Meyer's advice on Polearms

Here are some examples of Meyer's advice. The quoting below is crude and we should include proper referencing to where they can be found in the original treatise so everyone can compare.

Also, the quotes are cut, mixed and grouped according to topic, from the section on Halben Stangen, Hellebarten and Langen Spiess.

These quotes in one way or the other provide a little insight into the tactics and strategies of Meyers polearms fencing.

The English translation is taken from Dr. Jeffrey L Forgeng's excellent printed translation, but some terms have been translated back into the original German, since many of us are more familliar with the original terminology.


Advice on guards

In the Oberhut, position yourself thus; stand with your left foot forward and hold your staff with the tail at your chest, so that the point stands straight up toward the sky. Now as you execute this straight before you, so you shall also do it on both sides. And although you shall always keep your left foot forward, yet you must not let your feet get too far apart, so that you can always have a step forward with the left foot.

The Mittelhut is the Gerade Versetzung before the opponent, from which one mostly fights.

Nebenhut: I wanted to present first the devices from the side postures that I have just taught, so that when you come into one of them at the furthest point of striking (Verschlagen), thrusting (Verstossen), or parrying (Versetzen), you will better know how to recover again; also you will better know how to conduct yourself in the subsequent devices, since with these long weapons as with the previous weapons, you always come in the course of combat from one posture into another, and you must not then spend a lot of time in them reflecting on what to do, but push onward with the next techniques that arise.

Passive opponents

Note, in the Zufechten when you come into one of the Unterhuts, and he will not work or thrust, then act as if you intended first to see what devices you might execute, and as soon as he extends his staff from him, then jerk it out in a sudden jerk or blow, and as he is still faltering with his staff from the intercepted thrust, thrust quickly at his face.

Fehlen, Verführen  & Reitzen 

Thus you shall observe and take heed (mercken und wahrnemen) what your opponent will execute (Fechten und treiben) against you, so that you will catch him in his own devices, as in the device I have just described against an opponent who is inclined to counterthrust at once.

Therefore you must make yourself open before him judiciously and carefully, and act as if you had made yourself open accidentally and unwittingly, or had unintentionally fallen too far with your weapon after your eager thrust, so that he will be incited to thrust more readily and eagerly.

With this thrusting or striking he will make himself so open that he can scarcely come back up and recover before you have rushed upon him. But I will explain this more fully through examples in the section on the halberd.

Driving, Nachfechten

In all combat take diligent heed that you do not let yourself in any way be goaded or deceived, and that you do not idly deliver your thrust in the Vor without particular opportunity. And if you find your opponent in a guard before he offers you an opening, then you shall not boldly thrust at it, but see if you can goad him with pulled thrusts, and then change through.

Now if he adopts a posture and tarries in it too long, then you can well rush upon him suddenly, when he least expects it.

Now if you find that he will thrust at the same time as you, then do not be too hasty with your thrust, but hold it covertly  or unobservedly, until he has committed to his thrust, and as he thrusts in, then send his staff out as you thrust in; then complete the thrust you have begun.

Thus you shall not be too hasty in any device, but observe what he intends to execute against you, so that you can encounter him more appropriately.

In conclusion, you shall know that in none of these weapons, whether in the staff, halberd, or pike, should you lightly come out of your advantage, nor shall you allow yourself to be provoked out of it, unless you not only can get him for certain, but have also diligently reflected whether you can bring your weapon back into your control without harm, and can in timely fashion spring out and parry his counter-rushing, if your thrust should fail.

Now if you find your opponent in his advantage in a posture, then do not thrust to his opening without particular opportunity, but see how you can provoke and incite him out of his advantage with knocking, jerking, changing through, and pushing and sometimes with pulled thrusts, and as soon as he goes up or away, or begins to work, then lay on and begin your device.

Also you shall diligently observe and feel in all bindings whether he is hard or soft in opposing you; item, whether he is quick or slow to counterthrust;

Also in thrusting you shall be so judicious and prudent, that if you feel in the middle of thrust that he will quickly thrust after at the same time as you, then you shall not complete that thrust, but turn out of it into a parry, and at once counterthrust, actually completing it this time. Thus in all devices you shall make yourself well trained and quick-thinking.

All this applies when you have your left hand forward on the pike. Now when you hold the other one forward, then you must send and execute the thrust and the device against his left, just as you previously have executed it against his right. Also you shall here note that it does not take so long in practice as it does to teach, but it must all take place and be executed in the blink of an eye.


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