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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: Testing SCA Stikes on Tatami Mats and in Unrestricted Combat         Reply with quote

While visiting Texas we tested SCA strikes on Tatami Mats. I thought the following video might be of interest to this group. After the initial results were obvious we decided to test lower quality swords and compare them to higher quality ones.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRcSr5iAOME&am...hread=6240


While there we also tested SCA fighting against Western Martial Arts. The scenario was blofsfechten (unarmored combat). There were no rules in this fight except don't actually kill the other person. Strikes to the hand, lower leg, grappling and punching were all allowed. The WMA combatant used a longsword using only techniques shown in historic fighting manuals and was a very knowledgeable, skilled and agile fighter.

We found that my lower leg was too hard for him to hit with out getting his head or hip chopped. My hand was too hard to target and it was difficult for him to close in for grappling without getting hit first.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_5dPH8QNnM&am...amp;page=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sg_qfbTKGZY&am...amp;page=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkSV8tAMEcY&am...amp;page=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RF85xEocjE4&am...amp;page=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj7xzmOG56s&am...amp;page=1

On my part I found that I was overly concerned with keeping my leg safe since I have not sparred too much with shields and the full body as a target. Legs are still at risk but not as much as I anticipated because his head or hip would come into my range before my leg came into his. Adam did get one good shot to my ankle so it is something to watch for.The next time I fight in this setup I would be more aggressive with this new experience knowing my leg is not at much as risk.

There were no hits to my hand. We agreed that the swordhand moves too quickly in and out from the shield. Adam did get one nice shot to my right upper arm when he stepped to the side. I did get two good hits on Adams fingers which in a real fight would have made him drop his sword if not for gauntlets. In both those cases I was aiming for his body and when Adam moved his hands to block his fingers got hit. The majority to good shots that Adam landed on me were to my head just like in SCA fighting.

Note: on the grappling video take a close look .45 seconds into the fight.

I should also add that I have a basic level understanding of longsword within the German system so I was familiar with my opponents longsword techniques. My opponent did not have much experience against SCA fighters. I have always been a proponent of learning as many different styles as possible for just such situations.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Thu 28 Aug, 2008 5:07 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess sword quality counts for some of those single hand sword cuts. ;-)
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We found that the sword quality seems to mater even more when making advanced strikes like wraps and rolling cuts with a single handed sword. I have little trouble cutting mats with low-end two-handed longswords and the like.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
We found that the sword quality seems to mater even more when making advanced strikes like wraps and rolling cuts with a single handed sword. I have little trouble cutting mats with low-end two-handed longswords and the like.


Just remember, you have more blade control with two hands than one. An arming sword in one hand can turn and twist in unexpected ways. Practice make for a better cut with a single hand sword.
SCA combat does not worry too much on how or exactly where the cut will be. The cost of using a rattan stick.
I did notice that the shieldman tended to want to walk out from behind his shield sometimes. The mind set of using live steel also comes into play.
Good demo! Looks well done.

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, the longsword was playing a very good distance game and making me chase him. That is when my shield would drift open and he hit me a few times.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ii thought all of it looked pretty good. If it were actual blossfechten, some of the German longsword hits (neck, shoulder, etc.) called minor should have been adequate to cut/slash deeply enough to cause more concern than seemed to be given credit. Harnessfechten, I would guess that no one really had any certain kills until the grappling! Anyway, understanding that no one wanted to go to a hospital... these were some good sporting/practice bouts. Nice job.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 6:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We actually debated some of those light cuts and slices and took them to the tatami. They were not able to even cut one layer. The only way the slices seemed to have any effect on the tatami was if we half-sword in a filleting action. After testing we agreed that the light slices and cuts would have no serious effect and would not stop a person intent on killing the other man.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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www.poconogym.com
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
We actually debated some of those light cuts and slices and took them to the tatami. They were not able to even cut one layer. The only way the slices seemed to have any effect on the tatami was if we half-sword in a filleting action. After testing we agreed that the light slices and cuts would have no serious effect and would not stop a person intent on killing the other man.


A tatami is possibly harder to cut than unprotected flesh !?

Just looking at the clip where the cut to the shoulder was followed by the cut to the abdomen, it may be true that the specific cut to the shoulder may have been light, but just to argue the technique, a similarly aimed blow could be done with a little bit more power and be somewhat more " major " than " minor ": If the cut to the shoulder was effective the following more powerful cut to the abdomen might not have been possible if the trapezius muscle was cut into deeply !?

I could be wrong, but I think that it doesn't take very much power to make a dangerous cut or a lot less than we assume if the blade is very sharp. Obviously these kind of matches can not give sure results and the amount of damage/wounding has to be guesstimated.

What is more interesting is that one's sword can at least in theory get past the other defences using good technique: The outcomes might be different depending on very small timing differences and very small differences in cutting power or other subtle variables.

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is no way to account for every possible outcome in a real fight to the death. I have had experiences where I was cutting 13 oz leather with a razor sharp box cutter and the blade cut me and I did not notice it until later. I have also had similar experiences where the blade hit me hard and it did not cut me at all... go figure.

I have found that light cuts tend to be more effective in places where the skin is stretched tight like the elbow and other joints. I have a tiny scar over my elbow from a not so sharp sword that just touched me. Likewise I have seen people test murder stokes with razor sharp swords in their bare hands striking with full force (we tested that too). I have also seen someone beat a razor sharp sword that cuts tatami on his upper-leg over his jeans just to make a point that swords are not some sort of laser.

As far as blofsfechten, unarmored does not necessarily mean naked. Medieval people did not wear t-shirts and shorts, they wore a few layers of linen or other materials. That is pretty tough to slice through. In the case of light cuts, it could be the difference between cut and a bruise.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com


Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Fri 22 Aug, 2008 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 22 Aug, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:

As far as blofsfechten, unarmored does not necessarily mean naked. Medieval people did not wear t-shirts and shorts, they wore a few layers of linen or other materials. That is pretty tough to slice through. In the case of light cuts, it could be the difference between cut and a bruise.


Good point about some layers of clothing having some protective properties against light blows or cuts.

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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice videos. The cuts were good and you've shown your proficiency with the swords. Nice work. Happy
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 12:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Lance. We used your RSW swords when we did some longsword vs longsword sparring. I will post a link when as soon as Mike puts something up on You Tube.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
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www.poconogym.com
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing I noticed is that you turned up the force when you threw your sword cuts vs the rattan blows. This throws the test somewhat, as you're commiting a lot more to the blow and would be sacrificing defense to get that extra power.

I really liked the cutting excercise quite a bit; and the difference between cheap and expensive swords was rather stark. I also like the fights; I think that some cross pollination of ideas is definitely beneficial to everyone involved in martial arts.

The topic of SCA wraps has come up before, and I think it is an interesting one.

I am in the SCA and I enjoy it, but I take a lot of the techniques that we use to be purely sport oriented wrather than martially applicable. Certainly swinging a rattan stick with take marking the cutting surface wouldn't translate into actual cutting with a real sword, right?

Boy was I wrong. My friend who is a knight (read: 10+ years of SCA fighting) came over and did some cutting with my Albion Knight. I was amazed at how well he cut, and with tremendous power. Edge alignment was near perfect, and his targeting is great. Futher, he can genereate the same power when in motion and off balance.

And wraps certainly appear to be a viable attack, assuming that your opponent is not well armored in the target area. These can also be thrown with a mace with nasty results. I think a hard wrap to the back of the helm with a mace would stagger most opponents, or even knock them out.


Thanks for posting the videos.

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Chris Fields




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good vids, I finally thought of what bothered me about them. The person using the longsword was using longsword techniques, but those long sword techniques were meant to be used against other longswords, not against sword and shield. The longswordsman would of used different techniques against that type of defense. I would think he would keep his distance and rely on the trust due to his reach advantage.

It's always hard to tell what works and what doesn't until it's all said and done, and even then, it never works %100 of the time. As a teacher of Kun Tao kung fu, I am always looking at the techniques of the art, and seeing how they apply to different circumstances, and also how different people apply them. What I am seeing here, is that this longswordsman tried longsword techniques that may not have been meant for the circumtances he was facing, and maybe he was unaware of techniques for that particular circumstance. However, another longswordsman may have taken a different approach to the situation and come out on top. Same could be said for you Vassilis, though you looked like you've had experience against long weapon attacks before. There are just too many variable to capture.

This one is for sure, one should not be so winded after such a short bout! (I'm just teasing now) Big Grin good job guys!
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 3:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
... those long sword techniques were meant to be used against other longswords, not against sword and shield.


Chris I think you're right on about that. From what i've seen on longsword v longsword, the moves are tight; the fighter doesn't come "from the outside" so to speak.

Against a good passive defense such as a heater, the longswordsman would need to incorporate much more lateral motion. Attack from the outside to get at the shieldman, or trick kim into opening up, which this shieldman seems to have avoided scrupulously. In this context the swordsman really has to play the range game, and attack feet and arms whereever they peek out because the body and head are so well guarded, even if he shieldman isn't particularly skilled.

I know that everyone studies the longsword for single foot combat,/ civilian dueling, but for some reason I have always thought of it as a horseman's weapon in combat. It would give the horseman more reach to strike at infantry, without being unwieldy. Am I correct in this assesment, or have there ever been large units of langschwerters fighting afoot? Even moderately armored he seems to be at an inherent disadvantage to the shieldman.

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 10:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
One thing I noticed is that you turned up the force when you threw your sword cuts vs the rattan blows. This throws the test somewhat, as you're commiting a lot more to the blow and would be sacrificing defense to get that extra power.


There are two issues. I think my mind set was more of a demonstration mode when I struck the rattan against the tires. The bigger issue is that when I cut through the tatami with the sword the sword still has momentum. In reality it is not likely that I would cut through a person. The sword would stop within a few inches of impact. This through me off more then anything and you can see my open my shield up as I cut through on the tatami.

Quote:

I really liked the cutting excercise quite a bit; and the difference between cheap and expensive swords was rather stark. I also like the fights; I think that some cross pollination of ideas is definitely beneficial to everyone involved in martial arts.


The apparent difference in sword quality with single handed swords was a great surprise to me too. I agree with you on the cross pollination.

Quote:

Boy was I wrong. My friend who is a knight (read: 10+ years of SCA fighting) came over and did some cutting with my Albion Knight. I was amazed at how well he cut, and with tremendous power. Edge alignment was near perfect, and his targeting is great. Futher, he can genereate the same power when in motion and off balance.



That is why we fought with the steel blunts. We wanted to see if my rattan training would transfer over to a real sword. The result is that all hits were with the edge and hard.

Quote:

And wraps certainly appear to be a viable attack, assuming that your opponent is not well armored in the target area. These can also be thrown with a mace with nasty results. I think a hard wrap to the back of the helm with a mace would stagger most opponents, or even knock them out.



I got a chance to examine some historic helmets up close recently. The were very light, about 22 gage mild steel, weighing less then 2 lbs. Quite honestly, I think even a strong cut from a sword would have someone seeing stars.

All of the people present at this testing came to understand why the wrap is such a powerful shot. It is hard to make people understand over the internet but it is clear to see in person that you are able to accelerate the wrap shot over a longer distance. The wrap is just a continuation of the on-side, with the targeting adjusted.

Chris Fields wrote:
Good vids, I finally thought of what bothered me about them. The person using the longsword was using longsword techniques, but those long sword techniques were meant to be used against other longswords, not against sword and shield. The longswordsman would of used different techniques against that type of defense. I would think he would keep his distance and rely on the trust due to his reach advantage.


One of the comments Adam made was that on-side and off-side shots (horizontal cuts) I make are very similar to the "Zwerchhau". So much so that he referred to them as Zwerch'es. For the most part we both played a distance game.

Having fought against Longswords in the SCA, I can say that when longswords fight against shields it is an issue of different strategy rather then different technique. The types of cuts they use on me don't change but rather when they use them and in what combination. It is an experience thing. The new variable here for me was the allowance of grappling, lowleg hits, and hand hits. This is the only new variable I had to consider in the fight.

Quote:

It's always hard to tell what works and what doesn't until it's all said and done, and even then, it never works %100 of the time. As a teacher of Kun Tao kung fu, I am always looking at the techniques of the art, and seeing how they apply to different circumstances, and also how different people apply them. What I am seeing here, is that this longswordsman tried longsword techniques that may not have been meant for the circumtances he was facing, and maybe he was unaware of techniques for that particular circumstance. However, another longswordsman may have taken a different approach to the situation and come out on top. Same could be said for you Vassilis, though you looked like you've had experience against long weapon attacks before. There are just too many variable to capture.


Yes it is true that I have some longsword experience and I have fought against longswords and polearms in the SCA. That knowledge and experience proved very useful. My opponent did not have the benefit of SCA experience. We agreed that he would benefit from fighting shields in the SCA.

Gavin Kisebach wrote:

Against a good passive defense such as a heater, the longswordsman would need to incorporate much more lateral motion. Attack from the outside to get at the shieldman, or trick kim into opening up, which this shieldman seems to have avoided scrupulously. In this context the swordsman really has to play the range game, and attack feet and arms whereever they peek out because the body and head are so well guarded, even if he shieldman isn't particularly skilled.


That is exactly what he as trying to do and did successfully on a few occasions when he killed me. I was very impressed with his distancing and maneuvering. I had hoped he would take the bait and lower his guard to try to hit my legs but he was too cleaver for that.

The final segment just became available from a third party:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj7xzmOG56s&am...amp;page=1

One of the faults I am observing for myself, and I have been told not to do this, is I should not be chasing after him for more then one or two steps. The is when my shield opens up and I get hit.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Dave Smith





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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 4:18 pm    Post subject: Re: Testing SCA Stikes on Tatami Mats         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
While there we also tested SCA fighting against Western Martial Arts.


While this isn't technically what the thread is about, it seems a bit misleading to say "SCA vs. WMA". Isn't SCA inherently based on historical western combat?

It's based entirely around european weapons and armor, and I seem to recall many of the higher ranking SCA fellows study the ol' fechtbuchen (probably fellows of all ranks actually). It seems more accurate to imply that the comparison was between two different schools rather than entirely different martial arts.

At any rate, that's just food for thought probably better off in another thread. More importantly, thanks a ton for the videos! I can never get enough of videos by other practitioners. Excellent work on those cuts.


p.s. Again, speaking from a WMA perspective... longsword vs. sword & shield is a pain no matter who has the sword and board. Laughing Out Loud I would REALLY enjoy seeing longsword vs. longsword, or sword & shield vs. sword & shield.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Dave.

I agree with that SCA fighting is inherently based on WMA. Many SCA fighters, including myself, study WMA. However, many in the WMA community consider SCA fighting as some sort of perversion of European Martial Arts and not functional in a setting without rules. This was the basis of the argument that lead to me being challenged to the duel. My opponent is from California and I am from NY. A third person offered to host the event in another corner of the of the country in Texas.

We started out the week by testing the various SCA strikes on tatami to establish their effectiveness. This lead to acknowledgment that they work and that they closely resemble some of the cuts used in the German tradition such as the Zwerchhue. In a contest without rules I then swapped out my rattan sword for a steel blunt and let my training stand on its own. The result was a meeting of the minds and the acknowledgment of those present that SCA fighting is a fully functional system in a setting without rules.

Dave, I have a lot of other videos posted on You Tube if you are interested in seeing more including some shield vs shield. When you go on youtube.com just search tsafa1.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Dave Smith





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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahh... good, now I'm caught up. Wink

Come to think of it Tsafa (sorry, I'm used to seeing that tag on SBG), I might have seen some of your videos before. I'll search them in just a bit.

Admittedly, I do lean towards the WMA mindset in terms of practice, functionality, etc, etc, etc. That being said, I think anyone will agree that regardless of the ideology behind various systems... the better martial artist will win. I like practicing the way I practice, but I'm fully cognizant that if I face someone better than me they're probably going to win. It doesn't matter if they study historical WMA, SCA, kenjitsu, or jedi light-saber techniques. Razz

Anyway, I'm done hijacking the thread. If there's another Texas duel again, I'd love to know; I'm in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
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Sam N.




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PostPosted: Sat 23 Aug, 2008 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting results for the test cutting. One thing I noticed is that the swords that could do the wrap well were more parallel edged earlier medieval swords while later, more pointed ones (like an XV) simply could not cut that well. Perhaps it is not the difference between high end and low end (being high end certainly helps) that determines how well a wrap will work, but maybe the width of the blade. This might explain why we don't really find wraps (to my knowledge) in most manuals, because those manuals are usually from after 1300, when armour and thinner, stiffer swords start to become more popular (conditions that don't favour the wrap). A wrap seems to be more useful in less armoured circumstances with wider blades (i.e. Dark Ages, Early Medieval period). But that's just my speculation, it would be nice if anyone could shed more light on the idea.

Also, just a question Vassilis. Why do thrusts seem to be uncommon in SCA heavy fighting? In most of the videos I have watched, everything seems to typically be cuts (save for a rare thrust to the face).
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