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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Tue 06 May, 2008 3:04 am    Post subject: How did one use a flyssa?         Reply with quote

Been curious about the flyssa for a while now. I think it has a peculiar shape to it and I find myself wondering how it's meant to be used.

Anyone here have any idea?

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 06 May, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I expect they're used in probably a pretty similar fashion to a messer.
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For that particular flyssa, I'd think more like a a cavalry saber than anything else. It's ideal for thrusting in the charge but no doubt the blade profile is fine for slashing too.
Some more cavalry-oriented flyssa:
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=2190
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=826
http://www.oriental-arms.com/item.php?id=62

Other flyssa, as Craig pointed out, definitely more ground-oriented choppers. A good parallel would be using it like a longer, straighter falcata, sort of like a yataghan.
http://www.gnwtc.com/wea1772.JPG
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/item.php?id=545

More flyssa pics:
http://www.oriental-arms.co.il/search.php?q=f...&s.y=0

I just love how flyssa look! And what a fun history behind them, too.

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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Lawrence Parramore





Joined: 24 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It may be of interest to you that some Tarter swords also have that characteristic end to the blade?

I think some swords possibly developed their shape when old ones were copied, it may be that the style of fighting used demanded a particularly sharp tip for slashing and thrusting at the end of the combatants range, hence this part was sharpened often leading to this being part of the character of later blades? or maybe this characteristic made it easier to pierce the the armour of their opponents?

I am sure someone will know, I find the flyssa to be a curiosity from one end to the other personally.

Catch
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess my point would be is that while there are some differences between how swords are used, obviously, they're not necessarily as radical as one might think. There will be a lot of cross-over in terms of how one would use a messer and cavalry sabre. We tend to forget there are a lot of commonalities in how swords are used; there's a tendency to view each different type of sword as "unique" with its own special set of "techniques". Obviously, not everything that would work with a sabre or messer will work with a flyssa, so there is some truth to this idea, but it can easily obscure the fundamental similarities in the usage of different swords.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 7:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What Craig said. Happy

While there are certainly stylistic differences between various fighting arts, a sword is still a sword. In fact, a sword is still an object that you use your hand to manipulate. I don't know what art would be perfectly designed for a flyssa, but, as Craig already pointed out, any one-handed sword styled designed for a light cutting blade would likely give a good idea of how it is used.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Victor R.




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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 9:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wasn't familiar with this particular type of weapon until I saw it here - very interesting!

Question as to nomenclature: is the term "flyssa" in its language of origin consistent with the term "messer" in German? In other words, is it another term for "knife" or "sword" that has become synonymous with a weapon of this specific typology and culture of origin, or is it a typology otherwised derived, such as being named specific to its intended purpose?

The variants in Shayan's last link suggest to me that it is similar to the "messer" analogy, but I'm curious as to the thoughts of others with actual knowledge vs. my own speculation - or at least better informed speculation Big Grin - on the matter.
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
What Craig said. Happy

While there are certainly stylistic differences between various fighting arts, a sword is still a sword. In fact, a sword is still an object that you use your hand to manipulate. I don't know what art would be perfectly designed for a flyssa, but, as Craig already pointed out, any one-handed sword styled designed for a light cutting blade would likely give a good idea of how it is used.


Certainly the shorter ones that are more ground-use oriented look slash-oriented like messers too! I believe I said that in my post. Couldn't agree more with regards to those!

The longer ones, on the other hand, behave quite differently according to a recognized authority (Jim McDougall) who's handled quite a few:
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s...id=12893#8

Quote:
What is seldom discussed or observed is how exactly these swords were used. They seem badly balanced and ill suited for any kind of slashing, and the needle point seems intended for armor piercing as certain sabres of the Central Asian steppes. Possibly they were used in a lance-like thrust attack?
(emphasis mine)

Here's input from another owner of some of these swords:
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s...id=11058#5
Quote:
While any weapon with a point can stab, these pieces seem specifically designed to that as a PRIMARY function, with slashing/cutting purely a secondary purpose.
I'd love to find out if there's a specific fighting style associated with these as it would almost seem necessary.

(emphasis mine again, excepting the "PRIMARY")

Because of this obvious difference of design I would personally be quite uncomfortable lumping them with "any one-handed sword styled designed for a light cutting blade." A sword is a sword, but I wouldn't put two distinctly different designs under one category when there are so many closer parallels.

edir:
Victor, that post addresses your question as well:

Quote:
The term 'flyssa' refers to the Iflisen, again a tribal subgroup, but possibly the name of a town as well, and this group was first associated with these distinct swords.

~Jim McDougall


Best regards,
Shayan

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 2:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some of these reminds me of long thin Falcatas or Yatagants with a strait back and some remind me of the Kyber Knife.

( Pics posted by Shayan G a few posts back ).

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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
What Craig said. Happy

While there are certainly stylistic differences between various fighting arts, a sword is still a sword. In fact, a sword is still an object that you use your hand to manipulate. I don't know what art would be perfectly designed for a flyssa, but, as Craig already pointed out, any one-handed sword styled designed for a light cutting blade would likely give a good idea of how it is used.


I have to agree with Bill. A sword more suited for thrusting just means you will do that type of technique more often, but you will be doing the same basic type of thrusting technique as you would for a sword designed for more cutting but able to thrust.

There isn't THAT many different techniques you can do, really, when you look closer. The different "styles" are simply making full and most effective use of the design features of your weapon and the theories behind the delivery of the techniques.

Let's see what Bruce Lee says about it, exchanging "punch" for "thrust", and "kick" for "cut", or simply exchanging both for "technique":

Bruce Lee wrote:
Before I learnt the Art, a punch was just like a punch, a kick was just like a kick.
After I had studied the Art, a punch is no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick.
Now that I understand the Art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick is just like a kick.

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bruce Lee also wrote:
I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.


This seems, to me, to explain why all swords do not look the same.

People have preferences and specialities. And seeing as how some people have a gift for developing martial skills, like Bruce Lee (with his Jeet Kune Do), and others don't, widespread use of a certain design might be explained by people who don't develop their own "style" learning from, and emulating, the "style" of someone who does. A tribal unit will all have seen Mr. X's style defeat most other styles it comes into contact with, and they will want that for themselves. And Mr. X will want his tribal unit to be combat-ready and effective, so he will teach his style to the tribe. So it will go from being Mr. X's personal style to being the tribe's style, as others will eventually find new techniques that fall into the theories of the original style.

And the weapon will follow, because those styles will naturally have a favourite, most practiced technique type, and the weapon will need to be able to accentuate the effect of it. For instance, there's no point having no point on your weapon if you favour thrusting, so your sword will be designed and made to make the best use of the thrust. Other factors, like tribal or area art, and contact with other peoples may also affect both the design and the style.

And by the 21st century, there will be thousands of designs and styles, all of which will have had nearly identical roots in the most basic techniques.

My point being that it's very true that if your flyssa appears to be a thrusting sword, any thrusting style will be effective with it. Personally, it doesn't look like a pure thruster to me. It actually looks like something that everyone using one would have custom-made to dimensions suiting their personal style of fighting and, due to the length variations, perhaps even to body size. The wider ones certainly look like they can chop like hell. The weight and balance issue mentioned may be from having an existing sword modified to suit someone it wasn't originally made for. Like a hand-me-down.

I would say that a look into how the people who made it lived would likely give a unique insight into it's use. When they went into battle, was the sword their primary weapon? Was the weapon also an everyday tool ? Did they all carry a weapon everyday, or was it merely a status symbol, and how many carried that particular type? Who do we know they may have fought against with it? And so on...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2008 5:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds great to me! As I said, the shorter ones have a different design and therefore probably a different use--the appear more chop-oriented.

The longer ones, which seem to crop up more, are by all accounts more cavalry oriented for charges it would seem.

Gorgeous weapons either way!

Best regards,
Shayan

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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Jim McDougall




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PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2008 9:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent discussion on a very intriguing weapon!

The term 'flyssa' derives from a French transliteration referring to the Iflysen (sic) who were the tribal group primarily associated with these swords initially. This group were of the Kabyles situated in Algeria, and a component of the vast Berber confederations.

It is unclear and considerably debated as to just how old these distinct weapons are, and from which weapon or group of weapons might they have evolved. It seems generally held that they likely evolved from 16th century Ottoman yataghans which were straight backed with deep belly curved edge. With the Ottoman Empire extended into these regions in North Africa (though the Kabyles were technically never subdued) this does seem likely.

The Ottomans often included mercenaries and diverse ethnic groups in thier ranks, including those from regions in the Caucusus, and it is of course likely that the Tatar swords with these needle type armour piercing points ( the sabres often termed 'ordynka') might have been known among thier weapons. It is well known that mail was worn by many native forces throughout North African regions into the early 20th century.

The way that these 'flyssa' were actually used has long puzzled me as well, and though the years I have yet to see any conclusive perspective nor contemporary narratives describing thier use. It seems that observations I have seen by certain scholars whose opinions I value highly consider these cavalry weapons, so I am inclined to agree. However, it seems unlikely that a thrusting method would have been used in a forward moving attack, so it must be that the thrust would have been in a static combat or melee, much in the manner of the estoc when the combatant dismounted.
The deep belly on the blade would of course correspond to the 'chopping' attack.

In all it seems that the ancient ancestors of these weapons were probably Meditteranean versions of the kopis, the falcata, but there is no progressive line of development directly to the flyssa, whose earliest examples seem to appear around the early 19th century. The earliest provenanced examples I know of were from the French Foreign Legion museum in France, an example taken in combat in Kabylia in 1857, and is of the same basic form and decorative motif as in most collections today.

I hope this information will be useful in this discussion, as I have very much enjoyed studying these weapons over a number of years, and wanted to share some of my findings here.

With very best regards,
Jim
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jim McDougall wrote:
The way that these 'flyssa' were actually used has long puzzled me as well, and though the years I have yet to see any conclusive perspective nor contemporary narratives describing thier use. It seems that observations I have seen by certain scholars whose opinions I value highly consider these cavalry weapons, so I am inclined to agree. However, it seems unlikely that a thrusting method would have been used in a forward moving attack,


Why not? Horsemen who were sufficiently well trained to use the flyssa effectively on horseback might also have been sufficiently well trained to stop their horses in time to prevent a successful thrust from wrenching the weapon out of their hands....
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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 7:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oops, I missed the response.

Thanks for your insight Mr. McDougall!

As to the origin, do the flyssa seem similar in handling to a yataghan? It would make sense that the Ottomans were the origin since the first mention of the sword comes in the 19th century, only a few centuries after Ottoman rule began.

I had always just assumed they were a holdover of the Greek kopis left in North Africa, but the Ottoman theory makes more sense.

Thanks again!

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice to see I managed to get a discussion going. Happy I figured the longer flyssa's sharp point was meant for thrusting but the rest of the blade looked like a cutter/chopper. What confused me was the strong contrast between these two features.

As for the use of a thrusting sword in a cavalry charge, wasn't that the cause of the whole thrusting vs cutting debate they had going in the 19th century? That you wanted a straight, rigid thruster to impale people with during the charge but a curved, flexible cutter for after the charge when you still need to fight well in the middle of a bunch of people, hence why they couldn't agree which type was best suited for the job?

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

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Jeff Demetrick





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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Jim McDougall wrote:
The way that these 'flyssa' were actually used has long puzzled me as well, and though the years I have yet to see any conclusive perspective nor contemporary narratives describing thier use. It seems that observations I have seen by certain scholars whose opinions I value highly consider these cavalry weapons, so I am inclined to agree. However, it seems unlikely that a thrusting method would have been used in a forward moving attack,


Why not? Horsemen who were sufficiently well trained to use the flyssa effectively on horseback might also have been sufficiently well trained to stop their horses in time to prevent a successful thrust from wrenching the weapon out of their hands....


Hi Lafayette,

Jim is absolutely correct these sabers would not be effective thruster at any speed. The appearance of the weapon is somewhat deceptive. It is straight with a "needle" tip which seems to scream it is a thrust weapon, but when you handle it it feels like a saber. I have heard repeatedly that these are awkward to handle, which is true if you intend to use it as an epee. Not if you are going to slash with it.
To me the most conclusive evidence against the thrust is the attribute that at first glance makes people think this is a thrusting weapon. That is the tip. It is too thin and not tempered (soft) for thrusting at anything but the softest target. I would not trust it even on unarmoured opponents. To me the tip is purely decorative or used for torture.
All the Best
Jeff



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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jeff! Great flyssa, congratulations!

Just one thing: Mr. McDougall didn't say they were bad for thrusting--in fact he said the points were probably intended for it, just not at the charge.

Quote:
However, it seems unlikely that a thrusting method would have been used in a forward moving attack, so it must be that the thrust would have been in a static combat or melee, much in the manner of the estoc when the combatant dismounted.


(See also his other comments from an earlier SFI thread, I posted them a page ago or so.)

Is your flyssa a more combat oriented flyssa, or a more status/decor oriented one? Maybe that would explain the soft temper. I can't imagine the point would be so prominent on the longer versions of these and so widespread without some purpose, especially considering he excess weight they add which in turn affects the balance.

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Jeff Demetrick





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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shayan G wrote:
Hi Jeff! Great flyssa, congratulations!

Just one thing: Mr. McDougall didn't say they were bad for thrusting--in fact he said the points were probably intended for it, just not at the charge.

Quote:
However, it seems unlikely that a thrusting method would have been used in a forward moving attack, so it must be that the thrust would have been in a static combat or melee, much in the manner of the estoc when the combatant dismounted.


(See also his other comments from an earlier SFI thread, I posted them a page ago or so.)

Is your flyssa a more combat oriented flyssa, or a more status/decor oriented one? Maybe that would explain the soft temper. I can't imagine the point would be so prominent on the longer versions of these and so widespread without some purpose, especially considering he excess weight they add which in turn affects the balance.


Hi Shayan,

This one was definitetly a user piece with a faint temper line (below). I think the point was intentionally left untempered so that it would bend rather then snap off if hit. The weight it adds is minimal, and helps the balance to make the sweet spot of the blade just slightly on the hilt side of the widening. If you look at the pictures from oriental arms site you will see the tips are often missing. This is also the case on black sea yataghans and surviving tatar sabers, which also had this feature. Demonstrating how fragile and most likely unfunctional these tips were.
I have of course only been discussing the longer cavalry sabers. As you know there are shorter versions of the flyssa which most likely were used differently. I don't think I have ever seen the shorter versions with a needle point.

All the Best
Jeff



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Shayan G





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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aha! That makes sense then. Thanks for the explanation!

Really nice engravings on your flyssa by the way, again, congrats!

Best regards,
Shayan

You have to be a man, first, before you can be a gentleman!
~the immortal John Wayne
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