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Some thoughts on the three ways of cutting in Longsword

I was chatting with one of my club the other night and she said she couldn't find any information about this on the internet so I thought I'd put something up here in case it wasn't an observation that was well known.

A distinct part of the "German" branch of longsword fighting, to my mind, is the use of the three ways of cutting with a longsword. These are true edge cuts and the two types of false edge cuts.

If you haven't already made this observation, then on each cut line you can do the cut three ways. Looking at the High Line then firstly, obviously, there's with the true edge. Secondly you can push the pommel under your arm turning the blade anti-clockwise for the Crooked (or "hooking" as I think of it) false edge cut, and finally you can Squint (or "twisting" as I think of it) the blade clockwise to bring around the false edge for the Twisting cut. On your right side the hooking type cut ends with your palm facing out, while the twisting type with your palm facing in. This is a feature that Meyer sometimes highlights. I suspect this is also what Meyer is discussing when he discusses cutting with the "true, false and flat" as the twisting cut often parries with the flat while striking with the false edge. I also suspect these are also the "three strikes" referred to in the earlier treatises as the hooking action is what you make when you thrust, i.e. with the plunge cut for example or from Ox/Plough guards.

The true edge cuts and the twisting cuts are particularly good because they are strong cuts and they "bring their guard with them" i.e. you bring the hilt across the centre line. The hooking cuts do not but they are useful when in the bind because they keep your guard in place.

Of these cuts some of them are particularly good in certain circumstances, thus they are individually named:

1. A Thwart cut is a twist cut on the low or middle lines
2. The Squinter is a twist cut on the high line
3. A Clashing cut is a twist cut on the wrath line
4. A Plunge is a hook on the high line with high hands
5. A Crooked cut is a hook done on the high line but across the body

I find understanding the three ways of cutting saves you individually learning lots of different moves: all strikes are just one of these three types. If you drill doing the three cuts on each line you will have most of the techniques from the treatises within one drill. Also once you understand this difference between false edge cuts then things become clearer, for example the difference between a Plunge Cut and a Squinter is now self evident.


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