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Old 23rd October 2005, 07:29 PM   #91
tom hyle
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Another interesting tidbit about the "Ice Man"; his knife, with its tiny blade (around 2", I think) had on it the blood of either two or three humans, none of them him. Just an interesting tidbit about tiny knives. The man was, of course, mudered with an arrow.
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Old 26th October 2005, 06:17 AM   #92
Chris Evans
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Hi RC

1. In Reply:

By "Spanish school" I mean just that -a distinct Spanish school of fencing. None, to the best of my knowledge, have survived.

The late Spanish schools, which I understand are still practiced under the rubric of "classical" fencing, were certainly a rehash of the French school, but had a local flavour, as exemplified by their hilts, and the attendant grip, much in the manner of the Italian school.

Forgive me, but I am not familiar with maestro Carbonel

He and Sanz were two great early twentieth century exponents of modern Spanish fencing, in the manner described described above. Both developed hilts of their own. The one by Sanz could be seen as the forerunner of the modern orthopedic grip. See attached pictures of their swords. These masters left descendants who are still around today.


Broadswords and backswords are actually well-balanced and responsive.

a) For what application? Cutting? Thrusting? Dueling? On horse back or afoot?

For all of the above.


I cannot see that. First they vary greatly in length, weight, general shape, all with intended use - Cavalry swords tending towards greater length and weight. What they all have in common is that their point of balance (BP) is far forward and are very point slow.

I noticed that you declined to give BPs for applications. My reason for asking was that one cannot possibly discuss what a particular sword can or cannot do unless one understands its physical characteristics and limitations.

An all steel epee or French smallsword or dueling sabre has its BP very close to the hilt, within 3" and weighs a pound or a bit less - This is only attainable with the light hollow triangular French blade or the cannelured sabre blade and this is why such swords can be be used to parry fairly reliably with, in all four lines and at speed - They have a very low angular inertia, that is they can be shifted in an arc very easily, essential for DT play. Once a cutting blade, is substituted, even if very light, the BP unavoidably moves forward and is very hard to bring the it closer than 5" from the end of the grip (see Angelo). Such swords are point heavier, that is, have greater angular inertia, and much greater reliance has to be placed on ST moves, as exemplified by the Italian and Spanish schools up to 19th century. (see paragraph 3 below)

Military cutting swords have BPs at least 6" from the end of the grip. If they did not, they would make ineffective cutters. With the BP so far forward, they are very point heavy. That and their overall weight raises their angular inertia so much that they just cannot be moved with sufficient speed to reliably intercept incoming attacks to all parts of the body, which if they are cuts, are even harder to parry than thrusts, as correctly pointed out by Silver and later by Hutton.

In my own experience, I have handled numerous original basket-hilted broadswords and backswords from the 17th and 18th centuries, and they certainly fit Silver's description of a "short, sharp, light sword".

My old maestro from BCAF noted the same thing when he receive a special tour of the Tower of London Armouries many years ago--he told me how much lighter the originals were, when compared with so many replicas today. "You could fence with these," as he put it.


Some facts: A typical 19th century infantry officer's light C&T sabre-sword with a 32" blade weighs around 28oz with a BP at 7" from the hilt. Of this the blade is 19oz and the Gothic hilt and handle 9oz. A serviceable basket hilt & handle weighs around 16oz. If we re-hilt our blade with a basket-hilt, we have an all up weight of 35oz, twice the weight of a small sword and very point heavy in the bargain. And then the broadswords of Silver's era had longer blades and were consequently heavier, more like 44oz or above. The longer Scottish basket-hilted broadswords weighed around 3 pounds.

Obviously the POB is further down the blade that with a purely thrusting implement like a smallsword, but that doesn't change the fact that these weapons can be used for double-time actions.

If they were anywhere as good at DT play as the small sword, then the small sword would not have been invented. McBane acknoweldged this disparity when he emphasized that the small sword was the dueling weapon of choice since the broad sword left too much to chance; Godfrey also said that the smallsword was the weapon to duel with - I read that as broadswords parries and subsequent ripostes were too uncertain.

By saber I mean the military saber. No specific country. We're talking largely about a "pan-European cut-and-thrust method" here

I don't think that any such sword or method ever existed. A Mameluke style sabre such as carried by Wellington or Jose de San Martin, much in vogue during the Napoleonic wars, is vastly different from a Blucher or Brit 1796 which in turn are completely different weapons from their contemporary Spanish cup hilted 1796 cavalry sword. Then we have spadroons and nineteenth century light straight bladed infantry officers swords which were different again as were the curved US civil war era sabres; And what are we to make out of later Brit 1908 pattern and the Patton cavalry swords?

Then there is the issue of the hilt:

a) Is it sufficient to provide adequate hand protection? The Mameluke sabre had only a simple cross quillon and the Blucher/1796 only a stirrup hilt, as many German sabres did;

b) does it incorporates a thumb ring to facilitate holding onto and directing such a heavy blade?; and

c) Whether the handle is long enough to permit other than a restrictive "hammer" grip.

For a summary on how military type weapons were fenced with in England and how this fencing changed with time, I refer readers to Castle, from whom I quote in part: "....Cuts below the hips were usually avoided rather than parried...".

However, before going on, I should point out that such fencing was not without its conventions to make it possible. In the days of Silver cuts below the waist were considered un-gentlemanly (too hard to defend) and later English backsword play excluded the use of the point - My instincts tell me that there were probably more conventions, but cannot prove it. In short, it was a mixture of parries to protect the upper body and lots of defense by evasion. Only the light spadroon, could be used to defend all of the body, yet because of its lightness proved marginal for military usage.

We have to remember that DT, that is parry/riposte fencing only started to become feasible with the shorter and lighter transition rapier, which the lighter 19th century sabre-swords approximate. To that extent they can be fenced in DT, but only to that extent. Yet the transition rapier was further lightened and made nimbler into the Colichemarde, the edged smallsword and the hollow triangular bladed smallsword. These changes did not occur without a compelling reason; Less reliance on ST and a shift to the safer DT parry/ripostes.

In any event it is important to remember that in the days when the infantry had a real use for broadswords, they used them with bucklers or shields - The Scots used their basket-hilted Claymores with targes (a buckler). After the bayonet was invented, the need for the infantry to carry swords disappeared and were used only by the cavalry. Mounted use of the broad sword/sabre is not fencing as is commonly understood, even in melees, and survival depends far more on horsemanship and team work than on skill with the sword. In any event, on horseback, the number of moves possible with a sword is extremely limited and in eastern Europe they were used in conjunction with a small shield right up to the 18th century.

The opportunity and need to fence with broadswords were few and far in between, usually when a cavalryman lost his mount and had only his sword to defend himself with. Afoot it was only of interest to officers, for only they carried swords and even then they were often discarded once action commenced - For real fencing, that is dueling, there was the smallsword and later the featherweight dueling sabre.

Military instruction in sword usage is very different to that of the fencing school - Patton objected even to the teaching of parries deeming them to be superfluous. In naval usage the broadsword was used by boarding parties, but not in the manner of fencing in one to one duels, but rather relying on team work and over-running shell-shocked enemy crew to clear the decks, much as modern riot police does its work after the water cannon or tear gas has done its job..

Around forty years ago, I met some emigre eastern European ex military fencing masters and they told me much of what I write here. Yes, officers learned to fence with the light training sabre, mostly for dueling and sport, but that was largely inapplicable to the heavy sabre; Yes, they used light practice sabres for drilling troops and to instill dexterity, but the actual techniques had little application in battle - You either got the enemy or he got you or you moved on. Same for the bayonet. The speed of action was just to fast to allow fencing duels.

Of course, there's also the "Radaellian" duelling saber--the sciabola di terreno of the late 19th century. That weapon is lighter than the military types, and likewise can be used for double-time actions.

With this I completely agree and would like to add that:

a) This is the only "sabre" that can be used in full DT play on account of its extremely favourable BP and light weight;

b) even with this sword, the sword arm was difficult to protect and for this reason in duels, protective bandages were wrapped on the forearm; and

c) this is not a true sabre at all, rather a derivative of the edged small sword.

In reply, I simply stated what you left out--i.e., the fact that Silver also taught the use of the sword alone.

I thought that I covered that by stating that all fencing treatises had to allow for the possibility that a sword may have to be used alone.

I don't have them in front of me (I'm at my gal's house at the moment), but the manuals I have seen list a slew of parries, so let me get back to you on that.

No need to. I know that the parries were there, Castle, Hutton, Angelo, all give them, but that does not mean that they were used to a great extent, as opposed to here and there, or in the manner of a smallsword/dueling sabre. However, the spadroon, a very light C&T sword, was indeed used much like a small word and hence its popularity with officers who were proficient fencers.

We have to keep in mind that if we persist in believing that much parry/riposte fencing took place then we run into that intractable debate of whether the parries were made with the edge or flat of the blade. Based on surviving specimens in museums and collections, with hardly any blade damage I say neither.

To me fencing with broadswords, for which they were never intended, is an exercise of trying to make the best of a bad situation with what one has on hand. Another point I would like to make is that practice bouts with broadswords is a very dangerous exercise because of their weight; Even a blunt blade will split a scull or crush a bone if the blows are not pulled back - Fencing masks and leather aprons being totally inadequate protection. For this reason military sword usage was taught by way of set drills or with a light practice sabre as advocated by Hutton. With the lighter practice sword all sorts of fencing moves are possible, but not with the full weapon.

I was talking about knife vs. knife in general, not from a specific culture.

I can't answer that because the world is a big place and different paradigms apply in different localities. Knife dueling nearly always has some constraints imposed on it, otherwise people would end up using swords, since blade length confers an advantage. Without the knowledge of what these constraints are, it is not possible to generalize. Then, for example, in colder climates slashes pose little threat to a heavily clad opponent and the thrust has to be resorted almost entirely to inflict injury, whereas in the tropics the opposite applies.

I figured that one out by "sparring it out".

In that case you did your homework better than Biddle.

It's not the same, but it's as close as we can practically get.

But not close enough with knives, which are heavily dependent on factors other than technique, at least not in my opinion.

Sparring is actually a pretty good indicator of what will and what will not work. It must be used in conjunction with other training methods (drills, test cutting, etc), but it is certainly a crucial component, and has been at least since Roman times, if not earlier.

If we are taking about mere technique, I agree entirely.

2. With the above out of the way, I suggest that the correct way to duel with a heavy sword (used alone) is as advocated by Musashi and as was done in olden times in Europe, that is to just stay out range, constantly threatening the opponent, compelling him to shift to unfavourable ground or position and then when he either wavers under pressure or begins to make a badly commenced attack move straight in, displacing his blade, or covering against it if necessary, and hit him. If one engages in parry/riposte exchanges with a broadsword, the outcome will be far from certain. Even with epee/smallswords one does not duel as in competition, for victory requires a decided tactical advantage before committing to an attack as one is not playing a game where the winner is the one who scores the best of so many hits. Where these weapons differed from broadswords is that a good deal more feinting and probing was possible without committing to an attack, and even after a failed attack, there was a good chance of recovery.

3. Something Else:

3.1 I noted how you declined to comment on Stephan Hand's article on ST fencing. Do you have a reason for this?

3.2 We have trashed the subject of swords as far as I am prepared to take it because this is becoming the rewriting of the history of swordsmanship and that has already been done. In any event, it is irrelevant to this thread, which is about the navaja.

3.3 I would like to point out that some time ago Stephan Hand and William Gaugler got involved in a heated controversy. This came about after Hand's review of the publication of Gaugler's History of Fencing, which was heralded in some quarters as the successor to Castle's work. One of the major points of contention was Gaugler's views on ST, DT parry/riposte in old sword play, which have some semblance to your arguments. Hand's full review can be read here:

http://www.thearma.org/bookreviews.htm

and Gaugler's reply here:

http://www.swordhistory.com/excerpts/hacareply.html

Now, I have Gaugler's book and read whatever Stephan has to say and consider both experts worth listening to, even though sometimes they are less than clear or muddy the waters a bit. However, if they are read simplistically, like so much of fencing literature, all kinds of unwarranted assumptions about parry/riposte are likely to be made, something made amply clear by the above exchange.

Cheers
Chris
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Last edited by Chris Evans : 26th October 2005 at 07:06 AM.
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Old 26th October 2005, 06:56 AM   #93
Chris Evans
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Hi Tom,

Quote:
Originally Posted by tom hyle
Another interesting tidbit about the "Ice Man"; his knife, with its tiny blade (around 2", I think) had on it the blood of either two or three humans, none of them him. Just an interesting tidbit about tiny knives. The man was, of course, mudered with an arrow.


Interesting!

I wonder what legislation prevented him from carrying a more substantial knife

Cheers
Chris
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Old 26th October 2005, 03:33 PM   #94
Renegade Conquistador
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Hello Chris,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Evans
Hi RC

1. In Reply:

By "Spanish school" I mean just that -a distinct Spanish school of fencing. None, to the best of my knowledge, have survived.

The late Spanish schools, which I understand are still practiced under the rubric of "classical" fencing, were certainly a rehash of the French school, but had a local flavour, as exemplified by their hilts, and the attendant grip, much in the manner of the Italian school.


Indeed, but this does not change the fact that it was the French method that was being taught.

Quote:
Forgive me, but I am not familiar with maestro Carbonel

He and Sanz were two great early twentieth century exponents of modern Spanish fencing, in the manner described described above. Both developed hilts of their own. The one by Sanz could be seen as the forerunner of the modern orthopedic grip. See attached pictures of their swords. These masters left descendants who are still around today.


Very interesting--thank you VERY much for the attached picture.

I have a "wallhanger" version of a Sanz foil, which I'm having copied by a blacksmith friend of mine, so as to have a functional version. It is, as you indicated, closer to modern orthopedic grips than any other "period" hilt. It is close in concept to the "modern" Spanish orthopedic grip, as well as the "Gardere" (both of which feature French pommels, and are thus illegal for modern competition).


Quote:
Broadswords and backswords are actually well-balanced and responsive.

a) For what application? Cutting? Thrusting? Dueling? On horse back or afoot?

For all of the above.


I cannot see that. First they vary greatly in length, weight, general shape, all with intended use - Cavalry swords tending towards greater length and weight. What they all have in common is that their point of balance (BP) is far forward and are very point slow.

I noticed that you declined to give BPs for applications. My reason for asking was that one cannot possibly discuss what a particular sword can or cannot do unless one understands its physical characteristics and limitations.

An all steel epee or French smallsword or dueling sabre has its BP very close to the hilt, within 3" and weighs a pound or a bit less - This is only attainable with the light hollow triangular French blade or the cannelured sabre blade and this is why such swords can be be used to parry fairly reliably with, in all four lines and at speed - They have a very low angular inertia, that is they can be shifted in an arc very easily, essential for DT play. Once a cutting blade, is substituted, even if very light, the BP unavoidably moves forward and is very hard to bring the it closer than 5" from the end of the grip (see Angelo). Such swords are point heavier, that is, have greater angular inertia, and much greater reliance has to be placed on ST moves, as exemplified by the Italian and Spanish schools up to 19th century. (see paragraph 3 below)

Military cutting swords have BPs at least 6" from the end of the grip. If they did not, they would make ineffective cutters. With the BP so far forward, they are very point heavy. That and their overall weight raises their angular inertia so much that they just cannot be moved with sufficient speed to reliably intercept incoming attacks to all parts of the body, which if they are cuts, are even harder to parry than thrusts, as correctly pointed out by Silver and later by Hutton.


Thank you for that very scientific dissertation concerning the POB of various swords. My WWI-era copy of a 1796 pattern light cavalry saber matches your description.

Quote:
In my own experience, I have handled numerous original basket-hilted broadswords and backswords from the 17th and 18th centuries, and they certainly fit Silver's description of a "short, sharp, light sword".

My old maestro from BCAF noted the same thing when he receive a special tour of the Tower of London Armouries many years ago--he told me how much lighter the originals were, when compared with so many replicas today. "You could fence with these," as he put it.


Some facts: A typical 19th century infantry officer's light C&T sabre-sword with a 32" blade weighs around 28oz with a BP at 7" from the hilt. Of this the blade is 19oz and the Gothic hilt and handle 9oz. A serviceable basket hilt & handle weighs around 16oz. If we re-hilt our blade with a basket-hilt, we have an all up weight of 35oz, twice the weight of a small sword and very point heavy in the bargain. And then the broadswords of Silver's era had longer blades and were consequently heavier, more like 44oz or above. The longer Scottish basket-hilted broadswords weighed around 3 pounds.


Allow me to offer some facts as well.

Here's a comparison of various sword weights (from the collection of J. Christoph Amberger):

1. Sports saber (circa 1930): 12 ounces
2. Modern sports saber w/S2000 blade: 15.2 ounces
3. British military smallsword (circa 1790): 17.6 ounces
4. British military spadroon (1780): 20.8 ounces
5. Italian Radaelli saber (1890): 20.8 ounces
6. German fechtsabel (circa 1880): 22.4 ounces
7. Practice version of British 1796 Light Cav saber (1796): 24 ounces
8. British Gymnasia pattern (1899): 24.8 ounces
9. German fechtsabel (circa 1890): 24.8 ounces
10. Austrian cavalry saber (1840): 25.6 ounces
11. German mensur schlager (basket-hilt) (1849): 26.8 ounces
12. American Light Cav saber (1812): 31.2 ounces
13. German fechtsabel (circa 1880): 31.2 ounces
14. German Mounted Artillery saber (1903): 40 ounces
15. German Pauk-Schlager (2000): 45.6 ounces
16. German Mensur saber (1910): 50 ounces
17. German Pauk-Saber (1930): 54 ounces

Notice how even the American cavalry saber from 1812 is just under 2 pounds flat.

There seems to be some misconceptions over the weights of certain weapons. As for basket-hilts, repros will nearly always be heavier than originals, since they feature an oversized "one-size-fits-all" basket. Certainly, the John Simpson basket-hilt I once had the honor of handling was not 3 pounds.

Quote:
Obviously the POB is further down the blade that with a purely thrusting implement like a smallsword, but that doesn't change the fact that these weapons can be used for double-time actions.

If they were anywhere as good at DT play as the small sword, then the small sword would not have been invented.


The smallsword is a specialized weapon for the duel--a refinement of the rapier. I don't see where your comparison is going there.

Quote:
McBane acknoweldged this disparity when he emphasized that the small sword was the dueling weapon of choice since the broad sword left too much to chance; Godfrey also said that the smallsword was the weapon to duel with - I read that as broadswords parries and subsequent ripostes were too uncertain.


I don't recall Godfrey ever saying that broadsword parry-ripostes were "too uncertain"--could you provide the actual quote? I know that he simply said that the smallsword was for duels, and the broadsword/backsword was for military usage.

As for McBane, he simply went on and on about how the smallsword, being a thrusting implement, was like a "pistol ball" (i.e., lethal), whereas a man could supposedly take 40 cuts without being disabled (one wonders what kind of "cuts" he was talking about--it certainly seems a strange comment from someone who was at Killiecrankie).

Quote:
By saber I mean the military saber. No specific country. We're talking largely about a "pan-European cut-and-thrust method" here

I don't think that any such sword or method ever existed.


The method certainly did exist, as noted once by Amberger. The broadsword methods shown in manuals of McBane, Godfrey, Angelo, Roworth, et al. are of this "pan-European" variety (eg., "Hungarian & Highland broadsword"; "...uniting the Scotch and Austrian methods into one regular system", etc).

Quote:
A Mameluke style sabre such as carried by Wellington or Jose de San Martin, much in vogue during the Napoleonic wars, is vastly different from a Blucher or Brit 1796 which in turn are completely different weapons from their contemporary Spanish cup hilted 1796 cavalry sword. Then we have spadroons and nineteenth century light straight bladed infantry officers swords which were different again as were the curved US civil war era sabres; And what are we to make out of later Brit 1908 pattern and the Patton cavalry swords?


By "military saber" I mean a curved cavalry saber.

Quote:
Then there is the issue of the hilt:

a) Is it sufficient to provide adequate hand protection? The Mameluke sabre had only a simple cross quillon and the Blucher/1796 only a stirrup hilt, as many German sabres did;

b) does it incorporates a thumb ring to facilitate holding onto and directing such a heavy blade?; and

c) Whether the handle is long enough to permit other than a restrictive "hammer" grip.

For a summary on how military type weapons were fenced with in England and how this fencing changed with time, I refer readers to Castle, from whom I quote in part: "....Cuts below the hips were usually avoided rather than parried...".


Yes--"slipping" or "shifting the leg", which I already noted in a previous post here.

Quote:
However, before going on, I should point out that such fencing was not without its conventions to make it possible. In the days of Silver cuts below the waist were considered un-gentlemanly (too hard to defend)


That was only for competitions, not for actualy fighting.

Quote:
and later English backsword play excluded the use of the point - My instincts tell me that there were probably more conventions, but cannot prove it.


Again, for competition. Prizefighting.

Quote:
In short, it was a mixture of parries to protect the upper body and lots of defense by evasion. Only the light spadroon, could be used to defend all of the body, yet because of its lightness proved marginal for military usage.

We have to remember that DT, that is parry/riposte fencing only started to become feasible with the shorter and lighter transition rapier, which the lighter 19th century sabre-swords approximate.


On the contrary, it was "feasible" in Silver's day (see below).

Quote:
To that extent they can be fenced in DT, but only to that extent. Yet the transition rapier was further lightened and made nimbler into the Colichemarde, the edged smallsword and the hollow triangular bladed smallsword. These changes did not occur without a compelling reason; Less reliance on ST and a shift to the safer DT parry/ripostes.

In any event it is important to remember that in the days when the infantry had a real use for broadswords, they used them with bucklers or shields -


Only if the sword was the primary weapon (as was the case with Spanish rodeleros, etc)

The sword was an important sidearm to many other types of "armed men" (armored close-combat troops) at that time. Pikemen frequently had to make use of their swords.

Quote:
The Scots used their basket-hilted Claymores with targes (a buckler).


Strictly speaking in both modern terminology (and Silver's, for that matter) a targe is not a "buckler", since it is worn on the arm.

Quote:
After the bayonet was invented, the need for the infantry to carry swords disappeared and were used only by the cavalry.


This was not universal. Hangers were retained for some time, as were the basket-hilts of the Scots. The Scots even executed a successful "Highland Charge" with drawn broadswords against the French at Quebec in 1758.

Quote:
Mounted use of the broad sword/sabre is not fencing as is commonly understood, even in melees, and survival depends far more on horsemanship and team work than on skill with the sword. In any event, on horseback, the number of moves possible with a sword is extremely limited and in eastern Europe they were used in conjunction with a small shield right up to the 18th century.


A small shield? Where in Eastern Europe?

Light and Heavy hussars were armed to the teeth, but I don't recall a shield being in their arsenal. They did, however, carry more than one sword--a curved saber, and either a long, saber-hilted broadsword (pallasch), or a saber-hilted estoc (koncerz).

Quote:
The opportunity and need to fence with broadswords were few and far in between, usually when a cavalryman lost his mount and had only his sword to defend himself with. Afoot it was only of interest to officers, for only they carried swords and even then they were often discarded once action commenced - For real fencing, that is dueling, there was the smallsword and later the featherweight dueling sabre.

Military instruction in sword usage is very different to that of the fencing school - Patton objected even to the teaching of parries deeming them to be superfluous.


And Patton was clearly wrong--he was going against literally centuries of established and proven cavalry technique (see Amberger's critique of Patton's method in The Secret History of the Sword).

Quote:
In naval usage the broadsword was used by boarding parties, but not in the manner of fencing in one to one duels, but rather relying on team work and over-running shell-shocked enemy crew to clear the decks, much as modern riot police does its work after the water cannon or tear gas has done its job..

Around forty years ago, I met some emigre eastern European ex military fencing masters and they told me much of what I write here. Yes, officers learned to fence with the light training sabre, mostly for dueling and sport, but that was largely inapplicable to the heavy sabre; Yes, they used light practice sabres for drilling troops and to instill dexterity, but the actual techniques had little application in battle - You either got the enemy or he got you or you moved on. Same for the bayonet. The speed of action was just to fast to allow fencing duels.


And yet, there was clearly merit to those drills and bouting with singlestick, and a successful parry might mean the difference between life and death.

Quote:
Of course, there's also the "Radaellian" duelling saber--the sciabola di terreno of the late 19th century. That weapon is lighter than the military types, and likewise can be used for double-time actions.

With this I completely agree and would like to add that:

a) This is the only "sabre" that can be used in full DT play on account of its extremely favourable BP and light weight;

b) even with this sword, the sword arm was difficult to protect and for this reason in duels, protective bandages were wrapped on the forearm; and


The sword arm is always going to be a major target. The arm will be more vulnerable to counteroffensive actions when the movement is wider, and as we both know, the Radaellian method made use of cuts from the elbow.

Quote:
c) this is not a true sabre at all, rather a derivative of the edged small sword.


Please provide a source that lists the smallsword in the Radaellian saber's pedigree.

The Radaellian saber resembles a "true" saber in every way, except that it is lighter. It is a totally different form of sword than the smallsword.

Quote:
In reply, I simply stated what you left out--i.e., the fact that Silver also taught the use of the sword alone.

I thought that I covered that by stating that all fencing treatises had to allow for the possibility that a sword may have to be used alone.


It was more than just a "possibility"--it was the norm for pikemen and the like.

Quote:
I don't have them in front of me (I'm at my gal's house at the moment), but the manuals I have seen list a slew of parries, so let me get back to you on that.

No need to. I know that the parries were there, Castle, Hutton, Angelo, all give them, but that does not mean that they were used to a great extent, as opposed to here and there, or in the manner of a smallsword/dueling sabre. However, the spadroon, a very light C&T sword, was indeed used much like a small word and hence its popularity with officers who were proficient fencers.

We have to keep in mind that if we persist in believing that much parry/riposte fencing took place then we run into that intractable debate of whether the parries were made with the edge or flat of the blade. Based on surviving specimens in museums and collections, with hardly any blade damage I say neither.

To me fencing with broadswords, for which they were never intended, is an exercise of trying to make the best of a bad situation with what one has on hand.


I heartily disagree. It was Silver who criticized the Italians of teaching offense not defense.

Quote:
Another point I would like to make is that practice bouts with broadswords is a very dangerous exercise because of their weight; Even a blunt blade will split a scull or crush a bone if the blows are not pulled back - Fencing masks and leather aprons being totally inadequate protection.


That's why the fencing masks for broadswords and military sabers were extremely stout, and the padding of the jackets very thick and stiff. Later fencers would comment on how such contestants looked like "deep-sea divers".

Quote:
For this reason military sword usage was taught by way of set drills or with a light practice sabre as advocated by Hutton. With the lighter practice sword all sorts of fencing moves are possible, but not with the full weapon.


See my comment right above.

Quote:
I was talking about knife vs. knife in general, not from a specific culture.

I can't answer that because the world is a big place and different paradigms apply in different localities. Knife dueling nearly always has some constraints imposed on it, otherwise people would end up using swords, since blade length confers an advantage. Without the knowledge of what these constraints are, it is not possible to generalize. Then, for example, in colder climates slashes pose little threat to a heavily clad opponent and the thrust has to be resorted almost entirely to inflict injury, whereas in the tropics the opposite applies.

I figured that one out by "sparring it out".

In that case you did your homework better than Biddle.

It's not the same, but it's as close as we can practically get.

But not close enough with knives, which are heavily dependent on factors other than technique, at least not in my opinion.


Not in your opinion, then.

Quote:
Sparring is actually a pretty good indicator of what will and what will not work. It must be used in conjunction with other training methods (drills, test cutting, etc), but it is certainly a crucial component, and has been at least since Roman times, if not earlier.

If we are taking about mere technique, I agree entirely.

2. With the above out of the way, I suggest that the correct way to duel with a heavy sword (used alone) is as advocated by Musashi and as was done in olden times in Europe, that is to just stay out range, constantly threatening the opponent, compelling him to shift to unfavourable ground or position and then when he either wavers under pressure or begins to make a badly commenced attack move straight in, displacing his blade, or covering against it if necessary, and hit him. If one engages in parry/riposte exchanges with a broadsword, the outcome will be far from certain.


See below.

Quote:
Even with epee/smallswords one does not duel as in competition, for victory requires a decided tactical advantage before committing to an attack as one is not playing a game where the winner is the one who scores the best of so many hits. Where these weapons differed from broadswords is that a good deal more feinting and probing was possible without committing to an attack, and even after a failed attack, there was a good chance of recovery.

3. Something Else:

3.1 I noted how you declined to comment on Stephan Hand's article on ST fencing. Do you have a reason for this?


I was simply waiting until I got back home, so I could refer to an article by Mr. Hand which contradicts what you claim about Silver. The following article, "Counterattacks with Opposition: The Influence of Weapon Form", can be found in the book Spada: Anthology of Swordsmanship. Here's the pertinent point regarding Silver and his parry-riposte method:

"When we come to the shortsword (a straight bladed, double-edged single-handed sword that was no at all short) and the backsword (a straight bladed, single-edged sword, otherwise similar to the shortsword) counterattacks with opposition become less frequent. George Silver describes the three actions available to a defender who is at the correct distance:

'1. The first is to strike or thrust at him, at that instant when he have gained you the place by his coming in.

2. The second is to ward, and After to strike him or thrust from that, remembering your governors.

3. The third is to slip a little back and to strike or thrust after him.'


So, Silver's three options are to counterattack in single time, to ward and strike, or in other words parry and riposte and lastly to move out of distance and attack after the initial attack has fallen short.

...The emphasis in Silver is on the second type of defence, ward and strike."


Hand noted that the same held true for Joseph Swetnam.

Quote:
3.2 We have trashed the subject of swords as far as I am prepared to take it because this is becoming the rewriting of the history of swordsmanship and that has already been done. In any event, it is irrelevant to this thread, which is about the navaja.

3.3 I would like to point out that some time ago Stephan Hand and William Gaugler got involved in a heated controversy. This came about after Hand's review of the publication of Gaugler's History of Fencing, which was heralded in some quarters as the successor to Castle's work. One of the major points of contention was Gaugler's views on ST, DT parry/riposte in old sword play, which have some semblance to your arguments. Hand's full review can be read here:

http://www.thearma.org/bookreviews.htm

and Gaugler's reply here:

http://www.swordhistory.com/excerpts/hacareply.html

Now, I have Gaugler's book and read whatever Stephan has to say and consider both experts worth listening to, even though sometimes they are less than clear or muddy the waters a bit. However, if they are read simplistically, like so much of fencing literature, all kinds of unwarranted assumptions about parry/riposte are likely to be made, something made amply clear by the above exchange.


I'm familiar with the debate, and I likewise feel that both parties have made legitimate points. I would like to mention, however, that most of Hand's arguments regarding to single-time actions revolve around the rapier, and I think that it where much of the confusion on this issue is coming from. As Hand said himself, the situation was different with the broadsword and backsword of Silver.

Best,

R C

P.S. My own martial art/combat sport background is in modern foil & saber fencing (French school) and Filipino sword, stick, & knife (Inosanto blend). I'm curious as to your background.
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Old 26th October 2005, 06:24 PM   #95
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Gentlemen , I'm afraid you digress into off topic material ; this subject would be much better discussed on a M.A. board which this one is not .

Please refrain .
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Old 27th October 2005, 04:35 AM   #96
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Renegad Conquistador,

>Parries are made with the forte (strong base) of the blade, which is typically blunt

Thanks for that. You couldnt do that with a Jap sword because it is very sharp all the way to the handle. I was told that bloking was not done and if it had to be made the katana was turned around and the block made with the back of the sword. I only used the boken and some junk replicas. Just mucking around with it I managed to ruin the edge very fast.

You and Chris would know this beter but I have seen many old Euro swords sharp all the way to the handle. Would you turn it around and blok with the back?


Best Wishes
Frank
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Old 27th October 2005, 01:04 PM   #97
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Hi RC

1. My apologies Rick, but this is not about swords but communication.

2. On the subject of the Spanish School

My Post 83:

But I agree that there are no surviving traditions of old Spanish fencing, save with the later small sword/epee, which in any event were adaptations of the French school, with Hispanic touches added.

My Post 85:

I don't think that you read my post fully. But any kind? That's rather broad isn't it?...

My Post 92:

The late Spanish schools, which I understand are still practiced under the rubric of "classical" fencing, were certainly a rehash of the French school, but had a local flavour, as exemplified by their hilts, and the attendant grip, much in the manner of the Italian school.

Your Post 94:

Indeed, but this does not change the fact that it was the French method that was being taught


Comments: If you don't mind me saying so, on this issue, you are attempting to convert the converted. Can't you see that I am agreeing with you?

What do I have have to do to get across what I made amply clear in my posts 83 and 92, namely that the late Spanish schools were an adaptation of the French school? I pointed out in my post 85 that you did not read me fully - But Robert is probably right, the fault must be with my writing.


3. On Sparing:

My words:

But not close enough with knives, which are heavily dependent on factors other than technique, at least not in my opinion.

Your reply:

Not in your opinion, then.

Comments: No sarcasm is intended but you are needlessly repeating me because I already stated: "... not in my opinion."

4. On Sword Alone:

My words:

I thought that I covered that by stating that all fencing treatises had to allow for the possibility that a sword may have to be used alone.

Your words:

It was more than just a "possibility"--it was the norm for pikemen and the like


Comments: `More' than a `possibility' does not make logical sense. Within the group of all possible ways of using a sword there is the sub-group of swords being used alone. The pikemen and all others who used a sword alone belong to this subset - Those who used a sword in combination with a parrying implement belong to the rest of the overall grouping.

What you are in effect saying is that those who used a sword alone, used it alone. I have no problem with that. But why say it?


5. Off Topic: Rick is right. We got OT and we should continue this privately. I am happy to oblige, but let's get our communication right.

I will soon reply to your other points, sometime towards next week because here we have a public holiday coming up. It will be by way of a private message to conform with the rules of this forum. Some of the points that you raised are really interesting and worth further discussing.


6. My Background:

Just a simple collector and an incurable aficionado de armas blancas, that is, an enthusiast of swords and daggers. Like Don Quijote I spend my old age musing about olden times and tilting with windmills every now and then . Perhaps being a metallurgist has given me a keener appreciation of what old weaponry was all about.

Cheers
Chris

Last edited by Chris Evans : 27th October 2005 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 27th October 2005, 01:19 PM   #98
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Hi Frank,

I was told that bloking was not done and if it had to be made the katana was turned around and the block made with the back of the sword.

I knew that trick, but you know, it just made me realize that the Japanese thereby invented triple time fencing The first time being the turning around of the sword, the second the actual parry and the third the riposte.

Cheers
Chris
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Old 27th October 2005, 03:33 PM   #99
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Post Just let me clarify

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Originally Posted by Chris Evans
1. My apologies Rick, but this is not about swords but communication.


No, it has become about a "he said - she said" that is starting to be very unproductive. There is simply nothing useful in going back and forth pointing out how one or the other has misquoted, misunderstood, or misconstrued one's comments.

Please stop the endless cycle of correcting one another's posts, and move on with the substantive discussion.

And remember the rules: RULE (1) The Moderator is always right; Rule (2) Listen to the Moderator when he speaks in his official capacity, because there are extremely valuable suggestions as to how to avoid such things as closing a thread, deletion of posts, or banning.

Your loyal servant,
The Moderogre.
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Old 27th October 2005, 04:29 PM   #100
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Originally Posted by Mark Bowditch
No, it has become about a "he said - she said" that is starting to be very unproductive. There is simply nothing useful in going back and forth pointing out how one or the other has misquoted, misunderstood, or misconstrued one's comments.

Please stop the endless cycle of correcting one another's posts, and move on with the substantive discussion.

And remember the rules: RULE (1) The Moderator is always right; Rule (2) Listen to the Moderator when he speaks in his official capacity, because there are extremely valuable suggestions as to how to avoid such things as closing a thread, deletion of posts, or banning.

Your loyal servant,
The Moderogre.


Mark,

I'll be happy to continue the current discussion with Chris via PM.

However, since I'm the newb here, could you please clarify what is and is not allowed on this forum?

Are we allowed only to discuss the weapons themselves, and not the corresponding techniques?

Thanks,

R C
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Old 27th October 2005, 06:07 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renegade Conquistador
Mark,

I'll be happy to continue the current discussion with Chris via PM.

However, since I'm the newb here, could you please clarify what is and is not allowed on this forum?

Are we allowed only to discuss the weapons themselves, and not the corresponding techniques?

Thanks,

R C


You guys have gone way beyond the original intent of this thread and into another subject matter altogether . You were asked to refrain and failed to do so .
This forum is for the study and appreciation of swords , spears, daggers , and knives from all cultures . A certain amount of methodology discussion is fine .
In this case however enough is enough .
I'm closing this thread .
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Old 27th October 2005, 07:10 PM   #102
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Post Posting Rules

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Originally Posted by Renegade Conquistador
Mark,

I'll be happy to continue the current discussion with Chris via PM.

However, since I'm the newb here, could you please clarify what is and is not allowed on this forum?

Are we allowed only to discuss the weapons themselves, and not the corresponding techniques?

Thanks,

R C


RC -- Read the "sticky" posts up at the top of the forum. Pretty much everything is in there. If you still have questions, feel free to PM me, or one of the other Moderators. Not to seem overly-harsh, but you should at least have read the one entitled "PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU POST -- FORUM RULES, GUIDELINES AND FEATURES" before you posted.

You also should have taken to heart Rick's and my posts. We have adopted a hands-off approach to moderating at this point, so you can be sure that when we do chime in, it is because we consider the line one step away from being crossed.
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