rushed up...

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Meyer Pilgrimage Part 1 – Straßburg

We all share the same love for our personal and shared discoveries of a forgotten European martial arts tradition and studying it we all learn to know some important and commonly known names like Liechtenauer, Fiore, Ringeck, Talhoffer, Kal, Vadi, Marozzo, Fabris and Silver etc. Most of us study their texts and the numerous anonymous ones somewhat generically but as we continue on or journey many of us also end up choosing to go down a more narrow street, focusing on one master only. As many know, for me, that street is the Joachim Meyer street, and while certainly studying other sources,...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 8

Although not originally planned to be included in this series, I decided to add an article on a topic that deserves special treatment, since to best understand several of the core teachings of this whole article series it is vital to understand this particular topic. That topic is “deception“. Mess with the mind first, then with the body Fighting is like sex1. First you try to seduce and woo your opponent trying to stir emotions and ideas, using any means at your disposal; physical features, moving confidently, display of skills, your voice and your wit. In your exchange you give off an impression of courage &...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 7

This week we will be taking advantage of one of the greatest benefits from reading somewhat later masters, like Joachim Meyer and George Silver, by looking closer at a subject that most early treatises speak little of; tactics. We will here only focus on the former master though, and take a look at what tactical advice he gives on combat. However, before we actually do that, we should perhaps look at the definition of that very word; tactics, as it is often confused with strategy. Here is one definition of the two: Tactics are the actual means used to gain an objective, while strategy is the overall campaign plan. So, strategy is the long-term plan that uses different shorter-term tactics to achieve the objective. In combat the objective is commonly to hit the opponent, although it can also be to dominate the opponent or just flee unscathed. To do this, different strategies are used, like e.g. confusing and overwhelming the opponent, which can be done using different tactics, like moving constantly, taking the initiative first, provoking, fenting etc. Looking to the strategies Meyer is close to the earlier masters, but tactically he expands on the older art by also using for the time modern concepts from many sources, not least the Bolognese tradition. Holistic reading and general or particular advice? To understand Meyer’s Art of combat one needs to consider his...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 6

Throughout history going all the way back from at least medieval times up until modern military bayonet training a diagram typically depicting four crossing lines with seven or eight directions of cutting or striking have been used. The fact that it has changed little is of course not very surprising as it is tied to human physiology, both that of our opponent and in how we are capable of using our weapons in striking. This week we will look briefly at this and how we can categorize the various types of cuts and reflect a bit on their forms...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 5

This week’s article will be talking about the topic of various ways of counterstriking against an attack. Different masters and traditions handle this differently, depending on their core tactics and views on what distances and timing to use as the basis for the general fighting. Some even mix different solutions in varying proportions, combining different and sometimes disparate styles into their own personal style, with Joachim Meyer being a prime example of this. Kinetic energy, opposing strikes, leverage, Versetzen and distance Basically there are three different methods (1) for handling the opponent’s strikes with a counterstrike: 1. Opposing kinetic...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 4

This time we will start moving into somewhat more unexplored and unmapped territory, working with various clues gathered from different places, to help us guide the way through the (wide) distance. The working theory is that there is a certain distance that many of us need to learn to fight at and utilize more intently and not just pass through or end up in – a distance that is little discussed in the “German” treatises, as it just didn’t need as much explaining for our predecessors since it was common practice to utilize it and thus the authors chose to focus on the...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 3

Time for part 3 in the Onion Article Series, this time taking a closer look at the parts of the weapon and how it relates to handling of distance and tactics. Simply put there are two ways of approaching the issue of controlling the opponent; either physically or mentally. But more on that later. 3. The Schweche, the Mittel and the Stercke Physically controlling your opponent and his/her weapon can be done either with your body, or with your weapon and its features. To better understand this we need to look at how a regular longsword is divided into...

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The Onion – Basics of European Longsword: Part 2

Continuing with part 2 in the Onion series of articles we will now focus on the topic of controlling the fight, or lack thereof and regaining it. In German terms these concepts are called Vor, Nach and Nachreissen. These concepts are hugely important, but at the same time very hard for a beginner to sense and utilise, but they can be trained with the right set of exercises, while they build the correct mentality for both parties. So, what do these concepts really mean? 2. Vor, Nach, Gleich & Nachreissen explained Before we begin, I would like to remind you...

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The Onion: Basics of European Longsword: Part 1

For the last year or so I have been working on a group of primarily longsword exercises based on studying fechtmeister Joachim Meyer‘s holistic system for training and fighting, focusing on the dussack, longsword and staff in combination with some additional mostly untutored practice of Portuguese Jogo do Pau. Some of the core questions have revolved around how to become more dynamic in fencing while also learning to fence in a more safe way that leads to fewer double kills. A good friend recently compared this group of exercises to an onion that has many, many layers of sublime understandings that you...

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The history of Joachim Meyer’s fencing treatise to Otto von Solms.

The Joachim Meyer fechtbuch named MS A.4°.2, a beautiful hand-written and watercolour-illustrated fencing treatise dedicated to Herrn Otto von Solms-Sonnewalde is currently held at the University Library of Lund, but how did it end up there after having been given to the young Count Otto von Solms some time in the 1560s? As it was a personal gift to Otto von Solms we can fairly safely assume that he was given the book sometime during either his studies or his early travels. As it happens, Otto traveled to Strassburg both in 1560 and in 1568, two years before Joachim Meyer’s death, where...

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