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Casey W.




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 30 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 2:05 am    Post subject: Safety advice for cut testing         Reply with quote

Are there existing guidelines for safety at cut tests? I'm hosting my first in a few weeks and would like to reduce risks where possible lest one of my guests end up like the poor schmuck on the QVC video.

Does ARMA or HEMA print guidelines or best practices?

Earnestly,

Concerned About My Homeowner's Policy In Texas
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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 3:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you putting sharp swords in the hands of untrained persons? That can certainly be dangerous. So first of all think about it long and hard and verify how your responsability is legally engaged if you do this.

Then, if you still want to do it, I'd say most of the safety comes from discipline and good sense.

First, don't let anyone get carried away because he or she has a sword in hand, don't let people wildly swing sharp blades like they're Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings. Some people (witnessed it first hand) just have no idea what a sword really is, they think of it as a movie prop. Emphasize the fact that the blade is sharp and dangerous, not a toy. If necessary show some pics of hideous self-inflicted cuts - these may be found around the 'net. Show people what moves to make, follow the KISS principle, and if necessary forbid people to make moves other than the ones you've shown them. It's also probably a good idea to have people first try out the moves slowly and without a target, before having them try to cut.

Second, use good stands, don't let anyone do like that stupid girl trying to cut watermelons wielding a katana with one hand while propping up the fruit with the other... Eek! And maintain good discipline, have everyone a good distance away from the cutter, have the cutter be perfectly sure no one is nearby before cutting, don't try to cut things that could break the blade because a broken blade is not only a financial loss, it's also dangerous.

Third, I seem to see many people cutting themselves in the lower leg or foot while making badly-controlled cuts. Tell and show everyone that they don't need to, and must not, swing a sword like it was a baseball bat; a good cut against a "soft" target doesn't require that much force. Perhaps you could buy some of them ankle and foot protectors used in some sports and have people wear them just in case. Also, just a hypothesis, but I'm under the impression that two-handed weapons are somewhat safer than one-handers, because you have better control and the blade movement is, in a sense, more restricted to where it should be (it's harder to cut your own leg with a two-hander).

Here're my three cent's worth... I'm sure other, more experienced people will weigh in with other tips.
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Mick Jarvis




Location: Australia
Joined: 18 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 3:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Simon G. wrote:

Second, use good stands, don't let anyone do like that stupid girl trying to cut watermelons wielding a katana with one hand while propping up the fruit with the other... Eek!



hahahaha Big Grin Laughing Out Loud Laughing Out Loud
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 4:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow. That might be the least suprising I have seen all week
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 5:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you checked out the Spotlight Thread: Be Careful! Safety First!? There is some good info in there.
Happy

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Audun Refsahl




Location: Norway
Joined: 15 Feb 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could just show the guests that video before they get to try. when I arrange cutting with swords we just have everybody stand a few meters behind the cutter, and we show them how to cut without twisting the sword et cetera.
40-50 people have cut with swords axes, spears, daneaxes under my group's supervision, and we have had no injuries so far. my feeling is that if you take too many safety precautions you are treating people like kids, and thats not ok. cutting with sharp weapons is a very empowering experience, and within reason I try to make that feeling as strong as possible for the cutter. (It might be smart to take the sword away from them right after the cut.)
what are you cutting? tatami? bottles? pig? fruit?

just bacon...
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Casey W.




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 30 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So far we have a number of unrepentant water bottles (repeat offenders who have made no effort to reform) lined up for execution as well as two full grown East Texas porkers. I'm having a hard time finding a reliable and affordable supplier of tatami but I have not given up hope. Some newspaper will also be sacrificed if I can find suitably offensive headlines; bat boy stories, new local tax initiatives, and anything on gun control will be mowed down with steel.

I'm told that our two pigs were every bit as bad as the water bottles- culled from a pack of violent recidivists, their only good deeds were signing their bodies over to science to advance knowledge in the areas of Medieval Cleavary, Stabitration, and Maiming.

Love that video, gentlemen, and I will put it in the safety brief along with the rocket scientist QVC guy.

If you have any other video gems that illustrate some of the sundry ways asshattery has been detected at cut tests feel free to share.

Yours,

Mr. Homeowner's Insurance Fretter
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A relatively cheap, but easy to clean up, cutting medium are foam pool noodles. They're a little out of season in some parts of the country right now. Happy Cut them in half (so they don't flop around so much). Stake them on a PVC pipe or wooden dowel and secure that pipe/dowel somehow.

I use the stand below, made of 2 x 6's with a hole drilled through two of them. I've also added a bracket to hold a 4 x 4, to which is bolted a platform for fruit/water bottles, etc. The whole rig is heavy enough that it won't be knocked over easily. But it's smaller thana shipping pallet, meaning you can get fairly close to it. It's no more than 3 feet wide in any direction (I think the boards are actually around 30 inches).




Happy

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Simon G.




Location: Lyons, France
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 8:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
my feeling is that if you take too many safety precautions you are treating people like kids, and thats not ok. cutting with sharp weapons is a very empowering experience, and within reason I try to make that feeling as strong as possible for the cutter. (It might be smart to take the sword away from them right after the cut.)


Of course one shouldn't be too preachy. But there are some people who just aren't educated on the basics of what "sword" means... And better safe than sorry. The first time I handed one of my swords to someone that person did something really stupid with it (struck a friggin' wall for heaven's sake). I was shocked, I would never have thought someone would have such a stupid idea, but that person didn't know anything about swords except what she'd seen in movies. What she did was only dangerous for the blade which is bad enough but it could've been something dangerous for herself (like that girl in the video I linked to).

Sure, if I was in a group and someone started to explain how dangerous a blade is, I'd probably be like "okay, sheesh, everybody knows this, we're not kids, let's cut". But some people apparently just don't know this... So in a way you have to choose between risking making some people feel like kids, and risking someone cutting his leg to the bone. Confused Personally, I dislike preaching, so I would tend to let people have their way and take their own responsabilities if they happen to behave stupidly, but if it means risking damage to my sword or having my legal responsability engaged, then I will preach. Especially if it was in the US of A, where some people are fast on the draw with litigation even though it's their own damn fault they were injured...
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:04 am    Post subject: Re: Safety advice for cut testing         Reply with quote

Casey W. wrote:
Are there existing guidelines for safety at cut tests? I'm hosting my first in a few weeks and would like to reduce risks where possible lest one of my guests end up like the poor schmuck on the QVC video.

Does ARMA or HEMA print guidelines or best practices?

Earnestly,

Concerned About My Homeowner's Policy In Texas



Hi Casey.
First off, get a copy of Historical Swordsmanship by Scott Rodell. Best book out there on safety, planning, sword wear awareness and basically everything you need to know about cutting.
He's a master of Tajiquan, chinese solider style swordsmanship, but the book doesn't go into deep detail about technique, but Scott's got other books for that and he's intentionally made the HS book to fit any style, asian or europeean so he isn't going into style specific technique at depth intentionally. It does go into how the cut works mechanically, how to place your feet, how to plan a cut and what not to do, as in J-twisting the cut at point of impact or cutting yourself in the leg.

Advice on here is all fine, but really, get that book before you do any real cutting and read it until you know it by heart. When I got my copy I read it through 4-5 times. It's not a brick, you can read through it in an evening. It's not expensive and has all you need and more in short and to the point easy reading text and explanatory photos by one of the very best cutters out there today.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:22 am; edited 2 times in total
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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
Joined: 24 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:10 am    Post subject: Re: Safety advice for cut testing         Reply with quote

Casey

Have everyone sign a waver written by a lawyer! Unless you know someone really well and have no doubt about their skill level I would suggest having them cut some air with a waster so you can judge if they might be a danger to themself or to others. If they cut air and the waster goes flying then you probably don't want them to play with the sharp things.

I actually don't find the real danger to be in the cutting due to that being watched carefully by all. I often see more danger in people standing around looking at swords. Don't allow a person to swing a sharp sword, hold it in longpoint, etc., around other people. No body is allowed to pick up a rifle and point it at someone for very good moral and legal reasons. For those same moral and legal reason don't allow someone to point a sword at another person. Do not allow any horse-play at the cutting event. If people want to start drinking alcohol and engage in horse-play or rough-housing then put up the swords.

The more people who are at the cutting event the more it needs to be run like a gun range. Control is the heart of safety!

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:18 am    Post subject: Re: Safety advice for cut testing         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
Do not allow any horse-play.

The more people who are at the cutting event the more it needs to be run like a gun range. Control is the heart of safety!

Ran Pleasant
ARMA DFW


I second that! Treat any shap sword as a gun at a range and no playing with them. Ever. It's all fun and games till someone puts an eye out. Or runs somebody through.

I train with my sharps on a daily basis, but it's always serious planned preparation for cutting and no playing around.

Casey, if you need to show a sharp to someone at a demo for educational purposes, or anyone you don't know or really trust to know how to handle them, demonstrate the sharpness by bifurcating a sheet of paper, that's what I usually do. Or if it's not that sharp show how easily the point goes through a piece of cloth. Then use a cut resistat glove (maille, oister glove or those modern police knifereistant gloves) to hold the middle of the blade. Let them feel how it moves some but don't let go. Then re-sceathe and secure.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everyone has given good advice but I'd add this...if you lose your grip on the sword pulling it out of the target (if it gets stuck) then drop it and jump away. Don't try to control a losing situation and thereby make it worse. That's how I cut my leg with a Katana.
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 10:23 am    Post subject: Re: Safety advice for cut testing         Reply with quote

One person, one sword at a time.

Make sure people understand they have to stop when you say "halt."

Cutting should always be supervised by someone who knows what they're doing and has experience (the instructor).

If you're cutting tatami, don't let the person cutting touch the mats to "fix" them. Wet hands and thin leather grips don't usually mix well. Don't approach the mat to fix it without calling "halt" so that the cutter lowers his/her weapon and backs away.

Clear debris away from the approach to the target.

Make sure all swords are structurally sound and of good quality.

Don't let someone cut over their leading leg.

One wrong move and someone could be seriously injured or dead. Take it very seriously. It's okay to have fun and enjoy it, just like it's okay to enjoy driving 150mph on a race track, just realize the risks and always know that the first mistake can be your last.

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Matthijs Witsenburg




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 10:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd go with two-handed weapons, as Simon suggested. With two hands on the grip, chances of cutting your own arms or hands are minimal. This is the reason I use a two handed axe when teaching people how to chop wood.

Cabbages are fairly easy to cut with blunted swords, maybe that's an idea for practice rounds.

The girl in the video nicely illustrates the importance of proper balance, footwork and footwear. I'd go with diagonal cuts(upwards or downwards). horizontal cuts require better balance and chances of cutting legs/feet are a lot greater with vertical cuts.
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This may, or may not, be relevant so please bear with me.

I have no cutting experience ... with a sword. I have many years of cutting experience on Christmas tree farms. (You don't think those trees fill out and get beautiful cone shapes all by themselves do you? Wink ) Our "weapons" were 2' long by 1" wide blades "hilted" to cut off hockey sticks. We right handers walked in clockwise circles around every tree swinging our blades like / as we went. We worked ten hour days stopping every 15 minutes for water and hand-sharpening. Now, to the point:

EVERY new guy was required to wear baseball catcher leg protection for several weeks (or longer). Every new guy complained about it until, inevitably, he buried his blade into the leg protection (usually on day one). We once even had to take the lead foreman to the hospital with a terrible leg wound. This guy had a ton of experience, but one weird bounce off a branch nearly cost him his leg.

Would it make sense to require all your new cutters to wear (steel) greaves?

...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott makes an excellent point here. When I was a kid my dad hurt his left leg with a scythe, then in my teens my grand dad cut himself in the same left leg while chopping firewood when we were camping. I know first hand what these injuries look like as I helped tie my dad's cut before he went to the hopsital and helped carry grandpa to the car taking him to the hospital too that other time. No one want's to experience these if they can help it. Most of all you fell really stupid.

Armour, especially plate or strong maille leg armour will decrease risk of this type of injury dramatically. So will holding a shield if you're doing one handed cutting. Drop the shield low to deflect leg cuts for diagonal sword arm shoulder to shield side diagonal downward cuts and hold horisontal for horisontal cuts, especially those false edge cuts that tend to run away from you. Use a stout shield for this that you know will take a sword blow or much more. If you don't have a shield a stout staff can work in a pinch too.

Most serious injuries to the cutter will occur from off side leg cuts. Either stand with the on side leg forward as already suggested by Michael above ( what I refer to with on side is the leading sword hand side) or use leg protection. Or all of the above.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Michael Edelson




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you do not cut accross your leading leg, the chance of such an injury is remote at best. If you do cut accross your leading leg...well... Happy
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

...you could end up cutting off your leading leg. Eek!

This reminds me that I should finish making those Valsgärde splint legs and always wear them for cutting. Easy to make and would easily ward off any accidental cut to the lower legs. You could always wear them under garments if it doesn't fit the timeframe you're depicting at the time.

I was going to make splint gauntlets because they're cooler, but I should probably make the leg splints first after all.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Scott Hrouda




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PostPosted: Fri 18 Feb, 2011 8:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Edelson has a very valid point. We were cutting across our leading leg, hundreds of times a day! In all my years of Christmas tree trimming I only had one close call. Oh, to be so blissfully ignorant...
...and that, my liege, is how we know the Earth to be banana shaped. - Sir Bedevere
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