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Old 11th September 2021, 04:52 PM   #17
Jim McDougall
Arms Historian
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
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I must say this thread you have posted is not only informative, but fascinating, and I am learning more on the actual use of the saber itself in combat, not just the karabela. While I have indeed fenced (many years ago) I would not consider that experience offered me enough experience to speak with authority from that perspective, but I do think my years of research give me a viable working knowledge.

I do very much want to keep the discussion going, as I think there is much more to learn, and as you note, the number of viewers indicate a most notable interest. The fact that there is a paucity of entries to the discussion overall, is an unfortunate situation that is most often the case on many threads. Many readers fear placing entries as they do not feel they have enough knowledge etc., but do not realize that asking questions is extremely important, just as placing ideas and observations.

In an earlier entry of yours, for example, you pointed out that in the attack with the saber, the position known as 'seconde' was used......describing the arm with bent elbow, holding saber at eye level, point slightly downward.
I had not known the correct term, nor it seems position, though I thought I did, thinking it was higher (high tierce). This was valuable to know and I thank you for the correction.

Here I would like to add my thoughts on the use of the saber in combat, in the 17th into 19th century, and typically of course with cavalry or mounted forces.
While the concerns about parrying are of course well placed as far as damage of the blade, it would seem that in actual battle, the prospects for 'one on one duel' were fairly limited in the chaos of the melee. Naturally if he were attacked suddenly by one of the swirling mass of opponents, he would have to defend and probably with parry as noted. However, these kinds of reactions could not have been conditioned, nor 'scheduled', as in a fencing match. These were adrenaline fueled, 'knee jerk' reactions.

The circumstances for positioning were also limited with the element of complete chaos and impact of deadly combat factoring in the swirl of combatants, panicked or wounded horses, terrain and its conditions, noise and visibility (weather, smoke from guns, screaming etc.)..

Initial contact relied on set draw cuts or scheduled blows, but after that, despite any conditioned training, that would degenerate in the ensuing chaos of the melee. Consider as well, the use of other weapons such as the battle axe. There were no holds barred in combat, nor rules, of course.
The damage to a sword blade was therefore, in my opinion, incidental rather than the result of improper parrying procedure.

On the note on the use of 'watered steel' on the high end versions of karabela for dress etc. I have not ever seen examples, but would imagine they did exist with the artisans from Ottoman regions in Lvov etc.

Last edited by Jim McDougall; 11th September 2021 at 05:05 PM.
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