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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 6:24 pm    Post subject: Choosing the Right Type of Sword?         Reply with quote

I was curious to know what type of Sword (Cutting, Thrusting, or both Cutting and Thrusting) would suit me the best. Confused

I've read many articles on the debate between the use of the thrust or cut, or both.

In several articles I read that the thrusting sword required both speed and finesse, while the cutting sword required both strength and stamina, and while both cutting and thrusting swords probably used a mixture of the two main types of swordplay.

They also say that the thrust is easier to learn and execute than the cut. But, I have tried countless times, with a variety of thrusting swords such as the Rapier or Smallsword and I just can't feel any power behind any of my thrusts. With a cutting or cutting and thrusting sword such as the Sabre; cutting is quite easy for me to execute and almost feels like second nature, for me that is.

But, to get on to the Questions:

1) Would anyone recommend me using a cutting sword over a thrusting sword or vice versa for any reason?

2) Does height, weight or body shape have any control over a particular type of swordplay?

3) Have I built up certain muscles (for example in the fingers, wrists or forearms) that allows me to use a sword a certain way?

I would appreciate any advice, anyone can give me. Thanks. Happy


Last edited by Justin Pasternak on Tue 30 Oct, 2007 11:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sean Belair
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Joined: 08 Aug 2006

Posts: 147

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

you can train yourself in any stile of combat. the development of the proper muscles will go along with the training. speed is a must in any stile of combat but with time you will get faster as the movements become muscle and the extra exercise of training kicks in
as far as choosing a type of sword, go with whatever you find the most enjoyable. why not start with a stile that teaches both, the renaissance cut and thrust would be a good start.
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Bill Grandy
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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Justin,
First off, I wouldn't worry too much about the specifics of cutting vs. thrusting. Both actions are quite deadly, and both are natural actions to do.

A better question: What style is more accessible to you? If you have the option of taking a class in a historical sword art, then you should do that, regardless of whether it is a thrusting or cutting style.

Or, if you don't have that option, then what type of swords do you like more? If you like longswords, then you should go with that. If you like multiple styles, then hey, the more the merrier, right? Happy I'm both a longsword and a rapier afficionado, and neither style is more or less suited to me. I fence with either one, and have only found that my understanding of one art only increases my understanding of the other. Plus it means I get more toys. Wink

Regarding your other questions, if you look at illustrations from historical fencing treatises of all ages, you'll note that you never see overly beefy guys. They tend to be slim and limber. Whether this is artistic license or not, the main thing is that you are physically fit (or striving to be), just as with any martial art. Strength is certainly important, but fluidity and physical dexterity are more so.

Regarding muscle sets, the forearms will definately require conditioning, as well as the legs. Think of the physique of a basketball player: Someone who is muscular, but not like a weight lifter. (In fact, many of the warm-ups and conditioning drills I have students do are similar to the same ones seen in those types of sports.)

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."


Last edited by Bill Grandy on Tue 30 Oct, 2007 8:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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John Cooksey




Location: NW Ark
Joined: 15 Nov 2003

Posts: 291

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 8:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think that this is really a question that anyone (but you) can answer.
The thrust is good, and so is the cut . . . .

I wouldn't choose a sword (for battle) that couldn't do both.

Have you tried thrusting into actual targets? Might give you an idea of what kind of actual "power" you are putting out.

I, personally, don't think size matters much in which style you use . . . . I would think your period of historical/martial interest would play a much more important role.

Gods know, I'm an oddball though . . . .
My favorite sword (and the only one that I would take into battle) is a functional fantasy piece . . . .

I didn't surrender, but they took my horse and made him surrender.
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Tue 30 Oct, 2007 8:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Cooksey wrote:

I wouldn't choose a sword (for battle) that couldn't do both.


The same conclusion reached by most soldiers. Virtually all sword forms used in warfare were cutting and thrusting.

-Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

Posts: 598

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 1:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
John Cooksey wrote:

I wouldn't choose a sword (for battle) that couldn't do both.


The same conclusion reached by most soldiers. Virtually all sword forms used in warfare were cutting and thrusting.

-Steven


The most striking thing is that 300 bc the celtic type of sword was cut&thrust vry much like the 19c. cut&thrust only better made Laughing Out Loud

There were só many other influances apart from simple functionality. Just look at the roman gladius that dévolved into the most basic and cheapest to mass produce cut&thrust.: two cutting edges ending in a point held together by the simplest of metal shapes.

The smallsword is the thrusting sword and the sabre thé cutting and the whole world went for the stylish smallsword yet in victorian england captain Hutton proved time and again that his sabre won his duels....
Every coin has two sides and a cut&thrust is as close to a twoheaded coin as it comes Laughing Out Loud

hc
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Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
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Posts: 615

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 6:30 am    Post subject: Re: Choosing the Right Type of Sword?         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
I have tried countless times, with a variety of thrusting swords such as the Rapier or Smallsword and I just can't feel any power behind any of my thrusts.

The standard fencing lunge (sword arm extended prior to leg movement) generates quite enough power to put a sword clean through a human body. If executed properly, the inertia generated by your entire bodyweight will be focused into an area only as large as the sword's physical contact with the opponent. Simple physics meets soft flesh. It might be that you were trying to feel the power of your thrust in your arm, rather than your legs. I'd try it out against a realistic target. If your technique is good, I'd be willing to bet that you're generating a lot more power than you think you are. Happy

That aside, I would recommend that you find qualified instruction in a few different arts. You'll eventually find one that suits you, and your experience in the others will enhance your overall understanding.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 8:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
The most striking thing is that 300 bc the Celtic type of sword was cut&thrust very much like the 19c. cut&thrust only better made Laughing Out Loud


I don't want to derail the topic, but what do these Celtic swords look like?
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Andrew Shultz




Location: Boston MA
Joined: 02 Mar 2004

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a variety of sword groups in MA and CT you can go to and learn a style, then if that style suits you get a sword to match. Most groups have loaners for your first lessons.

There's a group at the Higgens (German longsword), Forte Swordplay in Boston (German again), a group on the North Shore whose name escapes me who I think also has a branch in CT (Italian I believe), Christian Tobler's group down in CT (German again)...
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Justin H. Núñez




Location: Hyde Park, UT
Joined: 24 Aug 2007
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PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whatever style you choose I would deffinitely recommend taking a tradtional fencing class to begin with. It will help with coordination, but more importantly foot work. I have never been hindered by it whether I was fencing with a rapier, two handed sword or sword and shield. Practice your foot work assidiously, your power will increase and it will be one less thing you have to worry about during combat. My fencing master used to tell me that for every lesson I received from him that I was to practice foot work, with weapon in hand, and additional two hours. It used to be that you were not even allowed to begin blade work without at least a year of nothing but foot work.
I most definitely agree with all the posts, your sword should be able to cut and thrust. Just make sure that you like it and it feels good to you. I personally like a lighter sword. After a few hours of combat even a foil feels heavy. Another thing, Marrozo, an Italian fencing master from the sixteenth century, says that when you train use the lightest sword possible, because training is to learn how to move quickly not to move weight.
For what it is worth, that my two cents.

"Nothing in fencing is really difficult, it just takes work." - Aldo Nadi
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Peter Bosman




Location: Andalucia
Joined: 22 May 2006

Posts: 598

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
I don't want to derail the topic, but what do these Celtic swords look like?


http://www.myArmoury.com/review_tmpl_celt.html

including more taper.

Peter
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Bosman wrote:
Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
I don't want to derail the topic, but what do these Celtic swords look like?


http://www.myArmoury.com/review_tmpl_celt.html

including more taper.

Peter


Thank you!
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Donald Layne




Location: Texas
Joined: 31 Oct 2007

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Justin,

While athleticism is a key to good fencing, you do not have to "feel" the power of a thrust. As pointed out by others, the point will concentrate all force into a tiny area. Consider; a well executed "stop thrust" will skewer an opponent with no more effort than you maintaining an extended and stiffened arm. Your opponents momentum will supply all of the "force" needed.

It would be well to follow some of the other advice; simply begin your journey of learning about swords and their use. Beginning fencing with foil, epee, and sabre are a good place from wich to branch out. Others may disagree, but I am biased because I fenced competitively (mostly foil) in college. I also taught fencing as a Graduate Student. Once you have started your journey, understanding and insight will follow. You will find your niche.

Don

Nice hat.
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Angus Trim




Location: Seattle area
Joined: 26 Aug 2003

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Posts: 870

PostPosted: Wed 31 Oct, 2007 4:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Choosing the Right Type of Sword?         Reply with quote

Justin Pasternak wrote:
I was curious to know what type of Sword (Cutting, Thrusting, or both Cutting and Thrusting) would suit me the best. Confused

I've read many articles on the debate between the use of the thrust or cut, or both.

In several articles I read that the thrusting sword required both speed and finesse, while the cutting sword required both strength and stamina, and while both cutting and thrusting swords probably used a mixture of the two main types of swordplay.

They also say that the thrust is easier to learn and execute than the cut. But, I have tried countless times, with a variety of thrusting swords such as the Rapier or Smallsword and I just can't feel any power behind any of my thrusts. With a cutting or cutting and thrusting sword such as the Sabre; cutting is quite easy for me to execute and almost feels like second nature, for me that is.

But, to get on to the Questions:

1) Would anyone recommend me using a cutting sword over a thrusting sword or vice versa for any reason?

2) Does height, weight or body shape have any control over a particular type of swordplay?

3) Have I built up certain muscles (for example in the fingers, wrists or forearms) that allows me to use a sword a certain way?

I would appreciate any advice, anyone can give me. Thanks. Happy


Hi Justin

My advice would be to try and find someone near you that has a collection where you can handle a variety of swords. Then you can see what "speaks to you". And then go from there.........

It might be a baskethilt, a Museum Replica type XII, an antique saber, or an Albion Brescia........

Handle whatever you can, find what "speaks to you", and go that route, that's what I would recommend........

swords are fun
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Justin Pasternak




Location: West Springfield, Massachusetts
Joined: 17 Sep 2006

Posts: 174

PostPosted: Thu 01 Nov, 2007 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, I'd like to thank everybody who helped me out with this topic. After taking the some time to think about and test with, I finally found what I was looking for.

I've choosen a sword(s) that I believe suit me to the best of my abilities as a swordsman. The swords that choosen fall in the single-edged blade cateogory, that is slightly curved, either one or two handed, and is good cutting sword as well as a decent thrusting sword.

The swords that I have tried out from a friend of mine are a hanger, cutlass, sabre, tachi, katana and wakizashi.

Thanks Again,

Justin Happy
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