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Inactive Forums => The Riddle of Steel => Topic started by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 08:06:12 AM



Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 08:06:12 AM
I went to an RPG site and they had a little FAQ about swords that was so horrid that I have decided to compile an essay about swords and teh common myths. If you have a chance please write down here your favorite myth about swords (any type) medieval combat etc. If you can't think of a myth, put down a question you always wanted an answer to.

Here's an example of a myth:

Myth:
European swords were heavy, the claymore weighed 16 pounds and the scotts carried them in to battle over their shoulders, swundg them once at a run then drew their other swords.

Truth:
European swords, and that includes the claymore, were light and agile weapons. See http://www.thearma.org/essays/weights.htm


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 23, 2004, 08:17:48 AM
Some misconceptions I've run across:

- A sword is (always) the best weapon
- The best-made (strong, light, sharp) weapons are katana's
- It's no hassle wielding a '1.5' hand sword 1-handed
- Swords that only have a point to lunge with are useless
- Swordfighting is all arm-work
- Swordfighting consist of lots of banging swords against each other
- Swordfighting is best done in (heavy) armor
- Swordfighting was obsolete after the middle ages


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 08:52:24 AM
good ones, keep them coming! More more!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 23, 2004, 09:47:51 AM
Some things I learned in stage combat:

Rapiers were given a razor edge not to slash with, but to prevent a defender from grabbing the weapon with their bare hand, something that can be done with a foil or epee.  

Heavy bladed wepaons like the Claymore can parry.  The technique is called Glaise and is performed from the sixth position.

A knife loses all control if thrown farther than three paces.

You can parry with a "soft" wepaon like a chain or rope and it's easier to disarm with one.

It's nearly impossible to disarm with a "hard" weapon unless you are literally hacking your opponents arm off.

Blocking a sword strike is not impossible with a katana, it's just not the preferred technique.  The preferred technique is to slash your attacker across the hands.

Sweeping blade techniques are amongst the hardest to dodge.  You're better off blocking.

Polearms were intended to kill horses, not their riders.

The mace is quite possibly the most perfect weapon for close-quarters combat.  It crumples armor and requires little to no skill.

If you're using a sword, the less armor, the better.

In medevial Europe, the most common weapon was the quarterstaff, not the sword.

There's a bunch more, but these are just off the top of my head.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 23, 2004, 09:59:35 AM
Amen on the mace/staff/club thing.

As to katana(-esque) fighting - very correct on that aspect as well. I could tell you a tiny but more about that, from ninjutsu and katori shinto background, but it would be more pointing you the right way than much experience.

Kendo is NOT a battle-form.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 10:05:32 AM
be sure that if you are trying to say something is true you specify, if you are listing a myth, specify.

Quote
As to katana(-esque) fighting - very correct on that aspect as well. I could tell you a tiny but more about that, from ninjutsu and katori shinto background, but it would be more pointing you the right way than much experience.



I know crap about using a katana. Go ahead and list the fact/fictions and sources if you get a chance.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 23, 2004, 10:14:34 AM
Kendo...the helmet swordfighting thing?  I thought it was a sport.

I studied a little martial arts too, but never learned anything about ninjitsu.  Well aside from the crazy crap that people who get all their info from movies say that is.

Ohhh, ninja myths.

Despite what Final Fantasy says, there were very few ninjas in medevial europe.  None actually.  If you have ninjas fighting paladins, shame on you.

Ohhh...the Ninja To was usually left inside the body of it's victim.  Removing the weapon would cause the person to scream and reveal the ninja's presence.  Much of the samurai's disdain for ninja tactics centered around the treatment of the sword as a mere tool.   That...and fear.

Nine was a ninja's lucky number and they usually carried their tools in multiples of nine.

Samurai armor is laquered wood, not metal.

Almost all of a ninja's weapons are tipped with poison.

All of a ninja's weapons are tipped with poison.

Dual wielding is a style in and of itself.  Learning how to use a weapon single-handedly is a detriment to learning how to use two simultaneously.

In all combat, footwork is more important than arm speed, upper body strength, and weapon skill combined.

Elbow strikes are the great equalizer in bare-handed fighting.

Horses have to be trained to trample humans.  They will not do so willingly.

Hmmm, I think I'm getting off the swords thing.  I'll stop now.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Sir Mathodius Black on June 23, 2004, 10:40:42 AM
Regarding what Tobias said about Katana's not being the strongest and sharpest swords, I was under the distinct impression that they were.  They were certainly more effective than european swords for a number of reasons.  First, they are folded and not made of cast iron, making them much less brittle and more durable, not to mention that when a european sword is struck, strong vibrations go down to the hilt making it very uncomfortable.  That also gave them a much longer lasting sharpness because of all of the "edges" folded into the weapon.  As far as speed, I'm not sure, but i would guess that training has more to do with that than the making of the weapon.    
Also, ive seen guys with katanas slice through trees with a diameter of six inches.  How many european swords can do that?

As far as ninjitsu goes, of course there is a lot of exageration from the movies but there are some people out there that can do some pretty crazy stuff.  Ill post a specific instance when i have time to look it up.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Caz on June 23, 2004, 10:43:08 AM
Wow, I'd be really careful about not creating new myths.  Maybe you should compile a list of the articles already on the subject.  Here's one.
http://www.jref.com/culture/sword.shtml


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 23, 2004, 10:43:45 AM
Interestingly, there was an article in Military Heritage recently that included some erroneous info on sword weight.  Some gent wrote in the letters section correcting their data using that exact Arma link, Ashren.

Thought that was pretty cool...the word is spreading...


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 23, 2004, 11:17:53 AM
Hey Mathodius your distinct impression contains tons of the myths Ashren's trying to dispell.

The katana was in no way shape or form of superior quality to a European blade of the period.  The vaunted "folding" was primarily an ingenious technique to compensate for the fact that Japenese steel was of shitty quality...not a technique for inventing a super blade.

Also, I'm reasonably certain that samurai armor was not wood.

Further Europeans never made swords out of cast iron.  Cast Iron wasn't even commonly used for tools and utensils until the 1400s when furnaces that could be made hot enough to reliably melt large quantities of iron were invented.

The earliest swords were wrought iron, and there is some evidence of their use by the celtic tribes who scared the bejeezus out of the early Roman Republic.  There are Roman references to celtic warriors standing on their sword blade to bend it back into shape...a characteristic of wrought iron.

But steel has been known since ancient times and was the standard material for swords.  The problem with steel was that until the invention of better furnaces it was hard to make in quantity.  

Standard practice was to use bars of wrought iron, low carbon steel, and higher carbon steel and bang and beat them into a single bar in a process called Pattern Welding.  That was pretty much the standard sword making technology in Europe for most of what would be considered dark/middle ages.  

Subsequent improvements in smelting technology allowed for all steel blades in later periods that were every bit as effective as any sword made anywhere.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: timfire on June 23, 2004, 11:50:54 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Also, I'm reasonably certain that samurai armor was not wood.

I think some armor was made from laquered bamboo, but it wasn't very common. It was more common for Japanese armor to be made from laquered strips of leather, laced with silk. More expensive armor, especially in later periods, had metal plates instead of leather.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 23, 2004, 12:05:17 PM
You're right...samurai armor was not made largely of wood.

Quote
The Samurai armor remains one of the most interesting and rare components of the Samurai era. The armor was constructed from bamboo, cloth and metal. Unlike its better known counterpart, the medieval armor, the Japanese example was much lighter, which provided for ease of movement but compromised protection. The armor had to be light weight because the Samurai would often engage into hand to hand combat, requiring fast and precise movements. The majority of the armor was made from bamboo. The chest plate was usually one piece of metal while the arms and neck were composed of small pieces of metal tied together with colorful strings


Apparently it was made largely of bamboo.

And yes, I see the references where metal is used.  The armor is mostly bamboo however.

Also the japanese method of folding steel has somewhat gained mythical status, but it's only unimpressive when compared to modern metalurgy.  No forging system of the time was the equal of the gendaito style.  Also, though, Japanese steel is very impure, I'd hesitate to call it shitty.  Then again, shitty steel could be seen as a compliment.  Damasucs steel is made from scrap metal, containing little actual steel and a lot of tin, silver, copper and gold.  Pure steel is extremely brittle, so mixing lesser metals produces a better grade of metal.  This is how one gains the flexibility that allows a blade to bend without breaking and cut without losing it's edge.

But yes, the Samurai sword is impressive, but it's not the uber-blade it's made out to be.  Blocking with a european sword isn't terribly uncomfortable so long as it's done properly.  The design speaks to the difference in combat styles moreso than the quality.  Europeans needed heavier weapons to circumvent the armor, or at least damage it enough to make it hard for the person inside to move.  Japanese didn't develop armor to any appreciable degree and so their weapons were curved in order to easily cut through the body without getting caught on bone.  It is only in retrospect that one wespon seems more useful than the other because steel armor is a thing of the past (unless you count tanks).  Whereas light, moveable armor is a reality.  When you compare each weapon to it's intended purpose during the time period in which it was invented, they're very good for what they do.

But, since the styles will meet up in a fantasy setting, the katana has the advantage in speed and efficiency against unarmored opponents.  The european longsword wins against armor, having the durability (a definate weak point with the katana) to crack open plate.  Speed is sacrificed (though, not to the degree most people think) but against a walking refrigerator, how fast do you have to be?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 23, 2004, 12:43:19 PM
Quote
Armor of Gusoku type
Edo period (1615–1868); 18th century; Japanese; lacquered iron and leather, shakudo, silver, silk, horse hair, and ivory; H. as mounted, 58 1/8 in. (148.8 cm); The Metropolitan Museum of Art,



Quote
Japanese, Sengoku Period (mid-16th-17th century)
Samurai Armor
Steel, iron, silk, leather, wood, hemp, and lacquer
Utah Museum of Fine Art
Museum # 2002.8.1A-D


Actual period suits of armor, with nary a mention of wood or bamboo to be found.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 12:59:21 PM
Quote from: Sir Mathodius Black
Regarding what Tobias said about Katana's not being the strongest and sharpest swords, I was under the distinct impression that they were.  They were certainly more effective than european swords for a number of reasons.  First, they are folded and not made of cast iron, making them much less brittle and more durable, not to mention that when a european sword is struck, strong vibrations go down to the hilt making it very uncomfortable.  That also gave them a much longer lasting sharpness because of all of the "edges" folded into the weapon.  As far as speed, I'm not sure, but i would guess that training has more to do with that than the making of the weapon.    
Also, ive seen guys with katanas slice through trees with a diameter of six inches.  How many european swords can do that?

As far as ninjitsu goes, of course there is a lot of exageration from the movies but there are some people out there that can do some pretty crazy stuff.  Ill post a specific instance when i have time to look it up.


Thank you Black for giving me yet another myth to add to my list, once I finish the essay I will post it here and clarify the whole  katana superiority myth for you.

I will also destroy the Katana's cut through cars bull crap that you have listed in its more tame version of trees.

Quote

Wow, I'd be really careful about not creating new myths. Maybe you should compile a list of the articles already on the subject. Here's one.
http://www.jref.com/culture/sword.shtml


Thanks for the link and point well made. I am planning on only posting that which is researched and supported by copious amounts of evidence.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: toli on June 23, 2004, 01:02:56 PM
Quote from: Valamir

Actual period suits of armor, with nary a mention of wood or bamboo to be found.


I think the reference to bamboo and or lacquered leather refer to earlier time periods than your examples.  

Metal breast plates in particular become more common in the 1500's after the Portuguese start selling muskets to the Japanese and the J's start producing them themselves to some extent.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 23, 2004, 01:28:07 PM
Caz's article rocked, I will definately use that in my final essay. Thanks caz!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Jake Norwood on June 23, 2004, 02:05:23 PM
**gag**wheez**twitch**gasp...

flump.

Jake


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Salamander on June 23, 2004, 02:23:06 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
**gag**wheez**twitch**gasp...

flump.

Jake


Yeah, I know Jake.... I know...


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 23, 2004, 07:37:38 PM
Awwww I don't wanna go back and forth with the armor thing.  Here's the last link I'll put up regarding this.  It actually details the construction of  samurai armor.  (http://www.cowell.org/~yogo/den14.html/url) Looks like the main ingredient is laquered leather strips according to these cats.  I guess I'm wrong about the bamboo (not entirely, but since it's largely decorative I'm not counting it as part of the 'armor' proper) so now we have that myth dissipated (hardened leather...who'd have guessed), let's get on to some others.

Learning is fun.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Salamander on June 23, 2004, 10:48:42 PM
Quote from: WyldKarde
Awwww I don't wanna go back and forth with the armor thing.  Here's the last link I'll put up regarding this.  It actually details the construction of  samurai armor.  (http://www.cowell.org/~yogo/den14.html/url) Looks like the main ingredient is laquered leather strips according to these cats.  I guess I'm wrong about the bamboo (not entirely, but since it's largely decorative I'm not counting it as part of the 'armor' proper) so now we have that myth dissipated (hardened leather...who'd have guessed), let's get on to some others.

Learning is fun.


Hardly an expert, but...

If I recall my limited history of Japanese armour manufacture, you are all pretty much more or less correct. They started with lacquered wood and bamboo  and evolved up through iron and even steel as the need and industrial capacity dictated and allowed.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 23, 2004, 11:30:57 PM
I'm surprised no one has posted every sword scholars favorite myth:  that you "block" an opponent's blade with the edge of your own.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 24, 2004, 01:11:43 AM
As to the ninjutsu thing - I've been doing that for 3 years now. Sources are all over the net - if needed, ask.

As to the katana thing - it's all timing, footwork, and flow. And unless you're closely matched, it's over in seconds.

When I used to be a climber, I laughed at movies with climbing in them. Now I laugh at movies with swordfighting or martial arts in them. So maybe you should just watch a few movies again, or reference them as myth - since that'll be the common perception-builder.


Title: Katanas
Post by: Tom on June 24, 2004, 01:52:04 AM
Some words on katanas, because I've done a few years of Iaido, which is a japanese samurai-style using the katana. It isn't a fighting style, because you don't fight a partner. You are however, using an actual weapon (sharp, in the higher dans).

A proper katana definitely is sharp. I dare to say sharper than a regular european blade. The fabled silk scarf test is not a myth.
Much of the actual cutting power comes from proper technique, however. A katana is not slashed through an opponent. It is more an actual cutting movement.
You can test the difference yourself: Take a kitchen knife and whatever piece of flesh you want to throw in the pan today. Put the knife on the flesh and press down. With enough power, you will get it in two. Now take another piece of the same kind. Set the knife on top, and draw it towards you, just very slightly pressing downwards. If your knife is any good, you'll make a very deep cut with no effort.
That's the way a katana works in battle, that's why it's curved, and that's how you learn to cut with it. This style of cutting is, IMHO, the major difference between it and european style swords/combat.


Japanese and chinese armours used to be made from wood, in a way. Actually, it was paper. However, it was paper made in a very different way from todays. Our modern paper is from ripped wood pieces. Ancient chinese paper was made from whole wood fabric. It was such much stronger than todays paper, and an armour from layers of this paper was strong enough to stop arrows.


Finally, on parrying: You can parry with a katana. You don't block, as you see it in the movies. In a parry, the blade is held in such a way that the opponents blade hits it at about a 45° angle, and is deflected, gliding alongside your blade until it is past your body.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tom on June 24, 2004, 01:59:22 AM
Quote from: Ashren Va'Hale
I will also destroy the Katana's cut through cars bull crap that you have listed in its more tame version of trees.


During Iaido training, one cutting test is to cut through a 3-4 inch pole of bamboo strips bound together (i.e. not hollow like a single bamboo piece would be).

I'm not sure how this compares to a tree, though. A katana's cutting power depends a lot on how susceptible the material is to a sidewise cut. Flesh is extremely easy to cut that way, wood definitely isn't.


Title: Re: Katanas
Post by: Salamander on June 24, 2004, 05:50:22 AM
Quote from: Tom


A proper katana definitely is sharp. I dare to say sharper than a regular european blade. The fabled silk scarf test is not a myth.
Much of the actual cutting power comes from proper technique, however. A katana is not slashed through an opponent. It is more an actual cutting movement.


I am now obligated to ask you which European blade? What era? Also, have you used or closely examined a genuine European weapon? I have found that a longsword with a 2mm rebated blade can easily cut through a 16" (40cm) frozen pumpkin. I know, I did it with a blunted blade in November of 2003.

Quote

Finally, on parrying: You can parry with a katana. You don't block, as you see it in the movies. In a parry, the blade is held in such a way that the opponents blade hits it at about a 45° angle, and is deflected, gliding alongside your blade until it is past your body.


Now we are in unfamiliar territory, and a bit touchy in Occidental forms as well. Even the word parry is a hotly debated topic. As for  how to properly defend with a katana, I have only the foggiest idea.

However, in European swordsmanship, even when the blade is past you, it is still very dangerous. Most of the swords we use have two edges. ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 24, 2004, 06:46:31 AM
'proper defense with a katana' (the way I am learning it now - but I ain't hot stuff yet) is:

1. Avoid the other's strike through walking/footwork (either completely or with a deflecting/parrying motion at an angle - no power blocks)

2. if neccesary, control the opponent's blade by beating it (with the flat or the back of your blade)

3. take new position where you are able to cut hands and the other cannot strike you (control of distance/stance/length), or make cut to other part of the body and get so close opponent cannot re-cut (control of angle/balance)

This is 'basic' stuff. It's also WAY different from using a fencing weapon (yeah, I've also fenced a little).


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 24, 2004, 07:08:38 AM
I've studied pretty much every edged killing instrument ever invented and they combat styles used in handling them.  It's my job.  I teach theatre and my areas of expertise include stage combat and military history.  This is because there's always some yahoo at the back of the theatre going "Hey, that musketeer is holding his sword wrong!"  Just like there's someone who knows all the words to Hamlet and will walk out of the theatre if the actors miss flub a single line.

Those aren't exaggerations, both have happened.  A reviewer panned our Three Musketeers because Aramis's salute wasn't authentic for the actual Musketeers of French history.

Since I drop a lot of info on this thread, I figured I'd better get that out of the way before I'm argued into a corner and it looks like I'm puffing myself up.

I also make blunted weapons for LARPers...call me.  very reasonable prices.

But anyway, the sharpness of european swords has taken some unfair abuse.  Claymores in particular were extremely sharp and could cleave armor, being heavy enough to crush it out of shape, and sharp enough to split the dented metal in one blow.  European swords were developed regionally and there was no one may of making them or designing them.  My personal favorites are of German and Prussian manufacture as they show a nice balance of artistry and function.

Okay...way off topic.

Anyway, the vaunted edge on a samurai sword owes a lot to it's design.  Individually, a samurai sword's features aren't particularly impressive, but the weapon as a whole complements itself.

Example, the samurai sword isn't sharp in the traditional sense.  If you bring the blade directly down in a chopping motion, it won't cut butter.  This is because the blade is actually sawlike in design, with millions of tiny "teeth" running along the edge.  You have to slide the blade along what you want it to cut.  My friends here who study the katana I'm sure were taught the push/pull method where you pull the blade with your bottom hand and push it with the top to get that slicing motion.  

I'm not familiar with the katana in actual use.  I know enough to choreograph a fight with it, but I don't have the intimate familiarity that a lifelong practitioner has.  For weapons, I studied escrima, eventually replacing the sticks with swords once I'd mastered the style.

However, the design of the katana is where it's miracle sharpness comes from.  The "sharp" blade is actually millions of sawlike teeth which are pointing in the direction of the cut.  The weapon's curvature further accentuates this design feature, deepening every cut and making it easier to pull the weapon free of an opponent's body.

Not touching the blade:  Not a Myth exactly, since ancient blades would tarnish easily.  However, with the advent of stainless steel, corrosive oils can be removed from a blade with windex.

Mind you, if a swordsman tells you not to touch the blade of his sword, it's probably a good idea to comply.

I'd give links, but they all seem a little over-impressed with the samurai blade.  While factually accurate, the authors seem to be taking too much creative license with what the weapon can do.  If I find a stage combat informational site (they usually keep it to "need to know") I'll start linking.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 24, 2004, 07:40:37 AM
Guys, again, if you are trying to say something "is true" then cite sources! The guy who posted the links and quotes on teh samurai armor construction did this. Your stage combat experience may be good wyldekarde but its not exactly a period/authentic source. Cite your sources otherwise its just your opinion and frankly, much of what has been given here as opinion reeks of the myths I am trying to debunk. Which is not really that bad for me since I now have more myths to debunk but it means I have to find those sources myself, and I am lazy, and as a lazy person I would much prefer if you did it for me ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Brand_Robins on June 24, 2004, 09:40:35 AM
Quote from: Ashren Va'Hale
Guys, again, if you are trying to say something "is true" then cite sources!


And I will add, even though I'm sure everyone knows this, that when doing scholarly work it is not only imperative to cite sources but to do a proper backgrounding and critique of those sources.

Any number of sword/combat myths aren’t there simply because they’re passed through movies or word-of-mouth. They’re there because they’ve been published in official looking books by people with impressive sounding names and titles. Some of them are simply outdated, older works that haven’t kept up with modern research. Others are… less innocent. Publishers, after all, are often more concerned with making money than being academically correct. (Yes, even text book publishers.)

In short, when dealing with such sensitive topics as the cherished myths you must cite sources, and even then you have to be ready to defend (intelligently and with more sources) the accuracy and reliability of your sources. After all, a well written internet article may sound reasonable – but without further documentary evidence it is just the opinion of one more internet guy, and not any different in factual value than the posts being made here.

-- Brand, picky because he spent so many years grading freshman essays.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 24, 2004, 09:52:07 AM
a good example is citing period evidence, for example, if you are arguing that swords were not heavy you can find lots of antique swords that have been weighed and measured and lots of supporting documentation for such.

The evidence given for the samurai armor was pretty good too.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 24, 2004, 02:00:13 PM
True.  Without some sort of source, this is just opinion and guessing.  

Here's a page featuring video's  (http://exn.ca/Stories/2003/12/04/51.asp?t=dp/url)about samurai armor, the sword, and the sword's edge.  Here we have metalurgists explaining the carbon content of the blade, the making of armor (all the way from rawhide and silk model to the eventual use of iron after the portugese introduced firearms) throughout japan's history, and an interview with a professional sword polisher whose job it is to preserve the weapon's edge.  There's also a piece about Japanese castles versus European ones.  There's probably some myths erased there, but I didn't watch it...not really pertinent to this.

Despite the "Last Samurai" clips, this has a lot of information and should evaporate any myths.  It also shows the blade being used to cut bamboo trunks wrapped in damp mats (these are the dummies used to test a sword's edge, no samurai would cut an actual tree) which looks like a tree trunk, but it actually intended to represent a human neck.

You'll notice in the movie that the curvature of a samurai blade comes near the end of the process.  If the edge is hard, and were to suddenly bend, it would create a serrated edge.  Nearly microscopic, but serrated nonetheless.  I'll find a link to this feature, but so far all the sites dealing with ancient weaponry are more interested in selling stuff and have no problem spreading myths like hacking open a buick or cutting the air so quickly that the slash travels like a breeze on the wind and hacks through someone several feet away.

The internet is an uneasy place to get information.  I'm hesitant to get info from anywhere other than universities or museums.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 24, 2004, 11:17:24 PM
Here's another myth from Last Samurai: Look at the way all those samurai are carrying their swords in the last battle.

UPSIDE DOWN.

If anyone can tell me a reason why they're correct as they are, I will gladly stand corrected - but this was just silly.

But Last Samurai wasn't nearly as horrid as I expected.

A link people might like about antique swords for auction: http://www.hermann-historica-ohg.de/gb/index.htm

Have a look for yourself at some of the stuff from way back.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 25, 2004, 01:07:18 AM
If by upside down you mean with the sharp part of the blade facing up I belive this is actually the correct way to wear a katana according to some schools because it facilitates a faster strike from a draw.  I've only seen one demonstration of expertly performed iajutsu techniques though, and I can't remember now which way the guy was wearing his sword.

I've have however seen numerous paintings and woodcuts depicting samurai wearing their swords in this manner.  That isn't to say the woodcuts are accurate though.  Perhaps someone with more expirience with Japanese swordsmanship will explain this further.  I've trained quite a bit with the katana, but not in a Japanese school and not with much emphasis on "real" combat techniques (except my own expiriments sparing with friends).

I actually enjoyed The Last Samurai a great deal, but you are right about the fight scenes, they are pure holywood.  Cruise actually trained for 16 months with one of Japan's top kendo schools to learn how to handle the katana for that movie, then proceeds to hack with it like its a machete for most of the film...

In regards to my earlier post:  my evidence that parrying is done with the flat (or back in some cases if the sword has only 1 edge) comes from three main places.  First is my training with swords, in which my instructor (s) stressed that parrying was not done with the edge.  Second is this article from the ARMA website: http://www.thearma.org/essays/edgemyth.htm

Last is an extrapolation from my knife fighting training, which was combative in nature.  The guy that taught me to fight with a knife was very adamant never to use the shard part of the blade to parry because it will knick and possibly damage the blade.  Its pretty easy to guess that the same holds true for any really sharp edge.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 25, 2004, 01:20:54 AM
Actually, I mean that they're (incorrectly) wearing it with the sharp side downward in the mass fighting scenes.

Sharp side upward is the 'correct' way, if I'm to believe my school (Bujinkan, for the source-inclined).


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 25, 2004, 01:42:47 AM
Ah.  I hadn't noticed that when I watched the film


Title: Re: Katanas
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2004, 01:50:09 AM
Quote from: Salamander
I am now obligated to ask you which European blade? What era? Also, have you used or closely examined a genuine European weapon?


Recreated weapons from a local (german) equivalent of ARMA I have held and swung, though not at an actual target.


Quote
Now we are in unfamiliar territory, and a bit touchy in Occidental forms as well. Even the word parry is a hotly debated topic. As for  how to properly defend with a katana, I have only the foggiest idea.


It's hard to describe, but I could demonstrate it. If the interest is there, I could do it and have someone take a few pictures.

Quote
However, in European swordsmanship, even when the blade is past you, it is still very dangerous. Most of the swords we use have two edges. ;)


In Iaido parry, that is irrelevant. The movement is very similiar to other ancient martial arts, where you put only the most miniscule modification into the enemy movement and make it miss you.
A Iaido parry does not stop, block or even slow down the attack. It simply pushes it gently to the side so that it slices through the air a feet or two next to me, instead of right through me. It still has full force. Why should I bother reducing it's force? Now if you want to swing back, you have to overcome your own power first, and if I made the parry/deflection properly, my blade is in a much better position to strike than yours.
A Iaido parry is at the same time a setup for a counterattack. It's a very simply, yet brilliant maneuver.

And to whoever wrote it: He's right, the fight usually is over in seconds. All of the Iaido katas I learned use a maximum of three blows per opponent, and three is more the exception.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tom on June 25, 2004, 01:56:42 AM
Quote from: Tash
If by upside down you mean with the sharp part of the blade facing up I belive this is actually the correct way to wear a katana according to some schools because it facilitates a faster strike from a draw.


In Iaido, the katana is indeed carried with the sharp side up. This is due to the way you draw it, usually with a twist and to the side. Again, this is hard to explain and easy to demonstrate. Guess I'll go and make some pictures this evening.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: tauman on June 25, 2004, 05:10:49 AM
Well actually, there are a few styles where you are specifically instructed to used the edge. But the one that seems most controversial is the Italian side sword (of the 1500s). In this, not only are you instructed to parry with the edge, but edge-on-edge. This is stated very clearly in Viggiani's treatise where he not only specifically says edge on edge (in Italian, of course), but describes what should happen: he says something like (extremely loose translation): "since you parry the edge of my debole with the edge of your forte you will very likely break my blade." He also states that this is the way 'all' of the masters teach it (which obviously means all of the masters he had exposure to). Thus, when you look at the other period texts (Marozzo, Manciolino, as discussed in your referenced article) that appear to encourage edge-on-edge, I'd say that's very likely because they do--they are from the same time period, the same area (within hundreds of miles, anyway), and use the same weapons for the same style.

To add two more specific examples, the edge-on-edge parry existed for the rapier and the duelling sabre, too (i.e. specific instructions to do so in period manuals).

OTOH, I certainly won't claim that edge-on-edge is universal. Saying that it is always correct would be as inaccurate as saying it is never correct. Specifically, I have no idea what sort of parrying is done with a katana. And the longsword stuff I've seen and read (admittedly, much less than the later Italian stuff), certainly looks like edge-on-edge is not a normal or necessarily desired action.

Steve

Quote from: Tash
In regards to my earlier post:  my evidence that parrying is done with the flat (or back in some cases if the sword has only 1 edge) comes from three main places.  First is my training with swords, in which my instructor (s) stressed that parrying was not done with the edge.  Second is this article from the ARMA website: http://www.thearma.org/essays/edgemyth.htm

Last is an extrapolation from my knife fighting training, which was combative in nature.  The guy that taught me to fight with a knife was very adamant never to use the shard part of the blade to parry because it will knick and possibly damage the blade.  Its pretty easy to guess that the same holds true for any really sharp edge.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 25, 2004, 07:19:42 AM
I hardly call that quote a ringing endorsement, he specifically points out how doing so will break his blade. That hardly contradicts what every other source says about edge parrying since they too agree that edge to edge equal busted weapon.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: tauman on June 25, 2004, 07:39:40 AM
The quote comes from his instructions to his 'student' (in the form of a dialog from one to the other). The instructor tells his student to use the edge of the student's forte to parry the edge of the instructor's debole, then the student's blade will likely break the instructor's blade. It is a ringing endorsement--actually, it is a specific and emphatic instruction to do it that way. Read the original (Viggiani).

Steve

Quote from: Ashren Va'Hale
I hardly call that quote a ringing endorsement, he specifically points out how doing so will break his blade. That hardly contradicts what every other source says about edge parrying since they too agree that edge to edge equal busted weapon.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ben Lehman on June 25, 2004, 08:13:37 AM
Quote from: Ashren Va'Hale
I hardly call that quote a ringing endorsement, he specifically points out how doing so will break his blade. That hardly contradicts what every other source says about edge parrying since they too agree that edge to edge equal busted weapon.


BL>  I think that the point is that if you have a better-made sword, go for the edge-on parry, because it is highly likely the the opponent's sword will break and yours won't.  Clearly, if your sword is worse, you don't want to.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 25, 2004, 09:04:12 AM
I'm going to have to agree with Ash, though not so vehemently.  The general practice is never block on the edge.  To do so will damage even the best made weapon.  In a life-or-death battle, naturally the goal is to keep your opponent's steel out of your heart so use whatever works.

I think the debate here is what is taught.  I've been taught to take the blow on the flat of the blade when using most european weaopons.  A rapier's cutting edge isn't a killing point, so it's not neccessarily crucial to preserve it.

However, there is a practice of intentionally turning the edge towards your opponents blade.  This is done in hacidic and african arts primarily to strike the hands and not the blade.

But, this is an argument that extends well beyond RPG designers.  Here's an article (http://maol.tripod.com/cat1.html/url) by a student who's questioning his own style rather than a master who is defending it.  The points he raises are valid regarding the design of the hilt.  If it was common practice to deflect on the flat, then why does the hilt run paralell to the deflected blade?

I think his views on the evolution of combat are valid.  Swords started out as purely offensive weapons, shield blocking or dodging being the method for avoiding injury.  Since there are no Gaelic writings on Gaelic swordsmanship, we have a somewhat skewed view of how these weapons were used.  The "experts" writing on their use are talking from the wrong end of the blade.

But it's an interesting article, seeking an answer to this argument through the evolution of sword hilts (you have to admit, parrying as a defensive measure is more a question of the hilt than the blade).  However, this is an old argument and something that none of my instructors have been able to answer.  Any "experts" are usually biased towards their own style and everyone else answers "we don't know".

But there is evidence that both edge-to-edge parrying and flat-of-the-blade styles were taught.  If you're arguing over whether edge-parrying was ever done, it was.  If you're arguing over which is better...have fun.

I ain't touching that one.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 25, 2004, 09:37:15 AM
I guess once more my tone was misread, as the edge on flat vs edge on edge debate is already beaten to death I wont rehas the whole argument but instead re-write what I was trying to say earlier. The edge+edge=bad argument hinges on teh idea that this damages the weapons. Your quote says it damages the weapons, only one more so than the other depending on teh location of the impact. Neither view contradicts the other. Both argue that edge on edge =broken weapons. Your source specifies mostly that If you do it right it might be the otherguys weapon busted more than yours.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Turin on June 25, 2004, 09:40:29 AM
Quote
I think that the point is that if you have a better-made sword, go for the edge-on parry, because it is highly likely the the opponent's sword will break and yours won't. Clearly, if your sword is worse, you don't want to.


Unless you have a significant advantage, such as an iron weapon vs a bronze one, this would be a bad idea.  Both swords have a chance of being damaged, or both.  You would hate to damage your sword on a parry, even if you eventually win.  Plus it would be difficult to determine the quality of your opponents blade in a rather quick and hurried fashion (combat).

Of course if it's a choice of parry with the edge or get hit, the parrying with the edge would be better.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 25, 2004, 11:09:57 AM
going out on a limb there eh turin? ;)

Whats the basis for an assertion like that one?! Better to parry with the edge than get hit with a sword! Hah! Pure unsubstantiated speculation if you ask me ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Jake Norwood on June 25, 2004, 11:14:46 AM
Two things:

First, let's drop the edge/flat debate. It's well documented elsewhere and tends to eat threads up like a broken sewing machine.

Second, the swords in the mass battle scenes in Last Samurai would have been Tachi, not necessarily katana. Tachi are worn hung from the obi (belt) when wearing armor much like a european sword on a hanger, which is why most katana scabbards have little loop-tabs on the convex side--to hang them. The katana was worn edge-up when tucked into the sash, but edge-down when acting as a battle-sword accompanying armor. See every book on feudal japan and early (non-sport) kenjustu.

Jake


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: CPXB on June 25, 2004, 11:33:23 AM
I'm not going to source anything I say, alas, but I do feel the urge to say a few things as a historian, particularly of science.

The first people to use cast iron weapons were the Chinese.  The Chinese were using cast iron something like a thousand years before anyone else.  Which is part of the reason a lot of their swords look a lot like meat cleavers -- they were cheaply made and needed to be thick and heavy so as not to break in the first exchange.

Japanese swords were well made, but how well made depends on the era, obviously, and the metal.  A lot of Japanese metal was of inferior quality, but a fair number of sword blanks were imported from abroad.  The best were from India, which I will talk about in a bit.  However, the reputation of Japanese swords is highly overrated.  They were sharp, but not particularly heavy, and the curved edge meant that they weren't as effectively against heavy armor as a straight edged sword would be.  Japanese swords also changed fairly dramatically over time.  Starting in about the 12th century, the blades were thinner and fatter.  As a person moves foward through history, the blades become wider and narrower -- and very, very sharp.  However, sharpness is an overrated quality in swordfights, often.  Additionally, the thinness of the blade made it harder to apply the edge to the opponent easily -- the blades became easier and easier to deflect.  This is, roughly, because in the 18th and 19th centuries guns were coming to dominate Japanese culture and more and more swordfighting was being done for purposes of honor alone.  The combatants tended to wearing less armor off the battlefield and so much armor on the battlefield that sword design was changing -- so devestating flesh became more important than defeating armor (Europe obviously underwent a similar process, but in another direction -- the swords, instead of becoming sharper, became pointier until they were, essentially, just points as we all know).

To my knowledge of martial arts, Japanese swordsmen were very well disciplined, as a body, but in terms of technique they were not superior as a rule.  Indeed, I would say that due to the way the Japanese abjured the shield they were, in technique, inferior in technique.  But that's interpretation.

Also, and very notably, the formalization of Japanese sword techniques happened roughly at the same time as the formalization of European sword techniques.  Comparing the sword technique of a 18th century Japanese swordsman to the sword technique of a 6th century Frankish knight is frivolous, I think.  But if you compare the sophistication of an 18th century Japanese swordsman to an 18th century European swordsman you'll find their techniques of comparable sophistication.  There is a tendency to treat kenjitsu as if it sprung fully formed into existense when, in truth, like European swordsmanship (and swordsmanship everywhere) the techniques came into existance after centuries of experimentation and consideration, and were ever evolving for circumstance.

Japanese armor also changed greatly.  During pre-samurai period and for a considerable time thereafter, yeah, it was mostly hardened leather.  However, by the end of Japanese feudalism they were wearing suits of armor that were in some ways heavier than suits of Maximillian plate (though not as utterly complete as a suit of Maximillian plate).  The Japanese also made extremely heavy suits of chainmail.

There are many, many myths surrounding Japanese swordsmanship and battlefield fighting, alas.  I fear this thread as perpetrated more of them than it has dispelled.

Also, IMO, the best constructed swords in the pre-modern world were Indian.  Indian steel technology reached a very, very high degree of refinement thousands of years earlier than anywhere else in the world.  In Delhi there are steel pillars that are literally thousands of years old without any trace of rust on them.  It is possible to find in archeological digs thousand year old katars and swords without the slightest bit of rust on them, despite their long internment in the wet Indian soil.  Ancient Indian steel is being studied by metallurgists to this day with great fascination.  Alas, the study goes slowly because of historic reasons (the British consciously destroyed the Indian smelters during the 19th century so it could dominate the Indian steel market; they were so efficient that many techniques were lost forever).  I know that some Russian metallurgists have claimed to have functionally reproduced the Indian metallurgical techniques with pulat steel; there seems to be some justification to that, such as being able to slash in twain free hanging silk scarves.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 25, 2004, 11:37:17 AM
thanks for the input jake, and if you notice the first post on this thread, I want this to give me a list of the myths, perceptions and general bs that gets shuffled around the net. so far its working well for that purpose. I am not accepting anything anyone here says as truth but instead making a list of things to research.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: timfire on June 25, 2004, 12:21:50 PM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Tachi are worn hung from the obi (belt) when wearing armor much like a european sword on a hanger, which is why most katana scabbards have little loop-tabs on the convex side--to hang them.

Almost Jake. A scabbard designed for a tachi had two special hangers built onto it. Go here to see a picture, about 2/3 down the page. (http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/glossary.htm) A standard katana scabbard just has one little knob/loop-thingy on the side for attaching the sageo (a cord that has many purposes, depending upon the school).


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Brand_Robins on June 25, 2004, 01:03:05 PM
Quote from: CPXB
Also, IMO, the best constructed swords in the pre-modern world were Indian.


Indeed. The famous "Damascus steel" actually started in India. Though it would spread through central Asia and into the near east the metals and techniques were Indian. And, incedentally, the term doesn't (apparently) have anything to do with Damascus, but with the wattery pattern from the crucible method of forging the steel.

Though, so long as we're going on about the Japanese sword being in reaction to their metal supply, we should also note that one of the reasons for the superiority of Indian steel wasn't just their metalurgical techniques, but the fact that they had local iron-ores that were superior for sword making purpouses.

(Source: http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9809/Verhoeven-9809.html)

Of course, all of this begs the question as to whether being made with superior steel really makes a sword a superior weapon, much less a l337 killing machine that can cut through trees....


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: CPXB on June 25, 2004, 06:35:12 PM
Quote from: Brand_Robins
Quote from: CPXB
Also, IMO, the best constructed swords in the pre-modern world were Indian.


Indeed. The famous "Damascus steel" actually started in India. Though it would spread through central Asia and into the near east the metals and techniques were Indian. And, incedentally, the term doesn't (apparently) have anything to do with Damascus, but with the wattery pattern from the crucible method of forging the steel.

Though, so long as we're going on about the Japanese sword being in reaction to their metal supply, we should also note that one of the reasons for the superiority of Indian steel wasn't just their metalurgical techniques, but the fact that they had local iron-ores that were superior for sword making purpouses.

(Source: http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9809/Verhoeven-9809.html)

Of course, all of this begs the question as to whether being made with superior steel really makes a sword a superior weapon, much less a l337 killing machine that can cut through trees....


Perhaps a bit of a threadjack, but "Damascus steel" in its normal usage refers to pattern welded steel (a technique that bears great similiarity, really, to the Japanese technique of folding the metal, actually).  Indian steel was called Damascus because a large number of Indian steel sword blanks passed through Damascus.  Acid etched pattern welded swords bear superficial similarities to Indian steel swords, and counterfeiting was so common that eventually the term Damascus steel came to refer to the real product of swords made from Indian sword blanks and the inferior in quality (but still very high quality, it should be noted) pattern welded swords.

And, yes, the unusually high quality of Indian steel was in part because of the exception ore they had as well, though study of ancient Indian steel finds some really stunning traits that are independent from the ore.

But does superior steel make for a super sword?  Simply put, no.  The Chinese used their cheap quality cast swords and won many battles.  Indeed, though I haven't really studied it, I suspect that the cheap quality (read: low cost and easy to manufacture) Chinese swords were a source of tremendous strength for the Chinese military.  Rather than expend lavish resources to produce these really high quality swords, they spent the same sources to produce them by the hundred.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 25, 2004, 06:46:07 PM
Quote from: WyldKarde

A knife loses all control if thrown farther than three paces.


So, this one is so much crap I feel the urge to add some more. My personal full-spin distance for my 13 inch pro-target dragons is almost exactly 3 paces. I personally know people who's standard working distance is two full turns, and I have seen other people stick a reasonably small target round (say 1 to 2 feet in diamter) consistently from 3 full turns. I also saw John Baily stick one from 80 feet, but it took him a couple of tries. ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 25, 2004, 06:57:45 PM
Quote from: Tobias
Here's another myth from Last Samurai: Look at the way all those samurai are carrying their swords in the last battle.

UPSIDE DOWN.


The shoto (companion sword, wakizashi) is carried blade up, the daito (long sword, katana) is carried blade down. The tachi (very long sword) is carried strapped to the back.

Edit: I should add, of course, so's not to contradict Jake, that I'm talking about battle armor here. I have seen photos of masters from various schools doing kata; regardless of the school, the scabbard is thrust through the obi edge facing up.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Bankuei on June 26, 2004, 11:46:53 AM
My personal irking myths are:

-Two weapons at one time are impossible to use effectively

OR

-Two weapons at a time are better than everything else


Sigh.

Ok, the places that typically used two weapons were usually tropical jungle areas, where you don't have massed battles and lots of archery going on.  Most fights are close in, by surprise, and ugly.  Two weapons are usually knives or short swords, used in conjunction, and people have very little armor.

In mass battle, a shield or a really good formation is your friend.  2 weapons will not help you there.  In the jungle, where fights start at medium, close or grappling range, your armor or shield may not help you at all.

Different conditions, different weapons, different tactics.

Chris


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 26, 2004, 07:14:49 PM
Quote from: timfire
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Tachi are worn hung from the obi (belt) when wearing armor much like a european sword on a hanger, which is why most katana scabbards have little loop-tabs on the convex side--to hang them.

Almost Jake. A scabbard designed for a tachi had two special hangers built onto it. Go here to see a picture, about 2/3 down the page. (http://home.earthlink.net/~steinrl/glossary.htm) A standard katana scabbard just has one little knob/loop-thingy on the side for attaching the sageo (a cord that has many purposes, depending upon the school).


Hey, I was just giving this page a closer look. About a third of the way down is says that the daito (long sword) was the mark of the Samurai's rank. I understood that it was the other way around. The shoto was used in the seppuku ritual, and gave an advantage in close-quarters combat, whereas the daito was used by battlefield ashigaru. I can't find where I got this idea now, so I can't back it up! Is this one of those controversial issues, and I just happened to come across the opposite side of it sometime previously?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Kaelin on June 27, 2004, 01:08:41 AM
At least from my understanding, prior to the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate (the rulers of the Edo period, from about 1600-1867, if I'm remembering my dates correctly), the symbol of the samurai was the right to carry BOTH swords, long and short - the longer blade was primarily for battlefield usage, while the shorter for seppuku, indoors and close-combat fighting where the use of the long blade may be difficult (low roofs in a lot of old Japanese buildings), and possibly as an off-hand secondary weapon (like the so called "Musashi style", although it would not surprise me if the wakizashi/shoto/kodachi/uchigatana was occasionally used in that manner before Musashi made it famous).  However, (and this may vary on time and province) someone who was NOT a samurai could carry a single sword, and it did not matter what the blade-length.  Once the Tokugawas came to power, they solidified the laws that, again, only the samurai could carry two swords, while wealthy merchants could purchase the right to carry a single sword, but it had to be of shorter variety (the katana is defined as having a blade of roughly two shaku (about a foot) or more in length, the wakizashi of 1-2 shaku in blade length).  Peasant farmers and artisans were not allowed to carry swords at all.  At least, thats what I seem to remember from my Japanese history class in college, amongst other sources.

Kaelin


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Muggins on June 27, 2004, 04:12:34 AM
I shall walk sideways around the Japanese stuff and edge-vs-flat, and attack a few other bugbears.

Two Weapon fighting: Humans have opposable thumbs on both hands, and every fighting man in history has tried to make use of both. Probably the oldest 2W arts are those involving shields- spear and shield (Greece, Zulu), short sword and shield (Rome), sword and buckler (Europe and India). The shield is a very useful weapon, capable of beats, hits, and is some cases, cuts using sharpened edges. Following on from this are the large+small weapons which can be seen in many regions. Shortsword and dagger, rapier and dagger, katana and wakizashi. The use of a small weapon allows for close in work, as well as being used in defence. More unusually, there are several sword arts, treated as skillful but not useful, using two swords of equal length- a case of rapiers, or two equal katanas. No European master I have read treats this combination as a battlefield combination, but does laud the skill involved. Importantly, every master, Japanese or European, tells you to become fully proficient with a single weapon before upgrading.

Rapiers: Rapiers have edges, and sometimes a false edge, and could definitely be used to cut. The edges were definitely not there only to cut an opponent's grasping hand (most rapier duellists used a thick glove to protect against the edge). The difference with a rapier is that the thrust is primary, not that it is not used. Of course, it would be a very brave man to declare what exactly a rapier is!

More when I think of them.

James


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 27, 2004, 09:13:12 AM
Its been a long time, but I'll bite on the chance to toss in some sword myths:

1. The katana was the most awesome blade ever.  It can cut through people, trees, silk, and European armor (including modern tanks) without losing its edge.  A 3rd rate samurai sword is better than anything ever produced anywhere else.  The only thing that can deal with a katana is a ninjato or samurai armor.

2. Samurai armor was lighter and more effective than what the Europeans used.  It never evolved or changed, never suffered from foreign influences, and there is only one way to make it, which is by putting laquer on bamboo strips.

3. A European broadsword is the correct term for the European sword (forget what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Julet, what does he know?).  It weighs on average 40 pounds.  A greatsword, or claymore weighs 60 pounds.  Fighting with them is like fighting with crowbars, all strength and nothing else.  And the rapier destroyed this sword from being used.

4. The rapier was designed to penetrate armor by piercing the slits in plate mail or going through the rings of chainmail.  Its big weakness was the katana, which explains why the Europeans never managed to conquer Japan.  A katana would snap a rapier in two with one stroke.

5. Europeans didn't practice martial arts.  They used guns to conquer everyone.  They never used local allies.  Cortez didn't have any crossbowmen with him when he beat the Aztech Empire.

6. Modern Fencing was the end result of 300 years of rapier training that turned into its sleekest, best form.  Then rules were added to make it not lethal.  Fencing is the ultimate European sword fighing method, much better than fighting with 80 pound swords!  Anyway, it explains how the Europeans did so well on the battlefield against natives when it was raining and their powder was wet.

I think that sums most myths up, right?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 27, 2004, 10:00:20 AM
Looks like I’d better reference those posts I made earlier.  When this thread was young I tossed out a few “facts” that weren’t as well referenced as other posts I’d later made.

When I said that daggers couldn’t be thrown father than three paces, I was speaking specifically about combat and utility knives that are not blanced for throwing.  I was taught by the army that throwing such a knife farther than three revolutoins (or roughly three paces) was a risky venture since after three turns, you’re pretty much relying on luck.  Since the army has a such a tight lock on their training manuals regarding advanced wepaons techniques, I can’t really reference this one.

Bastards!  Don’t they know the future of accurate gaming hangs in the balance!

I should also better define my statements regarding european swords, especially the beloved rapier (a personal favorite of mine).  When I said that a rapiers edge was used solely to prevent a bare-handed parry, I should have provided somewhat more backstory on the rapier.

The original “Elizabethan” rapier was a gentleman’s weapon (http://www.bankeside.org/history.html/url) and it’s edge was used to “discourage” parrying with the bare hand.  Since most duelists wore heavy gloves (for more than one reason, those handguards chafe like a bitch) the cutting edge was largely negated.  Hoever, the reduced surface area of the blade still made it hard to hold onto whether it was biting into flesh or not.

The rapier became widely popular however, and versions of the original weapon can be found all over europe.  Actually, there is some debate as to the “origin” of the weapon as it’s popularity spread so quickly and it’s design fit so well with existing sword styles that it seems to have gained immediate universal appeal amongst european swordsmen. This may be due to the fact that the style of “cut-and-thrust” swordsmanship, existed before the rapier came into use (http://www.swordforum.com/ssi/messages/3284.html/url).  In fact, due to this, it could be said that the rapier was popular before it was invneted.  Also, the masters of the style were originally Italian, French, and German (http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/fencing/masters.html/url) whereas the sword itself was english (http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/paradoxes.html/url) in design.  Hearing the “masters” argue over who invented what is amusing, but largely uninformative.

Oh yeah, that last link is why I don’t like referencing any sites that have a bias towards a particular style.  However, since it was written in 1599, it has some validity for our purposes here.  I do think his reference to the Italian masters as “false teachers” a bit harsh though.  That would have started a flame war if he were alive today.

To a purist, the “Elizabethan” rapier was only sharp to prevent it from being grabbed by a defender, it’s edge negligible in a fight.  However, the term “rapier” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapier/url) has come to represent all “cut-and-thrust” wepaons, even those that existed prior to it’s invention such as the Estoc (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoc/url) or the  Espada Ropera. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espada_ropera/url)   From this viewpoint, the “Rapier” as a classification of wepaons is very versatile and comes in many designs, complementing a great many styles of combat.  I have yet to see a rapier that can kill with it’s edge, but some styles of the sword can inflict a serious wound by slashing, and are not strictly thrust weapons.

P.S.

Just for shits and giggles, I’m linking this article (http://www.thehaca.com/essays/katanavs.htm/url) debating “Who would win between a rapier and a katana”.  Despite the schoolyard debate theme of the article, it’s well-written and takes many facts into account.  For the record, I agree with the author in that both swordsmen would probably kill each other in a dramtic explosion of skill and romantic disregard for their own lives.  However, I also agree with him that such a pairing has probably never happened outside of the minds of writers and gamers.  

I also like his mentioning that a rapier was used with a companion dagger because “…a rapier is impotent one you get past it’s point”.  However, this author, like myself, seems to be referencing the “Elizabethan” Rapier, not speaking of the weapon as a general classification of a “type” of sword.

Also, notice his debunking the myth of a rapier as a flimsy weapon that would break easily against a heavier sword.

Edit:

Rassafrassin broken links!

Gentleman's weapon:
http://www.bankeside.org/history.html
"cut-and-thrust" before the Rapier"
http://www.swordforum.com/ssi/messages/3284.html
Non-english Rapier Masters:
http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~wew/fencing/masters.html
English Rapier Rant
http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/paradoxes.html
Rapier as a "type" of sword:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapier
Estoc:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoc
Espada Ropera:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espada_ropera
Katana vs. Rapier:
http://www.thehaca.com/essays/katanavs.htm


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: tauman on June 27, 2004, 07:00:37 PM
Hmmm, not to nit-pick, but a lot of this doesn't quite ring true for me:

Quote from: WyldKarde
The original “Elizabethan” rapier was a gentleman’s weapon and it’s edge was used to “discourage” parrying with the bare hand.  Since most duelists wore heavy gloves (for more than one reason, those handguards chafe like a bitch) the cutting edge was largely negated.  Hoever, the reduced surface area of the blade still made it hard to hold onto whether it was biting into flesh or not.

To a purist, the “Elizabethan” rapier was only sharp to prevent it from being grabbed by a defender, it’s edge negligible in a fight.  However, the term “rapier” has come to represent all “cut-and-thrust” wepaons, even those that existed prior to it’s invention such as the Estoc or the Espada Ropera.  From this viewpoint, the “Rapier” as a classification of wepaons is very versatile and comes in many designs, complementing a great many styles of combat.  I have yet to see a rapier that can kill with it’s edge, but some styles of the sword can inflict a serious wound by slashing, and are not strictly thrust weapons.


Against a thrust with a rapier, it pretty much doesn't matter how much edge there is or isn't on the blade. Also, if I did a correct hand block, it wouldn't be dangerous (to my hand) to grab my opponent's rapier, if necessary (to prevent my opponent from withdrawing and re-thrusting his sword).

As to whether or not the edge is effective or not for cutting, well, there seems to be a certain amount of debate about that. Granted, no one says that the rapier is useful against armor, or that it will dismember, or that it as effective at cutting as the heavier blades. However, the manuals of Capo Ferro (1610) and Alfieri (1640), both give the cut as an alternative technique in many (8 out of 35 for Capo Ferro, and about 75% of Alfieri's techniques). Fabris also describes appropriate uses for cuts in his manual (1606). Given that these maestri describe the cut, I tend to think that it must be somewhat effective--while certainly it wouldn't remove a limb the way a longsword would, it might be able to capacite if delivered correctly. I think it worth noting that all cut techniques given by the above maestri utilize the same 3 targets: the head, the forearm of the weapon arm, and the forward leg just above or below the knee.

Quote from: WyldKarde

I also like his mentioning that a rapier was used with a companion dagger because “…a rapier is impotent one you get past it’s point”.  However, this author, like myself, seems to be referencing the “Elizabethan” Rapier, not speaking of the weapon as a general classification of a “type” of sword.


I'm not sure I agree with that. Certainly the dagger can be useful in close, but in rapier & dagger, the dagger is much more useful than just "hanging around to get in close," it forms an integral part of a good defense. As far as the rapier being useless once you're past the point--well, there is a distance where you've passed the point, but you're not close enough to use the dagger offensively. That's where you're likely to get a cut on the head or arm. Would either be fatal, almost certainly not. But either could quite possible affect the outcome of the fight.

Of course the next step will be to go into the semantics of what a rapier is, but I assume we're talking about something with a blade of about 42"+ (as measured from the quillons to the tip) balanced for thrusting with a compound hilt.

If we're talking about the rapier with regards to TROS, I'd say that those rapiers with a triangular section (i.e. no edge) should have no cutting ability (obviously). OTOH, those with an edge should have cutting ability. I think there was a suggested modification to damage a few weeks ago in a different topic that really made sense. However, the referee might want to disregard cut results (or reduce or limit severity) to certain locations (for example, it's pretty much impossible to kill anyone with a cut to the chest with a rapier).


Steve


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 27, 2004, 07:06:34 PM
Quote from: WyldKarde
When I said that daggers couldn’t be thrown father than three paces, I was speaking specifically about combat and utility knives that are not blanced for throwing.  I was taught by the army that throwing such a knife farther than three revolutoins (or roughly three paces) was a risky venture since after three turns, you’re pretty much relying on luck.  Since the army has a such a tight lock on their training manuals regarding advanced wepaons techniques, I can’t really reference this one.


You're kidding, right? You do know that you can *buy* the Army feild manuals on a CD-ROM, or download them from the U.S. Army website? A couple of consim gamer freinds who work in the Pentagon first put me onto the links.

Plus, to get technical, one pace does not equal anything like one revolution. For most people, one full revolution is 3 - 4 paces. This does depend on the size of the knife - the shorter and ligher the knife, the quicker the revolution. (I throw my little 6 inch Hibben floaters from about 4 feet for one turn.) AKTA standard tournament distances are 12 feet for 1 spin, 18 feet for two spins, with a handle-grip.

(Myth no. 1) There's really no such thing as a "knife balanced for throwing." There are knives that are unsuitable for throwing (small, light knives, like pen-kinves, or tactical folders), but even these can be thrown effectively if you have enough skill. (I don't. But I've seen videos of people sticking swiss-army style pen-knives and tactical folders from 6-8 feet. On the opposite end of the scale, there are guys out there who can bullseye meat-cleavers from 20-30 feet.)

There are basically two kinds of knives, from a throwing perspective. Those that are are the right weight, and those that aren't. A so-called "balanced throwing knife" is one that has the balance point near the center so that you can throw with a handle grip (for full turns) or with a blade grip (for half turns). The rule for throwing a knife is, "throw the heavy end." Ideally, a knife should weigh in right around one ounce per inch of length. The important thing is how much the knife weighs, not where the balance is at. If the balance isn't in the center of the knife, you adjust your grip accordingly.

Actually, most of your standard "survival style" knives are very good throwing knives... if they're any good as knives at all. The original K-BAR is one of the most popular throwing knives out there. Whereas, most of the "perfectly balanced" knives you see in catalogues are utter crap, and will break inside 50 throws.

Many tournaments, by the way, require expertise with "frontier style" knife throwing, which involves handle throws from 12 - 18 feet, at a 1-foot wood-round using only frontier style hunting knives with natural (bone, antler, or wood) handles and traditional blade-footprints. There are, for example, a lot of K-BAR and Bowie style knockoffs out there for this kind of thing.

Most circus performers do their work at six feet or closer using half-spins. The short distance reduces the chance that they perforate their assistants if they slip. This is why (myth no. 2) a lot of people think that the only way to throw a knife is with a blade grip.

In fact, a blade throw is not typically practical in a combat situation. (How many guys do you know who carry their knives blade-throw ready... i.e., stuck through their belts handle down, with the blade pointed at their guts?) Furthermore, the default distance for a blade-throw (a half spin) is too close to be useful. In the time it takes for you to draw your knife and throw it, he can close and strike.

If you're interested in more info on knife-throwing, http://www.throwzini.com has some pretty good introductory material. The John Bailey videos are also very good, but you have to pay for them.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 27, 2004, 10:24:24 PM
Throwing knives is something I've always wanted to develop as a skill.  Not meaning to cause even mroe drift but would you mind either posting or PMing me some advice on the best way to get started?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tom on June 28, 2004, 01:29:38 AM
Quote from: Paganini
In fact, a blade throw is not typically practical in a combat situation.


Damn you, there goes my character concept. ;-)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 28, 2004, 03:00:29 AM
Thanks for calling me on that upside down thing. I had a very vague nagging voice in my head as I posted that (which is also why I was asking people to correct me if I was wrong), but all my recent exposure to such information indicated that sword-up was the One True Way (as much as there is such a thing, in battle).

I guess that just goes to show the insidious, persuasive power of myth.

A follow-up question from my end would be, though, why change techniques for battlefield situations and 'sash' situations? I can imagine some benefits, but also some hindrance, but rather than speculate, in this instance I would prefer an answer.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tom on June 28, 2004, 04:37:51 AM
Quote from: Tobias
A follow-up question from my end would be, though, why change techniques for battlefield situations and 'sash' situations? I can imagine some benefits, but also some hindrance, but rather than speculate, in this instance I would prefer an answer.


Many of the katas that I learned in Iaido were designed for surprise situations.

Examples:
Ukenagashi is a form where you sit on the floor and someone rushes you from the side. It consists in parrying/deflecting his attack while standing up and then cutting him in half.

Tsukate is a form where you're gambling with someone who suddenly goes for his sword, and has a buddy who is sitting at your back. It consists of bashing the one in front in the head with the hilt, then drawing the blade and thrusting it into the one behind before cutting the one in front down the middle.

Soetezuki is a form where you wander next to someone, who suddenly goes for his sword. It consists of drawing your own sword, turning, and cutting - trying to beat him in speed.


There are many other forms that don't assume a combat situation, but rather an ambush or someone attacking you while you sit, stand about or walk. Many of the assumed attacks in Iaido come from the side or back. Most of the forms assume more than one enemy.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tobias on June 28, 2004, 04:51:42 AM
Ah, I've been sloppy again. When I say 'change technique', in this case I mean the specific 'technique of wearing your sword'.

In other words - why sharp side down in full battle regalia, sharp side up otherwise?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 28, 2004, 07:29:28 AM
Quote from: Paganini
(Myth no. 1) There's really no such thing as a "knife balanced for throwing." There are knives that are unsuitable for throwing (small, light knives, like pen-kinves, or tactical folders), but even these can be thrown effectively if you have enough skill. (I don't. But I've seen videos of people sticking swiss-army style pen-knives and tactical folders from 6-8 feet. On the opposite end of the scale, there are guys out there who can bullseye meat-cleavers from 20-30 feet.)


The scariest person I ever met was my girlfriend of the summer of 1992.  She decided as an adolescent that she wanted to throw knives as a hobby.  She got some books, taught herself, and got really good.  She would practice on a board in her room (she lived in a group house) while watching television every night.  What she could do were things you had to see to believe.  And she didn't just have to do them with knives.  I saw her do stuff with pencils, hatchets and even a stick she picked up off the ground.  She wasn't strong, but she was uncannily accurate.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on June 28, 2004, 07:31:56 AM
here's my favorite evidence against the 30 pound longsword myth, its taken from a thread at spacebattles.com (anyone else see the irony here?)

Quote
The most damning evidence against the idea of a 35-pound bastard sword, however, is simple dimensional analysis of the sort taught in any high school physics or chemistry class. To wit:

The specific density of steel is between 7.75 and 8.05, depending on the exact composition; ordinary mild tool steel is 7.85, which translates to a density of 7850 kilograms per cubic meter (proper sword steel is lighter and stronger, of course, but using tool steel gives us a decent maximum limit since sword steel does vary rather widely). Converting the density to English system units, we get 0.283 pounds per cubic inch, which means that a bastard sword with a 36" blade and a 10" handle would have to be a solid steel bar nearly an inch in diameter in order to weigh 35 pounds.


source page:
http://kier.3dfrontier.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57069&page=3&pp=25


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: CPXB on June 28, 2004, 07:41:21 AM
Quote from: Ashren Va'Hale
here's my favorite evidence against the 30 pound longsword myth, its taken from a thread at spacebattles.com (anyone else see the irony here?)

Quote
The most damning evidence against the idea of a 35-pound bastard sword, however, is simple dimensional analysis of the sort taught in any high school physics or chemistry class. To wit:

The specific density of steel is between 7.75 and 8.05, depending on the exact composition; ordinary mild tool steel is 7.85, which translates to a density of 7850 kilograms per cubic meter (proper sword steel is lighter and stronger, of course, but using tool steel gives us a decent maximum limit since sword steel does vary rather widely). Converting the density to English system units, we get 0.283 pounds per cubic inch, which means that a bastard sword with a 36" blade and a 10" handle would have to be a solid steel bar nearly an inch in diameter in order to weigh 35 pounds.


source page:
http://kier.3dfrontier.com/forums/showthread.php?t=57069&page=3&pp=25


*snickers*  I think people make this sort of mistake because they have very little experience in lifting steel, or any heavy weight.  I'm a weightlifter and, yeah, just looking at a thirty five pound plate quickly dispels the notion that a sword has that much steel in it.  Also, hoisting around a thirty five pound plate also dispels the idea that people often used weapons of this heft.  Thirty five pounds is pretty heavy to be swinging to and fro -- not only will you get tired, if you do it with great vigor you're likely to wrench out your shoulders and hyperextend your elbows.  And fall down as you get torqued to the side.

And because most people nowadays don't realize how heavy thirty five pounds is -- what does your average American lift? -- because they find swinging a sword physically challenging they tend to exaggerate its weight.  "Golly!  Swinging a sword is hard!  Since I would never get tired swinging three pounds of metal, its gotta weight at least fifteen or twenty pounds!"  Like that, hehe.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: timfire on June 28, 2004, 08:07:45 AM
Quote from: Paganini
The shoto (companion sword, wakizashi) is carried blade up, the daito (long sword, katana) is carried blade down. The tachi (very long sword) is carried strapped to the back.

Hmm, not quite. Yes, a shoto would be carried edge-up and thrust through the belt, even in armor.

Tachi/ katana: First, 'tachi' is technically a generic term for sword. However, in usage its usually used to refer to a battle-sword. That is, a 'tachi' generally refers to a sword that is hung from the belt edge-down. 'Katana' generally refers to an everyday-type sword, worn edge-up and thrust through the obi.

This brings up an other nihonto (Japanese sword) myth: A tachi and katana are really the same swords, just mounted in different furniture. The blades themselves were constructed exactly the same. Different time periods, however, produced different styles of nihonto, despite the fact that the swords were called the same thing as before.

As far as the 'wearing the sword on the back' thing, check out his link:
http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=&threadid=21259&highlight=back+AND+wearing

Swords were carried on the back, however it was more of a traveling-thing, it was not very common. Also, check out Hyaku's comments. He practices with LONG swords, 3-4 feet + handles. He argues that its near impossible to draw a sword of that length from your shoulder.  (I think that idea will probably matchup with the experiences of those who study long & great swords).


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 28, 2004, 08:30:18 AM
Timfire,

Thanks for clearing that up. When I wrote "tachi" in that post, I meant "no-datchi." Hadn't got around to correcting my sloppyness yet. :)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 28, 2004, 09:12:39 AM
Quote from: timfire
Swords were carried on the back, however it was more of a traveling-thing, it was not very common. Also, check out Hyaku's comments. He practices with LONG swords, 3-4 feet + handles. He argues that its near impossible to draw a sword of that length from your shoulder.  (I think that idea will probably matchup with the experiences of those who study long & great swords).


What?  You can't keep a sword on your back?  But Xena did it!  And Ninja did it in an old James Bond movie!  And Mel Gibson did it in Brave Heart!  It is a faster way to draw the weapon, and in fact, people didn't usually carry swords on their belts!

lol!  I love myths.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 28, 2004, 09:23:16 AM
Hmmmm, I'm not sure what the consternation over my last post was, but if I left anything unclear, let me re-iterate.

I ain't linkin' again, so if you want to see the proof for these facts, just hit my last post.

I don't beleive I ever said that a rapier's edge was useless.  In fact, the very method of "cut-and-thrust" swordfighting seems to imply some use of the blade's edge.  I simply said that the edge wasn't used to kill, though it was used to deliver wounds that can break down an opponents defense over time.  Looks like we pretty much agree with each other.

I didn't get into rapier & dagger either, except to mention one of the daggers functions (as described by someone else).  I agree that the dagger took on a larger role than simply "secondary pointy thing".  Then again, the rapier as a weapon, and the cut-and-thrust style as a whole follws numerous combat philosophies that have been hotly debated for hundreds of years.  I tried to avoid suggesting "this is how you fight with a rapier" because there are too many contradictory styles out there to suggest just one.  Since this thread is informational, I try to just put out the "facts" and let personal preference slide.  

These are the facts that I tried to put out, although my lenghty posts might be clouding the waters:

Although I did originally say that the rapier's edge was just used to prevent hand-parrying, this was in reference to the elizabethan rapier of early sevententh century england.  As rapiers came into common use, and especially after being integrated into military use, their style changed enough to make this statement untrue.  Also, the practice of hand-parrying fell out of use with these changes, as later manuals on swordsmanship will attest.

The rapier has come to represent not just the specific english weapon, but all "cut-and-thrust" weapons.  Due to that, any claims of "all rapiers..." need to be tempered with the knowledge that there possibly exists a school of combat, and a rapier designed for it, that contradicts your claim.

However, it seems that tauman and I are pretty much in agreement (I'm sure he'll say something if I'm off on this).  I just wanted to clarify my statements so it didn't seem as if I'm pushing an idea that I'm not.

As far as the dagger goes, I'm not a professional knife thrower.  I learned how to throw a knife in a combat training course while in the army.  The knives I learned the throw (bayonet, K-bar) were not meant to be used that way.  I was also taught that, throwing a knife is not the best way to use it.  Knife throwing was taught to me as a last ditch effort and a poor one at that.  In a combat situation it's better to sneak up on someone and cut their throat.  Use the strengths of the weapon (silence) rather than it's weaknesses (range).

However, these are all philosophies and as such can't be taken as "fact".  Playing characters who operate outside of what's expected is one of my favorite things to do while roleplaying.  My favorite character hurls knives like nobody's business.

As far as what the U.S. Army teaches regarding knife throwing (good luck finding the regs, the class lasted all of two hours compared to the weeks spent familiarizing oneself with just about every other weapon), the official us army website that contains the army regulations has them on lockdown.  I'll link it so you can bang your head against their firewall if you like.  As far as buying army regs, you don't need to.  The declassified ones are free and the classified ones are...surprise...not on sale.

Getting military manuals from places other than their official source is easy, but probably inaccurate.  The free ones I looked at got the Initial Entry Training manual wrong so I wouldn't go to them for Advanced Weapons Training or Special Operations Combat Training advice.  The IET manual is free and you get it for enlisting.  You don't even have to pass basic training to get your hands on this information and these guys get it wrong.

I know I said I wouldn't link, but this website does have numerous training manuals regarding the proper use of military equipment.  Actually, you'd be surprised at what's not top secret compared to the few things that are.  If you're trying to find the "army way" to throw a knife, you're going to want anything labeled combat training.  But, as a rule, the US Army doesn't give it's killin' methods away for free.  If they did that, how would they fill their psycho killing machine quota?

Anyhoo, here's the official library of training manuals for the U.S. Army:
http://www.adtdl.army.mil/


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 28, 2004, 10:20:59 AM
Quote from: Eamon
Quote from: timfire
Swords were carried on the back, however it was more of a traveling-thing, it was not very common. Also, check out Hyaku's comments. He practices with LONG swords, 3-4 feet + handles. He argues that its near impossible to draw a sword of that length from your shoulder.  (I think that idea will probably matchup with the experiences of those who study long & great swords).


What?  You can't keep a sword on your back?  But Xena did it!  And Ninja did it in an old James Bond movie!  And Mel Gibson did it in Brave Heart!  It is a faster way to draw the weapon, and in fact, people didn't usually carry swords on their belts!

lol!  I love myths.


Come one, everyone knows the proper place to wear your sword is under your trenchcoat...:)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Emiricol on June 28, 2004, 11:28:55 AM
Quote from: Paganini
Actually, most of your standard "survival style" knives are very good throwing knives... if they're any good as knives at all. The original K-BAR is one of the most popular throwing knives out there.


I hope you aren't suggesting the ka-bar is some crappy survival knife, with the exception of throwing.  They are incredibly utilitarian in general, and extremely well designed for use in combat as well.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 28, 2004, 11:35:29 AM
Quote from: Tash
Quote from: Eamon
What?  You can't keep a sword on your back?  But Xena did it!  And Ninja did it in an old James Bond movie!  And Mel Gibson did it in Brave Heart!  It is a faster way to draw the weapon, and in fact, people didn't usually carry swords on their belts!

lol!  I love myths.


Come one, everyone knows the proper place to wear your sword is under your trenchcoat...:)


Well, thats how they do it today in modern times, when people walk around with swords getting ready for swordfights.  Afterall, a trenchcoat lets you completely hide the weapon no matter what the circumstances.  They would have used that ages ago, but materials that allow that of chicanary are synthetic in nature.

Heh heh.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 28, 2004, 04:30:34 PM
My favorite is straight down the center of your back, through a *hole* in your trenchcoat, with the handled directly behind your head.

I.e., Blade.... :)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 28, 2004, 08:30:31 PM
Actually that's probably the only way I could possibly see wearing a sword under a trenchcoat working...at least as far as keeping the sword concealed.

Actually pulling the thing is another story.

In my oh so rebellious youth I was known to wear some rather interesting stuff under my trenchcoat....I was the only kid in my class who had a black leather trench with sai holder sewn into it :)

When you're fifteen these things seem like a MUCH cooler idea than they actually are....


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 28, 2004, 09:00:39 PM
Quote from: Emiricol
Quote from: Paganini
Actually, most of your standard "survival style" knives are very good throwing knives... if they're any good as knives at all. The original K-BAR is one of the most popular throwing knives out there.


I hope you aren't suggesting the ka-bar is some crappy survival knife, with the exception of throwing.  They are incredibly utilitarian in general, and extremely well designed for use in combat as well.


Nope, just the opposite. The K-BAR is a good throwing knife *because* it's a good knife overall. A bad survival knife is a bad throwing knife, for the same reasons that it's a bad survival knife. The K-BAR is a good throwing knife, for the same reasons that its a good knife overall.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tom on June 29, 2004, 12:28:10 AM
Quote from: Tobias
Ah, I've been sloppy again. When I say 'change technique', in this case I mean the specific 'technique of wearing your sword'.

In other words - why sharp side down in full battle regalia, sharp side up otherwise?


I can only guess at that. From the background info I have I would bet on practicability. If you put it into the obi (sash), it simply is easier and more comfortable with the bend (sharp side) up. On an armour, I figure hanging it is simply the better way, and for stability reasons you'll want to hang it sharp side down. If you put your katana on a stand, btw., you also put it sharp side up, even during Iaido classes where you then turn it over to wear it.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 29, 2004, 06:15:38 AM
Quote from: Paganini
Nope, just the opposite. The K-BAR is a good throwing knife *because* it's a good knife overall. A bad survival knife is a bad throwing knife, for the same reasons that it's a bad survival knife. The K-BAR is a good throwing knife, for the same reasons that its a good knife overall.


Getting back to myth, the K-BAR sucks!  Compare it to the Rayvyn double bladed saw-backed knife with dragon handle and you will knowwhat I mean.  The Rayvyn knife's saw can be used to saw through stuff.  The double blades can be seperated and throwing like ninja stars.  And it looks k3w1!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: timfire on June 29, 2004, 06:39:08 AM
Quote from: Tom
Quote from: Tobias
Ah, I've been sloppy again. When I say 'change technique', in this case I mean the specific 'technique of wearing your sword'.

In other words - why sharp side down in full battle regalia, sharp side up otherwise?


I can only guess at that. From the background info I have I would bet on practicability. If you put it into the obi (sash), it simply is easier and more comfortable with the bend (sharp side) up. On an armour, I figure hanging it is simply the better way, and for stability reasons you'll want to hang it sharp side down. If you put your katana on a stand, btw., you also put it sharp side up, even during Iaido classes where you then turn it over to wear it.

I can give the reasons my iaido & kenjutsu teachers have given me for why you would wear a katana edge up or down, but I cannot confirm how historically relevent these reasons are.

Edge down: It's actually easier to draw a katana/ tachi edge down & hanging from the belt. When you draw a katana from the belt, most iaido/kenjutsu schools have you turn the sword sideways, if not totally upside down (ie, edge down) before you actually draw the sword. Drawing the sword sideways or edge down follows a more natural arm movement, which is important for an efficient draw-cut.

Also, when the sword is hanging from your belt, it gives you more room to draw the blade. When you draw a katana from your belt, unless you're using a relatively short blade, you actually have to pull the scabbard behind your back to gain enough reach to get the tip ofl the blade out of the scabbard. Hanging the scabbard easily gives you another 6-8 inches of reach.

Edge Up: One reason I've been given is to protect the edge of the blade. Keeping the edge up allows the sword to rest on its back & thus protects the edge from being dulled.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: F. Scott Banks on June 29, 2004, 12:20:45 PM
Hmmm, I'm out of sword myths.  C'mon eamon.  We need you to say something horribly innacurate so that we can discuss at length how wrong it is.

By the way, the K-Bar does rock unholy ass and bayonets pretty much suck.  Of course, if you're using your rifle as a spear, you're probably beyond caring.  I've never purchased or used a "throwing knife" but most of the ones I've seen are of the Home Shopping Network variety.  Are there any "professional quality" throwing knives or are they all mail-order crap?

I'm serious.  I've never seen a "throwing knife" anywhere other than the Home Shopping Network and movies, both are probably responsible for eighty percent of the sword myths out there.  

The dragon is painted right on the blade people!  Right on the blade!  Just like the ancient Ninja Armies of Japan used when they conquered China!

Wow...so much unsubstantiated opinion.  I should probably debunk a myth while I'm here.

It is possible to parry with a broadsword.  I know I've said this, but I've never cited any facts.  Here are the requirements (http://www.safd.org/training/spt_required.asp/url) of every licensed fight choreographer in America.  You'll note that for the broadsword portion of the test, applicants are expected to perform no less than four different parrying techniques.

This doesn't answer the question of historical accuracy regarding whether or not original european broadsword fighters "used" the parry, but it does prove that it can be done.

Actually, I have woodblock prints that show broadsword fighters learning how to parry, but I dunno how to get 'em up.  For now, let's just say that it is possible to parry with a heavy sword and leave the debate over whether it was taught for another day

Stage Combat Requirements:
http://www.safd.org/training/spt_required.asp


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 29, 2004, 01:44:02 PM
Of course, the existance of the "broad sword" is itself a myth.  There is no such actual weapon outside of D&D and museums still relying on 19th century categorization.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 29, 2004, 05:36:14 PM
Quote from: WyldKarde
By the way, the K-Bar does rock unholy ass and bayonets pretty much suck.  Of course, if you're using your rifle as a spear, you're probably beyond caring.  I've never purchased or used a "throwing knife" but most of the ones I've seen are of the Home Shopping Network variety.  Are there any "professional quality" throwing knives or are they all mail-order crap?


There are, in fact. The Viper (hand-crafted) sells for something like $200 and is apparently worth every cent. I can't speak from experience though,  I'm no where near buying a $200 throwing knife. However, there are also a lot of more reasonably priced knives designed specifically for tournaments by knife throwers. My Pro-target Dragons are 13.5 inches long, tough heat-treated spring steel. They're around $30 each. John Bailey also has a couple of really nice knives, and so does Gil Hibben, surprisingly enough. You have to get Hibben's really hefty knives, for real throwing fun. His little floaters are actually pretty decent, but you can't throw them any kind of distance at all.

Most real pro-knife throwers (those doing show or hollywood work) have their knives custom made, but I have spotted a couple of the "home shopping network" knives variety in movies. :)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on June 29, 2004, 05:39:54 PM
To debunk the debunker,

Ralph, there *is* in fact such a weapon! But it's not western. :) There's a Chinese weapon called a broadsword (the super literal translation of the name is something like "big knife"). It's basically a variety of falchion or cutlass. Single edge, curved, wide at the point with lots of chopping weight.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 29, 2004, 06:23:58 PM
I was about to post that, but I figured from reading that site that it was using the term broadsword as a generic for what we'd probably refer to as an arming sword or longsword.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 29, 2004, 07:21:48 PM
All right...I'll spot you those crazy eastern weapons... :-)

and amend my statement to "there is no such European weapon..."


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 29, 2004, 07:28:50 PM
So what, if any, is the correct term for those things commonly called "basket hilt broadswords".  Are they a cut and thrust?  A smallsword? Something else?

Curious because I see the term a lot yet also hear that the name broadsword wasn't used until the 18th or 19th century....so what did the people who used them actually call them?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 29, 2004, 07:38:38 PM
I suspect that what seems to us to be a great variety of different and interesting swords, seems so only because we are seeing an entire collection covering generations.

For any given region at any given time I suspect in the main you simply had "a sword".  It was different from the swords a century earlier and would be different from the swords a century to come, but in that place at that time...that's what a sword way.

I suspect that period people would refer to regional variations simply by the region...a Spanish Sword vs. a Frankish Sword vs a Baden Sword...and to size variations simply by an adjective.

I imagine that period people really did at some point say the words "broad sword" where "broad" was simply an adjective as in "he drew a broad sword" as opposed to Broad Sword as a proper noun.  It would have simply meant "a sword with a blade broader than the common ones around here"

I suspect that knights or warriors would refer to blade style by the smith who forged it "I prefer a good Smithson blade to those of Weatherby...the Weatherby's are too light" in periods where sword makers were common enough to provide a choice.

The differences between them I would guess were spoken of descriptively like "that blade is in the old style like my grandfather wore", or "make me a sword with a more rigid blade and a thicker cross section"

I think it likely that only when you enter into the field of collecting does it become necessary to identify classes of blades and assign a specific label to it.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on June 29, 2004, 07:54:39 PM
Makes sense.  Being used to modern replica swords I easily forget that real swords were each unique items made for a specific person (usually, I suppose it wasn't unheard of for a rich nobel to comission a batch of swords for his troops).  Given that they probably didn't have names and model numbers like weapons do now.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 30, 2004, 05:12:29 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Of course, the existance of the "broad sword" is itself a myth.  There is no such actual weapon outside of D&D and museums still relying on 19th century categorization.


Joking aside, Valamir, you are dead wrong here.

Old Gygax himself named the average sword in D&D the longsword.  In 3rd edition you can even use it two handed if you want.

It is the more 'historically accurate games' such as Ars Magica, GURPS, RuneQuest, and umpteen other post-D&D games that used the name provided in Victoriana.

Something which caused me no small amount of confusion when at age 15 reading Romeo & Juliet whatshisname called for his 'longsword'.  That was way back in the early 1980s and we had just switched from AD&D to Runequest.  I remember looking up from the text in 10th grade and saying to Mrs Cross, 'Why is Shakespeare using the wrong term?'.

Sigh.  That is a dark secret I've kept ever since.  After over 20 years it has finally seen the light of day!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 30, 2004, 05:14:22 AM
Quote from: Tash
So what, if any, is the correct term for those things commonly called "basket hilt broadswords".  Are they a cut and thrust?  A smallsword? Something else?

Curious because I see the term a lot yet also hear that the name broadsword wasn't used until the 18th or 19th century....so what did the people who used them actually call them?


AFAIK, the term "basket hilt broadswords" didn't appear until the Museam guys started categorizing swords some 150 years ago.  The people called them slang terms such as 'hangers' and 'swerds'.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 05:26:42 AM
I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.


Title: myths
Post by: Eamon on June 30, 2004, 05:28:00 AM
Before we go any farther, let me tell you about stage fighting.  I know this guy, who choreographs stage fighting, and he says that it is a really effective method of self-defense.  The actors often tell him that after learning it for a show, that they feel confident of their safety in potentially dangerous situations!

When the ninja conquered China they kept it secret, because, you know, they are secret types!  When the Americans first came to Japan they infiltrated the Navy ships, went back to the US with the fleet, and then took over the government!  If you think about it, that so explains flouride in the drinking water, they are secretly poisoning us!

Did you know that a single ninja could take out a modern American rifle squad?  Put them on opposite sides of a football field under any weather or lighting conditions and the soldiers are toast!  Sure, the americans have rifless and bombs and machine guns but the ninja has stealth, ninja magic, and his ninjato!

When guns came onto the battlefield, armor disappeared overnight!  One day people wore armor, the next day it vanished!  Then people took the armor piercing rapiers and really got fencing into an art.  The epees we use in fencing are exactly like the rapiers of Shakespeare, so if we went back in time, I could kick butt with my 1337 fencing skillz!

I read this book once, about these scientists who figured out how to go back in time to Aulde Englande.  They did so and one of them was a fencer.  He took his foil with him and kicked the butts of these stupid knights and their 90 pound swords!  Fortunately he didn't run into any wandering samurai because then he would be toast.

If you have at least a brown belt in karate then you don't need to be afraid of people armed with melee weapons.  We had this guy show up once.  Just once.  We never saw him again after he was taught the fallacy of this claim.  We did the magic-marker on white t-shirt trick using the newest person in the class.

Ueshiba of Aikido fame could so kick the butt of Silver of Paradoxes of Defense fame.  Silver was just a brawler because they don't have martial arts in the west.  And Ueshiba, besides being a crack aikido and ninja master of the martial arts, had total control over his chi!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on June 30, 2004, 05:30:57 AM
Quote from: Valamir
I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.


Oops.  Forgot about that broadsword from AD&D1e.  Still, no one used it because of its dorky damage range and I think Gygax added it as an afterthought.  I think its clear he didn't know about it until while making the AD&D1e weapon catalog he ran into the fact that other games had the broadsword and his game didn't.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: tauman on June 30, 2004, 07:56:28 AM
The problem is that Gygax never really specified what a longsword is (and what a broadsword is). We always assumed the longsword was an arming sword used by knights, but then I remember reading somewhere that he had more of a "Cut & Thrust" type in mind. Either way, the sword nomenclature in AD&D is whacked. I guess Silver's shortsword would be a broadsword in AD&D.

I did see the use of the term broad sword in an Anglo-Saxon (i.e. Old English) history of either the battle of Maldon or the battle of Brunanburg. Something like "he took up his broad sword" (lit. 'brad sweord', or something similar). However, I wouldn't call it a formal term. Rather, it seems to be a descriptive term used for effect. Given the rules of Anglo-Saxon verse, the author might have even used the word to insure that the stress fell in the right place.

Steve

Quote from: Eamon
Quote from: Valamir
I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.


Oops.  Forgot about that broadsword from AD&D1e.  Still, no one used it because of its dorky damage range and I think Gygax added it as an afterthought.  I think its clear he didn't know about it until while making the AD&D1e weapon catalog he ran into the fact that other games had the broadsword and his game didn't.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: toli on June 30, 2004, 08:10:00 AM
I believe basket hilt swords are cut & thrust swords in TROS terms.  Small swords are like little rapiers.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Vagabond Elf on June 30, 2004, 01:31:33 PM
"Short sword" is a fun one too.  My WMA meister uses late 1400's & early 1500's terminology mostly, so what he calls a short sword is what ROS calls an arming sword.  But in the 1500's it was shorter than the other swords being used - longswords, greatswords, rapiers.  So it's correct from that persepctive.

Of course, it causes me all sorts of headaches, because I have to remember to apply "shortsword" to an arming sword size blade in class, and to a TROS-type short sword with my friends.  (My class, by-and-bye, refers to the TROS-type short swords as a gros messer, or big knife.)

An intersting thought on the cross-hilt's design is something I found in John Clements, whose books are in the bibliography for the core rules.  He says that the purpose of the cross-hilt was not to protect your hand from the enemy's blade when you blocked his cut.  Instead, it kept you hand fromsliding forward onto the blade, kpet his blad from sliding into your hand when he blocked you, and kept you from breaking you knuckles when he blocked with a shield.

Here's a myth to debunk - the gladius was a Roman Liegionairre's main weapon.  It wasn't - it was his sidearm.  The pilum, or spear, was his main weaon.  (I can't source this, though, as I've forgotten where I learned it.)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: toli on June 30, 2004, 01:59:30 PM
[quote="Vagabond Elf
Here's a myth to debunk - the gladius was a Roman Liegionairre's main weapon.  It wasn't - it was his sidearm.  The pilum, or spear, was his main weaon.  (I can't source this, though, as I've forgotten where I learned it.)[/quote]

The interpretation I've always read gives them different tactical roles, not necessarily main and secondary roles.  The pilium was more of a javelin whose purpose was to break up opposing lines allowing the sword wielding soldier to head into the breach.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 30, 2004, 02:06:48 PM
Actually, it depends on what legion, and what time period. But to be precise, the pilum was thrown before contact, the intent, interestingly, to have it get embedded in the enemy shields so that they'd be too heavy to lift. In fact, the heads of pilums were made intentionally soft and bendable, so that they would tend to stick at odd angles and also to make them unthrowable back at their enemies.

They were not a pirmary weapon. When it came to actual fighting, they sword was used. Gladius, OTOH, is just latin for sword. So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.

I think that you may be confusing greek phalanxes with Roman legions. In that case, the spear was primary, and swords were secondary.

Mike


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on June 30, 2004, 06:40:32 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.


Quite.  

The actual name for the weapon we all know as the gladius is gladius hispaniensis.  Hispania being, of course, Spain.  So the sword that the legionaires used was simply known as "the Spanish Sword"...or more accurately "the sword we adapted from the kind they used in Spain".


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Salamander on July 01, 2004, 12:57:35 AM
Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: Mike Holmes
So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.


Quite.  

The actual name for the weapon we all know as the gladius is gladius hispaniensis.  Hispania being, of course, Spain.  So the sword that the legionaires used was simply known as "the Spanish Sword"...or more accurately "the sword we adapted from the kind they used in Spain".


I believe you may have missed two. ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Dain on July 01, 2004, 01:15:29 AM
Don't know if this qualifies as a sword myth or not, nor if what I've been told is correct, but here goes:

Myth: The crease running down the middle of a blade (commonly called a blood rib) has the purpose of preventing your weapon from getting stuck in your opponent's body when you thrust it into him. According to the myth, supposedly that groove somehow allows air to draw in as you draw the weapon out, thus defeating the "vacuum" normally experienced as the opponent's flesh seals in around the blade. Supposedly without that rib your weapon would get stuck in your opponent and you'd have a major problem pulling it out.

Actual purpose: Not sure because I've been told multiple stories about that too, some or all of which may be myths as well. One person said it was purely ornamental. Another person said that it was an unintentional result of forging that was caused by compressing that is done to the blade along it's length to increase the hardness. I've also had people swear for all they are worth the vacuum story is true too.

Personal belief: The vacuum story sounds unlikely as flesh is very gelatinous and would conform to the blood rib as well, not leaving an air groove at all, but sealing within the groove just as tightly as around the rest of the blade...so that one sounds unlikely at best. Not knowing the actual forging process, the compression idea sounds possible, but dubious as hardness is usually determined by carbon content and the folding process...so I'm going to go with ornamental. Anyone know the real answer (and have a source to support it)?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Richard_Strey on July 01, 2004, 02:32:43 AM
Well, you know, having a fuller (or even a few of them) running down  your blade makes it lighter. The idea is to get the lightest blade possible while still retaining enough structural integrity.

Edit: A grate running down the middle (see later thrusting "Bastard Swords") is essentially the same: If you look at the cross-section of the blade, it is nothing but a fuller cut in the middle and stuck together the other way around.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Valamir on July 01, 2004, 03:10:19 AM
The most likely purpose for the fuller is to add rigidity to the blade in exactly the same way as corrugation.

It may also make the blade lighter...but I have a feeling that the method of construction of a sword (beating it into shape with a hammer) simply means that the metal that would have been located in the fuller has been displaced to elsewhere in the blade.  It would only make it lighter if the fuller were actually carved out and the metal from it removed, which I don't think is the case.

I suspect that the lighter idea came about from replica people who cast their blades and noticed they could use less metal if they put bigger fullers in.


Salamander:  huh?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Ashren Va'Hale on July 01, 2004, 07:05:51 AM
think I-beam... it strengthens and lightens the blade.

I hate the blood groove myth, I have placed this on the very top of my "myths to bust" list, right next to 30 pound swords made of unobtanium.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Irmo on July 01, 2004, 07:26:01 AM
Quote from: Valamir
The most likely purpose for the fuller is to add rigidity to the blade in exactly the same way as corrugation.

It may also make the blade lighter...but I have a feeling that the method of construction of a sword (beating it into shape with a hammer) simply means that the metal that would have been located in the fuller has been displaced to elsewhere in the blade.  It would only make it lighter if the fuller were actually carved out and the metal from it removed, which I don't think is the case.

I suspect that the lighter idea came about from replica people who cast their blades and noticed they could use less metal if they put bigger fullers in.


I think you overlook several possibilities. First, the metal could be displaced to somewhere it can easily be cut or ground off. Second, a lighter weight can also be achieved by using less material to begin with. Your argument suggests that the material was displaced in a fashion that increases density somewhere else on the blade, which I find somewhat hard to believe.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 01, 2004, 07:41:41 AM
Irmo, you're saying the same thing as Ralph (he's not saying anything about density). You're both implying that fullers are a way to increase rigidity without having to increase the overall mass of the sword proportionally. The term "lighter" is problematic here as it's relative. What should be said is that a sword with fullers is more rigid than another sword of the same mass and otherwise similar geometry. Assuming that the theory is correct at all.

Mike


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Drifter Bob on July 03, 2004, 10:09:32 PM
Quote from: Sir Mathodius Black
Regarding what Tobias said about Katana's not being the strongest and sharpest swords, I was under the distinct impression that they were.  They were certainly more effective than european swords for a number of reasons.  First, they are folded and not made of cast iron, making them much less brittle and more durable, not to mention that when a european sword is struck, strong vibrations go down to the hilt making it very uncomfortable.  That also gave them a much longer lasting sharpness because of all of the "edges" folded into the weapon.  As far as speed, I'm not sure, but i would guess that training has more to do with that than the making of the weapon.    
Also, ive seen guys with katanas slice through trees with a diameter of six inches.  How many european swords can do that?

As far as ninjitsu goes, of course there is a lot of exageration from the movies but there are some people out there that can do some pretty crazy stuff.  Ill post a specific instance when i have time to look it up.


You really need to go back to the drawing board amigo.  Cast iron?

DB


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 04, 2004, 08:23:36 AM
Quote from: Sir Mathodius Black
Also, ive seen guys with katanas slice through trees with a diameter of six inches.  How many european swords can do that?


SMB-

I've seen the best cutting katanas out there (and handled one). I've seen record-making cuts into 2 x 4s with a katana, and I've seen a blunt german-style longsword match it. I've seen a blunt arming sword cut down an 8" diameter tree in three strikes.

As a general rule, never confuse the objects in the knife store or in a Museum Replicas or reinactment catolog with swords any more than the faux-star-wars blasters are really guns.

Jake


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Irmo on July 04, 2004, 08:37:34 AM
http://www.thearma.org/Videos/NTCvids/testingbladesandmaterials.htm


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on July 04, 2004, 10:06:59 AM
Just to build on what Jake said, katanas are built a lot differently than western swords, and typically weigh much less. The sword-testing exercises that were mentioned earlier are tests in *cutting.* They're performed on material that is suitable for being cut (porous bamboo bundles, mostly). Katan's don't chop very well at all. If you try to fell down a tree with a Katana, you will ruin it in no time.

The kind of swords Jake is talking about have a lot more weight - up to three or four pounds more, sometimes - and are much better at chopping through dense material (say, trees, frozen pumpkins) with that kind of momentum than katana's are.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Irmo on July 04, 2004, 12:10:15 PM
A german longsword can't have three to four pounds more than a katana, since that would mean the katana is weightless ;)


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on July 04, 2004, 12:23:11 PM
Well, sometimes it seems like katanas are weightless. Mine weighs like 1.5 - 2 pounds I think, and it's a crappy one. Some of the bastard and two-handed swords weighed as much as 5 pounds. You get some serious chopping power with that. And, say, a 4-pound falchion is basically a huge heavy-duty machete.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Irmo on July 04, 2004, 12:26:07 PM
Here's some real stats for swords:

http://www.palus.demon.co.uk/Sword_Stats.html


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Paganini on July 04, 2004, 12:40:29 PM
Of course, most katanas weigh around 400 - 500 pounds, as you can see if you view the stats on this (http://www.suzuki-bikes.com/katana750.php) page. This info comes direct from the manufacturer too.

/me feels happy to put yet another myth to rest.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: coryblack_666 on July 04, 2004, 03:30:24 PM
yea, but because of the way those 500lb katana's are made, you can swing the maround like nothing.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Vagabond Elf on July 05, 2004, 02:04:36 PM
I believe the blood groove story actually comes out of the Second World War, where American bayonets were badly designed and would get stuck in things very easily.  The problem was widespread enough that U.S. troops were actually trained to shoot the guy they'd just stabbed to jolt the bayonet free.

But I'll admit that's entirley anecdotal, not having seen a WWII U.S. Army training manual.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Andrew Mure on July 06, 2004, 02:00:57 AM
Here's another sword myth for you.

During the Middle ages Christians exclusively used straight swords whilst Muslims only used curved swords.

Actually in all major medieval conflicts between east and west such as the Crusades both the arming sword and scimitar were employed heavily by both sides to the level that one could expect to see a mix in an army. This is interesting in the context of the 'katana' debate as the Islamic kingdoms of the Holy Land possessed the much vaulted 'folding-steel' technique that supossibly makes the katana a 'super sword'. However if anything the invasion of the Franj (arabic term for westerner derived from the mainly French crusaders) prompted more saracens to start using wrought iron straight 'european' style swords. Certainly on the christian side enough Europeans were impressed by the technique of Arab swordsmiths to bring folding-steel back to Europe particularly Italy and Spain which gained a reputation towards the end of the Middle ages as master armourers. However though folding steel technique was used (long before Europe contacted Japan) to produce sabres and the much vaulted white armour, the straight wrought iron sword endured despite a suppossibly 'superior' means of sword construction being available to their smiths.

In conclusion before one claims that one means of sword construction is 'superior'  to another they should consider that the two techniques might be aiming for very different end results.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on July 06, 2004, 07:28:05 AM
Quote from: Vagabond Elf
I believe the blood groove story actually comes out of the Second World War, where American bayonets were badly designed and would get stuck in things very easily.  The problem was widespread enough that U.S. troops were actually trained to shoot the guy they'd just stabbed to jolt the bayonet free.

But I'll admit that's entirley anecdotal, not having seen a WWII U.S. Army training manual.


Dontcha just hate it when a bad guy gets stuck on your bayonet?  The worst is the blood in the barrel, 'cause then sarge really gets on your case for not cleaning your weapon?

Of course, the mythical truth of the blood groove and fuller is indeed to reduce the effort required to pull a weapon out of an enemy.  The 110 lb European broadsword was not good at cutting, so unlike the katana it needed a long blood groove because it would get stuck in people all the time.

As for the cutting ability of the katana, it is well knwon that in WWII that it was used against machine gun barrels all the time.  Japanese officers would run up to American machine gun and would hew with the katana and lop off the end of a machine gun.  The blade, unharmed by this effort, was then used against the Americans or against Sherman tanks.  So awesome was the blade that it was used to penetrate heavy armor of destroyers!  I heard a story once about how a Samurai in full armor rode out on his horse into the sea and cut open the side of a destroyer as it went by.  10 inches of steel went slice and the ship sunk in minutes!

Thats why the Japanese didn't have good tanks.  Because they knew a katana would cut right through it.  They should have realized that the Americans didn't use katanas!


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 06, 2004, 08:44:52 AM
Oh, oh, the pain...

Incidentally, I got to handle one of those machine gun barrels that katanas are claimed to have hewn asunder this past weekend.

I've seen a lot of impressive cutting on both sides of the big continent...

nobody's cutting through one of those barrels. Nobody.

jake


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on July 06, 2004, 09:29:58 AM
The thing about the ultimate nature of Pacific Theatre melee fights is that I've yet to hear a story of Americans who fell to the sword.  You hear about the gunning down of Japanese officers in the Banzai charge, or the picking up of katana by American soldiers, or the use of bayonets and entrenching tools by both sides.  But the katana in actual use in WWII?  Never heard of it, except the cutting of machine gun barrels.

So the obvious conclusion is that there were no survivors of katana attacks!  Any time one was used with proper kendo skill, it meant that the samurai (or Ninja) killed any possible Western witnesses!

I love conspiracy theory.  There is no freaking way you can disprove me, because the lack of evidence is my proof.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Dain on July 06, 2004, 10:24:27 AM
...and that mentality demonstrates in spades WHY we have myths and why they are so hard to kill. The only way to disprove these people is to ruin a blade trying to hack through an actual weapon in front of them...although I doubt even that would disprove it for them....they'd probably then claim that either the blade was an inferior one or tempered incorrectly or that the weapon was obviously hardened more than the rest of the original or that you obviously weren't a master and obviously delivered the blow incorrectly and/or at the wrong angle/force/etc,.... or any one of ten thousand other threads they could snatch at just to keep their belief alive.

No offense to Eamon intended. I'm sure he believes his statements to be accurate, and since I have no proof one way or the other on anything he said, he's absolutely correct in saying I can't prove him wrong...but, the whole "yep, blood groove really is to prevent getting stuck" claim (which overwhelmingly has been discounted in sources too numerous to list that I've come in contact with) kindof taints the other claim...in my humble opinion....but since I have no iron clad source to site on that one either, I'm kindof left fishing without bait.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Mike Holmes on July 06, 2004, 10:30:00 AM
Um, Dain, Eamon like others on this thread was being facetious. He was making precisely the point that you followed up with.

Mike


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Dain on July 06, 2004, 10:36:05 AM
Sorry...my bad...I didn't get that from his presentation...sounded like he was presenting fact, not sarcasm.

added edit:

Of course, everything I said does accurately describe the true myth propogaters. These people will claim anything to keep a myth alive...even if it means creating another myth.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Salamander on July 06, 2004, 10:42:09 AM
Quote from: Jake Norwood
Oh, oh, the pain...

Incidentally, I got to handle one of those machine gun barrels that katanas are claimed to have hewn asunder this past weekend.

I've seen a lot of impressive cutting on both sides of the big continent...

nobody's cutting through one of those barrels. Nobody.

jake


Well...

nobody who does not own a 500+ton sheer press of some sort. So Jake, where did you play with an M2B barrell? Get to fire the gun? Get to change the barrell?


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on July 06, 2004, 10:47:22 AM
Quote from: Dain
Sorry...my bad...I didn't get that from his presentation...sounded like he was presenting fact, not sarcasm.

added edit:

Of course, everything I said does accurately describe the true myth propogaters. These people will claim anything to keep a myth alive...even if it means creating another myth.


Wow.  I guess I'll take this as a compliment.  Since I am a ultra-liberal neo-conservative, I will now join the ranks of my heroes, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore.  Using my patented conspiracy techniques, I will now produce huge volumes of mass-media ready information and sell it on television as real martial history.  I shall call this television show:

Conquest starring Peter Woodward


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Jake Norwood on July 06, 2004, 01:05:33 PM
Quote
...Conquest starring Peter Woodward


Oh man... this thread is so against our own rules at this point. Oh well. It's fun.

Quote
So Jake, where did you play with an M2B barrell? Get to fire the gun? Get to change the barrell?


George Turner, an ARMA member, just brought the barrell, not the whole gun, to make a point. Point made!

Quote
The thing about the ultimate nature of Pacific Theatre melee fights is that I've yet to hear a story of Americans who fell to the sword. You hear about the gunning down of Japanese officers in the Banzai charge, or the picking up of katana by American soldiers, or the use of bayonets and entrenching tools by both sides. But the katana in actual use in WWII? Never heard of it, except the cutting of machine gun barrels.


I saw several in the D-Day Museum in Nawlins. (New Orleans). Including one that failed to cut through an LT's helmet right before the American shot him with a '45.

Jake


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Caz on July 06, 2004, 01:51:02 PM
Many, many allied soldiers were killed by japanese wielding swords in WWII, all of them POW's :(


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Eamon on July 06, 2004, 05:27:05 PM
Quote from: Caz
Many, many allied soldiers were killed by japanese wielding swords in WWII, all of them POW's :(


Ouch.  You win.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Drifter Bob on July 06, 2004, 06:33:21 PM
Quote from: Andrew Mure

the straight wrought iron sword endured despite a suppossibly 'superior' means of sword construction being available to their smiths.


Nice post generally, but 'wrought iron'?  I don't think too may Iron swords, wrought or forged. were made north of the equator after around 200 AD.  

And FYI, the European steel (yes, they used tempered steel) was often as good or better than the steel produced anywhere in the world.  Nor was laminated blade construction in any way new to the Europeans.  The unusual metalurgical characteristics of the arab swords had to do with some of them being made of wootz ("Damascus") steel imported from India.

DB


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Drifter Bob on July 06, 2004, 06:39:23 PM
Quote from: Paganini


The kind of swords Jake is talking about have a lot more weight - up to three or four pounds more, sometimes - and are much better at chopping through dense material (say, trees, frozen pumpkins) with that kind of momentum than katana's are.


Actually a lot of historical European swords, probably most of them, weigh between 2-3 pounds.  This includes many two handed weapons.  Kataanas weigh about the same.

DB


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Tash on July 06, 2004, 10:09:45 PM
I actually had a discussion regarding katanas with my uncle-in-law, who fought in WWII and saw one used in a single combat during the entire war (he was at most of the major actions in the pacific as he was in the signal corpse.  He shot footage of the first marines to hit the beach at both Iwo and Guadacanal).  He never saw one cut through a machine gun barrel, but he did see one cut part of the way into an M1 garand.

The way he told me the story a he and his squad were clearing a cave complex on some tiny island.  Several Japanese soldiers charged the squad, and the officer was wielding a Katana.  Because of the tight surroundings he got close enough to attack with melee weapons (he said it looked like they'd run out of ammo).

The Marine who was attacked with the katana attempted to block with his rifle.  The katana blade actually penetrated enough that it became stuck in the stock.  That's still pretty impressive.

Like most stories from WWII it ends with someone dying, in this case the Japanese soldier and his entire squad...

Quote from: Caz
Many, many allied soldiers were killed by japanese wielding swords in WWII, all of them POW's :(


A goodly number of civillians as well, especially in places like China and Burma where the Japanese viewed the native populace as something a bit lower than animal dung.  I read a book about the trial of one Japanese General for war crimes.  He was accused of forcing Burmese children to stand next to each other so he could see how many he could cut through with his sword in a single blow, witnesses at the trial testified that he would often kill several children at a time doing this.  

I don't know how true this was but the man was eventually exectued for ordering the killing of civillians in his theatre of operations.


Title: Sword myths, help me out
Post by: Caz on July 07, 2004, 01:18:00 AM
Iron is iron, and it's properties vary little due to nationality, just as the techniques required to form a functional blade vary little.
Steel is a man made carbon alloy of iron.
No sword blade was ever made of plain iron or wrought iron, though it was often a blades starting point.