The claim edge blocking and flat blocking doesn't matter because weapons get damaged......

Discussion in 'General Weapons Discussion' started by Bullsherdog, Feb 5, 2020.

  1. Bullsherdog

    Bullsherdog Yellow Belt

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    For years the internet has taken John Clements belief that edge to edge parrying and blocking is BS because it damages the sword and its better to block with the flat of the sword because the sword gets damaged. Frequently pointed out is how Japanese styles use flat blocks rather than edge to edge blocking.

    Now I know in recent years swordsmen, historians, and HEMAists such as Matt Easton are now calling BS on John Clement's claims because not only is there historical evidence of edge to edge defenses to the point even older schools of Japanese swordsmanship have texts showing it, but also because thesword will get damaged anyway and its much quicker and more convenient to block with the edge.

    I agree John Clement's claim is BS at least in regards that only the flat should be used in blocking. However I did an experiment recently. I have an Arabian Scimitar short sword and a machete. I had a friend swing the machete at me which I would attempt blocks and parrying with the Scimitar. Now I notice first of all blocking and parrying using the edge DIRECTLY DAMAGED the sword in as early as the first blow and by the time I was finished the sword was so damaged you can see the once smooth blade had big chips in it. Cutting items became much more difficult and attempting to cut wood and meat doesn't slice it evenly anymore. Instead you see a razor zig zagging result with the cut item and what would take a single slice before would take several because the blade gets stuck in the item.

    Secondly blocking and parrying was so difficult. Not only did many machete hits directly break through my blade and contacted my body but even successful blocks felt like it took so much of my strength especially single hand wielding stances. In addition counter attacking was near impossible in edge-to-edge defenses even quick ones like poking and wide regular blows you'd throw if you weren't in clinching swords together were near impossible.

    Now I experimented with flat blocking. I was amazed how many hits it took to show any visible damage and even the visible damage wasn't chips or anything that would slightly affect sword usage but simply scratches and ruining the sword's painted art a little bit. In addition it was very easy to "redirect the opponent's force around esp back at them". By this I mean not only did it take minimal effort to block blows with a single hand but I felt it was easy to do further movements such as moving the sword in a circular movement so that you won't feel any impact from the hit. Going hand in hand with this because its so easy to direct the force counter attacks such as hitting with the hilt, slamming the flat on their face, and quick pokes were so so damn easy its ridiculous and I even found myself redirecting blows enough that my friend was wide open to regular wide sword swings. Even with I don't use force direction movements, it was pretty easy to tilt my friend to trip or something simply because blocking with the flat sent physics motion that made him unbalanced, even dropping the machete a few times. Without redirection, I can still easily counter attack with the flap by hitting with the cross guard or flap directly in a brute force push. When you add in using the second hand, it becomes easier done than said to do even advance techniques.

    So I am wondering. With all the proponents about how the debate is useless and flat blocking shouldn't be used as primary defense because the sword will get damaged anyway and edge to edge is much quicker and easier to catch a blow in time, my experiment makes me skeptical of the recent counterarguments to Clement's conclusion. Trust me it took a single machete swing to chip my scimitar heavily and it was much easier using the flat for defenses than edge to edge defenses. It makes me think there's a lot of truth to Clement's statement and the recent HEMA experts who argue against it such as Matt Easton are wrong!

    Can anyone clarify? I must point out I don't practise HEMA much (though I've been attending a school for 3 years) and my sword was a generic one bought at Ebay for $35. So I'm not sure if the chipping was due to poor quality or my lack of practise in swordsmanship.

    BTW I posted it in this section and not the general section becuase I seen arguments with other bladed weapons too including knives, aces and blade pole arms like Naginata about blocking with flat or edge so my question applies to those stuff too. I seen people argue if you should block with flat of spear or its edge on one HEMA forum.
     
  2. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Quality of the sword will make a big difference. A $35 sword from eBay isn’t a sword. It is a sword-like object. It is not made of quality materials, and not with quality workmanship. Very very likely that such an item will not hold up well in combat. Such a piece should never be used in such a way, and should be limited to hanging on the wall as a decoration piece. A broken blade or chips breaking off can be dangerous. I hope you were at least wearing eye protection. No joke.

    A sword made of quality steel, properly shaped with good edge shape and hardened and tempered by a craftsman who is skilled, will hold up much better.

    I have never conducted such experiments with my swords, largely because a quality sword is expensive and I have been unwilling to sacrifice one in such a way.

    That being said, it is my belief that direct edge-to-edge contact will eventually damage even a good sword. Maybe not immediately, but with enough contact it will eventually happen. After all, a sword is simply a tool, and depending on how it is used it will eventually wear out.

    My impression is that a swordsman would prefer to block and parry in a way that protects the edge. However, in the chaos of combat that may not be possible. So in that context, you don’t worry about it. Your pressing concern is to survive the encounter and live to see another day. If you manage that, then you can deal with the fallout of possible blade damage afterwards.
     
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  3. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    Something I filmed a couple of years ago.

    Since then I got into Highland broadsword and British military sabre and they absolutely went edge to edge.
     
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  4. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thanks for sharing, that was interesting.

    This is consistent when we played maculele which is a stick and machete dance, clashing the blades against each other, often done in capoeira schools. We used the back edge of machetes, and over time they became pretty beat-up. Those nice exciting sparks on impact meant that a chip flew off the blade. Eventually, after a lot of abuse, the blades would break and a piece would fly across the room. Had one go through a window once. Pretty dangerous, we didn’t use any protective gear and I remember once someone taking a shot across the knuckles, got cut up pretty badly. We did that in live performances as well, tried to retire the blades before they got too bad, but didn’t always succeed. I remember trying to be careful with my partner, carefully placing the blade for the clash, but some guys would just swing hard and fast. Pretty nuts, on hindsight.

    Anyways, I wonder how a sword would compare to a machete. A sword would likely be made of higher quality steel and have a better temper to survive the rigors of battle, clashing steel-on-steel. A machete was really meant for chopping vegetation, much softer material. The quality of steel can be lower, and not tempered so well, a much cheaper tool, easy to replace if it gets too damaged. I suspect a good sword would hold up better, but would still chip and get damaged eventually.
     
  5. Blindside

    Blindside Senior Master

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    I am sure with a better steel the chips would have been smaller than we got with these. That said it probably depends on the steel, one of the biggest proponents of the "don't go edge to edge" is from the Japanese sword arts where the steels of the edge were hard but brittle.
     
  6. Rat

    Rat 3rd Black Belt

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    Ah best place to ask this. I have seen in some FMA styles that they only use the flat, is there any partcilar reason for that? Or is it a running theme of theirs?

    I know the flat would not lead to a bind(as easily), so if they seek to not bind blades together that could be a reason. Not accounting any other reasons, like habits built on from training or metal weaknesses.

    So-so releated to thread, so seems a decent place to ask/run it through.


    edit: Semi pet peeve, HEMA has no stake in japanese swordsmanship, or any martial art outside of europe. Argubly, maybe some stake in outside of european martail arts that are highly influenced by european martail arts.

    Same way japanese swordsmanship has no stake in relation to european, etc.

    I have done a TL;DR currently, but i will read the post and put a reply to it below.
     
  7. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Seems to me I saw a video once of a bullet shot at the edge of a sword, might have been a katana, and might have been .50 cal. My memory is a bit hazy. I don’t remember if the bullet was jacketed or bare lead. Anyways, the bullet was split in two when it hit the sword edge, and it seemed to me that the blade and edge were not damaged. At least as far as I could tell on the video.

    I think this speaks volumes for the toughness and durability of a sword edge, when made of an appropriate steel, by a skilled craftsman.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Here is an episode of Forged in Fire, where they test the sword blades by splitting a .45 cal. Bullet across the edge. Looks like there is no edge damage.



    I’ve seen other programs highlighting trick shooters who were doing things like splitting bullets on knife blades and tomahawk heads.
     
  9. Christopher Adamchek

    Christopher Adamchek Blue Belt

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    lot of great points in this thread
    reducing blade damage with the side or back
    not over worrying if there is edge to edge if it happens
    the edge to edge can help control and entries
    in relation to this video a point you didnt mention is that if to do go edge to end is to avoid perfectly perpendicular edge to edge gives you the edge effect while also reducing edge damage123
     

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