Male, Germanic Australian, early 20s, bespectacled, geek, guitarist
. That's just about all there is to me.
Debunking Sword Myths
Rebellious People's Graffiti Goes Here Maybe
- The way I hear it, medieval swords were really heavy.
- Not actually. A versatile two-handed sword is at its sweetest somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8kg, but some examples exist that are lighter than that. Some were as heavy as 3.5 kg, such as the heaviest examples of zweihander swords, but those are amazingly light for their length and mass.
- Wait, that would mean that swords couldn't cut through that heavy plate armour.
- Yeah, although they had other ways to solving the problem. Swordsmen would grip the middle of the blade with their off hand, turning the sword into a short spear. Or they would hold it entirely by the blade, upside-down, and use the pommel to transfer blunt force through.
- So why were these techniques forgotten? Japanese swordsmanship survived to this day, for instance.
- Well, for one thing, guns were introduced to Asia rather than developed there en mass. So guns didn't really phase out close combat weapons in the same way as in the Western hemisphere.
- In a round-about way, we still kinda do have the original teachings. Sport fencing, while pretty far removed from the arts of eras past, shares fundamentals and some advanced concepts with even Liechtenauer's art. For instance, you still attack as a defense, and you still try to strike in a way that closes of your adversary's avenue of attack while keeping yours open.
- Weren't European swords kinda poor?
- No, they were actually pretty badass. During the Crusades, European swords were prized amongst Saracen soldiers, for instance. Swordsmiths of the time packed a lot of resilience into reasonably light weapons, and this is what allows the European response method of strike-against-strike.
- Strike against strike?
- Using a strike to parry another strike. In most media, you'll see a lot more dedicated defense, where the defender tries to catch their adversary's strike at something like a 90 degree angle. In European swordsmanship, this isn't really done; you want to strike to defend yourself in such a way that you point can menace your adversary. So most "parries" are at 45 degrees or even less.
- But technique would've advanced over time, right? So modern sport fencing should be much more refined than its historical equivalents.
- A sensible supposition if sword forms and their purpose remained consistent, but this isn't the case. As guns began to replace close combat weapons during the Early Modern period, less emphasis was placed on close combat as a requirement for an effective soldier. As such, the decay of European swordsmanship can be thought to begin somewhere in the 1600s. Certainly there were still master swordsmen to equal their Medieval and Renaissance forebears, but with the emphasis on sword combat declining and sword forms losing versatility, there was an inevitable decline. By the 19th century, swordsmanship was almost a mockery of its former self, even though back swords and sabres were still used by the soldiery.
- As for modern sport fencing, it enforces its own limitations. For instance, the arena is narrow and disallows many circling techniques as a result, and certain weapons may only make certain strikes. For instance, a foil may only thrust, thereby removing all techniques related to cutting. In contrast, teachings from the Medieval, Renaissance and Early Modern eras emphasise cuts, thrusts and draw cuts with all types of swords.
- What's the best form of swordsmanship, then?
- In short, there is no singular "best", although there's arguably tiers of effectiveness. For instance, the late medieval European systems are more advanced in many ways than the Early Modern European systems, thanks in part to the versatile longsword. On the other hand, the versatility and advancement of a system cannot replace pure skill, and the most important skills are always the most basic — it's often the swordsman with greater control, fluidity, judgement and knowledge that wins, rather than the one with the greatest repertoire of techniques.
- I was actually asking about how the Asian systems stack up against the European ones.
- I dunno, man. They all kick a lot of arse. I personally like the Liechtenauer tradition of Germany the best, but that's not an objective measure by any stretch. The best system of swordsmanship is probably the one the practitioner has the most personal investment in. So in my hands, the Liechtenauer tradition is the most powerful of all; in the hands of someone more endeared to Chinese Xing, that style would be superior. It's useless to search for a "best" style — instead, look for a good style. A good style, trained in and studied hard, will always be a "best" style in the hands of a passionate and committed practitioner.
- A first vandalism, from a fellow Alex - As The Anointed
- Shouldn't you be Older than They Look instead of younger? - WUE
- Man, what a brain fart. x_X
- Hey, a fellow Aussie! - Korgmeister
- A brofist from one Hellsing fan to another! *brofist* - KSPAM
- The faeries made me do it. - an Australian faerie
- *sword salute* - G.
- En garde, swordsman! I bow to your superior knowledge and understanding of Oakeshott implements. (bows) — Sabre's Edge
- Another props for the Hellsing av.
- Thanks, but who are you, Mystery Troper? ._. (inb4 "Batman")
- Sorry Sandornote
- Wait, weird question, but way back when did you post on the VG cats forums? - Sandor (I found this out later)
- ... now that's a blast from the past. To whom do I speak? - Madass Alex
- ... Sandor. That name. Familiar. - Madass Alex again
- Damn, thought I recognised the name. Yeah posted there as Sandor as well. That takes me back, must have stopped posting there a good four or five years ago. How are the old furries and nerds holding up? - Sandor
- No idea. For my part, I haven't posted there on a regular basis for perhaps two, three years. Last I heard, the forum officially died and the remaining members banded together and made a new one externally. So I guess the answer is "It's all down the shitter". Can't say I'm honestly surprised, though. VGC was fun, but it didn't really allow itself to grow. - Madass Alex
- *hand on hilt* En garde. —Blackmoon
- Pfft, I wouldn't dream of killing an artist such as yourself! *pommel strike K.O*
- Greetings, fellow swordsman [~bows~] -Tomoe Michieru
- Your knight avatar actually inspired me to make the story to an RPG. I'm not sure the RPG will ever be finished, but at least I have a cool storynote . - Aryn
- So uh... swords! - kay4today