Some thoughts on "Parrying" in Longsword

"And guard yourself from all parries which the simple fencers execute, and note when he cuts, so you also cut; and when he thrusts, so thrust as well; and how you shall cut and thrust, you find that written in the five cuts and in the setting-aside."

This is just some thoughts around parrying with Longsword, specifically parries execute by "simple fencers" or "holding against" parrying as Meyer calls it:

Ox and Plough guard an Opening because "they are in essence the position of a thrust", i.e. they threaten a thrust. The key point however is that this is a counter attack (same tempo) action not a parry and riposte (two tempo) action. If you actually receive a Principle Cut to a high opening that you are covering in Ox you'll notice how you often get your hands cut, end up suppressed under his blade and are unable to riposte without some further work. Likewise if you receive a low cut in Plough your hands are vulnerable and he takes your point with his strong. This is because if someone attacks into a opening covered by these positions you are expected to be prepared to counterattack (i.e. thrust in the same tempo) killing them instantly. Thus people will avoid an opening "guarded" by Ox and Plough. This is the same logic of Day or Wrath "guarding" the high lines: if you don't do the action you are pretty screwed.

If you are simply going to "hold your sword against his blow" as Meyer puts it then the best postures for this are Side Guard against low cuts and Speaking Window (moving up into Crown) against high cuts. This puts you hands out of reach behind your cross and creates a bind. However Meyer is clear when discussing Speaking Window that you do not want to "guard" in these positions, only to go into them to meet an action.

So Plough threatens a counter thrust from below or, by moving upwards into Speaking Window to form a parry against the high lines. Likewise Ox threatens a counter thrust from above or by dropping into Side Guard a parry against the low lines. Now as Meyer doesn't follow through with counter thrusts this means he features Side Guard and Speaking Window a little more than earlier treatises.

However overall, as Meyer and Ringeck (above) says, you are best not to "hold against" to parry but instead to cut into his cut.


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