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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 3:23 pm    Post subject: The Indian Urumi (flexible sword)         Reply with quote

My wife was reading a novel and the Indian Urumi made an appearance. It was being used by a villian in the novel. When she asked me about it, I had never heard of it before. She linked me to this Wiki article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urumi

It seems to be a rather interesting edged weapon evolution. I don't know anything more about it than what is in the article, but I imagine to become proficient in it's use takes a considerable amount of time and disipline. Mastering the flexible properties of the steel alone would be a challenge in itself, before ever thinking about making an attack or defense with it.

Does anyone have any more information on how this weapon is made, wielded, era in which it was developed, etc?

Thanks in advance for your input! Happy



 Attachment: 6.08 KB
Kalari-Urumi.jpg
Indian Urumi

J.E. Sarge
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"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott


Last edited by JE Sarge on Wed 03 Jun, 2009 7:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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James Head





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzxtpg9HKbU
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Adam Rose





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To the best of my knowledge, and the Wikipedia article backs this up, these are Indian weapons not Malaysian (Malayalam is an Indian language, not the same thing as Malay)
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 7:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the correction. I fixed it. Big Grin

Thanks for posting the video. That is really quite impressive. I am glad my wife (who is not into swords and armor at all) pointed it out as a topic of interest. Big Grin

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
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"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi!

It was a while back, but I remember discussing these on this site a few months back. Try searching, because I can't remember what I said then.

I've seen these used in India, at a Kalari (Kalaripayattu gym) I visited. They are the highest level weapon in Kalaripayattu, and really awesome to watch. The ones I saw there were made from band-saw blades, and had as many as 9 blades on the same handle. Some had a mix of serrated and non-serrated blades.

They are also known as Chuttaval in other parts of India.

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

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 9:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks like a dangerous weapon to learn and still have all of one's skin intact !

Sword ? Sort of reminds me more of a combination of whip and flail as the blades seem more like ribbons of spring steel that stretch out through centrifugal force but curl back up after a strike.

Well the handle seems sword-like and in motion there may be sword-like attributes.

The video is impressive but I imagine that a lot of it is rehearsed for show and done out of distance most of the time, although some of it does seem in distance and stopped by the shields. Eek! ( Well, better them than me, and I assume that it's very dangerous even as a demo ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Wed 03 Jun, 2009 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some points in the videos where it looks like the sword maintains a rigid shape - like the aformentioned tape measure. What makes me wonder is edge alignment. Do these guys actually get a slicing cut by purposefully aligning the cutting edge while spinning it or do they just flail the target and hope for the best cut at random?

It's definately different, that's for sure....

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those guys on the video aren't the most skilled Urumi I've ever seen.

I'm trying to think of the best way to say this...

Kalaripayattu is one of the very oldest martial arts in existence, and often thought to have heavily influenced the initial development of the Shaolin Chuan Fa group of martial arts... It's important to point out that Chuan Fa is pronounced Kempo in Japanese, and that the Chuan Fa group includes Silat and Karate-do.

And the Urumi/Chuttaval is only taught to and practised by the most skilled practitioners of Kalaripayattu... It is worn concealed as a belt and is feared by everyone who knows what it is. I've seen it thrust right through a leather shield, and cut a apple in near-perfect halves.

An awesome and superior weapon, and one that doesn't get enough attention, possibly due to being so dangerous to learn.

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

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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 7:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

O.k. it is late here, and I sometimes am not as diplomatic when sleepy as I perhaps should be, so if anyone gets offended please assume I am playing devils advocate.

Myomoto Musashi describes certain schools of marrtial arts as being full of "flowery bullshit" (translational difficulties and all that) and says that unless you are stiking to the point of killing your oponent then you arent engaged in "real" martial arts. I myself am not as ridgid in my outlook, but he earned the right to his view imho. I myself think that there is a lot to be said for the cultural heritage of certain martial arts, but just because it is a martial art does not mean it is effective, though it may be elegant, beautiful etc.
If one looks at UFC or similar competitions ine sees a lot of judo/sambo/jujitsu, a lot of boxing/kickboxing/muay-thai and a fair bit of greco roman wrestleing. Crane style and Cotton Fist Kung Fu? not so much. This is not to say these are not good martial arts, merely that they are involved in a diferent part of the spectrum. If you want to learn to beat the mashugena out of some Joe, learn kickboxing and sambo. If you want to engage in the graceful and calming paterns of Cotton Fist, learn that.

I cant help thinking that the Urumi might fall into the catagory of "novelty weapon" that , after 10 years of training the most skilled practitioners are as efective with as a guy who has been learning Arnis escrima for a year. The achievement is far greater, and the 10 year master deserves serious kudos and respect, but it might be going a bit far to heap praise upon it. Someone somewhere at one point said "swords are cool, nunchucks are cool,... what we need are SWORDCHUCKS!", but not many people seem to use them. Usually if soemething is obscure, there is a pretty good reason why, if it worked, everyone would use it.

Then again, I am no expert, so maybe they really are the cat's pajamas
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 10:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
Usually if soemething is obscure, there is a pretty good reason why, if it worked, everyone would use it.


As I understand it, the reason the urumi is obscure is because it's easy for practitioners to hurt themselves trying to master it. In other words, it's not that it isn't an effective weapon, but rather that it's a bit too effective.

Anyway, I'm not much of a martial artist myself, but I think I'd be more scared of an opponent with an urumi then one with a regular sword. This is because I actually have a decent idea of how to defend myself from a sword in theory, but short of wearing heavy armor I don't know how I would go about to avoid getting hurt by that crazy thing. o.O

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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Stephane Rabier




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
considering how many times I've hurt myself when unfolding a clock spring or removing a steel strip from a box or a pallet, that's typically the kind of toy I must avoid like plague Wink
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Does everyone also know of the Chinese 9-section-whip? This is used in a very similar way to a Urumi/Chuttaval, and is considered by many Chinese Martial Artists to be the PERFECT counter-weapon to a dao or jian.

I have one, and know how to use it a little, but I must've smacked myself upside the head, on the elbow, knee, etc., with that thing at least 1000 times learning how.

And in regards to Nat Lamb's earlier statement about the difference between, say, Jujutsu and Crane Fist... let's use Sakuraba Kazushi as an example. Now this guy dominated Pride MMA Events when he first started there, even defeating 3 (or was it 4?) of the famous Gracie Family. So much so that they had to change the rules before he was defeated.

And his martial arts pedigree? PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING.

Another thing, Crane Fist has fatally defeated more people than Jujutsu has. By a very, very large margin. One of the original five animal styles, with a history of at least 1600 years... Tang Dynasty Pirates spring to mind for instance. "Destroy the Qing, Restore the MIng" does as well... Boxer Rebellion... The Japanese War...

It's the fighter, not the style.

Before you start to shower Muay Thai with praise at it's superiority in a stand up fight, look up Burmese Lethwei.

And something with as long a history as Kalaripayattu will have created hundreds, if not thousands of invincible fighters. Add into the equation the huge population India has now and has always had, and we may find that Kalaripayattu has created hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million awesome fighters. Something that old doesn't survive for no reason...

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

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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 3:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thousands of invincible fighters?
o.k. then, I take it back.

Snide comments by myself asside, I acknowledge that old doesn't survive for no reason. Highland dancing is not quite that old, but it is kinda old, but it's survival is due to cultural tradition (which is a good thing) not its combat dominance (Look out, he's dancing at me with his arms by his sides, RUN!)

Also I did not mean to imply that Thai kickboxing was the "best" martial art, merely an effictive one. Having had my ribs broken by a practitioner I am happy to say this. My understanding (I am not a huge ufc fan) was that it was a popular style to learn kicking and certain standing graple techniques for the mixed martial arts crowd
And I checked out my local Lethwei training place... it advertises itself as "Similar to Thailand's Mauy Thai", so I am not really sure what your point was

Are you telling me that in all of the martial arts there aren't things that you would not describe as "novelty weapons" ? I have hung around a lot of martial artists and the 1 thing I have learned is that the first thing you learn in any martial art is the "hyperbole kata"
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John Gnaegy





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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 4:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's probably a safe statement to make that the urumi is the most awesomely effective concealable octuple edged long blade ever. That does seem to be the main strength, that it's concealable. You'd probably have a hard time getting through mail with it, just as you'd probably have a hard time blending into a crowd at the market with a great sword slyly tucked into your pants. Different tools for different purposes.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
thousands of invincible fighters?
o.k. then, I take it back.


Just a title, to distinguish from the common Kalaripayattu exponent, of whom there would have been too many to count.

Nat Lamb wrote:
Snide comments by myself asside, I acknowledge that old doesn't survive for no reason. Highland dancing is not quite that old, but it is kinda old, but it's survival is due to cultural tradition (which is a good thing) not its combat dominance (Look out, he's dancing at me with his arms by his sides, RUN!)


Highland Dancing, while entertaining, doesn't seem to have a combat application. Whereas Kalaripayattu was specifically created to meet the need to fight. This style continued to be developed despite exposure to Islamic and Sikh fighting techniques, centuries of British rule (and the inevitable exposure to WMA), and even through the whole attempted Macedonian Invasion way back when...

Nat Lamb wrote:
...And I checked out my local Lethwei training place... it advertises itself as "Similar to Thailand's Mauy Thai", so I am not really sure what your point was


Muay Thai is known as "the science of EIGHT limbs", and Lethwei is known as "the science of NINE limbs". That's my point... More weapons means more options, and more options means more possible effectiveness. And Lethwei is from just next door... For even from inside Thailand itself, look up "Snake People" or "Sir Gee Dor".

Nat Lamb wrote:
Are you telling me that in all of the martial arts there aren't things that you would not describe as "novelty weapons" ? I have hung around a lot of martial artists and the 1 thing I have learned is that the first thing you learn in any martial art is the "hyperbole kata"


Yeah, there's some that seem silly... But you can use ANYTHING as an effective weapon. A fence paling, or even a plastic spoon, can beat an AK47 with the right strategy applied. I don't think anyone should discount the effectiveness of anything, especially if the main purpose is actually listed as "weapon". Don't you agree?

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

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Nat Lamb




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Gnaegy wrote:
It's probably a safe statement to make that the urumi is the most awesomely effective concealable octuple edged long blade ever....

That I can agree with, happily.

@Bennison. Look, please bare in mind that I don't mean to be offensive, especially towards anyone in particular. I think what got me was your use of the phrase "An awesome and superior weapon". in your example I would classify the AK-47 as an "awsome and superior" weapon, a plastic fork, less so. If someone armed with a plastic spoon managed to defeat asomone armed with an AK in anything other than an eating contest, I would be a) suprised, and b) impressed. I was not poo-pooing the Urami, just sugesting that it may be one of those weapons that might be taught because of its "cultural" importance to the style, rather than its efficacy.

I take this view because when I was young, I studied boxing, witch is the best martial art in the world. I know it is the best martial art in the world because my instructer told me so. Then I moved on to Thai Kickboxing, which is known by instructors of Thai kickboxing to be the worlds best martial art. I got interested in the worlds best martial art (according to the instructor) Wing Chun in my early 20's, then in Mixed Freestyle Karate, which the instructor told me was the superior martial art because it drew on so many sorces. Aikido for it's pedigree, Tai Chi Chuan for its long history.
These days I do Judo, mostly because my instructor told me that it is a good way to burn off all the callories us old fat bastards get from eating the compulsory pizza and beer we consume after the training session.
In short, martial artists have a bit of a habbit of talking up (sometimes to a truely farcical degree) the merits of their system or pet theory. I will add the terms "Kevin Hawthawn Ninjitsu" if that means anything to you, if it doesn't, be thankfull.
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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 10:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An interesting weapon. I wonder how one controls it so that the edge comes into contact on impact rather than the flat. Also, none of the videos I watched showed it cutting/slicing anything. Someone needs to pick one up and get a side of beef to try it out on.
'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 11:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have been pondering this weapon, and I imagine the damage would be like multiple severe razor cuts. God forbid you manage to get it wrapped around a neck or limb. I'd get one and try it out, but even if I were wearing full harness, I'd still be terrorfied of it. Eek!

It would probably be like the time I tried to learn three-section staff. Even with a foam one, I bludgeoned myself constantly. I tried the waxwood one ONCE and sang soprano for a week.... Worried

But, if someone wants to get one and try a cutting test with it, I will Paypal them a donation of $10 for medical gauze and neosporin....seriously....

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Jun, 2009 11:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe some weapons have an incredibly steep learning curve so that few can master it but those who do have a very impressive fighting system ( Could be the best weapon or fighting system, but I'm avoiding that discussion as it can easily become futile and opinionated ).

I'm assuming that this weapon is very effective in trained hands but it must have weaknesses that may not be obvious to someone having to fight against it without any prior experience with it or against it.

Against armour the blades may not have enough weight to make an impression as I'm guessing that they are dangerous because of sharpness and/or speed: In a warm/humid climate like parts of India it is most likely that little or no body protection would be worn except by warriors prepared for imminent battle.

Not sure if parrying of any kind would work with this weapon except for pre-emptive strikes taking the place of any parries as well as moving rapidly out of the way or using a shield or buckler as in the video.

So basically a Topic like this is most useful if we learn from others who know how to use it or at least know in theory how it's used to explain some of this to us who haven't a clue except for having watched the video clip: Getting side tracked into discussions about MMA seems like going off Topic to me and not adding to our understanding of a strange but fascinating weapon. Wink

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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J. Scott Moore





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PostPosted: Fri 05 Jun, 2009 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Nat Lamb"]thousands of invincible fighters?
o.k. then, I take it back.

Snide comments by myself asside, I acknowledge that old doesn't survive for no reason. Highland dancing is not quite that old, but it is kinda old, but it's survival is due to cultural tradition (which is a good thing) not its combat dominance (Look out, he's dancing at me with his arms by his sides, RUN!)quote]

as I understand it, Nat, highland dancing, in it's martial form, was outlawed by the brittish, so the Scots started dancing with their arms to their sides. it evolved from a martial form with a dancing exercise to a "pure" dance.

"Whoever desires peace, let him prepare for war."
-Vegetius
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