Power of the Rapier.....how strong is it?

Discussion in 'The European Art of Fencing' started by Cobra, May 8, 2004.

  1. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Deep thanks for the well expressed detail of your first post, the elaboration of your second and the re-targeting of the third :rei:.

    I was previously aware of the different properties of the point of balance and the centre of resonance ("sweet spot") in a blade but how you described the fashion in which the seperation of these two points in the body of the sword affects the behaviour of the weapon in use was excellent :tup:.
     
  2. kaizasosei

    kaizasosei Master Black Belt

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    i think that cutting accurately requires more concentration and coordination as well as more speed. for me at least it feels that way. cutting also seems less personal, because it need not always be as aggressive or binding as stabing is. i think it might be easier to escape certain cuts rather than stabs, but that all depends on the speed and general circumstances. hard to say anything for sure.
    of course i would think both stabbing cutting are to be valued equaly and should be used together to achieve distance as well as the upperhand.
    obviously anyone standing in the way of a speeding sword could be seen as cursed.


    j
     
  3. Steel Tiger

    Steel Tiger Senior Master

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    I had always heard the Spanish fencing style described as wild, even uncivilised, and now I think I can see why.
     
  4. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Actually, the converse is true. The weakness of the thrust is well, its weakness. It can be taken offline with little effort, and only threatens a limited target area, relative to say, a descending diagonal cut, which can threaten from the head down to the hands.

    The great George Silver would have agreed with you there. He said the perfect fight utilizes both the cut and the thrust. I happen to agree. The so called Dobringer manuscript says to envision a line from the tip of your sword to your opponent, and that you ought to follow that line to strike or thrust him most directly, using the shortest path possible.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  5. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    But said cut takes some time to develop, and for me, is the easiest to "Shed" which takes only a little more effort than re-directing a thrust. The hardest cut for me to parry is a horizontal cut to the lower body, I can only static block those, which take a lot more work.

    That's almost word for word what Saviolo taught as well. If it is quicker to thrust, that is, if that is the shortest path to hit opponent safely, do it! If your point is offline, then the shortest path to your opponent is a cut -- do it! My fencing rapier is of the Saviolo style (weight, length, sweet spot, balance), and it would cut quite well if it were sharpened. At least, I would not like to be cut by it.

    I think the important part is to safely hit your opponent as many times, and as hard, as possible. Whether that's a cut or a thrust depends on many factors that would fill this whole discussion board.

    If a thrust leaves you exposed -- don't thrust. If a cut leaves your defenses down, don't cut!

    Rule #1: Avoid getting hit
    Rule #2: Hit your opponent without violating Rule #1!
     
  6. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    :D

    Thardeys Principa :tup:.

    I'm not being facetious or rude by the way, I genuinely think that those are the fundamental principles of armed combat. We only respond to them with humour because they are so basic. Every school's body of technique grows from that pair of short sentences.
     
  7. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    To give a apples to apples comparison on cutting, I assume most people here are familiar with the rolled up mats for katana cutting practice. (I think they're called Tatami mats?)

    Anyway I've done cutting practice on them with a poorly sharpened rapier. (Moderately sharp - about like a standard kitchen knife - definitely not razor). We were using my instructor's live steel rapier from an earlier period.

    Our best cuts were able to penetrate about an inch or so into the mats. (Our first cuts simply bounced off -- It takes some practice cutting those with a straight blade!) That was with about 6 inches of draw as the blade struck the mats.

    Then we tried his lighter, later period rapier, which was almost a smallsword, and I was actually able to cut a little deeper with it. (Another layer of mat, anyway.)

    I know my instructor wanted the blades sharper (he sharpened them himself), and he didn't soak the mats for as long as he would have liked, so maybe add another 1/2" to the possibility of the cut in an ideal situation?

    So no, not a impressive cut, but not shabby either.
     
  8. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    It's basic, but it's amazing how fast rule #1 goes out the window when you see an opening.
    :asian:
     
  9. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Perhaps, but a well-directed cut with appropriate force is not so easy to deflect, which is why is is generally better to cut as a defence to a cut.

    True enough. The difference is with longsword, it's more dangerous to start out with a thrust unless you've out-timed your opponent. Most of the plays start with a cut (usually a Zornhau) to either kill the opponent in one blow, or get a bind and work from there, often with a thrust from the bind, since you've now controlled the opponent's blade. That's why I've never been a proponent of practicing cutting patterns, since in a real fight you would never get to cut more than once or twice before entering a bind. The only use of such floryshes is IMO to develop control, footwork, and the ability to get to any position from any other.

    I can't disagree with any of that. :)

    Best regards,

    -Mark
     
  10. thardey

    thardey Master Black Belt

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    Need to clarify one of my earlier posts:

    That's not exactly accurate. Apparently there's a third spot on the blade known as the Pivot Point, which is what I was describing. Details come from Albion Swords


    So, on some rapiers that don't taper, the "Sweet Spot" or center of percussion is actually far removed from the "Pivot Point", which makes them hard to cut with. But for most cutting swords, or tapered rapiers, the two are virtually indistinguishable.
     

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