Sparring with sharp swords

Discussion in 'Sword Arts Talk' started by Tony Dismukes, Jun 7, 2017.

  1. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    (Actual sparring begins at about 8:04 into the video.)

    Detailed explanation and conclusions here: We Fought with Sharps (So You Don't Have To!)
     
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  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    screw that.
     
  3. DanT

    DanT Black Belt

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    Why not practice gun disarms with a loaded gun?
     
  4. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    There actually is a reason for training with live blades besides machismo. A significant amount of technique in HEMA swordplay involves the "bind", where two swords meeting blade-to-blade with sufficient pressure sort of lock together. Unsharpened blades don't do this and so behave differently in certain situations and techniques. I can see why sufficiently advanced practitioners would want to get experience working with this factor in a live situation. From what they've written, they feel their protective gear and their experience allowed them to do so (relatively) safely.
     
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  5. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I think they did a fine job. They're experienced, prepared well, they were careful and seem to have reported accurately on the experience.
     
  6. MrRazot

    MrRazot White Belt

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    I understand that in a few of the old Kenjutsu schools, that for one of the dans, your grading requires you to do Kumitachi with live swords. I was told it's recommend you take your best friend and train with him for a few months before trying.

    Not sure if to argue that safety is a silly concept or that people are silly for not exercising safety.
    badass tho
     
  7. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Er.... no.

    The "old school kenjutsu schools" don't use Dan gradings in the main... and none require you to do kumitachi with shinken that I've ever come across. It's not uncommon for high ranking kendoka to use shinken when doing Kendo no Kata, shinken are pretty much the norm in Iaido above Sandan, but... no... what you've written is more in the realm of urban myth than anything else...
     
  8. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    It occurred to me the other day that I've never seen discussion of the bind in Japanese sword arts, although it's a significant subject in European sword arts. Are there kenjutsu schools where the topic comes up or is there something about the Japanese approach to swordsmanship which makes it less relevant?
     
  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    No, it's quite relevant... it's just considered a part of the way swords behave when engaging with each other. It's a part of the waza of a number of schools that I'm familiar with, including ones I train in. That said, the bulk of swordsmanship (Japanese) is centred on "evasive cutting"... avoiding contact with the opponents weapon in the first place, and just trying to get the sharp side and pointy stabby bit in the soft, squishy parts of the other guy...
     
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  10. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    For those schools which do address it, do they ever train with live blades (partnered sword-to-sword, not cutting drills) to get a feel for the actual experience of the bind? From what I gather, that's the primary reason why some HEMA practitioners do these sorts of experiments - unsharpened blades just don't act the same way.
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    No, not really.... HEMA is figuring things out.... we rely on remembering how things work.... so we don't feel the need to test something we already know.
     
  12. Tony Dismukes

    Tony Dismukes Grandmaster

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    I guess it depends on what you mean by "already know." You may have documents and traditions which explain a given phenomenon. That's not the same as having first hand personal tactile experience of that same phenomenon.
     
  13. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah.... I suppose what I mean is that the waza are designed with the knowledge of the behaviour of the swords... it's already there... there are certain movements and methods that employ, or take advantage of the bind occurring in order to control the opponent's weapon. And they're described as such... it's just that we don't risk damage to either the practitioners or the weapons, so we do it with bokuto. The movements are there, the methods are there, the action is there, the knowledge of what is happening is there... we know from experience (in the art) what happens. So there's no point actually using live blades for that.
     
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  14. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Good stuff. I've done some paired drilling with sharps, and it's educational. Just gotta find some cheaper ones to grind the points off of for this.
     
  15. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Tony, remind me some time to tell you of my experiences with live blade partner training. I have a great story but one I cannot share openly here due to some trust in a personal relationship.
     
  16. JP3

    JP3 Master Black Belt

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    Scared?

    Me, too. Definitely NOT something I want to try to do.
     
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  17. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master of Arts

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    In addition to what Chris said, it has to be pointed out that Japanese swords are built quite a bit differently than European swords. The cutting edge of a Japanese sword is very hard, so any hard contact takes a chance on taking a chip out of your edge. This is why, as Chris pointed out, most koryu sword schools are more oriented toward deflection and evasion rather than binding.

    Toyama ryu is pretty big on using live swords for kumitachi at embu and such, but I've never heard of it being required, and they're definitely not "old school". :)
     
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  18. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    I hadn't seen this before. But I have always been interested in what old swordsmen did with the inevitable nicks as shown at the end of the video?
     
  19. geezer

    geezer Grandmaster

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    I'm guessing that while of course, small nicks can be filed out, larger ones would have to be filled or worked out by a smith at the forge. That would require re-tempering the blade as well. A laborious and expensive proposition. And another good reason to avoid edge to edge contact when possible.

    On the other hand, if you only use a good, sharp-edged sword in actual combat, that wouldn't be so much of a problem. Even professional soldiers weren't actually engaged in blade to blade fighting that often. A single practice session probably involves more blade contact than a lot of battles. You know, like the old idea that you train for hundreds of hours for a few moments of actual fighting.
     
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  20. Anarax

    Anarax 2nd Black Belt

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    If you're going to practice with live blades you need to at the very least wear the right equipment. The face mask with the white bib is a Sport Fencing mask. Sport fencing is done with very light single handled blades. I've seen the same used in Kali/Escrima sparring(not at my school) and the guy head was busted open, mask offered little to no protection.The other guy in the video has on sweat pants, which can easily be sliced even by a glancing blow. Training like this is something I personally wouldn't do, but if I did I would at least invest in appropriate protective equipment.
     

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