Joachim Meyer, the flawed master

At my club, we practice a mixture of Fiore and Liechtenauer traditions with a slight emphasis on Liechtenauer. As I progressed through the program and achieved my apprentice rank, I needed to pick a treatise for independent study in order to move to the rank of scholar. I decided to go with Joachim Meyer for a number of reasons:

  1. The other scholars in my school had not chosen him
  2. He is a major influencer on modern HEMA
  3. I like the look of his book

A few of the more advanced people in my class gave me grief about Meyer being a sport fencer, but I decided to find out for myself what he was about.

I really, really liked the system when I first started. The book reads well and I found it easier to interpret the plays than many of the other treatises I have looked over. Additionally, there is a huge following of Meyer practitioners on YouTube that can help with the finer points of movement and body position. I started using what I was learning in class more and more often with good to very good results. I very much questioned why our class curriculum was focused on the other Liechtenauer traditions over Meyer.

As time went on, my classmates became familiar with my slightly different style and I was not nearly as effective as I was when I first stated incorporating Meyer into my fencing. I first attributed this to getting over the initial learning period but when I really paid attention, I was simply getting beat by thrusts. Thrusting is very much absent from the Meyer system as thrusting with a sword was very much frowned upon during the time Meyer lived in Germany. As such, the system not only does not incorporate thrusts into its attacks, it does not account for them in defense. When facing a Fiore or earlier KDF fencer that fully incorporates thrusts the Meyer system is at a disadvantage.

I still very much enjoy the Meyer manual and use a number of techniques in my fencing (the Meyer Rose is a favorite) but I only use the material as a source for my fencing rather than a complete system. The flat-blade plays that my fellow fencers point to as “sport fencing” are very much overplayed as a downside in my opinion. The lack of thrusting is the real flaw in Meyer and why I have picked up Sigmund Ringeck as my current German source of study.

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