Unlike some other HEMA study groups, Meyer Free Scholars use a simple knowledge based level system which provides students with a known base-level of knowledge they are expected to learn. This helps students understand exactly what they are doing and how it fits into the wider fighting style, provides goals to work toward, and gives new students an indication of whom they can ask for help. It should be noted that these ranks are a description of knowledge, not of fighting skill!
While the Meyer Free Scholars’ syllabus is intended to comprise a combative martial art which provides a link to the past, it also encourages appropriately experienced students to compete in a friendly tournaments to test their skills in a “live” way. This directly mirrors the “fechtshule” tradition common in Germany in the 15th and 16th century, where the various fencing guilds could test their skills against one another.
The MFS syllabus is comprised of a mandatory core set of primary proficiencies in longsword and wrestling techniques associated with this art, as well as secondary proficiencies in other weapons & skills according to the interests of the student as they progress in experience and ability.
The levels, and brief descriptions of them, are shown below:
After a month or so of training unranked students will be eligible for the rank of neuling (novice/newcomer). At this point they will know the principle cuts and guards of the Meyer system, and be able to perform basics footwork competently.
After several months of training the student may become a Lehrling (apprentice). This is the first real step to mastering the longsword and the student must show a sound practical and theoretical knowledge of all of the basic cuts and guards, as well as the handworks shown by Meyer, and some of his “devices”. The apprentice level is broken into two parts – level 1 and level 2, each representing increasing knowledge. Later in the lehrling training the student has the option of learning the basics of Meyer’s dagger and Polearmss.
Fechter (fencer) represents a significant milestone on the path to mastering Meyer’s syllabus. By the time the student has completed the fechter levels they should have a working knowledge of the entire longsword syllabus of Meyer as well as a sound knowledge of some basics in his other fields (dussack, dagger, rappier, staff, etc). This includes the devices as well as all theoretical aspects of the fight. Again this level is broken into two internal levels, each lasting up to 6 months or more.
This is the final level in the Meyer syllabus. Students should note that to become a freifechter (free fencer) they need not have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all of Meyer’s techniques, but will have a thorough grounding in the Longsword syllabus, and know the fundamentals of the other weapons as well.
Requirements and Techniques
Further information relating to the techniques and terminology can be found here:
Our Ledger of Graded Scholars can be found here