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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jul, 2007 8:33 pm    Post subject: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Are there any historical or traditional swordsmanship styles that actually employ the sword in an underhand/icepick grip? I'm highly skeptical about the use of this grip with a weapon long enough to qualify as a sword because I don't feel it gives adequate reach or control, but I'm reluctant to give a negative verdict since there might just be a style or two that employs the weapon in this way. Of course, I'm also eager to hear the style's (if any exists) opinion about what advantages the grip has that might offset its lack of reach and point control.
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Shane Allee
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jul, 2007 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some people have written that the Irish might have been doing it that way in the early iron age. For the most part these swords would have just been dagger length or slightly longer. At this time most of their focus seemed to be on spears and swords might well have just been for duels, final killing blows, executions, and that type of thing. I'll have to look and see if I still have that article or not.

Shane
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jul, 2007 9:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Are there any historical or traditional swordsmanship styles that actually employ the sword in an underhand/icepick grip? I'm highly skeptical about the use of this grip with a weapon long enough to qualify as a sword because I don't feel it gives adequate reach or control, but I'm reluctant to give a negative verdict since there might just be a style or two that employs the weapon in this way. Of course, I'm also eager to hear the style's (if any exists) opinion about what advantages the grip has that might offset its lack of reach and point control.


At a display by James Williams, he transitioned one hand onto this grip for a very small number of techniques, but the other hand is still up, and it's only for specific techniques. It certainly wasn't a primary position.

Of course, he may pop up and tell me I'm blind, but I beleive that's what I saw.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 04 Jul, 2007 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Are there any historical or traditional swordsmanship styles that actually employ the sword in an underhand/icepick grip? I'm highly skeptical about the use of this grip with a weapon long enough to qualify as a sword because I don't feel it gives adequate reach or control, but I'm reluctant to give a negative verdict since there might just be a style or two that employs the weapon in this way. Of course, I'm also eager to hear the style's (if any exists) opinion about what advantages the grip has that might offset its lack of reach and point control.


I'm not aware of any fighting arts that use this grip. Mechanically, it doesn't make sense to use a sword in this manner. It really adds nothing to switch your grip around into the ice pick form, and your thrust will actually be weaker from this position, and it will be easier for your foe to knock your weapon free from your hand or otherwise disarm you. This will really become apparent if you try using a sword in this manner when sparring people with intensity and realistic speed; it's a recipe for disaster. The exception to this rule might be shorter swords that are about the same length as a long dagger.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Jul, 2007 7:08 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Are there any historical or traditional swordsmanship styles that actually employ the sword in an underhand/icepick grip? I'm highly skeptical about the use of this grip with a weapon long enough to qualify as a sword because I don't feel it gives adequate reach or control, but I'm reluctant to give a negative verdict since there might just be a style or two that employs the weapon in this way. Of course, I'm also eager to hear the style's (if any exists) opinion about what advantages the grip has that might offset its lack of reach and point control.


I'm not aware of any fighting arts that use this grip. Mechanically, it doesn't make sense to use a sword in this manner. It really adds nothing to switch your grip around into the ice pick form, and your thrust will actually be weaker from this position, and it will be easier for your foe to knock your weapon free from your hand or otherwise disarm you. This will really become apparent if you try using a sword in this manner when sparring people with intensity and realistic speed; it's a recipe for disaster. The exception to this rule might be shorter swords that are about the same length as a long dagger.


Maybe with some Japanese sword techniques with the tanto or wakizashi but more as a draw cut with the blade held along the forearm going forward with a stab being possible on the return stroke in an icepick grip by cocking the wrist.

Close quarter stuff if I'm even right about it and I may just remember this from some " Samurai " movies, so I could be wrong here and I don't have a credible source to quote.

With european weapons anything longer than a 15" to 18 " dagger would seem impractical except in very special or rare cases I don't know about.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Jul, 2007 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shane Allee wrote:
I'll have to look and see if I still have that article or not.


Please do! *pleading grin* Big Grin


George Hill wrote:
At a display by James Williams, he transitioned one hand onto this grip for a very small number of techniques, but the other hand is still up, and it's only for specific techniques. It certainly wasn't a primary position.

Of course, he may pop up and tell me I'm blind, but I beleive that's what I saw.


Hm...interesting. Is he a member of this forum? If so, I might poke him a bit for an answer...


Craig Peters wrote:
This will really become apparent if you try using a sword in this manner when sparring people with intensity and realistic speed; it's a recipe for disaster.


That's also what I found; my sparring partner wanted to try out that kind of grip in a three-quarters speed bout of free-play, and I kept hitting him again and again and again without taking a single hit in return because he simply couldn't reach me with that grip. The only "advantage" i noticed is that it's very hard to hit the wrist of a person employing that grip, but that's not a significant issue when it leaves the rest of the body wide open to somebody wielding the sword in a more conventional grip.


Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Maybe with some Japanese sword techniques with the tanto or wakizashi but more as a draw cut with the blade held along the forearm going forward with a stab being possible on the return stroke in an icepick grip by cocking the wrist.


Well, that's part of the problem. Disregarding movies at the moment, I've never actually seen pictures, videos, or live demonstrations of the daito (katana) or shoto (wakizashi) being wielded in the icepick grip, and I'm trying to confirm whether this is indeed true in general terms or just a result of me not being dilligent enough in my search. There are plenty of tanto techniques that use the icepick grip but I'm not surprised at all since those techniques are highly similar to European knife/dagger techniques and the tanto itself is way too short to be really called a sword.
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Wed 04 Jul, 2007 11:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:


George Hill wrote:
At a display by James Williams, he transitioned one hand onto this grip for a very small number of techniques, but the other hand is still up, and it's only for specific techniques. It certainly wasn't a primary position.

Of course, he may pop up and tell me I'm blind, but I beleive that's what I saw.


Hm...interesting. Is he a member of this forum? If so, I might poke him a bit for an answer...
.


Yes he is, though he posts very rarely. As I remember, it was for a thrust behind, and perhaps for a blow with the back of the blade balanced against the body.... But again, he may tell you I'm blind, as I only saw it for a short time, and the Japanese styles are not one of my areas of study.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jul, 2007 3:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Well, that's part of the problem. Disregarding movies at the moment, I've never actually seen pictures, videos, or live demonstrations of the daito (katana) or shoto (wakizashi) being wielded in the icepick grip, and I'm trying to confirm whether this is indeed true in general terms or just a result of me not being dilligent enough in my search. There are plenty of tanto techniques that use the icepick grip but I'm not surprised at all since those techniques are highly similar to European knife/dagger techniques and the tanto itself is way too short to be really called a sword.


I don't have pictures or videos to show, but I know of at least one iai kata in Katori Shinto Ryu where the reverse grip is used to draw the sword (and possibly redirecting an attacking blade with the back of the blade), then arming for the counter over the head. From there I've heard of two possible follow-ups: revert back to the classical grip then strike, or strike directly with the reverse grip (in a cutting motion). It mainly depends on the distance and position of your adversary. I was taught that the "conventional" way is to revert to the classical grip, however. This kata deals with an adversary trying to grab your sword when it is sheathed, and this is what imposes the special grip.

The reverse grip is also used for sheathing the sword. But by then the fight is normally over Wink It's possible that the grip is used in other katas, but I have not seen it yet (but then I'm only 1 Dan, quite far from expert Wink ).

I'm fairly sure other schools of iaido - iai-jitsu use the reverse grip at times, possibly even drawing the sword with the left hand in the icepick grip. But this is limited to drawing the sword and make the first strike. Once the sword is drawn, when the surprise is gone, the grip is of limited usefulness. Its only advantage is the surprising angle and distance you can use.

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Jeff Ross




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PostPosted: Thu 05 Jul, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Are there any historical or traditional swordsmanship styles that actually employ the sword in an underhand/icepick grip? I'm highly skeptical about the use of this grip with a weapon long enough to qualify as a sword because I don't feel it gives adequate reach or control, but I'm reluctant to give a negative verdict since there might just be a style or two that employs the weapon in this way. Of course, I'm also eager to hear the style's (if any exists) opinion about what advantages the grip has that might offset its lack of reach and point control.


It somewhat depends upon what you mean by "swordsmanship style". While I am unaware of any system that would primarily use an "icepick" grip, there certainly are a few surviving images showing just such a grip with longsword. Jakob Sutor, early 17th century comes to mind. He clearly shows this type grip in at least 2 plates with longsword (pages 15 and 16). To be fair, a few of the Sutor images have ambiguous hand positions, but these two, at least, seem quite clear. But, these are not typical of the mainstream of german longsword as it has survived in the written record, and I would not claim them to constitute a "style of swordsmanship". However, if one looks through enough of the old manuscripts it is possible to come across many instances of "outlier" techniques, things that appear infrequently in only one or a few sources. I would see this grip example with longsword as an oddity. If it offers any practical advantage in combat, it is not obvious.

Regards,

Jeff
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jul, 2007 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting. I've just checked with an iaidoka friend, and found that it is indeed true as far as notto goes--though her style (Muso Shinden Ryu) doesn't use this grip in the draw or the kata per se. We're still going to check with somebody she knows from TSKSR. And I'm off right now to look at Sutor's plates wherever I can find them...
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jul, 2007 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The TSKSR kata I'm talking of can be seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6FYoGCvBo (at 1:50)
or here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVBox1dnEd4 (at 4:20)

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Nicholas Zeman





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PostPosted: Fri 06 Jul, 2007 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a standard grip, there is no JSA or WMA that I have ever seen, been exposed to, or even heard of that makes use of the icepick grip in normal sword use. There are some specific kata in some JSA, mostly in backward thrusts and specialized iai techniques that make some use of the reverse grip with a single hand.

If you are talking about the Conan reverse grip twirl, this is actually a specific kata as adapted for screen use by Yamazaki sensei (who was also the asian trainer for the pit fighters in the movie). It is really not a very good way to use a sword, however, and although there are depictions of Western battles where the knights or soldiers have the sword in the reverse grip, it seems that most of these illustrate them stabbing overhand like a dagger from horseback or possibly to get around shield and other defenses. Nobody has seen a clear description in ANY manuscript of an overhand grip technique.

As for the dagger, well it seemed to be 50-50 as to the overhand vs underhand in the High Middle Ages, while as we head into the Renaissance the underhand grip on the dagger is much more common.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jul, 2007 3:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
The TSKSR kata I'm talking of can be seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6FYoGCvBo (at 1:50)
or here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVBox1dnEd4 (at 4:20)


All right. I'm saving those links for later viewing.

Nicholas Zeman wrote:
although there are depictions of Western battles where the knights or soldiers have the sword in the reverse grip.


You mean depictions in medieval art? I'd certainly be interested to know where I might find them.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sat 07 Jul, 2007 5:33 am    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Jeff Ross wrote:

It somewhat depends upon what you mean by "swordsmanship style". While I am unaware of any system that would primarily use an "icepick" grip, there certainly are a few surviving images showing just such a grip with longsword. Jakob Sutor, early 17th century comes to mind. He clearly shows this type grip in at least 2 plates with longsword (pages 15 and 16). To be fair, a few of the Sutor images have ambiguous hand positions, but these two, at least, seem quite clear. But, these are not typical of the mainstream of german longsword as it has survived in the written record, and I would not claim them to constitute a "style of swordsmanship". However, if one looks through enough of the old manuscripts it is possible to come across many instances of "outlier" techniques, things that appear infrequently in only one or a few sources. I would see this grip example with longsword as an oddity. If it offers any practical advantage in combat, it is not obvious.


Jeff,

Maybe you and I are interpreting these images differently, but I don't really see these as underhand/icepick grips. It's true that the angle of the swords means that one of your hands is in an underhand position, but the other one isn't, and that makes all the difference in the world. By "underhand/icepick grip" I understood the original post to be referring to holding a sword thusly with one hand, although this might not be what the author intended.
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Jeff Ross




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jul, 2007 4:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
Jeff Ross wrote:

It somewhat depends upon what you mean by "swordsmanship style". While I am unaware of any system that would primarily use an "icepick" grip, there certainly are a few surviving images showing just such a grip with longsword. Jakob Sutor, early 17th century comes to mind. He clearly shows this type grip in at least 2 plates with longsword (pages 15 and 16). To be fair, a few of the Sutor images have ambiguous hand positions, but these two, at least, seem quite clear. But, these are not typical of the mainstream of german longsword as it has survived in the written record, and I would not claim them to constitute a "style of swordsmanship". However, if one looks through enough of the old manuscripts it is possible to come across many instances of "outlier" techniques, things that appear infrequently in only one or a few sources. I would see this grip example with longsword as an oddity. If it offers any practical advantage in combat, it is not obvious.


Jeff,

Maybe you and I are interpreting these images differently, but I don't really see these as underhand/icepick grips. It's true that the angle of the swords means that one of your hands is in an underhand position, but the other one isn't, and that makes all the difference in the world. By "underhand/icepick grip" I understood the original post to be referring to holding a sword thusly with one hand, although this might not be what the author intended.


Hi Craig,

I see the grips in these plates with lead hand reversed, i.e., thumb away from quillons. The fighter appears tp be thrusting downward with the sword, with the other hand essentially just on the pommel to add power to the thrust, not really what looks like a solid grip with the left hand per se, at least to me. Again though, I see this as an oddity, not mainstream German technique. But it is the closest I've seen to an exampleof "icepick" grip in medieval/renaissance sources that I'm aware of.

Jeff
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sat 07 Jul, 2007 11:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Both of you are right. It's not exactly what I'm looking for--I'm mostly curious about the one-handed use of the "icepick" grips--but interesting nevertheless. I've checked the Sutor plates and they do show that kind of grip. Now I wish I could find a translation of the text somewhere...
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 08 Jul, 2007 2:42 pm    Post subject: Re: Weird swordsmanship question         Reply with quote

Jeff Ross wrote:


Hi Craig,

I see the grips in these plates with lead hand reversed, i.e., thumb away from quillons. The fighter appears tp be thrusting downward with the sword, with the other hand essentially just on the pommel to add power to the thrust, not really what looks like a solid grip with the left hand per se, at least to me. Again though, I see this as an oddity, not mainstream German technique. But it is the closest I've seen to an exampleof "icepick" grip in medieval/renaissance sources that I'm aware of.

Jeff


Jeff,

I'm not sure that one necessarily has to grip the back part of the sword in the manner depicted in Sutor. It seems to me that you could just as easily grip it normally to deliver the thrust. Yeah, it is a slightly unusual position, though it's not really much different than a left Ochs.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 08 Jul, 2007 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Both of you are right. It's not exactly what I'm looking for--I'm mostly curious about the one-handed use of the "icepick" grips--but interesting nevertheless. I've checked the Sutor plates and they do show that kind of grip. Now I wish I could find a translation of the text somewhere...


http://www.schielhau.org/Sutor.text.p15.html
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Sun 08 Jul, 2007 9:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah. Thanks. I don't know what went over me--should have checked Schielhau.org in the first place...
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Tue 17 Nov, 2015 5:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A depiction of the Battle of Ravenna shows at least two people doing it. It also depicts two soldiers holding a halberd overarm like you would throw a javelin.

One depiction of the Battle of Dornach shows two soldiers using a rather long baselard in an icepick grip. In the depiction they appear more like short swords or really long daggers.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/55/Schlacht_bei_Dorneck.jpg


Then there is a Froissart chronicle showing it done twice with full sized one handed swords.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/Chroniques_de_Froissart_%2815e_eeuw%29_-_Slag_op_het_Beverhoutsveld.png


The Weisskunig shows it in multiple depictions (usually with a type of Katzbalger)

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/Der_Weisskunig_72_Detail_Landsknecht_Battle.jpg

sebastien mamerot chose to depict it in one of his battle scenes.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2543/4041540087_870e0fe7a6.jpg

And there is another one I came across.

https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2281/2263157843_a7f10cc4ce_b.jpg


It could be artistic convention but the one constant in all these depictions is that the victim is either on the ground or on his knees while his attacker is nearly onto him. A situation in which a normal grip might be slightly awkward and you want the shorter reach of an icepick grip.
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