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das her in mit eynem schrete / ader mit eynem sprunge dirreichen mag / wo her denn indert in blos siet

if he can reach him with one step or a jump where he sees an opening to him

Auch meynt her das / eyner den hewen nicht gleich sal noch gehen vnd treten zonder etwas beseites / vnd krummes vmbe / das her ieme an dy seite kome / do her in bas / mit allerleye gehaben mag / denne vorne czu

And he is saying, that one should not follow the strikes directly but one should step to the side and crooked, so that one can get to the opponents side, where he can get him with a lot of things, much easier than to the front.

The modern definition of distance is based on thrusting weapons. Because a thrust needs only a very small window and can displace an opposing thrust while finding a direct line to an opening, the definition is based on a more or less straight line to the opponent. In the combination of strike and thrust the straight line is more or less only of theoretical use. Because strikes break thrusts, displace strikes, and do more damage, they are preferred in attacks and parries. When using strikes the openings needs to be bigger and can they only be effective in a bigger movement of the weapon compared to thrusts. Thus any attack needs at least two steps of approaching while in the theoretical reach of the opponent’s weapon in a straight line. One step is needed to flank the opponent, and another is needed to take use of the opening created by the preceding. It is preferred, that one of those steps is done by the opponent. That way having one step (one tempo) instead of two steps (two tempi). But because those steps are done in the theoretical reach of the opponent’s blade, it must be avoided or displaced.

So if we read in the GMN 3227a  of a “one step distance” it is the last step that takes the fencer to the opening. This step is combined with the first “Vorschlag” – the first strike which really endangers the opponent.

The preparing steps are not numbered, they could not. It may take one, two, or more (“wenn her czu / eyme gehet ader lewft”). We get recommendations how we should do them (“beseites / vnd krummes vmbe”). And we get the techniques and exercices how to move the blades and steps in certain conditions. This is parts of the “Gefechte” or “Stücke”.

Little is documented, how the preceding steps should be done and in what distance. This is part of the Zufechten, which is literally unexplained.

FURTHER READINGS: