Sparring with sharp swords

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

  1. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    You're leaving out the option of a practice weapon. I don't know if that was common back then, but it's an easy answer to the problem of needing to practice things that will definitely damage the weapon.
     
  2. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I think you missed the point of my post, entirely.
     
  3. noname

    noname Yellow Belt

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    I'm not leaving the option out. I'm just not forgetting that such training is practice for the unfortunate realities of protracted combat in a Medieval setting (including relatively severe limitations on resources, technology, etc.), not light sparring for five minutes after which one may retreat to the comforts of modernity to replenish one's arms....precisely because I do not treat my practice as a "hobby".

    It was your point that missed me.
     
  4. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    No, you did miss it. Nothing I posted has anything to do with retreating to replenish arms nor modernity. An armory could keep a small supply of beat-up practice swords for teaching and practicing. That has zero impact on the availability of other weapons for battle.

    Sword practice is, by a reasonable (though not the only reasonable) definition. You're not training for sword battles, because those don't actually happen. You may be highly serious about it, and may be quite good at it, but you're not training to be a soldier on a battlefield with a sword. I'd actually argue that under that condition, there's little reason to practice binds with your expensive sword - you'll never actually need to use that bind in battle, and there's little chance of finding an armory with a number of swords recovered from a battlefield you can damage with impunity.
     
  5. noname

    noname Yellow Belt

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    You perform as you practice. If you practice in a manner that needlessly degrades your weaponry, be prepared to deal with the consequences. Just don't fool yourself in to thinking their aren't consequences.

    ???

    I don't need to be an active Medieval soldier or knight in order to practice in a manner that prolongs the functionality of my weapons. It's the same reason I oil my swords (or at least the good ones, lol). It's the same reason I try not to strike the floor.

    ???
     
  6. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    @noname

    Just curious, is this just your personal opinion that they did not use the edge of the blade in defense or do you have historical evidence of this?
     
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    From looking at the pictures, the odd wrist configuration looks very similar to what happens when we use an extended upward cut with the dao (Chinese saber), a single-edged weapon somewhat similar to those depicted in the pictures, that requires that position in order to line up the edge for that particular cut. From my experience, I don’t see that wrist position as being at all necessary to parry with the flat of the blade. So I would say that without some sort of caption explaining otherwise, my personal interpretation of those pictures is that the fellow with the odd wrist position is attacking with an upward cut, and the other fellow is deflecting/ parrying with a downward motion that very easily could avoid edge-on-edge contact.

    It also seems to me that the artwork is far from perfect, so the intended representation of what is happening may be represented simply to the best of the artist’s ability.

    If there is more to the story to indicate otherwise, it is not my intention to dispute it. I have not made a study of European swordsmanship. However, it is simply my observation that from the example of those pictures, it is not at all clear to me that they would be blocking or parrying edge-on-edge.
     
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  8. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, you do perform as you practice. So, if you want the advantage of binds, you practice them. Thank you for following my point about the consequences of not practicing them.

    Sorry - left a phrase out at the end when editing: "Sword practice is, by a reasonable (though not the only reasonable) definition, a hobby."


    I never said you did have to be. In fact, I made the argument that it's more reasonable to do so if you are not. You're now starting to argue my point.

    I'm entirely unclear which word you didn't understand in that paragraph.
     
  9. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Prior to The Black Death, personnel were one of the most available renewable resource.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  10. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Huh? Steel making was a huge industry in medieval europe. They deforested the countryside using wood to make charcoal for the steel making industry.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  11. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Huh? Are you saying that you rotate the grip in your hand so that you change the alignment of the edge?
     
  12. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    What? No one had a continuous 1-hour blade engagement. Most of it was maneuvering and engagements with other weapons, notably spears, lances, and arrows. Axes and pole-arms were popular too.

    That said, if the thesis about protecting the edge is right, how do you rectify that with attacking armor?

    Staying alive while killing the other guy is more important. :)
     
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  13. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Written sources seem to indicate that wasters were common as was disposable steel weapons.
    Sure. I've had a chance to train with several instructors who make medieval swordsmanship their martial art. Sparred against several of them. These are the guys who learn medieval German and Italian so they can read it in the original language. All I've read are the English translations. The most effective way to make the techniques work is not to worry about edge engagement. For several techniques, the only way to make the technique work is to not worry about edge engagement. Tafel 224 is an example of the latter. It actually shows up in most systems that have a single handed sword or machete-like weapon. I've seen this in FMA and CMA. Rising cut to the attacker's blade with the left arm under the "roof block" which parries off the attack, then the left arm circles and snares the attacker's weapon limb, while the defender's weapon continues the cut in a circle to attack the body, or sometimes drawing back into a thrust.

    [​IMG]


    You can see the same motion and knuckle/edge orientation here at 4:12


    If you really need, I can get out my copy of Talhoffer tonight and give you the translated text. :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I agree with the premise that in the midst of combat, worrying about edge damage is the wrong thing to dwell upon. You made another good point in that much of a battle would be dealing with other weapons, and not two swords going edge-to-edge. Your point about swords vs armor is less potent to me as it seems the edge of the sword would be striking against a curved (plate) or rounded (maille links) surface, which would be less damaging to the edge than would striking another edge head-on.

    I wonder if you could explain a bit more about something you said, as I may be simply missing your meaning. Regarding the turning of the wrist in the earlier pictures, are you saying it is an awkward position to put the wrist in, and that is what is required in order to parry with the flat? Something else? I’m realizing that I am unclear on what you were saying there.
     
  15. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Sure thing. Yeah, for many of the techniques, trying to turn the hand holding the weapon so that the flat is presented would be both awkward and extremely week. Take, for example, the first:
    [​IMG]

    Grab your Doa and step into this position then, with the edge aligned with your knuckles, try to turn the hand so that the impact of the opponent's blade hits the flat of your sword. If if you pronate your hand so that the back of the hand is forward in order to deflect with the flat on the outside line, then you end up pointing your elbow at the opponent and extending the elbow past the protection of the blade parry. If you supinate the hand, and face the "palm" upward in order to deflect with the flat on the inside line, then you've bent your hand at a 90 degree outward from the wrist and have no strength in the hold.

    On the other hand, if you allow the edge to lead, such as a parry in Sixte, or in a sort of sixte where the point is directed more at the attacker, then you get a strong parry with sufficient bio-mechanical strength to counter very powerful attacks.


    [​IMG]
    [Standard parry in Sixte]
    [​IMG]
    [Hutton's parry in sixte]

    I've done steel-to-steel drills this way. Edge engagement works and keeps you safe. Trying to defend with the flat is suicide.


    Or take the following example (the second one I posted).

    [​IMG]

    From this example the only possible "flat" parry is with the hand pronated (leading with the back of the hand) and parrying with flat on the outside line of the blade (which is turned over). Again, grab your Doa, point it at the floor, then turn it so that your palm is down and the back of your hand is up, the raise it sharply to intersect an incoming attack (to simplify the movement a tad). In order to get the point directed forward as in the image, you have to break your wrist line to your outside, taking an already questionable grip and making it weaker. How much confidence do you have in the power of this movement, rising with the flat?

    One alternative which I've seen suggested is that the defender starts with his blade at the low right hand side of his body and sweeps it to the high left hand side, kind of "swatting" the flat as it passes by and using the momentum of the blade in movement as the parry. I've tried this. It pushes the blade directly against the weak of the thumb, disarming the defender.

    So, yeah, for the examples I've shown, trying to parry flat does put the hand in an awkward and weak position. Parrying edge, while it could possibly lead to edge damage, is the only reasonable interpretation.

    See any similarities?

    [​IMG]
    How to survive a machete attack

    [​IMG]

    :D

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  16. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    Just for fun, I stumbled across these looking for something else:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  17. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Wouldn't most medieval soldiers be provided swords by their nobleman's armory and have access to the nobleman's smiths and amorers for repairs and replacements. Would replacing a sword be that difficult in those days.

    And seems like swordsmiths would be much more common in those days and there would be easy access to them.
     
  18. lklawson

    lklawson Senior Master

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    More likely they'd be issued pole arms like a Bill or a spear. Sometimes they'd remount a pruning or harvesting tool.

    15th Century Polearms

    And then there's this:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Too big?

    [​IMG]

    :D

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
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  19. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Master Black Belt

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    Lordy, I can't belive we're still having this discussion in 2018. Some techniques require the use of the edge, others the flat. Different systems have different ideas about how to solve problems based on time period, weapons, and the preferences of the individual master.

    The sword was almost never a primary battlefield weapon. It was a backup sidearm, and a dueling weapon.

    Leckuchner has some very definite flat parries, as does the Codex Wallerstein in its messer section. However, the typical response in the Liechtenauer tradition (of which Leckuchner was a part), was to respond to cuts with cuts, and thrusts with thrusts. If an opponent cuts at me, I should cut at him in such a way as to keep myself safe and hit him at the same time if I can. Most of the time this involves blade contact, and edges can be damaged.

    Every manual in the Liechtenauer tradition prioritizes working from the bind, and this school was quite dominant in the HRE for about 200 years. Thinking that the bind is bad because it damages the blade counters the teachings of the greatest masters we have records of from that period.

    Source: 14 years of HEMA in the Liechtenauer tradition.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
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  20. dunc

    dunc Green Belt

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    This is identical to my experience of the Japanese systems

    I’d add that the Japanese systems also cover sword vs wooden weapons where the blade cuts into the wood & issues associated with blades bending or breaking when impacted on the side are considerations
     
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