Using stance in Meyer

"whichever leg stands in front is bent and the rear is extended to create a strong base" Andre Paurñfeyndt

How to stand and how to move your body
Meyer has three ways to stand or stances; beginning, middle and end stance.  Meyer doesn't describe these positions, he leaves you to deduce this from his excellent woodcuts. Andre Paurñfeyndt, as above, does explicitly state how you should stand in his twelve teachings to the beginning fencer. Meyer, ever a fan of bells and whistles, obviously goes one further and also has a reversed or beginning version of this basic stance. 

Beginning and end stances are the position of balance at the beginning and end of a cut. Starting in beginning stance, you cut through until you reach the end stance. 
End stance

End (see right) – characterised by the bent front leg and straight rear leg, as per Andre Paurñfeyndt. The Upper body starts at vertical and can lean forwards as it completes the cut until it is 45 degrees or more from vertical. The back is always straight, i.e. you don't bend the back to get the lean, you bend from the waist. You can reach End stance quite early in the cut, as seen from the Guard of Day on the right, presumably this is to balance your upper body lean as you complete your cut.

Beginning stance
Beginning (see left) - the opposite of the end stance, bent back leg and straight front leg. The upper body can vary from 45 degrees from vertical to vertical depending on how big a cut you are winding up for (or pretending you are winding up for). The back is always straight. 

You can also detect from Meyers plates an intermediate position between forward and backward, the transitional middle position.

Middle stance (see left and right) – vertical upright posture without lean, a straight back and with both knees slightly bent.

A note on feet: the lead foot is usually either pointing at the opponent (or away from the opponent in Beginning stance) directly in line or slightly outwards from the line, sometimes up to 45 degrees outward from the line. Very, very rarely is it pointed inwards, which apparently would be very nasty for the muscles around the knee. I find a slight outward turning helps to keep my front leg firm and stops my knee from collapsing inwards.

Important point:

Meyer doesn't always go through these three postures. These postures are determined by how big a cut is being made. So for a full Wrath cut from out of measure and in the Before you would probably do everything. But for a quick Slice, in measure and in the after, you would probably at most just shift End-Middle-End. This would mean less "whole body weight" cut but quicker action. 

Exercises for stance technique:

  1. Start in Beginning stance and (without stepping) move through Middle to End stance. Don't worry about doing anything with you arms yet but focus on using the balls or mid foot, that the hips are moving with the action. For me the biggest issue I have is keeping my back straight and head up. Do this in both directions many, many times.
  2. Adopt Beginning or End stance. Pull the straight leg off the ground in towards your body, slightly above the ground, concentrate on remaining balanced on your bend leg, hold this position, then put the leg moving back in it's first position. Again repeat on both sides many times.


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