Sword Anatomy

Lisa

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Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what you sword art people are talking about and thought this would help us all. ;)

Feel free to add if I have missed anything. :)

Blade - The length of steel that forms the sword.

Back - The part of the blade opposite the edge. Double-edged sword has no back.

Cross - The typically straight bar or "guard" of a Medieval sword, also called a "cross-guard". A Renaissance term for the straight or curved cross-guard was the quillons (possibly from an old French or Latin term for a type of reed).

Edge - This is the sharpened portion of the blade. A sword may be single or double-edged. For example, a Japanese katana has a single edge but a Scottish claymore is sharpened on both sides.

Hilt - The lower portion of a sword consisting of the cross-guard, handle/grip, and pommel (most Medieval swords have a straight cross or cruciform-hilt).

Quillions - A Renaissance term for the two cross-guards (forward and back) whether straight or curved. It is likely from an old French or Latin term for a reed. On Medieval swords the cross guard may be called simply the "cross", or just the "guard".

Forte' - A Renaissance term for the lower portion on a sword blade which has more control and strength and which does most of the parrying. Also called prime or fort.

Foible - A Renaissance term for the upper portion on a sword blade which is weaker (or "feeble") but has more agility and speed and which does most of the attacking.

Fuller - A shallow central-groove or channel on a blade which lightens it as well as improves strength and flex. Sometimes mistakenly called a "blood-run" or "blood-groove", it has nothing to do with blood flow, cutting power, or a blade sticking. A sword might have one, none, or several fullers running a portion of its length, on either one or both sides. Narrow deep fullers are also sometimes referred to as flukes. The opposite of a fuller is a riser, which improves rigidity. The fullers function is analogous to the spine of the human body. When a fuller is forged onto a blade it repacks the crystalline structure and forms it into a flexible spine that reduces weight and gives the sword both strength and flexibility.

Grip - The handle of a sword, usually made of leather, wire, wood, bone, horn, or ivory (also, a term for the method of holding the sword).

Lower end - the tip portion of a Medieval sword

Pommel - Latin for "little apple", the counter-weight which secures the hilt to the blade and allows the hand to either rest on it or grip it. Sometimes it includes a small rivet (capstan rivet) called a pommel nut, pommel bolt, or tang nut. On some Medieval swords the pommel may be partially or fully gripped and handled.

Ricasso - The dull portion of a blade just above the hilt. It is intended for wrapping the index finger around to give greater tip control (called "fingering"). Not all sword forms had ricasso. They can be found on many Bastard-swords, most cut & thrust swords and later rapiers. Those on Two-Handed swords are sometimes called a "false-grip", and usually allow the entire second hand to grip and hold on. The origin of the term is obscure.

Shoulder - The corner portion of a sword separating the blade from the tang.

Tang - The un-edged hidden portion or ("tongue") of a blade running through the handle and to which the pommel is attached. The place where the tang connects to the blade is called the "shoulder". A sword's tang is sometimes of a different temper than the blade itself. A full tang is preferred in European swords, while a partial tang is best for Japanese swords.

Upper end - The hilt portion of a Medieval sword

Waisted-grip - A specially shaped handle on some bastard or hand-and-a-half swords, consisting of a slightly wider middle and tapering towards the pommel.

Tip - The end of the sword furthest away from the hilt. Most swords taper to a point at the tip, but some blade lines are straight until the very tip. A few swords, such as a U.S. Civil War saber, are curved along their length.

Annellet / Finger-Ring - The small loops extending toward the blade from the quillions intended to protect a finger wrapped over the guard. They developed in the middle-ages and can be found on many styles of Late-Medieval swords. They are common on Renaissance cut & thrust swords and rapiers they and also small-swords. For some time they have been incorrectly called the "pas d`ane".

Compound-Hilt / Complex-Guard - A term used for the various forms of hilt found on Renaissance and some late-Medieval swords. They consist typically of finger-rings, side-rings or ports, a knuckle-bar, and counter-guard or back-guard. Swept-hilts, ring-hilts, cage-hilts, and some basket-hilts are forms of complex-guard.


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Swordlady

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A couple things I would add are:

Point of Balance (POB): the point on a sword where the sword will balance when held horizontally on a fulcrum. Usually expressed as a distance from the guard, but from any set point on a sword would work (tip, end of pommel, etc.) Also known as center of gravity (COG).

Center of Percussion (COP):
[FONT=arial, verdana, helvetica]the point on the blade with the least vibration on hard contact. The spot on the blade that transmits the most power to the target in a hard chop. Also known as the sword's "sweet spot".

You will come across those two terms whenever you read a sword review (e.g., the reviews on MyArmoury or SFI). Also bear in mind that POB and COP are going to vary in different types of swords. A quick and easy way to find the COP for a European-style sword is to strike the pommel, and watch where the blade *doesn't* vibrate. That is where you want the blade to connect with a target. Since Japanese katana are much stiffer, you can't find the COP using that method.

Oh...and there is a slight mistake in that weblink. Double-edged swords technically *do* have a back edge. The edge used against your opponent is the "true edge". The edge facing you is the "false edge".
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Lisa

Lisa

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Swordlady said:
A couple things I would add are:

[FONT=arial, verdana, helvetica]Oh...and there is a slight mistake in that weblink. Double-edged swords technically *do* have a back edge. The edge used against your opponent is the "true edge". The edge facing you is the "false edge".
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Cool. Having experienced people around sure does help. :)

See, I really honestly have no opportunity right now to pick up a sword and get some training with it under a qualified practitioner. I do, however, enjoy reading and learning about the sword arts and sometimes get a little lost in the terminology. I think this helps. Pics help too, so thanks again Techno.
 

Swordlady

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Even though Wikipedia is sometimes a *little* suspect, their article on swords is quite useful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_Parts

This pic is from that Wiki page:

Sword_parts.jpg
 

pgsmith

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Thanks for posting it.
You're very welcome. Dr. Stein's site is the best thing I've ever found on the web for information about Japanese swords. Of course, it's mostly from a collector's standpoint since that is what he does, but there is a ton of information there, with links to more stuff.
 
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