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William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 8:01 am    Post subject: POB on Medieval Swords         Reply with quote

Hi Folks,

Recently received a sword: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...highlight= from a Czech maker. The point of balance is actually the crossguard. Have not had a chance to cut with it but was looking for some feedback if this POB is actually bad for the sword type. I have read many articles concerning POB and know it really matters how the sword handles and cuts vice the actual POB. Many site recommend 2-3 inches from the hilt.

Any input appreciated from anyone who has had a sword similar concerning the POB.
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Tom Kinder





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is one of my biggest pet peeves about sword handling. the point of balance should not be on the cross guard for any sword type that I know of.

a lot of people will say things like "oh, this sword is really well balanced" or "it is balanced perfectly" or "it has great tip control" when truthfully a sword with a super close POB is nothing of the sort.

just because it is easy to move does not make a sword well balanced. I think most people understand that a cutting sword needs to have its POB out a little ways from the guard in order to transfer power properly down the blade to deliver a strong cut. what most people seem to NOT understand though is that a thrusting sword wants its POB even FARTHER down the blade and that it is more important for good handling in a thrusting sword than a cutting sword. think of it this way: if it is easy to move the tip back and forth then it is also easy for your opponent to push the tip off line. think also of the way a thrusting sword is properly used. the tip should always be in line and it really only moves a small amount especially when compared to a cutting sword.

equally important to pob is percussion nodes and turning points or where on the sword the point is that it likes to turn around when moved. these properties are all controlled by mass distribution which is mainly controlled by distal and profile taper. a sword with enough mass in the pommel to bring the pob that far back is going to have its nodes and pivot points all out of whack and there's just no way around that.

pob is nearly always expressed as a measurement from the cross guard but the really important thing is not actual inches or centimeters from whatever point on the sword but rather where the center of gravity and nodes and such fall on the entire sword measured in percentage of length. in other words a very short sword with a pob of 3 inches might feel like a much longer sword with a pob of 5 inches. you have to look at the whole sword. it is impossible to correctly say that all (or even most) swords should have a pob of "x" inches from the guard. that is not only incorrect it is an incorrect way of thinking.

lastly to my knowledge there are no historical combat or fighting swords that have a POB right on the guard. I say "combat or fighting" in order to distinguish from ornamental or court swords that were not expected to be used in a fight and thus don't count. in my opinion you gotta ask yourself: "if they weren't made this way by anyone during the times they were in use, then why would it be a good idea to make it this way now?" admittedly sometimes that question has a legitimate answer and I'm not saying all swords must be made to exact historical standards, I'm just saying if you are going to deviate you should know why you are deviating and understand why it is a good idea for you and your project.

now this is all based on a performance view-point but not everyone who loves swords wants a great performing sword. some people want a sword that looks great and is pleasant to hold. the vast majority of sword owners never cut with their swords or maybe only cut once in a very great while. most sword owners spend the majority of their sword time sitting in a chair watching Conan the Barbarian or [insert favorite sword movie here] and waving it around. don't get me wrong, I think this is a perfectly legitimate use for a modern day sword. I mean who needs a sword these days, really? no one. but many of us love them all the same and I am not ashamed to admit I have done this very thing many times and will do so again gladly. in this light, if this is what you want to do with your sword then a sword with a very close pob may actually be ideal for you. I mean if you have to work to move that sword it could detract from the enjoyment of the moment. I think this is a fine thing to do, just don't tell me how a sword with a 0" point of gravity is such a great handling sword for a fighting sword. it isn't, it is an "armchair sword."
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 9:45 am    Post subject: Re: POB on Medieval Swords         Reply with quote

Hi William,

A PoB at the cross is a bit worrying for the handling properties if you want my opinion. Basically it means that the sword has very little blade presence. Held statically forward, it will feel very light, but once you'll try to actually swing it, you'll have to fight its real mass to make it rotate into the cut. A point of balance further from the cross (without going in all the gory details of exactly how far Wink ) will give a sword that turns naturally around your hand, carried by its center of balance. It can be easier to control too.

Even sport-fencing weapons (which are not suspect of being blade-heavy Wink ) have points of balance into the blade, for exactly these reasons I believe.

You could try to grip the sword a bit further from the cross to see the difference...

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Adam Bodorics
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 10:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMO any sword having a PoB closer than 2" to the quillons feels like an oversized combat knife - and that's perfectly fine if the blade is designed to take advantage of that. Extremely close PoB can be also nice for a sparring blunt, as the almost nonexistent blade presence would help in minimizing impact (but also makes mixed weapon practice difficult, as it's quite hard to beat anything with much more presence aside). On the other hand, one of the guys I train with uses axes, spears, maces and clubs (in that order) mostly, and is extremely awkward with anything under 5" PoB, and became competent (and much, much safer) as soon as his sword had it's PoB relocated at 7" (single hander, 1250g total mass).

Also, I do like the looks of your sword, so don't take my comments as degradation. Happy
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The trouble with that sword is that the pommel may be too thick for its width. Some pommels are known to be that wide, butit seems pretty thick. Perhaps a thinner pommel would have been better. It's also possible there's not enough mass in the right part of the blade.
Happy

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Tom Kinder





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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

good point Chad, we have seen a lot of really wide but thin pommels on antique here recently. also a lot of the larger antique pommels were hollow to some degree.
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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Appreciate all the feedback. I have a pretty large collection with some very good ones. This is the first medieval with this type of POB. I had requested the pommel be lightened to push the POB out more but it still is at the guard. This particular sword was pretty inexpensive so not a big deal. Just trying some different makers while doing my assignment in Europe Wink
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The sword does look nice and visually looks balanced to me in profile but maybe too much mass in the pommel as suggested is the primary cause of the balance point being at the guard.

I also notice that the tang looks very stout and robust as well as the guard.

At the guard balance which I would call neutral balance does work with daggers to make them very fast but not so much with a sword. POB even just a couple of inches into the blade might be enough for the sword to be good handling.

The make or break thing when using a sword is, does it make it easier to cut or thrust while at the same time can you recover fast enough with it to parry and defend with it: The opposite is will it get you killed faster because it doesn't do these things well or even just a little worse than your opponent's blade ? ( Note: We rarely seem to discuss how much a better handling blade can be just enough to give an advantage to two closely matched opponents in a fight when discussing historical fencing ! ).

Other variables are one or two handed and whether one is dependant completely on the blade for defence or if one is using a shield or buckler primarily for defence, also fencing styles and what the individual has trained with and is used to as far as handling is concerned ?

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Tod Glenn




Location: Helena MT
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PostPosted: Mon 10 Oct, 2011 12:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

POB is all about what the sword is supposed to do. I don;t believe there's a right or wrong, but a POB at the guard will mean you will lose a lot of cutting power. I've seen historical examples all over the place, but most medieval pieces seem to be 4 to 6 inches from the cross. The general consensus among HEMA types seems like 3-4 inches, while those interested in cutting want the POB much farther out. Note that this is true of two handed weapons - one handed weapon generally have a POB closer to the hand to make them less fatiguing.

I disagree strongly with the notion that a thrusting weapon needs a POB farther out than a cutter. Most thrust only weapon and modern foil and epee try to put the weight as close to the hand as possible, but the latter are limited by the rules about grips (thank you FIE). A POB close to the hand/cross means the point is very nimble, and the best way to counter a beat is to avoid it.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2011 12:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod Glenn wrote:
I disagree strongly with the notion that a thrusting weapon needs a POB farther out than a cutter. Most thrust only weapon and modern foil and epee try to put the weight as close to the hand as possible, but the latter are limited by the rules about grips (thank you FIE). A POB close to the hand/cross means the point is very nimble, and the best way to counter a beat is to avoid it.

I agree about the first point, but from what I've measured it seems that most weapons (whether thrusting or cutting) actually have mass concentrated at the cross. There is a limit to the proportion of mass that can be concentrated that way; at some point it's dangerous for the structural integrity of the blade. Foils are very close to what seems to be the limit in that respect, but still with the mass concentrated close to the guard.I don't think it's just a limitation of sporting rules.

An overly heavy pommel (as seems to be the case here indeed) concentrates mass away from the cross, farther into the hilt. It also has the effect of bringing the PoB back but not with the same distribution of mass...

Regards,

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Vincent
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2011 5:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

fwiw: i'm an amateur sword slipper sitting in a café near wallace collection after my second long visit in a week (eat yer hearts out!) and this topic is very much on my mind. one of the surprising things to note about many blades is how thick they are in their upper half. we rarely (never) see this in photos, but it has significant implications for balance. few modern blades are so thick, so although one can make something that looks right, it's hard to make swords that feel right. in my experience, a pommel, guard and windlass or h-t blade that look right together will typically yield a balance of ca. 2.5"-3", about 2" less than ideal. the only way to compensate is to use a hollow pommel, which i plan to do on my next project.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2011 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have owned two swords which fit have fairly close PoBs:

A Del Tin 5161: Swedish Two Hander with a 1.75" Pob.

And the Arms & Armor Black Prince with a 1.5" PoB.

Now, to me, both are wonderful swords based on historical pieces. I do not find cutting light targets any more difficult for myself than I do with a sword with a further PoB - other than the blade is recovered easier and I have improved tip control. The loss of that added umph is there with the decreased blade presence, but the improved accuracy is beneficial in it's own right, making for seemingly very fast swords.

Now, I certinaly understand the historical aspects of what makes a good sword and how more weight/energy at the tip of the blade is required for cutting or cleaving though maille, shield, or plate defenses. But, for my own recreational means - a close PoB is ok. These are not swords I would ever use in a real fight - I use them for cutting light targets, not armored medieval warfare. A few swords with close PoBs in my collection do not seem out of place at all, they lend flavor to my collection.

It depends on how the weapon feels to you and if it does what you want it to. There are historical examples of swords with close PoBs - though I am not sure they would be indicative of your particular sword design.

But, if you like it as is, it's fine. I suggest owning both swords with close and distant PoBs to have a feel for the diversity given to us by history! Happy

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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Tom Kinder





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
fwiw: i'm an amateur sword slipper sitting in a café near wallace collection after my second long visit in a week (eat yer hearts out!) and this topic is very much on my mind. one of the surprising things to note about many blades is how thick they are in their upper half. we rarely (never) see this in photos, but it has significant implications for balance. few modern blades are so thick, so although one can make something that looks right, it's hard to make swords that feel right. in my experience, a pommel, guard and windlass or h-t blade that look right together will typically yield a balance of ca. 2.5"-3", about 2" less than ideal. the only way to compensate is to use a hollow pommel, which i plan to do on my next project.


eating my heart out vigorously! Sean, have you had the opportunity to take real measurements on these swords or you have only been able to look? do you know exactly how thick they are or you just working off what you see? I ask because accurate thickness measurements would be very valuable to the sword making community.
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Tue 11 Oct, 2011 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Contrary to the epee and foil analogy, I find a bit of forward bias helpful in direction for heavier swords. Foils and epee are a bit more wrist directed than, say, a rapier. My feeling it is most important that a sword more or less reach a dynamically neutral feel even if the cog is eight or nine inches from the guard. A static number rarely syays it all for me.

With some three dozen 18th and 19th century swords in hand here, an average cog for sabres, epee (smallsword) and spadroon fall in the four to six inch from the guard bracket (almost without exception).

The A&A BP I own is an older model and in bronze. It is hard to get a definite cog by the blade alone because of the peak in the guard. I get roughly 2 1/2" to the blade shoulder and 3" to the grip side of the guard. In terms of cutting, well, it is a sword not particularly cut oriented. I was at first a bit disappointed in a too close cog but the sword is very neutral dynamically and I have come to love it a bit over the past decade. At the same time, I appreciate one of Gus' fist XIIIa models and it was about pound lighter but a cog out thare past about 7"

One sword that seemed to baffle some a bit is a migration era sword Kevin Cashen did with a cog out there in the 8"-9" range. It honestly feels to most more like three or four inches because of the overall static and dynamic feel. The sword has more of a butt plate than a pommel

My own car analogy I will stick to forever is that a hilt bias feel tends to react like a Porsche 911 when you get off the gas in a corner resulting in trailing throttle oversteer. The point of a sword's forward pivot skewed in application and then withdrawal of power. However, Porsche and BMW still race and win most weekends on the race track, so it is a bit subjective in the end. Front end drive, when you lift the throttle, the reaction goes from understeer to pulling into a corner. Maybe more simply put, we get used to what we drive Wink

Cheers

GC
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