Sparring with sharp swords

Flying Crane

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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:
61248a13c3de83cb30ac4be6959d3be6-jpg.21981


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.


b897e6e4ac25bbc8469591dbaed93a48.jpg

[Standard parry in Sixte]
c1a7cd95a0da6aa93aa6cd1cc80f1138.jpg

[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).

957c84890854e81b4d1c68edae577bd1-jpg.21982


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?

2018_07_05_machete-1.jpg

How to survive a machete attack

194265_107700815978780_100002165854386_75625_328606_o.jpg


:D

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
This can be difficult to discuss adequately in an Internet forum.

In those drawings, you are assuming the man on the left attacks, and the man on the right defends?

If so, I think I see your point. The wrist position of Right can defend off the edge from that position. To try and deflect off the side would require additional twisting of the wrist, which would become awkward. Is that what you are saying?

If we turn this around and make Right the attacker, his stance would change and he would extend forward more, but would attack with a rising cut, Left could defend with a downward motion that glances the two blades along their sides, avoiding the edge-on-edge impact. That would require no contortions in the wrist or grip. The defending motion would be very nearly identical to a downward cut, just slightly angled to deflect the side of the attackers blade off the side of defenders blade as the two blades sweep past each other.

I think my position would be that some circumstances make avoiding the edge-on-edge impact easy and natural, while others do not. When In battle, don’t worry about preserving the edge. But I would not say that either way is absolute. Like most things in life, it depends.
 

lklawson

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@Flying Crane
As promised, here is the sequence with the accompanying text. I'm using the Rector translation.

Cod.icon._394a_113r.jpg

[Here they fight with messers. God help them! The swordsman on the left cuts from above. The swordsman on the right is going to set aside his opponent's stroke by cutting strongly upward into it from below.]

Cod.icon._394a_113v.jpg

[The swordsman on the left completes his cut. The swordsman on the right sets aside the cut and steps in to grapple his opponent.]

Cod.icon._394a_114r.jpg

[The swordsman on the right envelopes and locks his opponent's sword arm and cuts him across the head, completing the attack and counter-attack.]

The text for the first plate makes it clear, parry by cutting. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
 

Flying Crane

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@Flying Crane
As promised, here is the sequence with the accompanying text. I'm using the Rector translation.

Cod.icon._394a_113r.jpg

[Here they fight with messers. God help them! The swordsman on the left cuts from above. The swordsman on the right is going to set aside his opponent's stroke by cutting strongly upward into it from below.]

Cod.icon._394a_113v.jpg

[The swordsman on the left completes his cut. The swordsman on the right sets aside the cut and steps in to grapple his opponent.]

Cod.icon._394a_114r.jpg

[The swordsman on the right envelopes and locks his opponent's sword arm and cuts him across the head, completing the attack and counter-attack.]

The text for the first plate makes it clear, parry by cutting. :)

Peace favor your sword,
Kirk
Thank you, that is very clear and gives contex to what is happening. And I agree, in this melee it would be dangerously awkward to attempt to defend against the flat.
 

noname

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I think perhaps I have not explained myself well. I certainly was not saying that one should worry during an engagement about the health of one's sword. That would indeed be unadviseable.

What I was saying is that edge to edge opposition is very bad for your blade because it degrades your blade much more quickly than need be. Because it is natural and logical to take extra care of tools that are used in high intensity situations - whether you're the one whose life depends on the tool functioning properly (the guy swinging the sword) or the guy footing the bill for replacing it (the lord) - it thus makes sense to train techniques that help prolong the blade's useful life as best as possible. Receiving blows on the flat is one such method. It's not something you think about after you've done it 10,000 times.

I think the pictures that have been posted are instructive. It is to the form shown in the machete picture to which I direct my comments. That is the direct edge to edge opposition of which I speak. The Medieval pictures do not often look like that (nor in my view do the texts often describe it). The angles are far more oblique, and I don't think that is simply a result of their lack of artistic ability. Take for example that last sequence posted above. I've received blows in such a manner many times. "Cutting strongly upward in to it" does not, in my view, mean "block their edge with your edge". Looking closely at the picture, it appears to me that he is not receiving the blade in the same manner as shown in the machete picture. Again, the angles are far more oblique. It looks much closer to receiving on the flat than it does to the edge to edge opposition shown in the machete picture. In fact, to pull off that technique efficiently, it's necessary that the opponent's blade slide (rather than stick/stop as in edge to edge opposition).

That is not to say that edge to edge opposition does not exist in the old forms. It clearly appears in some techniques, but I don't think it was as widespread as some believe.

The nail and hammer analogy is apt, I think. One does not strike a nail with another nail. One strikes a nail with a broader surface: the hammer.

If anyone should wish to discuss this further, do feel free to PM me.
 

lklawson

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I think perhaps I have not explained myself well. I certainly was not saying that one should worry during an engagement about the health of one's sword. That would indeed be unadviseable.

What I was saying is that edge to edge opposition is very bad for your blade because it degrades your blade much more quickly than need be. Because it is natural and logical to take extra care of tools that are used in high intensity situations - whether you're the one whose life depends on the tool functioning properly (the guy swinging the sword) or the guy footing the bill for replacing it (the lord) - it thus makes sense to train techniques that help prolong the blade's useful life as best as possible. Receiving blows on the flat is one such method. It's not something you think about after you've done it 10,000 times.

I think the pictures that have been posted are instructive. It is to the form shown in the machete picture to which I direct my comments. That is the direct edge to edge opposition of which I speak. The Medieval pictures do not often look like that (nor in my view do the texts often describe it). The angles are far more oblique, and I don't think that is simply a result of their lack of artistic ability. Take for example that last sequence posted above. I've received blows in such a manner many times. "Cutting strongly upward in to it" does not, in my view, mean "block their edge with your edge". Looking closely at the picture, it appears to me that he is not receiving the blade in the same manner as shown in the machete picture. Again, the angles are far more oblique. It looks much closer to receiving on the flat than it does to the edge to edge opposition shown in the machete picture. In fact, to pull off that technique efficiently, it's necessary that the opponent's blade slide (rather than stick/stop as in edge to edge opposition).

That is not to say that edge to edge opposition does not exist in the old forms. It clearly appears in some techniques, but I don't think it was as widespread as some believe.

The nail and hammer analogy is apt, I think. One does not strike a nail with another nail. One strikes a nail with a broader surface: the hammer.

If anyone should wish to discuss this further, do feel free to PM me.
Nah, you're overthinking it. Edgd edge contact was the norm and they trained it that way. Sometimes they'd use wasters or rebated steel or disposable weapons, but they trained it none the less. The history, manuals, and context are pretty clear. Just accept it.

Peace favor your sword (mobile)
 

Langenschwert

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Nah, you're overthinking it. Edgd edge contact was the norm and they trained it that way. Sometimes they'd use wasters or rebated steel or disposable weapons, but they trained it none the less. The history, manuals, and context are pretty clear. Just accept it.

Peace favor your sword (mobile)

Yeah, one rapier master said to have your sword as sharp as possible, not for cutting, but so you could get a better, stickier bind. I can't remember who, as I'm not a rapierist.

Now, you can do parries with the flat. Leckuchner and Meyer both have them, and Paurnfeyndt has a krumphau (crooked strike) with the flat vs an incoming strike.

Now a counterstrike can impact the flat, and often impacts a good portion of the incoming flat, and it's better if it does, but sometimes doesn't.

In Liechtenauer's longsword, the counter to the lower Zwerch is very edge to edge. So much so it's jarring. Likewise, the crooked strike against an incoming rising strike is often edge to edge. But a zornhau-ort can be edge to flat.

Leckuchner"s hanging parry (the Bogen) is with the flat.

@noname What art do you practice, and are there any videos we can see to get an idea of where you're coming from?
 

Langenschwert

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@noname The video you posted seems to have disappeared before I had a chance to comment on it.

There's nothing wrong with the technique as you performed it. It's a perfectly fine hanging parry with a followup cut. I do it all the time.

However, not every technique in the manuals uses the edge to flat or vice versa. Most do have a somewhat oblique intersection, but not all.

If you reread the initial article, you'll see the fencers noted that the bind worked best when the blades were less oblique. And, even after all the edge damage, one blade was able to be resharpened and used in a cutting class. The fencers surmised that they fought the equivalent of 80 fights during their experiment. If a blade lasts for 80 duels, that's a bargain! Note that they were using textbook longsword techniques.

There are schools of Japanese swordsmanship who sometimes drill with sharps, and their blades get damaged as well. It's part of the use of the tool... they are perishable.

It's not always "flatofmystrong". :)
 

noname

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@noname The video you posted seems to have disappeared before I had a chance to comment on it.

Hmmm. Not sure why that would be the case. It's still there.

There's nothing wrong with the technique as you performed it. It's a perfectly fine hanging parry with a followup cut. I do it all the time.

However, not every technique in the manuals uses the edge to flat or vice versa. Most do have a somewhat oblique intersection, but not all.

I completely agree. It was never my intention to suggest that edge-to-edge "binding" does not exist in the texts. It's certainly there, just as unarmed defense against weaponry is readily observable throughout many martial arts. For me, both of those scenarios (edge-to-edge "binding" and unarmed defense against weaponry) exist in the realm of "let's make the best of a bad situation".

If you reread the initial article, you'll see the fencers noted that the bind worked best when the blades were less oblique. And, even after all the edge damage, one blade was able to be resharpened and used in a cutting class. The fencers surmised that they fought the equivalent of 80 fights during their experiment. If a blade lasts for 80 duels, that's a bargain! Note that they were using textbook longsword techniques.

I think that within a dueling context there aren't any disincentives to edge-to-edge "binding" because the conditions are subject to a far higher degree of control. It's only the one fight with the one person, at a predetermined time and place, with predetermined arms and armor. There'll be plenty of time after the fight to repair the weapon, and there is no second opponent to flank you when your blade sticks.

Perhaps I'm just coming at this from a different perspective.

There are schools of Japanese swordsmanship who sometimes drill with sharps, and their blades get damaged as well. It's part of the use of the tool... they are perishable.

It's not always "flatofmystrong". :)

I completely agree.

In fact, I would say that I believe as I do precisely because they are perishable.

:);)
 

StellarAevum

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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.

It is important to keep in mind that in European society that swords have more often been for self-defense, dueling, or symbols of station than weapons of war. The spear was much more common on the battlefield during the era of the longsword.
 
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Tony Dismukes

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It is important to keep in mind that in European society that swords have more often been for self-defense, dueling, or symbols of station than weapons of war. The spear was much more common on the battlefield during the era of the longsword.
This is actually true of Japan (and most of the rest of the world) as well. Spears and polearms and bows were primary battlefield weapons. Swords on the battlefield were typically backup secondary weapons. (Excluding certain really big swords that functioned more like polearms.)
 

lklawson

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donald1

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I don't mean to brag or anything but I've never sparred with swords before. Do you know what that means? I'll probably have a whole lot of beginners luck and be super good.
 

Rich Parsons

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Many year ago I was a t a friends wedding (to happen in their backyard in Texas). The Groom needed a little distraction , and we started talking about swords and styles.
We went to his study and he handed me a sabre and he took a rapier. We discussed the subtleties and similarities between FMA and Western Fencing.
As things will happen with two guys and live blades we were moving them around in a slow controlled manner and talking through preferences and ideas.
...
In walks the Brides father, "If either of you guys get cut, I am not going to stop my daughter from killing each or both of you."
We both smiled and put them up and found a different distractions. :)
 

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