Self-Defense Applications of the Sword

crebralfix

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First post :)

I recently attended a knife fighting class by Tom Sotis. I realized knife fights suck in the first three minutes of the class. The class was excellent, btw.

Being a gun guy, I do the "gun for defense" thing and do not require assistance in this area. However, there may come a time when blades are required. In such a case, I want something longer than the typical knife, large Bowie or other fighting knife.

Not that I'm going to walk around with a sword, but what would you recommend with regard to:

1) Sword type (length, etc)
2) Manufacturer
3) Training
4) Gear

I'm looking at this in terms of a sport to pursue that will cross over into defense.

Thanks!
 

Grenadier

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First post :)

Welcome aboard!

required. In such a case, I want something longer than the typical knife, large Bowie or other fighting knife.

I'm going to urge you to reconsider, since many places consider blades that are larger than hunting knives, to be in that "evil" dirk category, and can be considered unlawful.
 

jks9199

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Welcome aboard!



I'm going to urge you to reconsider, since many places consider blades that are larger than hunting knives, to be in that "evil" dirk category, and can be considered unlawful.
I'd suggest carrying a pocket folding knife that can reasonably be considered a tool. There are plenty of them on the market. If you carry something that's large, and has limited use outside of doing harm to someone -- the odds are good that you'll be carrying a concealed weapon in most states. Some draw the line solely on length; others on design and other purposes the knife/sword in question can be put to.
 
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crebralfix

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This will not be a carry weapon. This will be for something in the house and for sport. If Alien Zombies From Beyond invade, then it will be employed there too. Occasionally, rogue SCA fighters will need to be dispatched.

Virginia law is pretty clear on what I can carry *concealed*. The gist is this: single edge folders of any length are allowed. No double edged *knives* or bowies of any sort. For example, a 9" bowie is not allowed, but a 9" tanto knife is fine (how silly). There is no length restriction unless I'm in a church or school (3"). There may be ambiguity in the law once one gets to "sword". However, since it is NOT specifically mentioned (the list is inclusive only to what is listed), I *could* open carry a sword. For those of you in doubt, it is completely legal to open carry a handgun, rifle, or shotgun (rifles and shotguns that aren't "assault" weapons as defined by VA code).

My daily carry knives are a Cold Steel Voyager 5" Tanto and a pair of Spyderco 3" folders. I have trained with Tom Sotis in the use of these weapons.

If I wish to carry a bowie *openly*, I'm legal. Same with any sword. I forgot about the "hidden from common observation" bit.

So, back to the question at hand: what sword should I get that can withstand the stresses of real combat? What martial art should I look into? What associated gear is required? I'm willing to spend the money required to outfit a real weapon and supporting gear (training will be ongoing).


***

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-308

VA Code:


A. If any person carries about his person, hidden from common observation, (i) any pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material; (ii) any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack; (iii) any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain; (iv) any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart; or (v) any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second violation of this section or a conviction under this section subsequent to any conviction under any substantially similar ordinance of any county, city, or town shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony, and a third or subsequent such violation shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. For the purpose of this section, a weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon's true nature.


B. This section shall not apply to any person while in his own place of abode or the curtilage thereof.
 

howard

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You say that the sword won't be a carry weapon, so I'm assuming you'll keep it in your home.

If that's the case, I can't think of a situation in which you'd be better off defending yourself (or restraining an intruder) with a sword than with a firearm, which you say you have, and know how to use.

If you're interested in learning a sword art, and you're interested in a Japanese style, you could consider any of the several production sword makers out there. If you give us an idea of how much you're planning to spend, I'm sure some of the more knowledgeable members can give you some good leads.
 
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crebralfix

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Gun-fu firearms for the home are both covered and in active use :)

***

Depending upon the sword, I could do up to $1000 for it and any associated gear. I may be willing to swing more. The point is to get a quality piece that will last the rest of my life, rather than have to buy it twice or three times. This is why I buy quality guns, even though they cost more.


What I do NOT want to happen is to have to use it and have it break in a fight. That's probably more "embarassing" than a $2000 1911 jamming in a gun fight.
 

MarkBarlow

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Unless you live in a barn with no furniture, a sword is not a practical weapon for home defense. If you absolutely must swing something, go with the tried and true Louisville Slugger.
 

Blindside

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Not that I'm going to walk around with a sword, but what would you recommend with regard to:

1) Sword type (length, etc)
2) Manufacturer
3) Training
4) Gear

I'm looking at this in terms of a sport to pursue that will cross over into defense.

Take a look at some of the European based sword instruction, I've been to a couple of ARMA (Association of Rennaisance Martial Arts) and really like their approach. Poke around their website to see if this is something that you would be interested in.
http://www.thearma.org/Practice/partners.htm

Any "sharp" that you purchase will not crossover into practice, that is the where wooden blades are used, either called bokken in the Japanese arts or wasters in the European. Some trainers use steel blunts for practice, either way, the sword will certainly not be your only investment.

but if you do feel that killer zombies need a sharp blade, take a look at a couple of the following:
http://www.angustrimdirect.com/
Gus produces a non-traditional, high quality blade. His handles are non-historical, and he claims his aesthetics are off, I think they are great for a no frills performance sword.

These makers are considered more historically accurate than Gus, and are known for their quality work.
http://www.armor.com/2000/Catalog/swords.html
http://www.albion-swords.com/

If you are serious about using these for self-defense (which is pretty silly) you'd probably be better off with a cutlass or gladius which are shorter blades designed for close work.

Lamont
 
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crebralfix

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All:

Please refrain from giving me self-defense advice. I know what I'm doing and train with guns and knives frequently.

I'm looking for a real blade, not something to hang on the wall.

Blindside: research is starting. Thanks!
 

MarkBarlow

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All:

Please refrain from giving me self-defense advice. I know what I'm doing and train with guns and knives frequently.

I'm looking for a real blade, not something to hang on the wall.

Blindside: research is starting. Thanks!

Sorry for the input. Swing away!
 

howard

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Given your price range, here's one source you can look into:

www.bugei.com/

Bugei sells Japanese-style swords, short swords and daggers made in China. Their katana-style swords are hand-forged and folded from high-quality steel and differentially heat-treated to produce a durable, sharp edge supported by a "softer", more flexible upper part of the blade, in the tradition of the old Japanese katana.

These blades are made for actual use (target cutting) and will stand up to regular use, provided you don't do silly things with them like try to cut tree limbs or metal objects. They're also very good for any type of kata practice in Japanese or Korean styles.

IMO, the biggest drawback with Bugei is that they seem to make their swords somewhat to order, so the lead time can be considerable (I waited seven months for one).

If you check over on Sword Forum, you can find several good threads in which knowledgeable people review Bugei swords, and other brands as well.

Since you're looking for a blade that you'll actually be using, you should restrict yourself to high-carbon steel blades. Avoid stainless steel totally, as it can shatter on impact, with potentially disastrous results to you or anybody around you.

When you mention "associated gear", I'm not sure what you mean... any decent sword will come with all of its fittings and a finished scabbard. That's all you'll need for traditional forms and cutting practice. Most also come with a decent carrying bag. You can spend a small fortune customizing the fittings on any blade, but it's not necessary for basic training.

Good luck.
 

tellner

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If you want a sword that you can use around the house a lot, of course, depends on your house, how much room you have, and what sort of obstructions are there. I'd lean towards a shorter sword - a Golok, Moro Kris, Gladius or similar. You'll want something you can cut and thrust with.

$1000? You can get yourself a hell of a (non-Japanese) sword for that. Valiant, http://valiantco.com , makes some wonderful pattern welded pieces for about a fifth of what you're looking at. For that money you could get some near-museum quality stuff by looking around. Of course, you might not want to chop up bad guys with something that nice. It would definitely reduce the collector's value :)

Of course, if the real reason you want a sword is because you want a sword there's no need to justify it by saying it's really for self-protection. Knock yourself out. It's cheaper than sports cars and lasts longer than getting drunk on expensive booze :drinkbeer
 

Charles Mahan

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I wonder if a thread like this could be used against this guy in court one day. It could go a long way towards negating a self defense plea. He is clearly looking for something to use to chop someone up in the event of a home invasion.

BTW knife training will not help you much with a sword. They are very different animals. If you are looking for a non firearm for home defense, try a big dog. If that isn't sufficiently bloodthirsty enough for you, then try a big stick. If you feel the need for even more of your assailants blood, and a firearm is available to you, then that is your best bet. Juries understand firearms for household defense. They might understand knives. A big butcher's knife is practically a bowie knife and should do quite nicely. Much easier to explain to a jury without sounding like a blood thirsty maniac. Considerably better than a sword in the tight spaces of the average home. Somewhat easier to learn to use as well.
 

pgsmith

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Gotta throw in my two cents here. Self defense is a very BAD reason to study the sword arts. Swords are cool, and are a lot of fun. However, learning a legitimate sword art is very difficult, time consuming, and expensive. There is also the fact that in today's world, swords have almost NO self defense capability to them. There are dozens of better ways to defend yourself today than with a sword. Swords are archaic and outdated weapons that are still around strictly for their recreational and historical value. This is the only way to approach training in a sword art, whether it is Asian or European. Any other approach will leave you dissatisfied and quitting after a while, and that is very irritating to the instructor that has just spent a lot of time getting you to the point that you'll understand what's going on. That's a lot of time the instructor could have spent teaching someone who is going to stick around.

My personal opinion is that if you are thinking self defense at all, swords are not the way to go.
 
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crebralfix

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All: thanks for the links. I'll be checking them out and researching around.

No worries MarkBarlow! You were trying to help.

pgsmith: I agree that swords are archaic and there are better weapons available. But, all my gear is functional, so any sword that I buy will be functional too. I suspect you're right regarding training from a self-defense point of view. Are you speaking from experience?

***

I wonder if a thread like this could be used against this guy in court one day. It could go a long way towards negating a self defense plea. He is clearly looking for something to use to chop someone up in the event of a home invasion.

No, I'd just shoot them with a rifle or pistol, assuming such action would be justified according to Virginia's laws. Since I happen to know what those laws are and how to comply with them, I'm confident my lawyer will be able to adequately help me out.


BTW knife training will not help you much with a sword. They are very different animals.

Tom Sotis has a different opinion. I will take his word over yours.

I do understand your point in that the angles are very different. The foundation is the same, but additional training will be necessary to get used to the differences. I also recognize that the "art" of swordsmanship requires years to perfect. There's "functional" swordsmanship and "expert". I do not intend to become an expert, though that may happen over time if I'm sufficiently enchanted with the training. Thanks for the input though.

If you are looking for a non firearm for home defense, try a big dog. If that isn't sufficiently bloodthirsty enough for you, then try a big stick. If you feel the need for even more of your assailants blood, and a firearm is available to you, then that is your best bet.

Wow...do you really think like this? If you are so averse to the notion of having a real weapon and not a toy, why are you dispensing self-defense advice? Have you not read my previous posts where I stated I have skills and equipment suitable for fighting?

I have stated my goal, which is to procure a functional weapon. Somehow, nefarious intentions have been attached to this. This is not the case. I just want my tools to be functional.
 

tellner

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pgsmith: I agree that swords are archaic and there are better weapons available.

Better firearms, certainly. But if guns aren't in use a good sword is infinitely better than a knife or a baseball bat. About the only things which "hath advantage against" it are the halberd, the pike and the half-pike.

Tom Sotis has a different opinion. I will take his word over yours.

I haven't talked to him or seen his material, so there's lots of room for misunderstanding. That said, swords are swords. Knives are knives. Unless you're in the gray area of big knives that overlap onto short swords they are very different. Rapier technique won't work with shamshirs let alone with daggers.
 

Charles Mahan

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I do understand your point in that the angles are very different. The foundation is the same, but additional training will be necessary to get used to the differences. I also recognize that the "art" of swordsmanship requires years to perfect. There's "functional" swordsmanship and "expert". I do not intend to become an expert, though that may happen over time if I'm sufficiently enchanted with the training. Thanks for the input though.

You say you understand the differences, but I see no sign that that is true. It's not about angles. The fundamentals are VERY different. The distance is different. The footwork is different. Power generation is different. Swords are not just long knives. That is assuming that you wish to learn the proper use of a sword. Of course, those assertions come from a background in Japanese Sword Arts. In particular, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. They may not apply to other types of swords. Particularly shorter one handed swords(which bear a striking resemblence to knives).

You say that you are looking for "functional" swordsmanship, by which you appear to mean using a sword in such a way that it is useful in a modern self defense role. I would posit, as many others do, that there is no "functional" swordsmanship as you define the term. It's an obsolete weapon who's time has come and gone. It's simply not a practical weapon for a real world scenario. There are far far better options. A crowbar, a broomstick, a shotgun, a kitchen knife, a big dog, mace, stun gun, any other form of firearm.... All of these would be a better choice, particularly for home invasion scenarios.

Wow...do you really think like this? If you are so averse to the notion of having a real weapon and not a toy, why are you dispensing self-defense advice? Have you not read my previous posts where I stated I have skills and equipment suitable for fighting?

What makes you think I'm averse to having a real weapon? I train with a 30 inch razor blade 4 to 5 days a week and have been training with swords for nearly 10 years, which means I'm almost not a rank beginner anymore. Almost.

I have stated my goal, which is to procure a functional weapon. Somehow, nefarious intentions have been attached to this. This is not the case. I just want my tools to be functional.

Functional for what? Training? If so then you should probably figure out where you are going to train, and then ask your instructor what to purchase. If you were to purchase any of the swords mentioned so far, and then walk into our dojo, you wouldn't be able to use it for years, if then. Different styles of swordsmanship require different types of swords. Heck even different instructors within the same style have different preferences for the ideal training tool. It would be a shame to purchase a sword for several hundred dollars only to find out you'll never get to use it in your training.
 

Charles Mahan

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Better firearms, certainly. But if guns aren't in use a good sword is infinitely better than a knife or a baseball bat. About the only things which "hath advantage against" it are the halberd, the pike and the half-pike.

Oh pish posh. I've seen video of police using a ladder and firehose against a crazed guy with a sword. Both worked quite well.
 

tellner

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And pish and tosh to you, sirrah!

The firehose is a projectile weapon. The ladder is a half-assed pike. When you say a "crazed" guy you are speaking of someone who isn't nearly as effective as even the most incompetent swordsman going up against two or more motivated, goal-oriented opponents who have a plan.

Not apples and oranges, apples and pineapples :)
 
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crebralfix

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Functional for what? Training? If so then you should probably figure out where you are going to train, and then ask your instructor what to purchase. If you were to purchase any of the swords mentioned so far, and then walk into our dojo, you wouldn't be able to use it for years, if then. Different styles of swordsmanship require different types of swords. Heck even different instructors within the same style have different preferences for the ideal training tool. It would be a shame to purchase a sword for several hundred dollars only to find out you'll never get to use it in your training.


Agreed. Just browsing the links left me with *only* a few hundred options. Ugh. Time to get back into the dojo and use their stuff.

Better to learn the sport first before shelling out a few hundred for an Angus Trim blade that's incorrect for what I'm learning. Though, I do want a katana/wak pair. Of course, the one I wanted ran $2900 :toilclaw:

For a serious practitioner, it appears that this will be even more involved than handgunnery and riflery. Sheesh...I've probably owned fifty handguns in the past decade and discarded most of them as incorrect for my needs. Riflery hasn't been so bad; the M1A does just fine out to 500 yards and my AKs are good for CQB and mid-range shots.

Thanks for the help folks!
 
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