Tactical Advice in Meyer’s Rapier

I’ve been trying to find a framework into which I can fit the various techniques Joachim Meyer discusses in his chapter on rapier combat in his The Art of Combat. The chapter is filled with individual techniques and plays and it’s only at the very end of the chapter that he talks about rapier fencing in general.

On Defense:

“From whichever side he sends in his cut, catch and parry his cut, and cut or thrust in at him to the same side from which he has sent his cut, before he has entirely finished it, or at least before he has recovered from it again.” (2.98v)

On Attack:

“If you will cut against him the the Before, then you must use the first cut more to provoke and goad him than to hit, so that when he cuts at the opening that you have offered with his cutting, you are positioned to strike and take it out; at once after you have weakened him and made him open, you will thirdly rush to the opening actually completing the attack this time.” (2.98v-2.99r)

Meyer lists four different types of opponent with a different way of method of approaching each.

Against the opponent who always presses forward with violent attacks (“somewhat stupid”):

Counter-thrust into Long Point against all cuts keeping the long edge of your weapon turned against his attack. Do not move far out of Long Point. Retreat until he over-commits then counter-cut/-thrust before he can recover.

Against the opponent who only attacks when an opportunity arises (“artful and sharp”):

Change through the four guards before him, always keeping the point online, until he sees his advantage and attacks. As soon as he does, “fall on it with setting off and suppressing and rush at once to the opening he has presented.” (2.99v)

Against the opponent who only attacks when he sees he can attack and withdraw safely (“judicious and deceitful”):

Stand in Side Guard or the Low Left Guard (? the Change). Feint up into High Guard but turn it quickly into a Wrath Cut to provoke him. If he does nothing, thrust in at him. If he counters or attacks, “set him off and work forth to the opening.” (2.100r)

Against the opponent who does nothing waiting for you to act first (“they must either be fools or especially sharp”):

No specific advice is given here other than to use the guard breaking techniques outlined in the chapter on rapier plays and devices – which basically means pick a technique and go for it.