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-   -   How does one hold a tulwar? (http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=20359)

Ian 11th August 2015 05:27 AM

How does one hold a tulwar?
 
3 Attachment(s)
This question has been discussed at length before and I don't think it was ever fully resolved.

One suggestion is that the forefinger is looped over the cross guard. I don't recall seeing a picture showing that particular grip, until I was reading again The Last Empire: Photography in British India, 1855-1911 with text by Clark Worswick and Ainslie Embree, Aperture Inc.: New York, 1976, 146 pp.

On page 50 of this book, there appears a picture titled, Englishman with Ruling Prince and Suite. The picture is attributed to Lt. Churchill and dated to the "1860s." It was "part of the Frith series of Indian views published during the nineteenth century." There are some typical weapons on display in the picture, but the one of relevance to this topic is held by the man in the bottom right, seated on the floor beside the Prince (who is not identified in the text). Closer inspection of the hand holding the tulwar hilt shows his forefinger curled around the cross guard.

Does this represent a fighting grip? I don't know, but he could well be a personal body guard as he is positioned close to the Prince with his sword unsheathed.

This is the only picture I have found to show this particular grip and may offer some support to the belief that it was used in combat.

Ian.

Pukka Bundook 11th August 2015 02:45 PM

Good morning Ian,

I think as you say this has been discussed before.
I think as India has many diverse people, there may have been several ways of holding a tulwar.
Actually, one common practice Appears to have been parrying with a shield, and Not with the blade, so the argument that putting a finger over the cross would get it chopped off does not bear that much weight.

Maybe ask a Gatka practitioner??

Best,
Richard.

Tim Simmons 11th August 2015 03:04 PM

Still your finger is exposed what ever you parry with, Looking for a week spot, if as an experienced Sabre user, it is the finger? If you lost your finger and was somehow still able wave your weapon you would not be much good with a new unpracticed three finger grip ?

AJ1356 11th August 2015 03:53 PM

I've been following this guy's videos for a while now, he is going through a few swords and the only sword he holds with the index finger over the gaurd is a short sword in the left hand. It is in the 3rd video, but if you see the guys working with him they are holding their normally as well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLTcVJGMBkQ

Jens Nordlunde 11th August 2015 04:28 PM

Ian,
It is one thing to show a soldier sitting relaxed with his sword, but it is quite different how he would hold his sword during a fight.
Somewhere Hendley wrote, that the whole idea with the way the tulwar hilt was made was, that it should be held very firmly, and he does not suggest the indexfinger should be curled around the quillon.
I have seen quite a number of miniatures, but in none I have seen the indexfinger curled around the quillon.

Richard,
Nice to see you here again, it has been some time.
Should the Indians have been indifferent about the finger protection, why would they use a hand guard?
True the Indians did not fence like the Europeant did, but they still liked to have their hand in one piece when the fight was over - the ones that survived that is.
See Robert Elgood's Hidu Arms and Ritual, page 110. To see how the South Indian's protected their indexfinger. The swords shown are 16th to 17th century, and not of tulwar type, but it was an issue even then.
So I am with Tim.

Jens

Ian 11th August 2015 04:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
Ian,
It is one thing to show a soldier sitting relaxed with his sword, but it is quite different how he would hold his sword during a fight. ...

Jens
Jens,

I completely agree. Whether he is sitting "relaxed" or "watchfully alert to possible danger" is hard to say, and I don't think one picture tells us anything about the fighting style of this individual. His sword is unsheathed (as is the sword of the man seated on the left on the floor) suggesting a possible protective role (or perhaps just staged for the picture--hard to say). Those standing at the back of the Englishman and Prince are wearing some form of uniform and appear to be courtiers/officials of the Prince.

I offer the picture only as evidence that perhaps this grip was used for the tulwar by some individuals.

Ian.

kronckew 11th August 2015 04:51 PM

nice video. the disk pommel is there to force you to keep the blade at roughly a 90 degree angle to your forearm, unlike a western swordsman who would extend the blade with a lot more reach. this position encourages the draw and push cuts you see in the video. the disks on theirs are not as pronounced as many, and do allow a bit more extension, but a std. western thrust is difficult.

the man standing is holding his sword w/o fingering the guard & he has a reasonably large disk pommel. the seated man has his finger over, but i do not see a disk pommel of a tulwar, and suspect it is a short sword as mentioned.

western swords with simple cross guards are frequently used finger over the guard in a style where the hand is protected by an armoured gauntlet offering finger protection. as armour fell out of fashion,you start to get rings coming off the guard to protect the finger over the guard, and/or a guard extension bent down towards the pommel to protect the hand, eventually developing into the elaborate guards of rapiers and basket hilts, which further develop into again more simple guards of latter day swords. i've seen anumber ofn sabres with a leather loop behind the guard bowl to put your finger thru, and polish sabres frequently had a thumb ring for similar use.

i recall a scene in 'kingdom of heaven' where balial's dad tells him 'always take a high guard' - that makes sense if you note they were not wearing armoured gauntlets & the hand & forearm is much more vulnerable to stop cuts/thrusts with a simple cross guard. anything you stick out in front of you, arm, hand, foot, leg is a legitimate and tempting target and a cut to them can disable or even kill, or at least permit a killing followup. a man whose arm nerves or tendons have ben cut cannot hold his sword & thus is either no longer a threat, or vulnerable to a killing blow. ditto on the legs. major blood vessels in the inside of the elbow, the arm pit or the groin - inside upper thigh, allow fairly quick bleed-out with resulting death if not quickly stopped. and of course similar cuts to the more obviously vulnerable neck.

p.s. - a deep cut to the bone on the fore-finger HURTS*, almost as much as when the surgeon sews it back up. i would bet a chopped off finger would restrict a swordsmans abilities to use his weapon. he might then prefer a pata. :)

*frozen beef roast -1 : me -nil. finger is still a bit numb after 20 years where the nerve was cut. luckily it was my left hand.

Jens Nordlunde 11th August 2015 06:11 PM

Ian,
I think I know exactly what you meant by starting this thread :-).

I feel with you, but as you say, luckily it was the left hand.

Jens

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 11th August 2015 06:34 PM

I think it is part personal preference and indeed a change of grip depending on the sword use would be very fast...However is it not ultimately dependent on the size of the sword hand compared to the hilt? The chap shown has huge hands and he could not possibly hold the small Tulvar grip . Using the sword with the finger over the guard makes for a very powerful down strike...or maybe he is trying to get one finger cut off so that his hand will fit??... :)

David R 11th August 2015 07:47 PM

H. Russell Robinson was a big advocate of the "fore finger" grip, but he also believed there was a difference between War and Hunting Tulwar and the way they were used.
Generally those blades that had a lot of meat in the last third of the blade he saw as War Swords, and those with an elegant taper to the point as Hunting Swords. Animals do not cut back, so the forefinger grip would not be a problem..... Just my two pennyworth here.
http://www.worldcat.org/title/orien...itionsView=true

Pukka Bundook 12th August 2015 05:05 AM

Jens,

It is good to be here and to talk to you. Too much to do is not good, and a lot has happened over the last while.

When I mention the finger over the guard may not be in such danger as in Western fencing, this does not mean I would be using such a grip if in a fight!
No, as long as I could get my whole hand inside the guard, that would be how I would hold it. "Josh" was the term was sit not? for the feeling of confidence etc. in a good tight grip!

I am pleased you are well, Jens.

Best of everything.
Richard.

blue lander 12th August 2015 05:43 PM

With the kind of long draw cuts you do with a tulwar your forearm and fingers are going to be exposed no matter how you hold it (which is where the dhal comes in)

kronckew 12th August 2015 06:00 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue lander
With the kind of long draw cuts you do with a tulwar your forearm and fingers are going to be exposed no matter how you hold it (which is where the dhal comes in)


true, if you have a dhal with you. the use of bucklers like that in europe is frequently ignored by us modern pundits - a late medieval/early renaissance european swordsman would have likely had his buckler for much the same reasons. it is occasionally discussed here on the forum too.

note to self: you do not have a buckler in your collection. buy one. ;)
further note back to self: OK, you find me the money.

sirupate 12th August 2015 06:09 PM

In these vids they appear to be using a standard grip
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYf3f1r3iT4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GpwBm3iDSEo

kronckew 12th August 2015 06:42 PM

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did not seem to be much actual bloodshed in the first video. old guy with a bit of a a gash to the skin. if they'd been serious i think there would be more body parts & fluids laying about.

made the mistake of giving a 'ninja' sword to my then 18 yr. old son. he of course drew it and started to flourish it about, hit the ceiling & dropped it on his arm, producing much the same cut. he never did that again.:rolleyes:

in the 3 yootube tulwar videos, the last shows use of dhal/bucklers, the 3 attacking the onstructor have bucklers, and appear to be using a std. 4 finger inside the guard grip. the guy who is about to be disarmed seems to have his thumb more exposed tho. (te guy behind him had just been similarly disarmed, the instructor holding the resulting sword upside down.

sirupate 12th August 2015 06:48 PM

I've seen his demo's and had a few chats with him, mainly about the way they use the kukri, if I see him again I'll ask about the grip types, but as the picture shows he teaches and uses one of the two standard sabre grips.

blue lander 12th August 2015 08:30 PM

Isn't that fellows form of martial art an attempt at "reconstructing" Indian martial arts that were banned under the Raj? I wonder how definitive his interpretation should be considered

sirupate 12th August 2015 08:59 PM

I don't know if his stuff is reconstructed (like a lot of European MA) or he was taught it Blue Lander

Rafngard 12th August 2015 10:38 PM

Regarding the exposed thumb on the guy about to be disarmed, it's real easy to accidentally break someone's thumb in a disarm if they're holding on to tight. I suspect that's related.

Have fun,
Leif

Timo Nieminen 13th August 2015 02:52 AM

Just hold it in a hammer-grip, keep your wrist fairly straight (so the blade is at 90 degree to the forearm), and slice away (i.e., draw cut).

The snug fit lets you securely hold the sword without having to hold it tightly. So you can easily stay relaxed and fluid, and not tire. It's important to have the correct size hilt. Too small, and your hand is squeezed, but too large and you lose that relaxed but secure grip. Worse, the sword doesn't easily stay at the correct angle with a too-large hilt, and the pommel can dig into the hand/wrist. So rather than large one-size-fits-all hilts, we see a range of sizes. If your hilt is too small or big, replace it with the right size (or just swap the whole sword for one with a right-size hilt). The disc pommel isn't just to keep your hand there; it's also a good lever for moving the sword around.

I find the same thing with Viking sword hilts, and some other European medieval-style hilts. Notably, traditionally used with shields.

I find that hilts which curve forward at the end, away from the heel of the hand, with pommels that project forward past the little finger (e.g., a barong grip, some kris grips, shamshir grips, and many more), give some of the advantages of tulwar/Viking hilts, while at the same time giving you some of the advantages of handshake grip (or sabre grip). A kukri grip gives a similar (but different) compromise.

(1) Confined grips: stay in hammer grip
(2) Long straight grips: stay in handshake grip (perhaps with two hands)
(3) Hooked-forward grip: a hammer/handshake hybrid
I don't know how universal (2) is for the type of grip. Specifically, I don't know enough about grips used for fighting with SE Asian dha.

sirupate 13th August 2015 09:06 AM

Hi Blue Lander,
I'm not aware of Indian Martial Arts being banned under the Raj, indeed there was quite a bit of cross pollination, and many accounts of British Cavalry learning Indian sword techniques, all the best Simon

blue lander 13th August 2015 02:14 PM

http://gatkafederationofindia.org/gatka_british.php

I'm no expert on any of this stuff, but I've read similar accounts from other sites. On the other hand, it seems like basic knowledge like "how to hold a sword" would have survived even if it was banned.

Here's a probably irrelevant anecdote: I was showing my sword collection to an older Mongolian man, and he took my tulwar and dhal off the wall and started doing draw cuts with it. I have no idea what his background was since he only spoke a few words of English, but he seemed to know what he was doing. He was very unhappy with the hilt, from his gesturing I think he expected a shamshir hilt. He explained through gestures and his few words that you should never swing it like an axe, only draw cuts. What struck me was how short range these draw cuts were, you'd have to be within punching distance to actually hit anyone. Considering all of that, I doubt the tulwar hilt served any defensive purpose no matter how you grip it.

sirupate 13th August 2015 02:53 PM

Thanks for the link Blue Lander, that seems to contradict Swordsman of the British Empire, I wonder if anyone else has an opinion, cheers Simon

blue lander 13th August 2015 03:15 PM

I'm trying to find the article but I think I read the British allowed a "ceremonial" form of gatka to be practiced but the actually effective "war" form of gatka was banned

Roland_M 13th August 2015 03:23 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian
Closer inspection of the hand holding the tulwar hilt shows his forefinger curled around the cross guard.

Ian.



Hello Ian,

I have four old tulwar blades and three of them have no ricasso, they are very sharp down to the cross guard. Only the wootz-tulwar has a ricasso but ironically the handle of this wootz-tulwar is the biggest of the four, long enough für my xl- hand.

The forefinger around the cross guard allows more control but paid with significantly less cutting power. The forefinger would be damaged in this position without enemies support, because there is no ricasso.

I asked the same question to myself and this is my result.


Roland

blue lander 13th August 2015 03:28 PM

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB...php?f=3&t=17821

Very confusing... It seems some argue that gatka has evolved (or devolved) into a points based fencing system fought with sticks and bears little resemblance to how Sihks fought two hundred years ago. What the fellow in the screenshots above practices is called shastar vidya and claims to be the "real" sikh martial art passed on to this guy from some last remaining master or something like that. Gatka practitioners consider shastar vidya to be illegitimate and vice versa. Gatka practitioners would argue against taking his method of tulwar usage as being historically accurate. Who knows what the truth is but it might be better to rely on the historical texts directly.

I'm curious about knuckle bows on Tulwars. Some have them and some don't . Is this a regional thing or is one form older than the other?

Timo Nieminen 14th August 2015 01:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue lander
Considering all of that, I doubt the tulwar hilt served any defensive purpose no matter how you grip it.


Yes. This is true of many, many sword hilts. While some sword hilts have a defensive function, the protection is rather minimal on many, and many don't provide any protection at all. The one universal function of a sword hilt is for holding/using the sword.

A knuckle-bow can still be useful in very close fighting - after all, the opponent probably has a naked sword blade of his own between your hand and his body, and a knuckle-bow will protect your hand when you accidentally put your hand into your opponent's blade.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue lander
I'm curious about knuckle bows on Tulwars. Some have them and some don't . Is this a regional thing or is one form older than the other?


I can't say anything useful about region or era, but can say something about function. The benefits are noted above, but there are disadvantages, too. If fighting in close, the knuckle-bow provides a handhold the the opponent to grab and control your sword. A knuckle-bow can also make it a little harder to grab your hilt properly when in a hurry.

Pukka Bundook 14th August 2015 01:38 PM

Timo,

I think that knuckle -bows are as you say, sometimes a disadvantage.
More vital protection I believe, comes from the upper and lower guard.
By this I mean that these guards help prevent the knuckles contacting an opposing shield used to parry your blow.
Even the short cross of many Viking era swords still give this protection.

Best,
Richard.

Jens Nordlunde 14th August 2015 04:11 PM

When it comes to how to hold a tulwar hilt, I would politely ask all of you to study the miniatures published in several books, and I would be very interested to know, if any of you have found one single picture where the man is curling his index finger around the quillon.
These miniatures are the 'photos' of the time, so to say, so if none of them show a curled index finger around the quillon, it is likely to say that they did not do so.
I dont find any modern videos shown on the net to be proff of anything.
Jens

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 16th August 2015 07:42 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Nordlunde
When it comes to how to hold a tulwar hilt, I would politely ask all of you to study the miniatures published in several books, and I would be very interested to know, if any of you have found one single picture where the man is curling his index finger around the quillon.
These miniatures are the 'photos' of the time, so to say, so if none of them show a curled index finger around the quillon, it is likely to say that they did not do so.
I dont find any modern videos shown on the net to be proff of anything.
Jens



Salaams Jens Nordlunde, I think some of what you say is probably right...and very much respected...however, curling the index finger around the quillon is not at all uncomfortable, moreover, it allows much greater force to be applied in the downward thrust.

Using the fist in unarmed combat as the example in what is described as the hammerfist ...(best described as when using a fist to crash down on a table)...instead of keeping all the fingers tight in a 4 finger and thumb clenched fist the advanced strike is with a relaxed top or index finger...thus using a three finger and thumb clenched fist...The power ratio is greatly enhanced as I believe it is when the finger is curled around the quillon.

The problem appears to be that there is no photo "except at this thread" to suggest that this was a preferred grip.

I also suggest that the draw would be more positive with the finger looped around the quillon.

Regards,
Ibrahiim al Balooshi.


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