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Tomas Kringen




Location: Oslo, Norway
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Curved vs straight blade.         Reply with quote

Is curved blade better than straight ones?

I recall reading about Napoleon started using a curved saber after he was in Egypt. Apparently they were better at decapitating. So are curved ones simply better, or does it vary depending on technique/style?

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In any subject, asking what is "best" is never going to be fruitful because the answer will be another question: "At what?"
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Tomas Kringen




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 1:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I should have seen that one coming Happy

Better at dueling I guess. Meaning if you were to duel, what would you have choosen and why? Maybe there are too many factors involved, but I started wondering since there exist both curved and straight ones then they have to have different qualities.

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 2:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've wondered the same myself, and the only thing I could think of was that a curved blade may bring more mass for a shorter length into a cut. Other than that...I know nothing.

M.

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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've always read, as often in children's books as in more serious stuff, that curved blade have obvious slicing advantage - it's curvature makes the draw much longer.

And, indeed many curved swords appear to be more slicing weapons (katana is nice example, even though almost perfectly straight japanese swords extst), as far as I know.

However, I've heard that the more curved sword is, the weaker it's initial striking impact is. At least rereneactors on some forum wrote that with very curved blade it's possible to beat one another, without normal protective padding, without much risk too. (With blunt sabres, of course Razz ).

That seems to get along with common assumtpion that curved swords were generally "slicy" and straight swords were generally more hacking weapons.

Of course, I don't know how true are things above, but let give those theories a try.

Quote:
've wondered the same myself, and the only thing I could think of was that a curved blade may bring more mass for a shorter length into a cut. Other than that...I know nothing.


And, naturally, it would bring relatively shorter blade with the same mass (even though it's in fact just as long, but curved).

And so far I was assuming hypothetical swords with similar size and function. It's obvious why straight rapier is better at being rapier than sabre (and vice versa too). Can one say that rapier is "better" than sabre?

Anyway, the one completely sure thing is that none of the sword designs is "better" than another. The simplest argument - in Europe (and certainly other places too) high quality sword, both straight and curved ones were used at the same time trough over 500 tears. And never one type had wiped out, the other.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Sep, 2008 6:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wouldn't a curve also bring less surface area into the cut at impact, focusing it a bit more?

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Helge B.





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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 12:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I brought up a similar question earlier:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...ght=curved

I think following conclusion are consesus:

- Straight swords cut with a hacking motion. Curved blades slice. The effective difference is only minimal. Other factors as blade geometry are more important.

- A curved blade seem to be handier when striking from above. This explains its popularity among cavalrymen.

- Thrusting works better with straight blade. You can also use techniques like halfswording.


As a summarize you can say that curved blades are very good for cavalry melee action against targets with no or light armour. Hacking is also more intuitive than thrusting, so curved swords might work better for someone not trained in fencing.

Straight blades have an advantage at the initial cavalry charge when used as lance substitute (with the risk of breaking your wrist though). They are also more suitable when fighting against heavily armoured opponents as you got to rely more on thrusting techniques. Maces, hammers etc. are still preferable for defeating armour.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 1:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Wouldn't a curve also bring less surface area into the cut at impact, focusing it a bit more?

This effect is not significant in general. If the target is soft, the contact will be spread over some length of edge anyway, whether the blade is curved or not. If the target is hard (armor pieces, bones), it is generally curved as well, and a lot more so than your blade will ever be, so the impact happens over the same (small) area with any kind of blade.

This would matter if you were to attack boxes, striking only the faces, avoiding carefuly all the edges. This is not a realistic use of swords Happy Actually it would also work on very big spheres, but we're not fighting these either Wink

Packing mass into a shorter length is also not very well done by a curved blade in my opinion. I haven't run through the computations yet, but I'm willing ot bet the same net effect can be achieved by a marginal widening or thinckening of the blade.

EDIT: calculations done Happy A curved blade 1m long shoulder to tip, 5cm wide, with a pretty dramatic curvature of 20cm, has about the same mass as a straight blade 1m long, 5.5cm wide (assuming the same thickness and cross-section of course). In fact the curvature adds only about 10% of actual length.

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 5:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah ok. At least that's dispelled then.

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G Ezell
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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 8:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Burton went into this at great length in 'The Book of the Sword', his conclusion being that a curved blade was a better cutter due more to cross-section and angle of attack than anything. I'll see if I can find my copy... (I recall agreeing with his logic, at the time...Burton was a bit inaccurate at times, but I think he was correct on this count)

Just to throw out a theory, curved swords are almost always single-edged, therefore the entire width of the blade can be beveled, allowing a better cross-section for cutting. Most double-edged straight swords, in later medieval times, had some amount of compromise going on in the cross-section to allow for better thrusting, at the expense of cutting ability.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 8:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While a slice delivers less energy than a blow, you do not need a lot of energy to cut a soft target with a sharp edge.
Think of cutting meat with a kitchen knife.
if you apply pressure to the tip of the blade, it will cut deeper at the end, but the rest of the blade will rise out of contact with the meat,
Now imagine doing this with a curved blade. Rather than tip up and out the cuved balde will "roll" as the pressure is applied, producing much more contact between the cutting edge and the meat, and thus a deeper, more even cut.

The energy involved is quite low, but because of the sharpness of the edge, the resulting cut is quite deep.
Armour, how ever, is hard. It requires quite a lot of kinetic energy to break through, and as such the slice will not penetrate it.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11131 neatly shows the different between straight and curved swords against soft targets.

However, a straight blade will strike faster, at longer range, and is plenty capable to kill as well.

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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My favorite article summarizing the topic is found here:
http://www.thehaca.com/essays/thrusting_vs_cutting.html

The site itself has some good reading that's full of historical references.

In brief: Curved and straight swords have always been used side-by-side in the battlefield. There will always be specific situations where one is more appropriate (i.e.- against articulated mail), but they are mostly championed by individual preference and availability. (Straight swords being easier to make.)

That being said, I prefer to hear what individuals from this site have to say, as the conversations are always more interesting and full of diverse evidence and experience than any single article can convey.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Sep, 2008 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I prefer a straight blade that is balanced down its Y-axis. For this reason I don't like fancy guards even on my rapiers, just a straight cross. I have handled a Turkish sword design that was curved and still balanced down its Y-axis. It had a gentle "S" shape. The blade curved down near the hilt and then up near the tip. It still felt kind of funky.

Between a more concentrated cutting surface and length, I'll take more length. Something else to take a closer look at is that on a flat surface the curved blade seems concentrate force, but how about on a human body. How much more edge are you getting in a horizontal cut across the upper arm? How about the front of the chest. If the curved blades tip lands on the clavicle bone, it can make contact all down the chest if the shoulder is forward in a guard position. A straight blade will be a little longer and the tip will come down past the shoulder. The cut will be concentrated into the shoulder rather down the chest. It all depends on where it hits.

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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Zachary Smiley




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To understand, take both examples to the extremes, like a rapier and a Chinese broadsword (or dao). At their basest level, a rapier is used for thrusting and a dao is used for cutting. The rapier, because of its straight design, thrusts better than a curved blade. The dao, because of its curved design, slices better than a straight blade.

Of course, the points are moot because I doubt the a curved design would give you any kind of huge advantage over a straight, or vise versa, the better fighter will win. individual skill will decide which is better. In a fight between the swords I used as an example (which I doubt I will ever see, but would be pretty cool) neither sword would be better than the other. It would come down to the individual skill of the wielders.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2008 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tomas Kringen wrote:
Better at dueling I guess. Meaning if you were to duel, what would you have choosen and why? Maybe there are too many factors involved, but I started wondering since there exist both curved and straight ones then they have to have different qualities.


There is such a thing as a single, universally correct answer, but it doesn't really have to do much with curve or straightness because it's simply "The sword you're familiar with." Wink
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Christopher H





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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Helge B. wrote:
- Straight swords cut with a hacking motion. Curved blades slice. The effective difference is only minimal. Other factors as blade geometry are more important.

When I cut with extension (like a thread from the edge to the target... similar to draw, but in the opposite direction) I feel that I slice the target more than hack it... feelings might not be fact, though!
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Mick Czerep




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Including a draw-cut with a XVa by Jan Chodkiewicz. Not much of a problem with slicing.

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My questions I why would you want to slice rather then make a percussive hit with a straight blade. I can understand that the curved sword naturally slices and that is fine, but why force a straight blade to slice. With a thin sharp sword I can go through tatami with just a straight cut. That means I could at least get through to the bone of a thigh. Why bother with the slice??? (unless you miss a thrust and are drawing back or you opponent places his wrists or neck near your blade)

Against mail or even thick leather the slice is useless. A hard percusive hit may still break some bone or bruise muscle.

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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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 8:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
My questions I why would you want to slice rather then make a percussive hit with a straight blade. I can understand that the curved sword naturally slices and that is fine, but why force a straight blade to slice. With a thin sharp sword I can go through tatami with just a straight cut. That means I could at least get through to the bone of a thigh. Why bother with the slice??? (unless you miss a thrust and are drawing back or you opponent places his wrists or neck near your blade)

Against mail or even thick leather the slice is useless. A hard percusive hit may still break some bone or bruise muscle.

Note that a proper draw-cut is not an either-or thing. That is, the drawing motion is delivered in addition to the percussion of the strike.

Steve

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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2008 9:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I do not doubt you, Steve, that a cut and draw would have a better effect. I am not sure the cut and draw can be done effectively with combinations (but I am open to experimenting with this), for example in the case of Zwerchhues where you are rapidly going back and forth to different quadrants looking for an opening. I expect that the first few will be blocked, I don't know which will will get through. I am having trouble visualizing how I would be able to draw-cut each of those successive blows.
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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