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True Sword Fighting

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ankari, Sep 12, 2013.

  1. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

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    I found this video about real sword fighting from the Viking era. I thought it was interesting and useful.

    [video=youtube_share;xFiIDl_mt2c]http://youtu.be/xFiIDl_mt2c[/video]
     
  2. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Except that what he's saying about keeping your sword in front of your shield is a good way to go through life with the nickname "Lefty." Especially with a Viking- or Migration-era Type X sword. Yow.

    I personally believe that with a Type X -- which has no quillon or handguard -- the hand should be kept behind the shield always, less you risk losing everything below the transverse distal arch.

    There's a school of thought, most recently endorsed by Roland Hammerborg, that the center-grip roundshield was used in concert with the Viking-era Type X sword sort of the way a pitcher uses his glove to hide the ball until it's released. This seems more plausible to me.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I don't know about its accuracy and I know even less about different Viking swords but I like the messy style they show. Much closer to a street fight that a boxing match/dance you sometime see in films.
    I could guess the method of fighting would change depending on what type of fight you were in.
    One on One I can see the open style like the video suggests where you can move around but if Many on Many then I guess things would be a lot more defensive with each fighter helping keep those beside him covered. You wouldn't want to turn your back on too many people with the swords swinging...
     
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    We apply a lot of that in our lessons, too. While we fight with rapiers, I'm learning "sword fighting" rather than "fencing" because the latter has a forward backward, connotation associated with Olympic fencing. We learn a lot of the geometry of combat. Thanks for sharing.
     
  5. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Agreed. I always thought right-of-way was ridiculous.
     
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I wonder how much of that would still be preferred if you were fighting someone who didn't have a shield, or if they had a weapon other than an ax. I bring it up because sometimes you train with your fellow soldiers, against people armed similarly to yourself, like in the video, and may not be prepared for your actual enemy. It'd be cool to know how that would actually play out in a fight.
     
  7. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    For one thing, I take issue with the "as it really was" line. There are no historical sources that say exactly what Viking fighting methods were, so we can't say for certain how they did it. Suiting up and fighting it out can tell you how they may have done it, but that doesn't automatically tell you how they did it. A few things I found notably absent were offensive use of the shield and shots to the leg. The problem with trying to go around the shield as the video showed is that the opponent simply has to shift position of his shield or body. A solid blow can stun or stagger the opponent and you then lay into him with your sword. Or hook your shield behind his and haul it aside. The sagas mention leg cuts fairly often. Skeletal remains from the battle of Wisby also show lots of hits to the leg. This makes sense when you see where their armor stopped.

    There are many kinds of fencing. The basis for the word comes from offense and defense. So there's fencing with two handed sword, one hander, etc. Olympic fencing is sport fencing and totally artificial, almost completely divorced from actual fighting
     
  8. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Technologically there was no difference between the Vikings and their opponents.
     
  9. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    Here's a cool video I saw on swordfighting. I was fascinated by how fast these fights went down, and how quickly a "mistake" can be taken advantage of. Also the use of all parts of the weapon is a cool thing to see in a media-centric view of swordplay that most of us are use to.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
  10. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    I wondered about this as well. Those tender, mailless legs just waiting to be hacked...
     
  11. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    I think the three major points of attack during sword combat were neck, groin, and thighs due to major arteries and the fact that these areas were not usually armored heavily.
     
  12. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    The major points of attack in sword combat are anything you can get.

    You don't pick your targets; your opponent picks them for you through his mistakes.
     
  13. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    No doubt, but wouldn't you agree that these areas, considering manuals at the time, were prime targets? From what I've read that was the agreement. Breastplates were common, were groin, armpit, and neck armors were considerably less common for most 'warriors'.
     
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  14. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Most definitely. It's the old adage about how no plan survives contact with the enemy. It's more a matter of being aware that those areas are the most lethal, and then capitalizing on a bonehead move by your opponent so that you can hit him someplace that counts.
     
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  15. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    Depends on the time period and region. No one has yet discovered a fight manual from the Viking period. When plate armor was developed, armpits were still protected with mail. The is no way to cover the inner armpit with rigid armor (at least, not if you want to be able to move your arm). A piece called a basegew, essentially a steel saucer, was sometimes used to provide some armpit protection by dangling in front of the shoulder. There was groin armor, but knights usually didn't have it simply due to riding on horses - try to imagine wearing an athletic cup and sitting in a saddle. Neck armor, called a gorget, was also common for plate. There was also a mail hood called a coif that covered the head and neck. In the Viking era, shields were usually good for protecting the neck and groin and mail was usually long enough to protect the thighs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
  16. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    I agree a gorget was common in Knights, but groin and armpit armor? Not so much. Not because the realism wasn't expecteded in armorers, but that these areas were considerably diffifult to armor. No matter what, there will always be the argument between arms ann armor, and if you look hisorically, armor is the runner up. People are smart, if you task someone with killing another enough, they will figure out the best way to do so. As I see it, there is no vicotor in combat, only the most ruthless. If you have to kill to survive, you're damn sure to learn to kill efficientlly.
     
  17. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    As for hitting the legs: to reach them you have to lean down a bit, or commit your weapon to a lower arc-- somewhat riskier moves. (Less so the longer your weapon is, though.) But of course that's all filtered through how options have change in a given second:

     
  18. Nihal

    Nihal Vala

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    Unless you're short, isn't it?
     
  19. Malik

    Malik Auror

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    Never lean over. Ever. You flex your knees if you want elevation. The back stays straight. If you slip a disc in 40-50 lbs. of armor, you're boned. (No one ever slips a disc in fantasy combat. Why is that?)

    You can hit a leg fairly low with a high hanging guard out of, say, tierce or sixte. You get the sword moving in a teardrop or even a horizontal arc, and then drop your thumb and turn your hand over. The blade strikes the back of the leg with the forward (thumb) edge and your elbow never dips. It's super effective if you do it while stepping back out of range. You're moving back, and you strike him from behind.

    You can also lower the risks of committing to an attack below the plane of the hips by using your shield to obscure your opponent's vision -- or by smashing him in the visor with the crown of your helmet so that he can't see anything but hot purple gummy worms for a few seconds.
     
  20. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    As you noted, with a weapon significantly longer than your opponent's it works. Also, if you can tie up your opponents weapon, you can go for his leg. For example, if you manage to grab your opponent's wrist, you can then cut at his leg. Same if you catch his weapon on your shield. Based on the leg wounds shown on the skeletons from the battle of Wisby (one of whom seems to have had both of his legs removed with a single sroke), I speculate that what happened a lot was that the assailant swung his sword down at his opponent, coming from over his right shoulder. The defender received the blow on his shield while cocking his sword arm back and to his left and under his shield.This placed him in a position to execute a backhanded cut at the assailant's forward leg either while receiving his assailant's blow or immediately following it. Based on skeletal remains and accounts given in the sagas, cuts to the leg were fairly common when the fighters were using swords and shields.
     
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