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  1. Whosthemaster is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 8:00pm


     Style: FMA BJJ Blue

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    The Swords

    I was told by a historial fencing instructor that early swords in European History were not sharp as we commonly believe, only the tip for thrusting. According to him, the technology and materials used in the forging process didn't allow the swords to remain sharp.
    It makes sense to me - I've seen some cutting videos with blunt heavy swords and just the weight of those things is enough to cause lethal damage. Even in Bullshido I've read something about this, but I've also been told the opposite, "swords were always as sharp as they could".

    Can anyone give me some light?
  2. feral00 is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 8:22pm


     Style: Hapkido/Judo

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    Some of the earliest swords were sickle like in shape, so they were almost certainly for cutting and not thrusting. Swords like the Egyptian Kopesh, were curved with an edge.
  3. DdlR is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 10:55pm

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    Not really my area, but my understanding is that it depended very much on the type and use of a given sword. Two-handers were often completely blunt at the forte (roughly, the third of the blade closest to the guard) because that area was used to block and parry the enemy's attack and there was no advantage in sharpening it; a razor-like edge being of no use in defense and tending to weaken the blade. Likewise, two-handed swords intended for armored combat, in which edge sharpness wasn't so much an issue as the ability to use the weapon like a can-opener.

    Even within a particular "class" of sword, there are often significant individual variations that presumably come down to the preferences of their owners or makers.

    Rapiers were often only sharp at the points and about 1/3rd down from the point, to discourage the opponent from grasping the blade in self defense, but AFAIK, again, specimens have been found with fully sharpened blades.
  4. Whosthemaster is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 11:04pm


     Style: FMA BJJ Blue

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    "Two-handers were often completely blunt at the forte (roughly, the third of the blade closest to the guard) because that area was used to block and parry the enemy's attack and there was no advantage in sharpening it"

    Yeah, that was what the Fencing instructor was telling me about.
  5. jspeedy is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 11:09pm


     Style: FMA

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    I have no input on the subject myself, just wanted to say good thread. So far pretty informative. *subscribe*
  6. u1ysses is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/24/2010 11:27pm


     Style: Judo, BJJ, MT noob

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    It makes sense to me - I've seen some cutting videos with blunt heavy swords and just the weight of those things is enough to cause lethal damage.
    They weigh much less than you're probably thinking. See here.
  7. blossfechter is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/25/2010 12:50am


     Style: German Longsword, HEMA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whosthemaster View Post
    "Two-handers were often completely blunt at the forte (roughly, the third of the blade closest to the guard) because that area was used to block and parry the enemy's attack and there was no advantage in sharpening it"

    Yeah, that was what the Fencing instructor was telling me about.
    You realize he is only talking about the part of the blade just in front of the cross, right? You rarely strike with that part of the blade.

    Being as he also said, "the technology and materials used in the forging process didn't allow the swords to remain sharp" I'd be likely to ignore anything he said in regards to European weaponry. As far only thrusting with the tip, some swords had spatulated ends, meaning they were round. You wouldn't get an effective thrust from that.

    Then again, it really depends on the time frame you are talking about. Since he mentioned 'early European history', he could mean a Roman gladius, a Viking sword, or any number of things. He is guilty of generalizing at best and being ignorant at worst.
  8. kwan_dao is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/25/2010 8:18am


     Style: sambo, stuff

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    Quote Originally Posted by blossfechter View Post
    As far only thrusting with the tip, some swords had spatulated ends, meaning they were round. You wouldn't get an effective thrust from that.
    If you are talking about medieval european swords, those were almost exclusively "Richtschwerter", which means executioners swords. Not martial weapons. The rounded tip explicitly distinguished them from "honest" weapons.

    They were of course sharpened, because the executioner in many cases faced a death penalty, should he fail to execute in one strike. Executioners also hardly ever encounter any type of armor when chopping off heads or limbs and never use their tool for thrusting.

    Those swords were surrounded by lots of superstition and taboos (which is also why they later survived at a higher rate in collections, the cruel and bloody stuff beeing interesting and such). It was explicitly forbidden to use them in battle. Higher classes would not even have touched such a thing.

    They also would not have carried a weapon which even remotely might have looked like a "Richtschwert" (e.g. with a rounded tip) in battle or anywhere else. That would have been like using a hemp-rope with a hangman“s knot as a belt on your wedding tuxedo.
    Last edited by kwan_dao; 2/25/2010 8:22am at .
  9. Whosthemaster is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/25/2010 11:30am


     Style: FMA BJJ Blue

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    Quote Originally Posted by blossfechter View Post
    Being as he also said, "the technology and materials used in the forging process didn't allow the swords to remain sharp" I'd be likely to ignore anything he said in regards to European weaponry.

    Well, he is European so if the statement is incorrect I think it's easier that I just misunderstood what he said. I wasn't actually taking his class, just taking pictures for my Kali classmates that were having his class.

    About the weight of the swords, the iron structures that they were using for training were quite heavy, I did held one and it was certainly heavy enough to do very gruesome damage even without any sharpness. It certainly couldn't be held with just one hand. I'll try to find some of those pictures.
  10. willaume is offline

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    Posted On:
    2/25/2010 2:52pm


     Style: aikido, medieval fencing

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whosthemaster View Post
    Well, he is European so if the statement is incorrect I think it's easier that I just misunderstood what he said. I wasn't actually taking his class, just taking pictures for my Kali classmates that were having his class.

    About the weight of the swords, the iron structures that they were using for training were quite heavy, I did held one and it was certainly heavy enough to do very gruesome damage even without any sharpness. It certainly couldn't be held with just one hand. I'll try to find some of those pictures.
    hello

    Well then there are two possibilities either it was a rubbish reproduction or to quote the 13th warrior you are weak and feeble like an old woman.

    That metallurgy argument is specious at best, folded steel seems to have appeared in Europe between 1 BC-and 1AD by the 13th century crucible steel was available.

    Yes it is true that a 1350 type XX will probably cut better than a 1450 type XX,but the 1450 with be a better thrusters. you will have the same argument with 919th century light cavalry sabre vs heavy cavalry sabre.

    if that guy is teaching medieval fencing, surely he must be aware that German manuals, that claim to use technique a few hundreds year before the 14-15th century, have 3 type of wounding mechanism: the cut, the thrust and the schnitt (aka a slice)
    To do a shnitt you put the blade on the flesh and you pull or draw whilst applying pressure sometime from under the fleshy part. So not so sharp and quite heavy is hardly optimum is it.

    phil
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