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Harry J. Fletcher




Location: Lost in Texas
Joined: 19 Aug 2009
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Sep, 2010 10:42 pm    Post subject: Cutting with single hand medieval sword         Reply with quote

For those who read my posts know that I like katanas but have recently bought an Albion Baron Sword of War Oakeshott Type XIIa. I also have an Albion Reeve which is a single handed sword Oakeshott Type X. For the past week I have been doing some cutting and learning a lot as I go along. I have been reading a book* by Ewart Oakeshott to supplement by cutting.

The first round of cutting was done on tatami omote which as very fresh and green and soaked over night. In the cutting I found that although I could cut almost all the way thru the target (one rolled mat) it still wouldn't cut thru all the way. The second time I cut a few days later I managed to make satisfactory cuts which went completely thru. This week I cut and did not make a cut completely thru the tatami mat except for only one cut.

In the beginning I was bending my arm at the elbow and even flexing my wrist which from what I read probably detracted from the power of my cut. Oakeshott states that a man wearing maile really did not bend his arm at the elbow for the simple reason that it would bunch up the maile there much as a shirt does and would make it extremely tiring to fight for a long period. He speculated that the maile clad man would keep his arm more or less straight and use the power from his shoulder. Also, if he flexed or snapped wrist this would detract from the power of the sword blow delivered. Michael Edelson pointed this out to me although I didn't realize it applied to single handed swords as well.

I just finished a cutting session this evening using tatami omote and was careful to make contact with the sword at the CoP which is about 18 inches from the guard. I was able to cut with much more power and control. The cuts went all the thru but several just hung by a few fibers. I also noticed that after contact there is a natural motion of slashing that goes with using a straighter arm which helps in the cut. I am certain that with continued practice I should get the hang of it.



Harry


*A Knight and His Weapons 2nd edition, Ewart Oakeshott: p. 66

To Study The Edge of History


Last edited by Harry J. Fletcher on Wed 22 Sep, 2010 2:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 21 Sep, 2010 12:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well good to hear it's going well. Videos help if you want advice. I would pay attention to your footwork and body motion as you cut as well. If your just using your arms (since you only mention what your arm is doing), then your not getting anywhere near the power you can be for cutting.
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Elling Polden




Location: Bergen, Norway
Joined: 19 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Sep, 2010 4:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've fought plenty in mail(and padding), and can testify that you can bend your elbow just fine, unless your arming tunic is made incorectly.

One important fact usually ignored when test cutting is that speed and maintaining your guard is a lot more important than delivering a single, cleaving blow. The one handed sword is used in conjunction with a shield or buckler, against a foe that will split your skull in .3 seconds if your guard drops.
A blow with a stiff arm will not only be easily stopped, but also easily countered by a strike to the arm, or a thrust to the face.

Thus, a singled handed sword blow should be executed with hip and wrist, while stepping of line to cover. The same principle applies with the single sword, and can be seen in broadsword fencing or military sabre, though without the shield.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Neil Gagel




Location: Oklahoma City
Joined: 08 Jan 2010
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Posts: 55

PostPosted: Tue 21 Sep, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
I've fought plenty in mail(and padding), and can testify that you can bend your elbow just fine, unless your arming tunic is made incorectly.

One important fact usually ignored when test cutting is that speed and maintaining your guard is a lot more important than delivering a single, cleaving blow. The one handed sword is used in conjunction with a shield or buckler, against a foe that will split your skull in .3 seconds if your guard drops.
A blow with a stiff arm will not only be easily stopped, but also easily countered by a strike to the arm, or a thrust to the face.

Thus, a singled handed sword blow should be executed with hip and wrist, while stepping of line to cover. The same principle applies with the single sword, and can be seen in broadsword fencing or military sabre, though without the shield.


I don't really have much hands on experience with serious cutting, but I'm curious as to how the motion of the blow changes when used from horseback.
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