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Jim Giant
5/09/2016 9:39pm,
To me small or non existant guards on swords simply seem like a poor design choice.

I've tried to find possible benefits online but non of the explanations seem adequate even taken in conjunction.

I've been told that nothing larger was necessary but when I used to do backyard Kendo I found larger home made tsubas resulted in being hit in the hands less often.

I've heard larger guards restrict movement but I never found them restrictive and from watching experienced users using these swords I can't see any techniques where larger guards would be an issue either.

It may be slightly quicker to half sword as you don't have to open your hand as far to get in position but this was more common with Europeans who had much larger guards.

It makes the swords a couple of ounces lighter but saving that weight so near the hilt wouldn't give you a noticeable speed boost.

To me it just seems objectively better to have a sensible sized guard so what possible reason would someone have to design a swords like that and how did they become so widespread?

Am I missing something?

Permalost
5/09/2016 11:29pm,
Double post

Permalost
5/09/2016 11:36pm,
A small tsuba is basically protecting the tiny opening between the sword and the gauntlet. You're looking at it from an unarmored perspective but that kind of sword is probably designed with gauntlets in mind. That seems like a likely reason that shell guards and other fancy built in hand protection came late in the swordfighting game- by that time, people weren't wearing big gauntlets.

Jim Giant
5/10/2016 8:08am,
A small tsuba is basically protecting the tiny opening between the sword and the gauntlet. You're looking at it from an unarmored perspective but that kind of sword is probably designed with gauntlets in mind. That seems like a likely reason that shell guards and other fancy built in hand protection came late in the swordfighting game- by that time, people weren't wearing big gauntlets.

Not completely convinced.

In the west guards started getting more complex as they were being designed for civilian unarmoured use but we still had large crossguards while we were using gauntlets.

The katana on the other hand was used armoured and unarmoured, the hand protection I've seen often exposes the fingers and was never used with a shield as far as I'm aware.

That all being said I've been looking at some of the oldest European swords since I posted that question and realised we had a period of over 2000 years using small or non existent crossguards too.

Over much of this period we were using short bronze swords which aren't great for parrying with but we were still using swords like this well in to the iron age:
http://www.kultofathena.com/images/ANV8_l.jpg

That being said such a sword I still think would be improved by giving it a larger guard and can't see any downside in combat.

NeilG
5/10/2016 9:00am,
I dunno: one reason might be that large guards make them awkward to carry sheathed. Swords aren't really a battlefield weapon, think of them as a sidearm.

DCS
5/10/2016 9:52am,
I know about a guy who is doing his PhD in Art History, his thesis being about tsuba and tsuka, wrote in a forum he has seen very few tsuba with signs of having been used in combat.

WFMurphyPhD
5/10/2016 9:56am,
I hate when I get hit in the hand by anything.
I would want a protective glove or a large guard or both.
But I don't know much about the tactical details of sword play from personal practice.
Just history books and other sports.

goodlun
5/10/2016 10:24am,
I would suggest that because from 1603 onward the sword was largely for decoration vs combat.

Bneterasedmynam
5/10/2016 11:57am,
Personally I haven't found crossguards to be all that great at protecting my hands, they just don't cover enough area. That being said crossguards are pretty good as an offensive tool to redirect an opponents blade and they can also be used for leverage. I can't really speak as to the use of guards on eastern swords, but on western swords they seem to me better used for offense then defense.

goodlun
5/10/2016 12:01pm,
Personally I haven't found crossguards to be all that great at protecting my hands, they just don't cover enough area. That being said crossguards are pretty good as an offensive tool to redirect an opponents blade and they can also be used for leverage. I can't really speak as to the use of guards on eastern swords, but on western swords they seem to me better used for offense then defense.

Agreed, now if we want to talk about effective we just have to look at the basket hilt
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basket-hilted_sword#/media/File:Schiavona-Morges.jpg

Or the actual ultimate in swords

http://art.thewalters.org/images/art/large/l_pl9_51506_fnt_bw.jpg

The rapier hands down is the best of the best.

goodlun
5/10/2016 12:13pm,
Just an interesting note from http://www.thearma.org/Youth/rapieroutline.htm#.VzIUL_krKUk



Did fighting with the rapier involve any grappling or wrestling?
With few exceptions, until sometime in the 1700s all sword combat invariably involved grappling and wrestling as an important component. A skilled fighter could always close in with his opponent to disarm or throw him or otherwise trap him in some way. He also had to be able to defend against his opponent doing the same. A weapon certainly helps you to fight, to protect yourself from blows, and to deliver lethal ones of your own. But it does not entirely eliminate the possibility of an enemy getting at you and grabbing hold.

In particular if you see my signature...

Jim Giant
5/10/2016 1:36pm,
Ok so the argument is that the crossguard offers little extra defence but is there a style where it would actually hindrance or is it just that there wasn't a strong enough selective pressure for it to evolve?

I'm primarily trained with basket hilted swords.

Goodlun since you linked ARMA do you know what the deal is with the hatred I see towards John Clements?

goodlun
5/10/2016 1:46pm,
Goodlun since you linked ARMA do you know what the deal is with the hatred I see towards John Clements?

I do not, but I am not really deep into that community.
I think more of the point I would like to make though is this.
European swords continued to evolve where as the Japanese swords didn't.
The European Swords saw a lot more lets say action, in both the case of dueling and self protection.
It was illegal for many of the Japanese to even carry a sword and they where largely decoration for many years.
Certainly not the key instrument of war fare prior to this happening.
I also do recall but I could be incorrect that the older Japanese swords did have larger guards more durable guards.

NeilG
5/10/2016 2:32pm,
Goodlun since you linked ARMA do you know what the deal is with the hatred I see towards John Clements?The impression I get as an outsider is that he is considered an arrogant blowhard whose scholarship is questionable. ARMA as a group has poor relations with the rest of the HEMA community. This Reddit thread (https://www.reddit.com/r/wma/comments/2beolt/arma_member_writes_open_letter_to_hema_community/) will give you the general flavour of it I think.

Bneterasedmynam
5/10/2016 3:04pm,
Ok so the argument is that the crossguard offers little extra defence but is there a style where it would actually hindrance or is it just that there wasn't a strong enough selective pressure for it to evolve?

I'm primarily trained with basket hilted swords.

Goodlun since you linked ARMA do you know what the deal is with the hatred I see towards John Clements?


I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a style that it would hindrance, but as far as evolving it really didn't need to. For hand protection you already had gauntlets, and as a extra tool for the sword the crossguard already did everything it needed to. Swords in general evolved due in part to the use of firearms.

BKR
5/11/2016 11:15am,
The impression I get as an outsider is that he is considered an arrogant blowhard whose scholarship is questionable. ARMA as a group has poor relations with the rest of the HEMA community. This Reddit thread (https://www.reddit.com/r/wma/comments/2beolt/arma_member_writes_open_letter_to_hema_community/) will give you the general flavour of it I think.

Seems to me like typical cult of personality type stuff we see all the time in "martial arts".