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  1. AMF is offline
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    Posted On:
    10/26/2009 2:00am


     Style: Fitness-Fu and Judo

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    U.S NAVY Petty Officers Drill Book 1904 Edition

    I was going through some documents of mine on an old flash drive and discovered that I have a copy of the US NAVY Petty Officers Drillbook 1904 Edition in word format.

    It deals with drilling with the cutlass and credits A.J. Corbesier and Lieut. W.F. Fullham for the development of the exercises.

    A quick search of A.J Corbesier on the web reveals:

    The author is one A.J. Corbesier. And he is not only the author of America's first-ever manual on naval sword instruction, but probably the only professional fencing master in history to have a warship named after him.

    Belgian import
    According to the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Antoine Joseph Corbesier was born on January 22, 1837 in Belgium. He served in the Belgian army before coming to America, where he found gainful employment as Sword-Master of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

    His most well known contribution to American fencing literature is his Theory of Fencing, with the Small-Sword Exercise, published in Washington, D.C., by the Government Printing Office in 1873... a work well documented in most bibliographies.
    Anyway thought I'd put it up here for grabs to anyone who wants it.
    (It's attached)
    Attached Files
  2. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    10/26/2009 8:16am


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    I've found it available in at least two different places as PDF, ePub, and a few other formats.

    I like the manual, personally. I like the drills in it in particular as well as the simplified method it teaches.

    I should point out that some instructors in the modern effort to revive cutlass work do not accept this manual as representative of cutlass skills. Instead, they suggest that it is a military foot saber style adapted to (a longish) cutlass by a fencing instructor who had no real experience in actual combat with cutlasses and sabers while on board a ship.

    Like I said, I like it, but I'm not one of the leading minds in the cutlass revival movement; I just skirt around on the periphery.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  3. AMF is offline
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    Posted On:
    10/26/2009 11:47pm


     Style: Fitness-Fu and Judo

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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson View Post
    I've found it available in at least two different places as PDF, ePub, and a few other formats.

    I like the manual, personally. I like the drills in it in particular as well as the simplified method it teaches.

    I should point out that some instructors in the modern effort to revive cutlass work do not accept this manual as representative of cutlass skills. Instead, they suggest that it is a military foot saber style adapted to (a longish) cutlass by a fencing instructor who had no real experience in actual combat with cutlasses and sabers while on board a ship.

    Like I said, I like it, but I'm not one of the leading minds in the cutlass revival movement; I just skirt around on the periphery.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk

    I wasn't aware of a modern cutlass revival movement, although I suppose that it is no surprise there is one.

    Foot saber style versus at sea saber style, hmmmmm; now there is an interesting comparison.

    I would think that the cuts, parries, and slashes would be the same and where the main difference would be is in the footwork.
  4. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 7:40am


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    Quote Originally Posted by AMF View Post
    I would think that the cuts, parries, and slashes would be the same and where the main difference would be is in the footwork.
    Depends on who you ask.

    Yeah, footwork is different. Everything is far more constricted on ship. The cuts, the thrusts (when there are any), etc.

    The Historic Maritime Combat Association (HMCA) has done research into medical accounts post sea battle/boarding actions and found the majority of injuries attributable to bladed hand weapons (ax, sword, etc.) tend to be high line and angled cuts. Head and shoulders, angles 1, 2, & 7.

    Additionally, the boarding/repelling formations are frequently tightly packed. One period writer, Pringle-Green, instructs that boarder/repellers hold the cutlass in the right hand and a their single-shot black powder pistol in the LEFT hand because, due to the massed gaggle of men, you don't need to aim accurately, just point in the general direction of the center of the mass of men and fire. You'll hit SOMETHING. "You're not hunting ducks" he says. ;)

    Like I said, I just skirt around on the periphery.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  5. Phrost is offline
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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 9:51am

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     Guy Who Pays the Bills and Gets the Death Threats Style: MMA (Retired)

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    Great find, thanks for sharing.
  6. AMF is offline
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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 11:08am


     Style: Fitness-Fu and Judo

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    Quote Originally Posted by lklawson View Post
    Depends on who you ask.

    Yeah, footwork is different. Everything is far more constricted on ship. The cuts, the thrusts (when there are any), etc.

    The Historic Maritime Combat Association (HMCA) has done research into medical accounts post sea battle/boarding actions and found the majority of injuries attributable to bladed hand weapons (ax, sword, etc.) tend to be high line and angled cuts. Head and shoulders, angles 1, 2, & 7.

    Additionally, the boarding/repelling formations are frequently tightly packed. One period writer, Pringle-Green, instructs that boarder/repellers hold the cutlass in the right hand and a their single-shot black powder pistol in the LEFT hand because, due to the massed gaggle of men, you don't need to aim accurately, just point in the general direction of the center of the mass of men and fire. You'll hit SOMETHING. "You're not hunting ducks" he says. ;)

    Like I said, I just skirt around on the periphery.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
    So more of slash type of warfare then, less fencing inclined; would that be accurate?

    If so then that would make sense as it wouldn't be as technical as fencing.

    The formation, like you say, would be a mass rush to overwhelm the defenders; versus a more surgical man to man duel on boston common.


    It sounds like you more than 'skirt around the periphery'.
  7. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 11:47am


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    Quote Originally Posted by AMF View Post
    So more of slash type of warfare then, less fencing inclined; would that be accurate?
    The current speculation is that, yes, hack and slash. But mostly because of the relative training level of the seamen and requisites of the tactics of the day. Neither of which lent themselves to great skill and technique. Near the end of the period in which the cutlass was used, it was common for Singlestick to be taught and drilled (facing lines of seamen). However, current leading luminaries in the study are suggesting that this was excercise drills intended to promote health and mental well being instead of skill with the cutlass. I'm not sure I agree, but, then again, I'm not leading the charge, so to speak.

    If so then that would make sense as it wouldn't be as technical as fencing.
    Absolutely. Why on earth would the average seaman spend any great time learning to fence? Ain't like he's an officer or nuth'n. He had "real work" to do. ;)

    The formation, like you say, would be a mass rush to overwhelm the defenders; versus a more surgical man to man duel on boston common.
    The military saber, either sea or land, was a different animal than the dueling saber. Different rules, different theory, different... well, most everything. Still, I have no doubt that a trained fencer with skills in Dueling Saber would have little difficulty making the transition to military saber. He'd have to do some things differently due to the constraints of the weapon (heavier, different point of balance, etc.) and requirements of military use, but his skills and conceptual abilities would stand him well, imo.

    It sounds like you more than 'skirt around the periphery'.
    Nah. I'm a dilettante compared to the folks really studying it. I'm just lucky enough to know a few of them, have taken a few of their seminars, and read some of the applicable manuals.

    I "study" Military Saber/Broadsword and Cutlass as a way to "inform" myself on some aspects of my Bowie Knife work. (well, and it's fun too, but don't tell anyone ;)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  8. tideliar is offline

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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 12:29pm


     Style: Muay Thai

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    Excellent find and a great thread. I'm only aware of a lot of these issues from reading (and enjoying) military fiction. Some of the best authors have researched heavily, and rely on the letters and surviving documents of the era. Some truly horrific accounts of injuries sustained etc., but I expect that holds true for earlier times too!

    Swords blunted quickly and were more heavy crushing weapons, isn't that right?
  9. lklawson is offline

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    Posted On:
    10/27/2009 1:30pm


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    Quote Originally Posted by tideliar View Post
    Swords blunted quickly and were more heavy crushing weapons, isn't that right?
    Varied. Most of the time they were most definitely cutting and/or thrusting weapons.

    Even a moderately dull sword with a little weight and force of blow, such as a cutlass or military saber, could sever a limb or hack to the bone.

    That said, I own a Napoleonic cav. saber which has never been sharpened. It's a big steel club. However, I have no doubt that while being swung from horseback, with the substantial weight of both horse and rider behind it, even dull it would force through limbs, heads, torsos, whatever.

    It is true that metallurgy has progressed vastly since the days of yore and what would, today, be considered an entry level "beater" may frequently have a higher quality of steel than what was generally available "way back when." It goes without saying that these steels of old were more susceptible to wear and would require more maintenance. Discussions of how much the quality varied, how much more wear, and how much more maintenance is a good way to start an argument on certain forums. ;)

    Frankly, there's more that goes into a "good sword" than just quality steel. Exactly what represented a quality sword in "ye olden dayes" is another good way to start arguments on certain fourms as is attempting to define what constitutes the time period (and location) of "ye olden dayes."

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
  10. Permalost is offline
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    Posted On:
    10/28/2009 12:10am

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     Style: FMA, dumbek, Indian clubs

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    Seems to me that in "the olden days", an important design feature that's absent in a lot of modern swords is a design that's not likely to break at the tang or handle, something I see missing in a lot of cheap swords today.
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