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Ask me about swords.

Discussion in 'Research' started by Anders Ämting, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Night Gardener

    Night Gardener Inkling

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    Thank you VaporoVaporo very much for sharing that.
     
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  2. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Minstrel

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    If you are looking for a versatile sword, then a rapier is probably the way to go. They have the reputation of being a delicate fancy sword used by dainty fencing masters, but that is probably a product of Hollywood. A lot better of people get them confused with small swords. Rapiers are a lot more brutal than they are portrayed in movies.

    They are quite a large sword that can deliver plenty of force. They have excellent range and of course, they are fast. They can cut and thrust.

    A longsword could be a good pick as well, but they tended to be used by people who were wearing quite a bit of armour themselves.

    If a friend of mine told me they were going to have a sword fight tomorrow, and didn’t know what armour or type of sword their opponent would be packing, and asked me to recommend a sword to use, I would recommend a rapier.
     
  3. Did greatswords exist in medieval times? I'm talking about actual polearm greatswords, not two handed longswords.
     
  4. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    That sounds more like a transitional cut-thrust sword than what is typically considered a rapier which moves to a thrusting only weapon. A rapier is far from flimsy, a fabulous thrusting weapon, but it really isn’t a cutting blade. It ia more specialized than the longsword. Even sharpened, the thinner blades of the rapier tend not to be great cutters. Many rapiers have a diamond shaped blade in order keep their strength while providing the thrust. A rapier, simply put put, cannot be the devastating thrusting weapon it is while retaining the slicing ability of a heavier bladed sword. From my understanding , there was naturally the effort to develop such a perfect cut-thrust sword, but it really came down to one or other unless willing to sacrifice one or the other.

     
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  5. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Minstrel

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    I agree that a rapier is primarily a thrusting sword, but they can definitely cut too, particularly the earlier forms. It definitely isn’t up there like a katana or longsword, but it’s cutting ability is definitely underrated, probably due to being overshadowed by its exceptional thrusting.
     
  6. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    A polearm and a greatsword are two entirely different things.

    I have an article on this site about the greatsword at https://mythicscribes.com/miscellaneous/great-sword . They absolutely existed (hell, I have three of them right here in my office), but they are nothing like the ironing-board swords you see in anime and video games, if that's what you mean.
     
  7. On another source (one that I trust), someone said that a greatsword is so long and thin, and not fought with the same, that it was more of a polearm than a sword. I know that greatswords were no wide, and my question was not if they existed at all, but in fact if they existed in the middle ages,or if they only existed in the renaissance. Also, I know what a polearm is. Spears, lances, halberds, poleaxes, etc.
     
  8. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    They absolutely existed in the Middle Ages. The greatsword was a sword with 3-4' of blade anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3" wide, a two-handed handle (capable of being swung one-handed), and weighing 3-5 lbs. I have a reproduction of a greatsword from the Wallace Collection circa 1500 that has a 30" blade and a two-handed handle; it weighs nearly 5 lbs. because of the heavy guard furniture and massive pommel to counterbalance the short, thick blade. I also have two longer, fantasy-style greatswords with 36 and 40" blades.

    The greatsword was used in much the same way as a longsword, with a couple of exceptions. A greatsword (the Oakeshott Type XIIIa), had a spatulate tip and carried its balance in the strong end of the blade. So, unlike a longsword, it wasn't a stabbing weapon. Generally. The tip is sharp, but round. As I mention in my article, the greatsword isn't so much a sword as it is a demolition tool that happens to be sword-shaped. It could be used to maul people inside their armor, or break their armor until they couldn't fight anymore.

    The later Zwiehanders were completely different weapons with different schools of combat and completely different uses. 16th-Century greatsword combat looked like the video below, and used a much, much larger weapon than the earlier greatswords. Some of these later greatswords could be six feet long.

     
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  9. bob1thousand

    bob1thousand Minstrel

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    what type of weapon is Johnny Mo using in Kill bill?
     
  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I read a fantasy book a while ago that talked about swords taking the most skill of any weapon to learn. Is that true? Does the sword take more skill than an axe, mace, spear or bow? And if so how much does that skill pay off in a fight?
     
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  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Certainly not more than a 3 sectional staff.
     
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  12. Gray-Hand

    Gray-Hand Minstrel

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    Depends what you mean by ‘learn’.

    Swords are among the easiest weapons to use. They are a pretty damn intuitive weapon. You could pick one up for the first time and start killing enemies straight away. That’s why they are so popular.

    Proper mastery takes years - you could train every day for ten years and still have room to improve your skills. But that is true of any weapon.

    There have probably been more great swordsmen than great mace/axe/spearmen because the sword is such aN effective and flexible weapon and there are only so many hours in the day, and so many days in our lives, that it is the weapon that people choose to devote their time to mastering before any other.
     
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  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    My kneejerk reaction is to say no, it’s not true. And also, there are swords with different fighting styles. Much would depend on defining skill and what is being talked about. With a sword, you have little chance of hitting yourself (for a quick example) but to employ a 3-section staff or nunchaku (in particular two of the latter) the skill level to fight effectively moves up or you might knock yourself out of the fight, heh heh. Two sword fighting styles would be more complex/require more skill than single sword. That said, the sword is probably more skill oriented than a lot of other weapons. When you consider the skill of judging your opponent “in the bind” it adds another element of complexity, so...

    I think it’s a more complex question than it sounds. Rapier vs Greatsword. So many tracks to take.

     
  14. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    There's a rapier vs. greatsword fight in my second book. (y)
     
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  15. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    The issue is, there are several hundred different kinds of swords, and they all have different uses, different styles, different strengths and weaknesses.

    What takes so long to learn about swordsmanship isn't the simple act of swinging a sword. That part is pretty easy; it's 90% footwork, and 90% of the rest is just aim.

    What's tough to learn about swordsmanship is constructing a fight. Guards, lines of attack, feints, misdirection, anticipation, off-hand use, pointwork vs. edgeplay, grappling, striking, measure, distance, timing, body placement, tempo, and how to apply all this against the schools of swordsmanship and styles you're likely to encounter. And this is all different, for every sword. Every sword requires that you relearn, literally, all of this. (This is why it can't be taught to some ten-year-old kid over two weeks of travel. We're talking years upon years of practice and hard sparring until this all comes without thought.)

    Because of this, the sword was an intellectual's weapon, a professional's weapon. A thinking man's weapon. And, therefore, an elite weapon. There's a lot to put together to make a sword work in a manner that will keep you alive. You have to solve problems--and create them for your opponent--in the breadth of a thought. Once the fur is flying, you need to be able to link several complex bodies of knowledge together instantly, and make fewer mistakes doing it than your opponent. Usually the swordsman left standing is the swordsman who made one less miscalculation.

    So, the sword doesn't necessarily take more skill, but it tended to attract the kind of person who studied incessantly. Swordsmanship was a lifetime endeavor. Any idiot can swing an axe or a hammer. That's why they were rank and file weapons. Spears, while effective, are simple to teach and cheap, which is why the spear was the most common battlefield weapon. (There's something you don't see often: the orphaned farmboy learning to whip some serious ass with a spear during a two-week journey with his mentor. Completely believable, BTW.)

    Axe, mace, spear, bow--hell, yes, they're lethal, definitely. They'll kill you just as fast as a sword, but not as creatively. They are much, much faster to learn. There are only so many ways to attack someone with a spear; far fewer options with an axe (I've trained in combat tomahawk, a weapon that's hell on wheels in close quarters but still nothing like a bastardsword or heavy rapier for creativity); and really, like, two or three options with a mace. There is literally only one with a bow. And as I talked about many times in the Ask Me About Archery thread, a bow f***ing SUCKS in a fight. A bow and arrow is just about the stupidest weapon you could bring to a fight outside of a pair of nunchuks.
     
  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    I think I’d give the nod to rapier and main gauche, for the weapons I’ve handled. Halberd dueling would be interesting in full tin can mode, heh heh.

    But then, I have a soft spot for longswords and rapiers.
     
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  17. The length classifications of swords are as follows:
    one handed: Short Sword
    Arming Sword
    two handed: Bastard Sword (can be wielded one handed as well)
    Long Sword
    War Sword
    Great Sword
     
  18. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    This goes into terminology that not everyone is going to agree on. There were ridiculously long swords used against cavalry that could be called a “polearm”, but I wouldn’t call those greatswords, while others might. When I think greatsword, I’m thinking something meant to ablate the heaviest plate armors, to crush helms in on the head, just flat maul the enemy.

     
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  19. I would call what you're describing a war sword, but okay.
     
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  20. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    Sword terminology gets crazy, it gets a bit like discussing politics and religion. heh heh. Or long bow versus crossbow.

     
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