Some more thoughts around Meyer's Longsword and thrusting


This is a follow on from this blog post previously, with some ruminations on the whole Meyer and thrusting issue.

So, one viewpoint that I came across recently during a Meyer Longsword class was the whole idea that thrusting was not "allowed" in the fighting schools because it was too dangerous. That prescription of thrusting came about as a kind of Health and Safety measure. There is also an idea that thrusting itself was considered to be dishonorable or unsportsmanlike.

Now, one observation that I made to this was that this seems inconsistent with the treatise itself: Dussack, Rapier, pole-weapons etc all include hefty amounts of thrusting. Other people who, like me, stray beyond the longsword section of the treatise, have also often noted this. If thrusting was considered so dangerous and dishonorable, why so much thrusting in all the other weapons?

To my mind these days the strongest theory is the following: that off all the weapons in the treatise the Longsword is the weapon least likely to be used in everyday combat outside of the school. Rapier, dussack, dagger, staff, halberd and pike are all reasonably likely to be used in civilian applications. Certainly, the first three were normal accouterments while the pole weapons would be used in a common civil militia context. So, for these Meyer was teaching the full range of techniques including those "dangerous" thrusts.

However, longsword was not a common weapon of war but rather a weapon of the school. It's commonly cited, but I've never chased up the sources, that rules for fighting schools removed thrusting in competition. If the Longsword was primarily a competition or sports weapon used for fitness and basic training by this point then that would make sense to train to the ruleset.

Now, how this squares with the fact that they were quite happily (and presumably safely) training with thrusting in all the other weapons in fighting schools I don't know, I'm quite willing to accept that people are illogical and that traditions built over time don't have to make sense. Someone thought that Longsword was more manly without thrusting and it became the done way. The more I see this in modern tournaments with bans upon legs, hands or one handed strikes etc, the more I'm willing to accept this as a theory.

Hence the lack of thrusting in Longsword or, as I sort of outlined in my older post, that Meyer only throws in thrusts as provocations to create openings for more cuts.

I'm not entirely convinced so if you have a different theory would love to hear it.

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Other theories I've come across:

There was an idea put forward on HROARR that the Longsword is a particularly dangerous weapon that was harder to make safe for thrusting. This does not, with respect, appear to be a logical argument. Firstly, it's likely to be only very slightly heavier than a rapier. Secondly, while it's held with two hands and therefore is more powerful it should also be a lot more controlled. Finally, as for the idea that a balled end would be more likely to come off a longsword than a rapier I'm not certain but considering the never ending struggle with blunts and rapiers it doesn't sound convincing either. The suggestion that a wooden weapon with zero flex would be safer in the thrust than a steel sword prepared for thrusting...well, enough said.

The idea that Meyer's swords are actually much longer than we think and that this means that they are less practical to thrust is more interesting. Certainly, in tune with Silver's advice that it's difficult to withdraw a long weapon at closer measure to make further thrusts. However, I'm not sure that this should automatically discourage thrusting, from looking at many recent tournaments "Feders" are getting longer (40inch plus) and there's still a heavy emphasis on edging into measure and completing lightning fast long thrusts. Basically as two handed rapiers. Also, Di Grassi.

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