Meyer’s Rapier: Attacking the Straight Parry

Meyer's Rapier: Image F: Straight ParryingWhat happens when you face an opponent who read my last post and is standing in front of you in Straight Parrying or, to a much lesser extent, Iron Gate? What do you do?

Meyer is not particularly clear on this point but, as he says, he gives a range of examples from which the reader is supposed to deduce the principles at work, many of which will be familiar from the section on the longsword or from other schools of rapier play. He says in general that “ you should not go out more than a hand’s breadth to the side, up or down from the mid-point” (2.81r) and always keep your point on line at your opponent’s face, turning the long edge of your weapon towards the other guy’s blade (2.81v).

The examples he gives are these:

  • Feint a low cut to present your opponent with an obvious opening and when he or she responds turn your action into a thrust. This may be accompanied by either beat your opponent’s weapon off-line or by stepping off-line to avoid her or he attack (2.84v1, 2.85r1). This technique is also listed in the section on the dusack.
  • Step in aggressively beating the opponent’s blade off-line then following up with either a thrust (2.85v1 and 2.86r1) or a cross cut, ie: a quick combo of left and right Wrath Cuts (2.85r2). This is also found in the section on the dusack and should be familiar to those studying in the Italian traditions.
  • Approach your opponent in Straight Parrying but hold it higher then normal. Turn your wrist so that you envelope his or her weapon and cut into it to push it off-line. Then follow up with a thrust to his or her body (2.86r).
  • Finally, “if he will not let himself be driven or brought out of his advantage by any device,” continually snipe at his or her hands with quick cuts from all sides. This will “make him angry so that he will be inclined to attack” (2.86v2).

What’s the general principles Meyer means us to deduce from these examples?

There are three ways to break Straight Parrying and, by extension, any other strong guard posture. First, you can present an opening, inviting your opponent to attack into your pre-planned defenses. This is Meyer’s version of the Italian rapier concept called “obedience.” Second, you can aggressively step in an beat away your his or her weapon before attacking. These are the two keys to the problem.

However, the third technique is my personal favourite because it works every time when my opponents do it to me. Annoy your opponents so that they forget their own proper defense and attack, leaving themselves open to your counter.