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Author Topic: Sword myths, help me out  (Read 37316 times)
Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #30 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.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #31 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 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.
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Tobias
Member

Posts: 446


« Reply #32 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.
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Tobias op den Brouw

- DitV misses dead gods in Augurann
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Tash
Member

Posts: 284


« Reply #33 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.
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"And even triumph is bitter, when only the battle is counted..."  - Samael "Rebellion"
Tobias
Member

Posts: 446


« Reply #34 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).
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Tobias op den Brouw

- DitV misses dead gods in Augurann
- My GroupDesign .pdf.
Tash
Member

Posts: 284


« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2004, 01:42:47 AM »

Ah.  I hadn't noticed that when I watched the film
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"And even triumph is bitter, when only the battle is counted..."  - Samael "Rebellion"
Tom
Member

Posts: 26


WWW
« Reply #36 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.
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Tom
Member

Posts: 26


WWW
« Reply #37 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.
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tauman
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #38 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.
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Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #39 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.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
tauman
Member

Posts: 65


« Reply #40 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.
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Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2094

Blissed


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« Reply #41 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
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F. Scott Banks
Member

Posts: 200


« Reply #42 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 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.
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Ashren Va'Hale
Member

Posts: 427


« Reply #43 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.
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Philosophy: Take whatever is not nailed down, for the rest, well thats what movement is for!
Turin
Member

Posts: 105


« Reply #44 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.
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