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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 12:15 pm    Post subject: Grabbing the blade?         Reply with quote

I'm having a disagreement with someone on the ability for someone tograb the blade of a dagger or a sword in combat.

He is of the opinion that it is impractical, will get one's hand harmed, and that the manuscripts are wrong.

I'm of the obvious opinion that the manuscripts have it right and that blade grabbing is a very viable part in fighting (providing that you don't go "looking" for the grab in a fight).

Would anyone like to shed some insight on this?
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J. Pav




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 12:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The manuals wouldn't mention it if it didn't work.

The way I understand it, the thing about grabbing the blade is making sure you grasp it firmly so as not to let it slide, then making your corresponding attack quickly. Squeezing the edge generally won't cut you, but as soon as it moves a millimeter it will dig in.

I believe there's also instances of batting the flat of the blade to remove it from an attack angle, opening up one's opponent's defense.
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As far as I know, it's how you grab the blade. Normally you don't hang on to it though. You get it and git rid of it almost as fast.
Hanging on might get you cut.
Still, it can be done in a correct fashion and at the correct time in the fight.

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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Grabbing the blade?         Reply with quote

Grayson C. wrote:
I'm having a disagreement with someone on the ability for someone to grab the blade of a dagger or a sword in combat.


Actually, it depends on the context and the master. The Italian rapier masters who say anything (for example, Fabris and Marcelli) generally tell you not to grab the sword. However, plenty of non-rapier works give techniques where you do grab the blade of the sword (your opponent's or yours, depending on the technique).

As for grabbing the knife/dagger, that clearly is done (in modern martial arts as well as historic), as even a severely lacerated hand is better then a punctured torso or face. One thing to keep in mind is that most daggers or knives weren't razor sharp and some (such as the stiletto or the rondel dagger) didn't even have a cutting edge).

However, it is important to note the difference between grabbing and immobilizing a blade and stopping a cut with your hand. While the first was a not uncommon technique, the second would certainly be a bad idea. Thus while the hand parry can work well against the rapier thrust, it is not a good idea against a cut.

Grayson C. wrote:
He is of the opinion that it is impractical, will get one's hand harmed, and that the manuscripts are wrong.

Well, certainly there are right times and wrong times to do it and the wrong time is more than just impractical. Although I'd usually rather hit my opponent with my sword rather than grabbing his, there are times when it is the a very good tactical option (and there are times that you can do both). However, to call the treatises wrong without some extremely strong evidence is just plain obtuse.

Steve

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George Davidson




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Manuscripts are rarely if ever wrong ... we just dont always understand whats being discussed. Wink

speaking for grabbing a longsword ... I have shown my class many times I can lock on someone elses sword with my left hand long enough to kill them. They can drag me about the room if they are bigger and stronger but they cant jerk the sword out of my hand. Without the blade moving against my hand ie a draw cut or schnitt - its a dead blade so no cut.
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James Davis




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Recently i watched a program on the idiot box about swords, knives, and daggers. I don't know much about medieval arms, but i do know that the longer great swords were made for more of a stabbing technique. therefore the edge was not often a razors edge. mostly becouse of the metal. they were sharp, but not razor sharp like a true katana. So you could indeed grab the blade if nessisary, but i personally wouldn't grab hold of a real katana blade.*shivers* i like me hands.... Sad
we have come for my precious!
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Aloy Diaz




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grabbing the opponent's blade is a part of combat, but this depends largely on what you want to gain... you can lose a few fingers but if he loses his head because of the time you bought by tying up his weapon (by grabbing it) then your fingers are a fair price to pay. I would more likely do a grab when the oponent is using a dagger as compared to a sword as the swords momentum (probably due to its weight and mass) might just slice through my hand (bone, sinew, and muscles might not be enough to stop it) and the sword might still travel to my body or head - thus negating my grab... It is a fact that you will get hurt when you grab a weapon (or when you grab a hand that is holding a weapon) but sometimes the situation just calls for it...

Note: The above is just my opinion and I do not have any background regarding fighting with heavy armour (obvously a gauntleted/armored hand grabing a sword is a different thing compared to grabbing with your bare hands)...

Aloy Diaz
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject: Re: Grabbing the blade?         Reply with quote

Steven Reich wrote:
Grayson C. wrote:
I'm having a disagreement with someone on the ability for someone to grab the blade of a dagger or a sword in combat.


Actually, it depends on the context and the master. The Italian rapier masters who say anything (for example, Fabris and Marcelli) generally tell you not to grab the sword.


Steven

Question on the above. What are the reasons given by the Italian masters for not grabbing the adversary's blade? I assume that it is not because of a fear of getting cut but rather because there is a high probably for failure and a high probably for death if you fail. Be really cool if you could provide a quote & page from the Fabris book Big Grin , which I have but have not read in depth yet (I'm about 10 books behind for my work Eek! and currently going thru Meyer).

Thanks,

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 3:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grabbing the sword blade is generally something you do when you miss or can't reach the opponents hand.
As such, it works.
In a life and death struggle, cuts to the left palm is a small prize to pay.

Of course, it also depends on what kind of combat you are doing. Of course the italian rapier masters don't want people to grapple; it would be contrary to the art. "valoruous men" without experience with rapiers would very quickly end up grappling instead of fighting "propperly".

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Davis wrote:
Recently i watched a program on the idiot box about swords, knives, and daggers. I don't know much about medieval arms, but i do know that the longer great swords were made for more of a stabbing technique. therefore the edge was not often a razors edge. mostly becouse of the metal. they were sharp, but not razor sharp like a true katana. So you could indeed grab the blade if nessisary, but i personally wouldn't grab hold of a real katana blade.*shivers* i like me hands.... Sad

There's little or no difference, actually. Real katana would not be "razor sharp", either, but of a more obtuse bevel designed to withstand impact on armour and other hard targets - of course they used different sorts of edge geometries, depending primarily on the era of manufacture and the changing methods of use, but so did European swords, arguably far more so, and many European blades are both broader and thinner than their Japanese counterparts, actually making them sharper.

Katana are just swords, no different from others in anything that matters. And in fact, there are techniques for grabbing the opponent's blade also in Japanese sword styles. They're pretty much the same as in the West, too, except that with the conventional nihon-to you have the luxury of only having to worry about one edge. Happy

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Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Of course the italian rapier masters don't want people to grapple; it would be contrary to the art.

Elling

Please clearify your statement? Basically in light of the following image from Camillo Agrippa I must disagree that grappling is "contrary" to the art.

http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/NewManuals/Agrippa/p118.JPG
http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/NewManuals/Agrippa/p116.JPG

Or are you just saying that the Italian masters teach not to rush into grappling?
Or by grappling you are referring to groundfighting?

Thanks,

Ran Pleasant
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 4:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Davis wrote:
...I do know that the longer great swords were made for more of a stabbing technique.


I must strongly disagree. Great swords are cutter! They are frightening cutters! The following is an example of what a great sword can do (I think this is a Del Tin).

http://thearma.org/Videos/sword_test_cutting.mov


Ran Pleasant
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 5:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
Elling Polden wrote:
Of course the italian rapier masters don't want people to grapple; it would be contrary to the art.

Elling

Please clearify your statement? Basically in light of the following image from Camillo Agrippa I must disagree that grappling is "contrary" to the art.


It might be included in the teachings of the masters, but it remains a fact that the Art of rapier fencing is in the binds of the blade.
If you have done things correctly, you will never be in a position where grappling becomes an issue; Your first lounge should kill him, since you should not lounge before you have a bind that will ensure you hitting him.
In the Art, og course.
A fight is a different matter, where you do whatever you must to win. With the Art being the first and best choice, of course.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 6:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about daggers?

I see dagger fighting in tallhoffer's manuscripts and they seem to include manuevers that involve placing the hand on the blade.

Thank you for the information so far, gentlemen.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 9:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Grabbing the blade?         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:

Steven

Question on the above. What are the reasons given by the Italian masters for not grabbing the adversary's blade? I assume that it is not because of a fear of getting cut but rather because there is a high probably for failure and a high probably for death if you fail. Be really cool if you could provide a quote & page from the Fabris book Big Grin , which I have but have not read in depth yet (I'm about 10 books behind for my work Eek! and currently going thru Meyer).

Thanks,

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW


Hi Randall,
I'm [obviously] not Steve, but you should read Chapter 8 of Fabris, "On the advantages and drawbacks of parrying; on those who parry using the left hand in sword alone." It's only a couple of pages, and sums up Fabris's advice quite well.

Fabris says he doesn't feel it is possible to do so safely (though I would assume he means against a moving, attacking blade, since we know that many arts grab blades). His primary concern, though, is that it is a poor defense when compared to proper use of the sword, particularly with the knowledge of the use of the forte. For instance, he says:

"All things considered, it is easier and less challenging to wound those who defend with the hand than those who do so with the sword, because the former kind do not avail themselves of their forte. Their only concern is keeping their sword free, so they tend to keep it withdrawn, thereby offering more openings and making it easier to wound them and to step back to safety before their sword can be brought into play (being so withdrawn and far from the target). All this is even easier against those who first parry with the hand, and then jab with the sword, which seems to be most common among those who frequently use the hand."

The words of Fabris, unfortunately, echo true today... far too many rapier fencers rely on the off hand rather than properly learning how to use the sword, and fall prey to the exact same symptoms that Fabris describes.

Now, Fabris does say, "It is actually important to know how to use the off-hand, but bearing in mind that it has to be employed only in case of emergency and not as a habit..." And he does illustrate several off-hand techniques... he also illustrates exactly how to defeat them, too, of course.

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


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Jan, 2008 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:

It might be included in the teachings of the masters, but it remains a fact that the Art of rapier fencing is in the binds of the blade.


It remains a fact? I'm unaware of this. Many rapier masters make a point of telling students to avoid blade contact if possible.

Quote:
If you have done things correctly, you will never be in a position where grappling becomes an issue;


You know, that about sums up every single sword art that I know of. Wink

After all, why include wrestling within the art if it isn't going to be used? I had Fabris's book in front of me since I was looking up the quote for Randall a moment ago, and I just happened to scan upon the sentence:

"...it is better not to use the hand at all unless you know that you can reach the opponent's hilt or get into grapples and wrestle him."

In other words, Fabris was well aware of how to wrestle, and he wasn't afraid to use it if necessary, but that the sword was a more immediate threat. And that wasn't even in the section on grappling. Let's also not forget the numerous times Fabris instructs the student, after piercing the opponent with a lunge, to pass forward and drive the sword all the way through to strike the man in the chest with the hilt so that you can then throw him to the ground.

Now, it is true that Fabris says that he will focus more on the sword aspect within his book than the wrestling aspect because: "...since once a sword bout becomes a wrestling match you have passed the greater risk, it is more important to stay on the subject of how to safely overcome this "greater risk" and wound your opponent in the process." Or, my paraphrase: "Let's stay focused for now on how to try to actually kill the other guy rather than roll around on the ground with him." Happy

Quote:
A fight is a different matter, where you do whatever you must to win. With the Art being the first and best choice, of course.


Are you saying that all of those people killing each other with rapiers weren't actually fighting? Wink

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


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




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jan, 2008 4:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Deleted
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611


Last edited by Jonathan Blair on Wed 30 Jan, 2008 11:08 am; edited 1 time in total
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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jan, 2008 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Blair wrote:
The foundation of sword fighting is grappling. That's why Fiore starts with wrestling, building through dagger against unarmed opponent, to dagger versus dagger, to sword versus dagger, and so on. If your opponent closes where the sword is restricted, drop it and grab his head or arm and introduce his nose to your knee. Bind his hilt with yours and snatch his sword away or make him drop it.

That might be true with Fiore, but that isn't true with all systems of swordsmanship. It certainly isn't true with Bolognese of the 1500s, nor is it true with Italian rapier of the 1600s. While these treatises include various instructions on grappling, it certainly isn't the foundation.

Jonathan Blair wrote:
It's not about the sword in a sword fight; it's about who walks away and who gets carried.

Perhaps, but not all of swordsmanship is just about the "sword fight." Yes, yes I know swords were designed to kill people, but as a gentleman (such as that detailed in Castiglione's Courtier) you needed to be able to do far more than just "win a swordfight" to be held as virtuous by your peers and betters.

Steve

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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jan, 2008 8:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Deleted
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611


Last edited by Jonathan Blair on Wed 30 Jan, 2008 11:07 am; edited 1 time in total
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Jan, 2008 8:44 am    Post subject: Re: Grabbing the blade?         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Randall Pleasant wrote:

Steven

Question on the above. What are the reasons given by the Italian masters for not grabbing the adversary's blade? I assume that it is not because of a fear of getting cut but rather because there is a high probably for failure and a high probably for death if you fail. Be really cool if you could provide a quote & page from the Fabris book Big Grin , which I have but have not read in depth yet (I'm about 10 books behind for my work Eek! and currently going thru Meyer).

Thanks,

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW


Hi Randall,
I'm [obviously] not Steve, but you should read Chapter 8 of Fabris, "On the advantages and drawbacks of parrying; on those who parry using the left hand in sword alone." It's only a couple of pages, and sums up Fabris's advice quite well.

Fabris says he doesn't feel it is possible to do so safely (though I would assume he means against a moving, attacking blade, since we know that many arts grab blades). His primary concern, though, is that it is a poor defense when compared to proper use of the sword, particularly with the knowledge of the use of the forte. For instance, he says:

"All things considered, it is easier and less challenging to wound those who defend with the hand than those who do so with the sword, because the former kind do not avail themselves of their forte. Their only concern is keeping their sword free, so they tend to keep it withdrawn, thereby offering more openings and making it easier to wound them and to step back to safety before their sword can be brought into play (being so withdrawn and far from the target). All this is even easier against those who first parry with the hand, and then jab with the sword, which seems to be most common among those who frequently use the hand."

The words of Fabris, unfortunately, echo true today... far too many rapier fencers rely on the off hand rather than properly learning how to use the sword, and fall prey to the exact same symptoms that Fabris describes.

Now, Fabris does say, "It is actually important to know how to use the off-hand, but bearing in mind that it has to be employed only in case of emergency and not as a habit..." And he does illustrate several off-hand techniques... he also illustrates exactly how to defeat them, too, of course.


Bill

Thanks so much for the Fabris quote. I need to set aside some other readings (absetzen some technical manuals WTF?! ) and dive into Fabris some. I was very much expecting something along the lines of cannot "do so safely". Fabris' advice make sense beyound just rapier! I have experienced this same problem in our study group when people first learn the I.33 fiddle-bow techniques (22r, 22v). Some people always want to go for the sword grab rather than the bind & shield-strike because it is sooooooooo much cooler. When they do pull it off in sparring and break out in the big grin of success I always remind them of how many times they failed to pull it off and that for people like the author of I.33, Fabris, Rindgeck, etc., failure was in most cases a bloody painful non-repeatable process.

Again, thanks for the quote.

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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