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Old September 9th, 2005 #1
ngrh8r
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Default Bladed Weapons - Cutting vs. Thrusting

I used "bladed weapons" rather than "swords" in the title, since this debate
can extend to knives/daggers, and to a limited degree, even polearms.

I've always found the sword to be the most beautiful and elegant of weapons. A tremendous amount of focus and concentration is required just to wield one without danger to oneself. After all, even a novice can pick up a weapon like the quarterstaff(rokushakubo) or nunchuku without suffering more than some nasty bumps and bruises. I've seen a friend lose most of a thumb trying to imitate Iaijutsu, which he said was "easy".

We know that thrusting and cutting(slashing) both have their pros and cons, but does one method have a distinct advantage over the other? Lets look at some of the facts:
 
Old September 9th, 2005 #2
ngrh8r
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Thrusting Techniques:
Pros
1)better cance of a first-strike kill; a deeper wound causes more damage
2)effective against heavy armor; even the strongest plate has gaps
3)quicker(usually); no "wind-up" required
4)requires less space; a real advantage indoors

Cons
1)less versatile; linear strikes all follow the same path of attack
2)easily deflected; a thust can be parried with less force and less chance of blade damage
3)slower recovery; the arm must be retracted after a thrust, whereas a missed cut can return from a different angle for a 2nd attack
4)a successful attack may leave you briefly stuck; certainly not good when facing multiple opponents
 
Old September 10th, 2005 #3
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_____
Before I start, here's a few things that struck me (har har) reading this.

Your 'pros' are all right enough, but I wanted to comment on your 'cons' list.

1: This is why footwork is doubly, hell, quadruply important with duelling weapons: when you thrust at someone, you can only really do it from the 90 degrees in front in them. I would say that this is also why footwork is so, so important in boxing, as well.

2: Thrusts are a lot harder to block or redirect than slashes (assuming that you are using a suitable weapon, i.e.: not trying to block a sweeping blow of a claymore with a rapier).

3: A thrust is actually (at least in potential) a lot, lot quicker than a slash, and has a lot quicker recovery time to get back in guard: it travels less distance and it's a much more efficient motion.

4: This is why you have to never thrust so far that your elbow is completely straight and locked. Not to mention, doing so tires your arm out in no time.
_____

Now, reading this, you might think that my view is that stabbing weapons are just... better, in most respects, than slashing weapons.

And that would be absolutely true, if not for one vital aspect of a slashing weapon: you can engage multiple opponents with a slash, whereas it's in the nature of a good thrust that it's intended to dispatch ONE person at a time.

As far as that goes, you can see how this would work with the prototypical Romans versus Northern 'Barbarians' situation: the Romans would almost always have an advantage in logistics and therefore in troop concentrations possible, so they found the thrusting weapon, whether the pilum or the gladius, to suit their armies best.

Whereas the tribe in question would generally be at a numerical disadvantage, and so would be more likely to employ thrusting weapons in a first charge on Roman formations, then to plunge into the Roman ranks and set to with swords or axes (or whatever else).

That's also why thrusting weapons became supreme when swordsmanship for practical matters, being eclipsed in warfare by gunnery, became mostly a matter of settling one-on-one disputes.
 
Old September 10th, 2005 #4
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Well, it's an ages old and world-wide argument. What sucks is that weapon stylists rarely have an opportunity to face other styles, ie; Kendo dojos don't compare and compete with European fencers. I think a Katana-style hilt and blade shape should be allowed in saber fencing. Too bad you live in Australia, otherwise we could brake out some wooden wasters and "debate". Oh well.
 
Old September 11th, 2005 #5
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Yeah. Well, that's too bad for me, ha ha. (says I with my forearms covered in yellow and green bruises )

BTW, I realise that regarding all swords as being 'slashing' or 'stabbing' weapons only, is to distort reality a little. But in actual fact, no sword that is made primarily for slashing will ever be as effective at stabbing*, as a sword that is made for primarily for stabbing. And vice versa#.

*: Like any sort of Western-style straight two handed sword with a point on it, like a claymore or a German zwei-hander.

#: Like an old-school rapier.
 
Old September 11th, 2005 #6
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On the other hand, think what a thrust with a greatsword could do to a nigger.
I hear ya on the bruises, though. Lately I've been using these big-ass Lacrosse-type gloves and rattan wasters. Marginally safer, anyway. I hate going against newbies, since they think every blow has to be a haymaker designed to remove your head. What really pisses me off is how many guys brag about their swordsmanship, but are unwilling to prove it. I'm just talking about a friendly match, I'm not looking to split open anyones skull. The other day I respectfully challenged a Kendoka who just finished bragging about holding several local awards. He flat out refused, even when I offered to let him wear his bogu(spp?) and use bamboo shinai. WTF?
Anyhow, I certainly hope everyone at least agrees with my opinion that even the worst styles of European swordplay are infinitely better than anything a dirty yellow slope ever came up with.
 
Old September 11th, 2005 #7
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For one thing slashing weapons are superior when mounted on a horse.
 
Old September 12th, 2005 #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.P. Slovjanski
For one thing slashing weapons are superior when mounted on a horse.
Kind of an understatement. Except for lances, a thrusting sword would be useless unless you were standing still. Piercing someone at even a trot would be enough to tear the blade from your hand.
 
Old September 14th, 2005 #9
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I dunno. I've sparred with a few iado people and they're all pretty polished. It's a different style, different equipment.
 
Old September 14th, 2005 #10
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Quote:
Well, it's an ages old and world-wide argument. What sucks is that weapon stylists rarely have an opportunity to face other styles, ie; Kendo dojos don't compare and compete with European fencers.
Best thing to come out of this thread IMO. We need to see these comparisons. No holds barred, like UFC. Cut(or stab heh) through the bullshit. Culture vs culture.

I don't know a goku from a numbchuck but everything I've witnessed and read points to the point, not the edge. Stab is better than cut. Cutting and chopping is for everyday life. Stabbing is for emergencies like defending a life and/or taking one. It's the next level up, so obvious, but non-whites seem to have trouble grasping it. It's a good analogy when you think about it. There was arguments about this stuff in another thread and I put up pics of different weapons from different cultures. Non-whites figured out(or were anciently shown) spears but when it came to everyday small arms, they show their deviance and make everything curvy. It's like they're trying to avoid something.

Old norse showed a weakness for lesser weapons too. Axes look neat but they aren't as practical as something you can stab with. Something about nordic psychology. They loved their hammers too much hahah so they beat them out and sharpened them. Being physically larger than their sword-wielding enemies let them get away with it for a while so the habit died hard.

Shortest distance between two points, guys. It's not rocket science.
 
Old September 14th, 2005 #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by einzelwesen
I dunno. I've sparred with a few iado people and they're all pretty polished. It's a different style, different equipment.
Just wondering, what kind of gear were did you guys use, bokkens? I know you Aussies are some roughneck types, but most of the Iaido crowd I've met strays away from sparring, except for pre-arranged routines. Don't get me wrong, though... Iaido/Iaijutsu definitely has some useful techniques to offer.
I mangled my left hand in a factory incident last September, and since Thai boxing and grappling was out of the question, I took up the Japanese sword.
 
Old September 15th, 2005 #12
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Nah, bamboo shinai. This was a few years ago, though.

I'm well acquainted to sparring without protection with (unsharpened) metal/wooden weapons, but that's with only a few of my friends and that's by common consent.

It's probably not the best idea, but we're all fine so far, because we agree that we're not trying to hurt each other, but trying to improve our respective reflexes, timings, and techniques.

In the SCA, rattan weapons are used for 'heavy' combat and fibreglass/metal weapons used for 'light' combat, but they also use appropriate armour unless they're training, in which case one uses no protection, or little protection in the case of light combat, and simply goes slow so as to not hurt one's opponent.
 
Old September 15th, 2005 #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngrh8r
...Anyhow, I certainly hope everyone at least agrees with my opinion that even the worst styles of European swordplay are infinitely better than anything a dirty yellow slope ever came up with.
I'm not an expert on this area of martial arts but no, I would not agree with that statement. That's an over-correction to the misperception that there is no western martial art tradition, when in fact there is from wrestling, boxing, fencing, and shooting, all the way back to pankrase. There are western and eastern martial art traditions, just like there were western warrior castes and aristocracy, and eastern warrior castes and aristocracy. Reflections of a deeper Tradition that is transcendent of national origin. That deeper tradition does not negate national origin ethnicity or race, but finds fullfillment through it.
 
Old September 15th, 2005 #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Border Ruffian
... Stab is better than cut....Shortest distance between two points, guys. It's not rocket science.
well said.

faced with a million men of the multiculti persian polyglot empire, with tons of different goofy national specialties and weapons, the Greek hoplites armed with spears from Leonidas to Alexander mowed them down like grass. The Romans vanquished the Greeks but only through superior discipline, organization, and tactical flexibility especially controlling person to person engagement distance against the ossified phalanx, not by slashing.

btw the Spartans had a short sword, really just a long heavy dagger, called the xiphoi as I recall.. wonder if that had anything to do with the naming of the xiphoid process, a small but sharp bone structure in the solar plexus that when depressed can puncture vital organs...
 
Old September 15th, 2005 #15
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You'll note what I said about thrusting weapons being most useful to large and well-disciplined troop formations, where they are backed up by troops using other types of weapons.

The Italian condottieri got around this limitation by all carrying a range of weapons, so they could arm themselves as their numbers and their situation suited best.

The Romans pinched a lot in the way of military strategy from Philip of Macedon and his son Alexander. That's why the Romans kicked arse all over the known world; they had better logistics than anyone, and they learned from everyone they came into contact with (if only to better slaughter them).
 
Old September 16th, 2005 #16
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Einzelwesen, I'm hoping to join a local SCA chapter next week, and I was wondering if you could recommend a cheap rapier-type blade for combat. From what I understand, we are allowed to use foil, epee and schlager blades. I'm leaning towards a schlager, but I obviously don't know that much about thrust swords. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated, since I can tell you aren't just running your mouth about swords. Thanks.
 
Old September 17th, 2005 #17
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I would begin in SCA light combat 'single swording'- that is, only using one long blade to begin with, and nothing in your off-hand. Then, when you get proficient enough to hold your own and to feel competent doing so, you can start to complicate things with a dagger/buckler/cloak/whatever.

Before you go out and invest in a schlager (which probably is your best option to begin with, as SCA light combat swords have to have a certain amount of 'bend' to be 'legal'), it's a good idea to make a fibreglass sword to practice with.

Usually, though, the local group will have sufficient swords and such for people to practice with. So I would not worry about being equipped when you show up for the first time.

There's 'recipes' aplenty on the Internet, or alternatively, someone in your local group is sure to be able to show/tell you how to make one.

The first consideration in SCA combat is safety. It might be slightly different in your kingdom, but to practice light combat over here you need to be wearing 4 layers of clothing, and a gorget with a leather bib to protect the Adam's Apple. Also, any weapons you use have to be 'capped' with several layers of tape, and shouldn't be too pointed to begin with. For tourneys, gloves are also required.

But like I say, the rules may be different in your kingdom, so check with the Marshal of the local group on what you'll need exactly.
 
Old September 17th, 2005 #18
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Best knife fighting lesson I ever recieved-
book called "Put 'em Down,Take 'em Out!" written by Don Pentecost.No fancy shit Knife and shank fighting,straight outta Folsom Prison.Your fights in prison are timed by the guards response time,lol.Gotta end it quik,no time fer pretty!Yeeha!Gimme Dat Blood! :cheers:
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Old September 17th, 2005 #19
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Yeah, I was planning to start with single-swording. Although I'm quite good in
Nito-Ryu(Jap. two-sword syle), I have to recognise that the movements will be pretty unfamiliar with a rapier. For some reason, my local SCA chapter doesn't allow fibreglass blades for combat, though our choice of armor is quite lenient. To avoid taping the shit out of my blade, I was planning to purchase one with a flat tip. Any idea if Hanwei Forge(Paul Chen) makes good steel-to-steel blades? I have a couple katanas and a bastard sword from them, and for the most part, the quality is superb. Even the temper lines are beautiful, though the katana fittings were a little sub-par. Strangely enough, I find the bastard sword more efficient for tameshigiri(bamboo cutting). Will any SCA chapters allow saber-type blades?
 
Old September 17th, 2005 #20
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For light combat? Hell no- because sabres don't bend when you stab someone with them. And rattan is the SCA standard material for blades for 'heavy' combat (ie: dismounted knight stuff)- steel, live or otherwise, is NOT used precisely so you can go hard in list combat, and not kill or maim anyone.

(Of course, if you don't like this, you can simply practice with steel outside of the SCA, and use SCA combat as a good) opportunity to properly test your ideas without hurting anyone.

Also, a sword's tip needs to be taped regardless of whether it's pointed or flat- if it's too pointed, it won't be legal even if you tape it up. The rules vary from kingdom to kingdom, but I believe this one to be pretty stock-standard. But, as always, your local Marshal is the final authority on the matter.

I know very little about Japanese blades. Well, I know a little, but not much. For example, apparently, the best indication of a really good Japanese sword is a straight and consistent 'nie' (the misty temper-line); if it has 'nie', it will cut properly, even if it is relatively unadorned.

I heard a good story along these lines. Back in the day, there was a blacksmith named Kotetsu (which, not coincidentally, is also the name of one of Japan's biggest ya-ku-za organisations- well, Ai Kotetsu...), who gave up gun-and-armour smithing at a relatively advanced age, in favour of making swords. His swords, while not being particularly adorned or 'flash', quickly became renowned for having a quite amazing amount of cutting power. A samurai of the day commissioned a blade from Kotetsu for the price of 100 gold pieces, and after a year, it was finished and he went to pick it up. It was nicely balanced, as he expected, but somehow... it just wasn't fancy enough, well-made-enough, to warrant the price- and unwisely, he said so. Without saying anything, Kotetsu strode outside and cut a corner off one of the large stone lanterns which lined the path leading to his door. "I'm sorry, I humbly apologise!", the samurai exclaimed. "Here is the 100 gold pieces, and I shall be honoured to bear such a masterpiece!!!" "I'm sorry", said Kotetsu, "but this sword is now priced at 200 gold pieces."

Pale Horse, I'll be sure to check that book out if I can find a copy. Thanks!
 
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