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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 11:45 am    Post subject: Cutting test, Atrim Legacy line XIIIa         Reply with quote

After I posted my jack cutting results with the Duke, Gus sent me a XIIIa to test, one of his Legacy Line. It's a couple of inches shorter than the Duke, but otherwise very similar.

Against the jack, it achieved the same results, only able to cut with its tip (at least in my hands). However, against tatami, however, it worked wonderfully. I was able to cut Mugen Dachi double mats with ease. I was very impressed with the sword; the leather hilt wrap is a big improvement from past models and the disc pommel and new cross style are a welcome and historically accurate touch. I'm not sure if this sword is a XIII or a XIIIa, but I'd call it a XIIIa, since it's a bit on the large side. It has perfect blade geometry for the type, and like the Duke, excels in tip cuts.

I'm very happy with what Gus is up to these days. This whole "reboot" thing of his seems to be working out quite well.

The following video shows me cutting the same double mat, first with the Albion Duke, and then with the Atrim Legacy Line.

http://www.newyorklongsword.com/movies/mecut.avi

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael: By the way I enjoy lurking on your forum site and reading the post there, mostly the swordsmanship forum.
The discussions with Jessica Finley and Christian being particularly interesting.

I looked at the test cutting video on your site and I wonder about the amount of motion after the mat has been cut or just
" pushed around " Wink Laughing Out Loud I realize that " Bill " was doing his first test cutting and had a mix of good cuts and overpowered cuts that sometimes worked well and sometimes just sent the mat flying. Laughing Out Loud Looking at his swings I mostly notice that the sword seems to do something like 270 degrees Eek! I certainly wouldn't want to be standing close behind him !

Also, wouldn't this, what I'm assuming is excessive range of rotation, leave one very VERY vulnerable in a real fight with one's sword pointing strait behind one ? Now, I realize that this is a cutting exercise first and foremost but wouldn't it be better to focus on using speed and range of motion as one would normally use to keep the blade menacing at all times or as close to all times as one would in a duel in period or bouting ( safely ) today ? Oh, and move the blade first: I'm very new to this but I always try to move the sword first no matter what I'm doing and not overcommit cuts or parries.

Not so much asking this to be negative but since I'm in the early stages of learning swordsmanship I'm curious to know if you agree or not with my observations and to what degree.

Oh, your cutting with the Duke and the At XIIIa was very nice.

My personal experience with test cutting is limited to one time on pumpkins and water melons, but if my memory of it is correct I basically just accelerated the sword and let the sword do the work and didn't power it through. My sword also stopped soon and close to the target after the cut the arc being maybe a bit over 90 to 135 degrees. ( estimate ).

Well, the target medium was probably much less challenging than mats ?

I look forward to your comments and advice. Big Grin Cool

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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean,

Your questions are very valid. Bill and several others (in the video I will post soon) are all new to cutting. They don't really know how to cut yet, but they're learning. Their form when practicing is much much better (to a certain exent, that's true for everyone). I wanted them to cut the mats anyway so that they know what it feels like to actually strike a target with a sword. The mistakes made are too numerous to mention, but that's what being new is all about. They are all making excellent progress.

And Bill is a crazy wild animal. Happy We at NYHFA take no responsibility for his insane videos. Happy

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Last edited by Michael Edelson on Sun 13 Apr, 2008 3:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Oh, and move the blade first: I'm very new to this but I always try to move the sword first no matter what I'm doing and not overcommit cuts or parries.


This is an interesting point. I always move my sword first when practicing. If you film me, the very first thing that twitches, analyzed frame by frame, is the sword point. However, when cutting, it turns out I did not, even though I thought I did. In my case, I was moving everything at the same time.

This is particularly interesting to me, because while I've seen a lot of people that can move the sword first when practicing, I've never seen anyone cutting that way, or bouting that way. Perhaps moving the sword first in drills assures that when instinct takes over, you don't move the sword last.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
Hi Jean,

Your questions are very valid. Bill, Kirill (the tall guy) and Chris (the short thin guy in camo pants) are all new to cutting. They don't really know how to cut yet, but they're learning. Their form when practicing is much much better (to a certain exent, that's true for everyone). I wanted them to cut the mats anyway so that they know what it feels like to actually strike a target with a sword. The mistakes made are too numerous to mention, but that's what being new is all about. They are all making excellent progress.

And Bill is a crazy wild animal. Happy

btw...if you don't mind my asking, how did you see that video? It was posted in a private forum.


Well, I just went to your web site/swordsmanship forum/Vassilis's post/Link to youtube.
I just tried it again to see if it still worked, and it did: There is just Bill's cutting shown as I assume that the private forum version may contain cutting clips from all the participants.

So, I guess if you didn't want any of these clips to be available to all or anyone ! You have a leak. Razz Laughing Out Loud

By the way here is a link to my Montreal group, but it's in French: http://lesduellistes.com/

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PostPosted: Sun 13 Apr, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I realized you were talking about Bill's clip and edited my post, but too late.

The video in the private forum is still in progress, and features everyone cutting. When I finish it, I'll post it.

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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson wrote:
I always move my sword first when practicing. If you film me, the very first thing that twitches, analyzed frame by frame, is the sword point. However, when cutting, it turns out I did not, even though I thought I did. In my case, I was moving everything at the same time.

This is particularly interesting to me, because while I've seen a lot of people that can move the sword first when practicing, I've never seen anyone cutting that way, or bouting that way. Perhaps moving the sword first in drills assures that when instinct takes over, you don't move the sword last.

Michael

From watching a number of other people and watching a number of other videos I would say that what you experienced during your cuts is not uncommon. It is what happens when one moves from interpretation to application (ie. theory hits the hard pavement of practice). What you experienced is at the root of the issues many of us have with the interpretations in which Vom Tag is held with the hilt in front of the chest and cutting from that position by pushing out the blade. It just does not work when one needs to make a realistic cut. In order to make a cut with realistic speed and power and at a realistic distance the biomechanics of the human body requires that you first raise the sword up into a more over-the-shoulder position. Yes, one can cut directly from Vom Tag with the hilt in front of the chest, but the cut will always be weak and short. Plus, there is no way you can quickly cut a right and left Zornhau from in front of the chest, you either have to cut the second Zorn from over the shoulder or you have to slow down in order to move your hilt back in front of the chest on the other side before cutting the second Zorn. And yes, Vom Tag with the hilt in front of the chest allows one to easily cut in True Time, but does that not also require that you stand in a True Place? I'm not a Silver scholar but if I remember right Silver says a True Place is dangerous to stand in since if you can hit the adversary it is highly likely that the adversary can hit you. You are to move into and out of a True Place very quickly, it is not a place to stand in a guard. That is one of the many reasons why MMA fighters, unlike boxers with their big gloves and no worries of grappling, don't stand close to each other. Think about it, if you are in a True Place you are probably already in Krieg! Instead of trying to figure out why you raised your hilt first during your cuts, why not just try starting your cuts from an over-the-shoulder position? A real theat to your adversary is a quick sequence of hard, fast, powerful cuts made with the full reach of your sword and body!

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
What you experienced is at the root of the issues many of us have with the interpretations in which Vom Tag is held with the hilt in front of the chest and cutting from that position by pushing out the blade. It just does not work when one needs to make a realistic cut.


That simply isn't true, Randall. Not only is the guard historically described and illustrated, I do it quite often, all the time, against opponents and cutting targets alike.

Quote:
In order to make a cut with realistic speed and power and at a realistic distance the biomechanics of the human body requires that you first raise the sword up into a more over-the-shoulder position.


No, it doesn't. Maybe for making a very powerful, head-to-floor type of cut, but not all cuts are supposed to be that powerful.

Quote:
Yes, one can cut directly from Vom Tag with the hilt in front of the chest, but the cut will always be weak and short.


Randall, I'm not sure why you're making these assumptions, but they are demonstrably false. Unless if you think Lechukner, the author of von Danzig and Ringeck, and countless Chinese, Japanese and Korean sword traditions are all wrong.

Quote:
Plus, there is no way you can quickly cut a right and left Zornhau from in front of the chest, you either have to cut the second Zorn from over the shoulder or you have to slow down in order to move your hilt back in front of the chest on the other side before cutting the second Zorn.


If your blade moves first (which it is supposed to do), then you should have no problems doing this.

If you prefer a high Vom Tag, then no problem. If you practice a tradition that prefers the high version, then no problem. But you shouldn't making sweeping assumptions about a guard that is incredibly common in existing living traditions and historically documentable just because you don't like it.

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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill

We are just going to have to disagree on this. I know you hold this guard with your hilt in front of the chest, I've seen your videos and I seen you spar in person. I stand by what I wrote. I've made no more "sweeping assumptions" than have you. If what I wrote is "demonstrably false" then you should be able to provide a video of you cutting three quick hard, powerful Zorns with full reach of your sword and arms. This is not about me thinking the historical masters were wrong, to suggest I do is a little Ad hominem. This is about disagreeing on what the historical masters were actually saying. We both follow an interpretation of what the histoical masters were actually saying and none of us can ever be 100% sure of their true meaning! In ARMA we hold that interpretations must be both historically valid and martially sound. In other words, an interpretation must not only match the words of the historical masters it must also work in sparring against an uncooperative adversary. From what I have seen in videos, seen in person, and experienced in sparring and test cutting, holding the hilt in front of the chest is not martially sound. On the other hand, if it works for you then I wish you all the best. But it sounds like Michael was not getting the same mileage.

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 9:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The reason I say "demonstratably false" is because there are many Japanese schools who use hasso no kamae (a very similar guard) and can cut quite powerfully with it. I've also seen Scott Rodell cut with a similar Chinese guard (I don't know the name, as I'm not very well versed in Chinese arts). So whether you, Michael or I can or can't do it is irrelevant: There are quite a number of people in the world who can and do make powerful cuts by holding their swords this way.

As I said, if you don't prefer it, that's fine, and I can completely understand that. But I don't see how you can make such a blanket statement when it is such a common thing in various forms of swordsmanship.

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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry Randall, but whether or not Bill can do what you request is irrelevant (and he can, btw). Our ability to perform actions as prescribed by period sources has nothing to do with the validity of those sources, or even the interpretation, per se. Instead, it has to do with how well we've practiced to date. Further, since no text requires us to strike three Zornhaue in a row, that's a meaningless requirement.

Vom Tag held on the shoulder is simply beyond impeachment, and not open to interpretation. Why? Because the text(s) literally says to to hold it on your shoulder. It's not open to intperpretation because that's literally what it says. Further, no text - I repeat - none - ever says to hold the sword 'over' the shoulder. That's simply an erroneous way of holding this guard. Further, the illustration in von Danzig shows it on the shoulder, precisely in accordance with the text.

Here is the text from von Danzig:

Merck die hůtt haist vom tag | do schick dich also mit | Stee mit dem lincken fües vor | und halt dein swert an deiner rechten achsel oder mit auff gerackten armen hoch über dein haubt | und stee also in der hůt

And the translation,

"Note, the guard vom Tag, his do thus: Stand with the left foot forward and hold your sword on your right shoulder or with outstretched arms high over your head and stand thus in the guard."

Here it is in Ringeck:

Vom tag. Do schick dich also mit: stand mit linckem fu°ß vor, vnd halt din schwert an diner rechten achseln. Oder halt es mit vßgerechten armen vber din haup.

and, translated:

"Vom Tag. Do thus with this: Stand with the left foot forward, and hold your sword on your right shoulder. Or, hold it with outstretched arms over your head."

The word 'an' in German means 'on in English, not 'over'. It's simply not open to interpretation, no matter what your opinions on 'martially sound' happen to be. So Bill is correct in taking you to task on turning a blind eye to the unambiguous words of the historical record.

You've your choice of position for vom Tag: over your head, or on your shoulder. The German isn't open to interpretation, as any colleague in Germany can tell you - it says what it says, and Germans don't need WMA folks to clarify their language for them.

I'd also be really careful about using the idea of full reach of the arms as some kind of benchmark. No source lauds this, and the Dobringer Hausbuch explicitly condemns those fencers who use 'sweeping blows'.

Some things are facts, like the sky being blue. Saying it's orange doesn't mean you have a different interpretation, or that those disagreeing with you have a personal beef, it just means that you're wrong, and intractably so.

Regards,

Christian

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
The reason I say "demonstratably false" is because there are many Japanese schools who use hasso no kamae (a very similar guard) and can cut quite powerfully with it. I've also seen Scott Rodell cut with a similar Chinese guard (I don't know the name, as I'm not very well versed in Chinese arts). So whether you, Michael or I can or can't do it is irrelevant: There are quite a number of people in the world who can and do make powerful cuts by holding their swords this way.

As I said, if you don't prefer it, that's fine, and I can completely understand that. But I don't see how you can make such a blanket statement when it is such a common thing in various forms of swordsmanship.


With test cutting the priority becomes cutting efficiency& power while in combat a lesser cut that is sufficient to do the job but gets there first, in the safest way possible, becomes the priority.

Cutting can be approached as if one was cutting down trees that don't fight back ( testing the sword / edge sharpness / alinement ) or one can see it as a training exercise where the technique used is as close to the one one would use in training/fighting ( testing the fighting techniques ):

1 ) To see what happens when the technique used when learning or bouting works when the cut is fully committed too, but also NOT overcommitted too
.
2) The right technique might seem at first inefficient or ineffective but this could be that one is doing it wrong or one hasn't practised it enough for it to be optimum.

Note: My level of training is very much a " beginner " and my actual test cutting is also very limited, so I'm not speaking from actual experience, but I think one can still use logic to propose a theory or theories of the thing(s). Wink Laughing Out Loud

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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian

As I say to Bill, we are just going to have to disagree on this. You may feel that you have moved beyound interpretations to actual facts WTF?! but I do not share that opinion, I think all of us are all still dealing with interpretations. Until you can traveled back in time and actually trained with the historical masters I think we need to consider everything "open to interpretation". Wink By the way, "on the shoulder" does not mean "in front of the chest" any more than it means "over the shoulder". If holding the hilt in front of your chest works for you then I wish you all the best with it.

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 1:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall,

Trying to turn your unwillingness to accept what the word 'an' means in German into an indictment of other people's arrogance is bad form, and hypocritical to boot. You're no one to lecture on any such thing, as I've yet to see you revise an interpretation on anything, or ever admit to being wrong - on anything. On the other hand, my saying this is how the guard is framed amounts to my saying "sorry, both my first two books are garishly *wrong* about this". So who is the more entrenched here?

By your calculus, when we see the word 'schwert', we can infer, if we like, that they actually meant 'spear' - it's all open to interpretation after all. If that sounds absurd, then so does confusing 'on' with 'above' or 'over' when they're simply different words. No one needs a time machine to tell the difference between 'over' (oben=above, über=over) and 'on' (an), especially as the historic masters use all of these, with clear distinctions.

If this were not so, then why is vom Tag held either "on the shoulder" or "over the head" - why not "on the head"?

Regards,

Christian

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 1:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In fairness the fact that vom tag can be held on the shoulder or above the head could also be a sign not of personal preference, but of varying suitability according to what the swordsman intends to do.

In the kenjutsu traditions I know of hasso-no-kamae does not exist in isolation, you always have a form of jodan-no-kamae that lies above the head, and sometimes an intermediate form o-hasso that is raised just above the shoulder. In the tradition I study, from what I've seen and been taught so far, hasso-no-kamae (we don't call it this way but the idea is the same) is indeed not used for powerful downward cuts over a complete step. If you start in it, there is a transition to jodan or some such during the step, not simply a push forward. The relaxed hasso-no-kamae is used to launch brief attacks at the wrist level, without a real step or at least quicker than a full step. Different powers, different contexts, yet both could be vom tag in German tradition if I understand correctly.

Isn't it possible that the same thing happens for longsword? Is there explicit contrary advice that has not been quoted so far?

What is there in the manuals that forbids to start at the shoulder, raise the sword a bit, say head level, then cut, all during the step?

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 1:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The last thing I want to see is another WMA shouting match. I hope everyone plans on being civil. If people can't play nice, posting privileges will be revoked.
Happy

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christian

Ad hominem attacks are bad form too. Wink I said nothing about accepting or not accepting the meaning of any word, I just pointed out that you hold your sword in front of your chest, which is neither "on" or "over" the shoulder. In regard to my right to speak, I hope you can understand why I didn't ask your permission, it's just not going to happen. Razz With the exception of the bible, I reserve the right to disagree with the authors of any book. I have, like, and use both of your books, but neither of them are a bible, they only contain your interpretation and there are a number of things in your interpretation that I and many other people disagree with. It is regretable that you take such simple disagreements as a personal offenses...but that's not my problem. All the best to you.

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall,

I certainly hope they aren't a bible, especially after I just told you that parts are wrong.

I'm done with you here.

Regards,

Christian

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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Vincent,

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
In fairness the fact that vom tag can be held on the shoulder or above the head could also be a sign not of personal preference, but of varying suitability according to what the swordsman intends to do.


If it were not for the fact that every treatise describing this uses the word 'on' for the shoulder version and 'over' for the above the head variant, I'd agree with this idea.

The word 'an' is always used in terms of contact with something. Hence, we have 'ansetzen' (setting upon - the idea of planting a thrust on someone), and 'anbinden' (the act of binding on his sword).

Quote:
In the kenjutsu traditions I know of hasso-no-kamae does not exist in isolation, you always have a form of jodan-no-kamae that lies above the head, and sometimes an intermediate form o-hasso that is raised just above the shoulder. In the tradition I study, from what I've seen and been taught so far, hasso-no-kamae (we don't call it this way but the idea is the same) is indeed not used for powerful downward cuts over a complete step. If you start in it, there is a transition to jodan or some such during the step, not simply a push forward. The relaxed hasso-no-kamae is used to launch brief attacks at the wrist level, without a real step or at least quicker than a full step. Different powers, different contexts, yet both could be vom tag in German tradition if I understand correctly.


I don't disagree at all that an over the shoulder guard is viable, only that that isn't what is being described in the passages in question. There are a number of systems using such a guard, and certainly the poleaxe equivalent of vom Tag is illustrated that way - but then, the poleaxe fights a bit differently. I know of no description of vom Tag with the longsword however that describes it over the shoulder.

I am aware of the varying positions shown in various Japanese traditions, but of course that just underscores the viability of the shouldered version, included in many ryu, which has been part of what's been argued here - that it "doesn't work". Well, of course it does work - it's part of the Liechtenauer tradition, appears as Walpurgis' guard in I.33, etc. It's possible some German masters could've use a version that goes over the shoulder, but we've no record of it if that's the case.

Quote:
Isn't it possible that the same thing happens for longsword? Is there explicit contrary advice that has not been quoted so far?


See above...basically, no there's no evidence to the contrary. I went through all this when several practitioners from Germany pointed out that it was "on the shoulder, not over". I looked through all the surviving commentaries on Liechtenauer from the 15th century, hoping to substantiate what was then so basic a supposition, and, to my shock, in fact not a one of them described or illustrated the guard as I'd interpreted it in either of my first two books. This was dreadfully bad timing, as the 2nd book had just come out. It's that book's greatest issue, as so very many plays begin from that guard, erroneously depicted by me. Unfortunately, that's part of this endeavor - sometimes things change greatly. But, fortunately, the community is very linked online, so when making corrections to published interpretations it's pretty easy to get the word out there.

Quote:
What is there in the manuals that forbids to start at the shoulder, raise the sword a bit, say head level, then cut, all during the step?


I'm afraid they aren't specific on that point, but we can rely on some basic good fencing to give us clues. The problem with such an action is that it's a huge 'tell' to the opponent. And in the moment your sword is rearing back, your foe can hit you with impunity, as you've wasted a whole 'tempo' in a movement that's moving away from him, not toward him. Now, all of this can be very subtle, so a small amount of this movement may not penalize you.

Basic fencing theory tells us that the weapon must precede the body; you always want to create a threat your opponent must address, before exposing a target on yourself. I suspect this is but one reason for the preference for the shouldered version of the guard in the 15th century: you can't 'cock back' the sword and give away your intention - unless you want to cut through your own shoulder! Wink

Best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Apr, 2008 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jean,

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
With test cutting the priority becomes cutting efficiency& power while in combat a lesser cut that is sufficient to do the job but gets there first, in the safest way possible, becomes the priority.


Regrettably, that's often true. Among a number of fencing paradoxes is this: you can't strike as hard and fast as humanly possible in a real fight; you'll have poor control, your timing will be wrong, and you'll end up with your sword past your guy before you've fully closed measure.

Quote:
Cutting can be approached as if one was cutting down trees that don't fight back ( testing the sword / edge sharpness / alinement ) or one can see it as a training exercise were the technique used is as close to the one one would use in training/fighting ( testing the fighting techniques ):


And from a sword evaluation point of view, this is not a bad thing, in my view.

Quote:
1 ) To see what happens when the technique used when learning or bouting works when the cut is fully committed too, but also NOT overcommitted too


That's the tricky part!
.
Quote:
2) The right technique might seem at first inefficient or ineffective but this could be that one is doing it wrong or one hasn't practised it enough for it to be optimum.


It comes down to "how hard is hard enough"? Well, there's no such thing as a light blow to your unprotected head; that, I can speak to from experience. On the other hand, it would be nice if a blow could compromise light defenses, perhaps a gambeson or jack. Although, there are cases where jacks appear to be proof against sword blows.

Quote:
Note: My level of training is very much a " beginner " and my actual test cutting is also very limited, so I'm not speaking from actual experience, but I think one can still use logic to propose a theory or theories of the thing(s). Wink Laughing Out Loud


Your reasoning seems sound to me, nonetheless. Like anything in this field, test cutting seems simple until you try to put all the elements involved together - timing, footwork, and power.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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Freelance Academy Press: Books on Western Martial Arts and Historical Swordsmanship

Author, In Saint George's Name: An Anthology of Medieval German Fighting Arts
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