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Francisco Simões




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 11:32 am    Post subject: Two swords combat         Reply with quote

I would like to known from more learned people than myself, if one middle age (High and Low) man battling with two swords, one on each hand, would be true to history of swordmanship or told in some cronicle unknown to me? And with what kind of sword typology?
Let's say
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Francisco,
Here are some previously-posted threads on that subject:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5796
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11615

Happy

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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If I recall there is documentation for it at Clontarf. I don't know of any other documentation for 2 broad swords; rapiers later yes but not broadswords.
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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Barker wrote:
If I recall there is documentation for it at Clontarf. I don't know of any other documentation for 2 broad swords; rapiers later yes but not broadswords.

Actually, even the classic rapier (i.e. the weapon used for Fabris, Capoferro, and Giganti and later in the 1600s) was rarely used in this way. In fact, the only well-known treatises that describe the use of two swords are from the 1500s with the exception of Docciolini's 1601 manual (but the fencing he describes is closer to that of the 1500s manuals than it is to the 1600s manuals I listed above (Fabris, et al.)

Let's just say that it was never common and seems to hold a small spot in the history of fencing...

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Otto Karl




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know there was a man in Japan that became famous as a strategist and because that kind of training: Miyamoto Musashi. There is an important detail: his style was "asymmetric", because he took a long saber (katana) in one hand and a short one (wakizashi) at the other. It is similar to the "rapier and dagger" style of the rennaisance, but a wakizashi is more like a short sword than a dagger, because it is approximately 50 cm long at the blade, and it is quite heavier. And yes, it was period, but far far away from europe. Sorry! Big Grin
P.D.: There is a bundle of interesting considerations in those links Chad putted in his reply.
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Greg Coffman




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PostPosted: Tue 22 Apr, 2008 10:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sword and dagger was common in Europe and might correspond to the katana and wakizashi. I also recommend reading the past discussion on this often reoccurring topic.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
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Francisco Simões




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the tips.
Godspeed

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Vaclav Homan




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It were described more than 5 duels (which I know) with two swords for one man (swords or rapiers) in 16 and begining 17 century.
This theme is in Marozzo, Grassi, Sutor .....
It was tipical solution in fight with more bad guy or using as left arm dagger.

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B. Fulton





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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 11:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Considering quite a few (over half) of the medieval/renaissance daggers I've seen bordered on short swords (with foot to foot and a half blades) many of the tactics would be the same. Not as much reach, but in a pinch, it will do.
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Max Chouinard




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Otto Karl wrote:
I know there was a man in Japan that became famous as a strategist and because that kind of training: Miyamoto Musashi.


Actually Musashi rarely fought with the daisho, and actually I think there are no solid base of evidence to consider he ever used it in a duel. Fiction popularised this image of him with two sword and being an innovation, actually his school focus much more on the single sword and it seems that nito was known before him.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 23 Apr, 2008 7:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Max Chouinard wrote:
Otto Karl wrote:
I know there was a man in Japan that became famous as a strategist and because that kind of training: Miyamoto Musashi.


Actually Musashi rarely fought with the daisho, and actually I think there are no solid base of evidence to consider he ever used it in a duel. Fiction popularised this image of him with two sword and being an innovation, actually his school focus much more on the single sword and it seems that nito was known before him.


Ah, Max, nice to see you posting here. Wink Cool

If my memory serves I think that Musashi often used a boken against steel for real duels: Confidence in his skills maybe but I also read that the boken could break or bend katanas while the boken couldn't be broken or cut easily.

In some cases he may have preferred to end fight without killing as this might be a good idea if the person he was fighting was an important person.

With Musashi there is the risk of one's memory to be influenced by legend or films with Toshiro Mifune.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toshirō_Mifune

One interesting fact is that the Japanese seemed to completely ignore the existence of left handed swordsmen and that the rare left handed samurai would have trained as a right hander. ( Not much choice there culturally as no master would have taught the use of the sword/katana left handed ).

Now in a way the use of two swords at the same time would have meant that the left hand would have to be also trained as the primary mover of the sword: The only derogation from the right handed only sword work I think.

Now a swordsman trained to use two swords might be able to fight left handed, in the Japanese cultural context, if wounded in the right hand or arm ? Just speculating ? Any " amputee " samurai using their left hand in the historical record ? I would assume that losing a hand or an arm might happen in combat and be an occupational hazard: Would this end a career as a samurai or warrior in all cases ? I would assume that a high noble so wounded might still lead an army and might have to still fight in battle ? ( Low status samurai might be unemployed or be retired but still kept as a retainer by a more generous lord ? ).

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 2:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
One interesting fact is that the Japanese seemed to completely ignore the existence of left handed swordsmen and that the rare left handed samurai would have trained as a right hander. ( Not much choice there culturally as no master would have taught the use of the sword/katana left handed ).

Now in a way the use of two swords at the same time would have meant that the left hand would have to be also trained as the primary mover of the sword: The only derogation from the right handed only sword work I think.


In Japanese swordmanship circles, the common explanation given to left-handers to reassure them is that being left-handed is actually an advantage because all the power comes from the left hand. Personnally, as a kenjutsu student, I think it's completely wrong, but there it is Happy I mean if having the strong hand at the back of the handle had provided any sort of advantage I'd like to think that the right-handed majority would have figured it out and adapted Big Grin

In my opinion, and experience seeing fellow left-handers learn kenjutsu, the disavantage is still there because all the control done with the right hand is more difficult for them. The power in a right-hander left hand is plenty enough to cut efficiently anyway... So the advantage is just not there.

Even with two swords, the shortest is in the left hand because it is easier to control. But if you just want to use the short sword you take it with your right hand. It's not that the use of the left hand is prohibited, it's just that everyone is meant to behave and fence in the most efficient way for a right hander. The use of two swords is no exception to the rule...

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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 8:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I'm still in favour of dual wielding as a viable tactic in the right circumstances and provided that the swordsman in question actually has the ability and skill to fight with a set of two swords at the same time. If one can improve the odds of winning a battle by using two swords, then two swords is favourable. To me it's really as simple as that.

Besides, there's already sword and dagger styles, and considering that we can't even get a clear definition of the differance between a long dagger and a short sword, it seem strange to me that some are so quick to dismiss dual sword fighting.

That said, I do admit there are practical limitations as well as weapon combinations that are more effective. No one ever claimed dual wielding is an ideal style, after all.

Francisco Simões wrote:
I would like to known from more learned people than myself, if one middle age (High and Low) man battling with two swords, one on each hand, would be true to history of swordmanship or told in some cronicle unknown to me? And with what kind of sword typology?
Let's say
Godspeed


Like you, I'm no scholar of medieval swordsmanship. However, from what I can understand single handed swords were almost always used in combination with a shield, as it was a weapon of war. And I've never heard of anything that would imply there was such a thing as formal two sword training in medieval Europe.

So, just theorising here, but if there ever was an occassion where a medieval swordsman did use two swords, it would probably have had to have been under very special circumstances.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:
One interesting fact is that the Japanese seemed to completely ignore the existence of left handed swordsmen and that the rare left handed samurai would have trained as a right hander. ( Not much choice there culturally as no master would have taught the use of the sword/katana left handed ).

Now in a way the use of two swords at the same time would have meant that the left hand would have to be also trained as the primary mover of the sword: The only derogation from the right handed only sword work I think.


In Japanese swordmanship circles, the common explanation given to left-handers to reassure them is that being left-handed is actually an advantage because all the power comes from the left hand. Personnally, as a kenjutsu student, I think it's completely wrong, but there it is Happy I mean if having the strong hand at the back of the handle had provided any sort of advantage I'd like to think that the right-handed majority would have figured it out and adapted Big Grin

In my opinion, and experience seeing fellow left-handers learn kenjutsu, the disavantage is still there because all the control done with the right hand is more difficult for them. The power in a right-hander left hand is plenty enough to cut efficiently anyway... So the advantage is just not there.

Even with two swords, the shortest is in the left hand because it is easier to control. But if you just want to use the short sword you take it with your right hand. It's not that the use of the left hand is prohibited, it's just that everyone is meant to behave and fence in the most efficient way for a right hander. The use of two swords is no exception to the rule...


I took a quick seminar with Max ( Maxime ) recently as part of what our group does to expose us to different martial arts or styles and he mentioned, if I remember correctly, that the Japanese population has a very low occurrence of natural left handers compared to other cultural groups: This may have affected the views about about left handed use of the sword ?

I think that in large part the Japanese culture is VERY conformist and traditional and having come up with a style(s) of swordsmanship would be extremely unwilling to adapt to the individuality of a left hander or take the trouble to see how left handed use would affect everyone else's swordsmanship i.e. avoid the issue completely for the sake of social order and uniformity !

With two swords the shortest sword would be used by the left hand when the right hand is occupied by using the longer sword but the skills involved by the left hand would have to be close to the skill of the right hand for it to be an advantage and not a liability. Looked at in isolation the left hand weapon would have some effects similar to what a true left handed sword technique would have meant in the Japanese styles: May also explain why it was a rare technique being very difficult and challenging to learn and would also be very challenging to the right handed trained only majority of Japanese swordsmen !? ( Even more than the European context were left handers where rare but not unknown.

As a separate observation with European longsword: I find that left handed or right handed use doesn't make much difference to the techniques except where the forearms cross being reversed and the stronger more comfortable angles of attack are also reversed.

With sword and shield or buckler reversing hands on sword& shield or single sword has much more effect on technique I think.

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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Unfortunately I'm ignorant as to medieval European swordsmanship, however I study kali silat (escrima) and can attest to the pragmatism of using two weapons in unarmed combat. While a shield is great passive defense for a classic massive melee, for the purposes of unarmored civilian combat or combat in which armor is impractical, two swords is ideal.

While a shield passively defends, in such a situation the best defense is a double offense. Not only can the sword block the attacks of the opponent but it also divides their awareness. Often when sparring an instructor I find one sword coming at me from one angle and I block, only to discover the other had snuck through my defenses and jabbed my ribs.

As to it being just a training gimmick for coordination, as was hypothesized in the thread referenced earlier, that is quite simply balderdash. Our style and various others train many techniques applicable only for self-defense and deadly combat. There ARE drills for coordination of course, but there are just as many for violent encounters. Here's a presentation of it (keep in mind the real techniques and the way they are practiced are much quicker as they aren't performed for an audience!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhJyqCga3-E

For use in medieval combat, I would be skeptical in any situation where armor was available as to its general practicality. However, in an unarmed duel or street fight, I see no reason why a knight or man at arms would hesitate to use sword and dagger, or better yet, sword, dagger, and buckler.

The mentions of the Battle of Clontarf are telling however--in many medieval tales, wielding two swords is mentioned because of its eccentricity and irregularity. Obviously it was fun for our forbears to speculate about too! Wink


As an aside, this was extensively covered earlier so I mention it in passing, but the weapons used in escrima are dramatically different than those the Spanish had, and the techniques for their use are different as well. There may be some Spanish influence, but I think it would be rather patronizing to assume that a marginal Spanish presence led to the rise of hundreds of styles of escrima in Southeast Asia, when clearly the traditions had been in place for quite some time as evidenced by the cultural crystallization of rituals and religious beliefs associated with weaponry and violence extant there long before Spanish arrival.

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Francisco Simões




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On a medieval European context, by the things I read so far, two sword fighting would be a very exceptional situation!

Single opponent combat rather than battle and short swords/daggers rather than regular broad swords, even "small" ones. This would be a sintetic way to put it, what do think people?

I've been playing for a long period AD&D, and it has blurred my judjment on realistic combat conditions!
Godspeed

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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 4:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
I took a quick seminar with Max ( Maxime ) recently as part of what our group does to expose us to different martial arts or styles and he mentioned, if I remember correctly, that the Japanese population has a very low occurrence of natural left handers compared to other cultural groups: This may have affected the views about about left handed use of the sword ?


Possibly. I gathered from my readings (admittedly very few reliable sources, though) that being left-handed was not really accepted anyhow; in other words, lefties were probably forced to go right-handed at an early age. I don't know how you can measure a natural occurrence of left-handers in this situation...

Quote:
I think that in large part the Japanese culture is VERY conformist and traditional and having come up with a style(s) of swordsmanship would be extremely unwilling to adapt to the individuality of a left hander or take the trouble to see how left handed use would affect everyone else's swordsmanship i.e. avoid the issue completely for the sake of social order and uniformity !


The other likely thing is that under military training you probably don't want to have left-handed soldiers sticking out of the group. Then tradition takes over... I think much the same happened in Europe. Exactly how much left-handed use can we see reported before dueling styles started to develop? I suspect not much, but then I haven't read much medieval material...

Quote:
With two swords the shortest sword would be used by the left hand when the right hand is occupied by using the longer sword but the skills involved by the left hand would have to be close to the skill of the right hand for it to be an advantage and not a liability.


Not completely true in my experience. As I see it the difference between my left and right hand/arm is the level of control I can keep on equally heavy objects. Giving the lightest/shortest weapon to the left hand is logical as it is easier to control. I did one or two katas with two weapons but alas I don't remember them well enough (read: I barely remember the first two motions Wink ) to further analyze what difficulty they present, as they are not usually worked on at my level. The sensation I can recall is that the exercise was far easier on the left hand, wrist and forearm than on the right. The first thing noticed is the difficulty of handling a katana with just one hand even in the right. Not so much the wakizashi in the left hand...


One way of looking at the problem of dual wielding is to search for some evidence of people carrying two swords at once, for a start. In a civil self-defense context I can't think of many places where this was common; the Japanese with katana+wakizashi+tanto are already on the heavy end of the scale... I don't know how it was in the Philippines, perhaps two shorter blades can be carried this way. In Europe I don't remember seeing any pictorial evidence of that, not counting rapier and dagger which are not of the same length at all (even if the dagger is close to a short sword, the rapier is a very long blade in general, and the use is completely asymmetric).

For battlefield it has been stated in the other threads, I think, that handling two swords at once was not necessarily a good idea except in special circumstances.

I guess that leaves formal dueling as an occasion to use the skill. But using a non-traditional, special combination for a duel may not be tolerated in all cultures...

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 6:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent thanks for your comments and please take my comments only as theoretical speculating: I appreciate the dialogue. Big Grin Cool

As a left hander I decided to train as a right hander for the sake of simplicity i.e. not having to have reverse in my head the swordmaster's instructions. At least that was the theory. Laughing Out Loud In practice it turned out being ironic since the instructor is left handed himself and often shows us what to do left handed. Eek!

Oh, he can switch lead hand at will but still favours left handed handling.

One thing I have noticed with a new skill is that if one start learning with the weak hand one tends to be more comfortable continuing training this way.

Now if I wanted to change to left handed training I think it would feel strange at least for a while. I do seem to be able to visualize the mirror image positions fairly easily though !

I guess although left handed I'm very ambidextrous.

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Ken Speed





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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 6:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Anders,

You wrote, "Well, I'm still in favour of dual wielding as a viable tactic in the right circumstances and provided that the swordsman in question actually has the ability and skill to fight with a set of two swords at the same time. If one can improve the odds of winning a battle by using two swords, then two swords is favourable. To me it's really as simple as that.

Besides, there's already sword and dagger styles, and considering that we can't even get a clear definition of the differance between a long dagger and a short sword, it seem strange to me that some are so quick to dismiss dual sword fighting."


I agree. If sword and dagger counts as two swords then it seems to me that two sword fighting was not uncommon in Europe. What about sais? While no one can argue that they are European I have seen demonstrations in which a sai wielder more than held his own against a swordsman. Similarly I watched a film of a Chinese martial artist who used two saber-like swords against an opponent armed with a steel staff and the timing variations that the paired sword user was able to employ made life extremely difficult for the staff user. There are lots of Chinese and Okinawan systems that use paired weapons. It also wasn't all that long ago that someone was saying in relation to Viking weapons that fighting an opponent with a sword and an axe was much harder than fighting an opponent with a shield and sword.

I guess a lot depends on how specific one want to be in defining "two swords" if two weapons is close enough then there are a lot of examples of effective systems. If it has to literally be "two swords" then the answer changes.

Regards


Ken
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Thu 24 Apr, 2008 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shayan G wrote:
While a shield passively defends, in such a situation the best defense is a double offense. Not only can the sword block the attacks of the opponent but it also divides their awareness. Often when sparring an instructor I find one sword coming at me from one angle and I block, only to discover the other had snuck through my defenses and jabbed my ribs.

Are you sure about that (my bold)? I'm no fencer, unlike most of you here, but I understand that punches with the boss, running slams, strikes with the edge of the shield against the knee or foot, and other offensive moves with the shield are common in serious sword-and-shield styles.

Another disadvantage of two largish swords is the extra cost, weight, and bulk. If one rapier is a nuisance to wear, I bet that a pair of rapiers was a nightmare!
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