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David R. Glier





Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Thu 28 Oct, 2004 10:02 am    Post subject: Using a Tulwar?         Reply with quote

This is becoming a problem.

I am the mostly-proud owner of a Cold Steel tulwar that I've "modified" by getting rid of that damned knife grind and putting on an edge that rivals most kabbage kutters for sharpness. Cool At the same time, I mannaged to shave off enough weight that the sword has moved the pob back down to 5" or so, and it's become much more lively than it was originaly. Even though the grip is still too long, and I haven't been able to dismout the blade to modify said grip, I am very satisfied with the performance of the sword in cutting. You might call it a pickle-chip maker. Laughing Out Loud

So I don't think the sword is the problem -I'm pretty sure that I am. Worried
The damned disk pommel digs into my wrist like no other. To prevent that, I've been holding the sword in a hammer grip, and that has necessitated (what I think are) overly broad slashing strokes. I've tried leafing through the "using a viking sword" thread for tips on gripping, but the horizontal disk pretty much rules that grip right out.

So what's the deal here? The tulwar *is* a cavalry weapon -is it supposed to be a slow, deep cutter? Or is there a deeper problem with this particular sword that I haven't fixed yet? Or is it my grip or the way I'm using the sword? WTF?!
To put it in a nutshell, I guess I just need more info on Tulwars. Worried
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Lloyd Clark




Location: Beaver Dam, WI
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Oct, 2004 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Remember, most cavalry weapons are designed to use the momentum of the horse to do their damage, not the force from the swing of your arm. To this, I think that the "radius of cut" is much greater on swords designed to cut from horseback, as opposed to those used specifically on the ground.

When cutting from horseback, I have very little arm motion at all (if any) - and when I do, it is a long, steady sweep.

I have, for a very long time, wondered and questioned the "superiority" that curved blades are supposed to have from horseback. Unfortunately, I have never used a curved blade to see what the functional differences are. But, my experience with straight blades has shown me a wide difference in not only cutting ability, but in just how the different blades must be used to gain their maximum effectiveness.

Cheers,

Lloyd Clark
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 28 Oct, 2004 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First:
I have no idea as to how a Tulwar should be gripped or wielded.
This is only guessing:
-Perhaps the long grip is causing the problem? If you hold the sword with the disc tight against the heel of your hand that might do the trick? This is the case with some wide brazil nut pommels. You need to choke up on the pommel (or palm it) if it is not to dig into your wrist.

If the disc is still causing problems, it might be just as you said: they were never meant to be used with much of wrist motion.

It could also be that the disc is too wide? Try to get info on the dimensions of some authentic hilts and compare. Just a small differense can be important here. It is not unusual that "replicas" are off a little. As the grip is too long, it might be that the disc is too big by the same amount. That could be one explanation, perhaps? (please note, I have never seen the Cold Steel Tulwar, so these guesses are only general).
If the hilt is made from a photo and grip length calculated for what would be a preference for modern consumers (who are gernerally suspicious of short grips = 4" minimum) enlarging the hilt by a few percents will do strange things with the function.
Again, this is only speculation.
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E.B. Erickson
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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 3:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey David,
The antique Tulwars all have the same problem, so Cold Steel's design is probably right on. I've owned several antiques, and between the wide pommel plate and the short grip, I could NEVER hold one comfortably. I tried hooking my finger over the guard, and this helped some, but the wide pommel still allowed only a hammer grip. Any wrist motion resulted in extreme binding and pinching from that pommel.

Afghan Polouars (the Afghan version of the Tulwar), with their hemispherical pommel, are much better, and pretty easy to swing around using wrist motion.

--ElJay
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Geoff Wood




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 3:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
First:

This is only guessing:
-Perhaps the long grip is causing the problem? If you hold the sword with the disc tight against the heel of your hand that might do the trick? This is the case with some wide brazil nut pommels. You need to choke up on the pommel (or palm it) if it is not to dig into your wrist.



Just to concur with what Peter said, I've found with a 4.5" grip and a brasil nut pommel that it is much more comfortable if I hold it, hammer style, with the pommel right up against the heel of my hand. That leave a good inch of grip foward of my hand, but I find no problems with wrist motion when cutting.
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two things that are very clear from historic manuscript illustration are that talwar:

1. Are NOT just cavalry weapons and over time became largely infantry swords;

2. Were NOT fingered over the quillons (ie. were held in hammer-grip).
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David R. Glier





Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can use a sword with a brazil-nut pommel, too. But immagine, if you will, if that uncomfortable pommel was swelled into a flying-saucer shape instead of a nut. Ouch! Mad

Mr. Johnsson, I think you may be exactly right -the increased size may have made the disk disproportionately large. Choking back on the pommel helped -thank you! ...but with the long grip, the p.o.b. just moves farther away from my hand and performance suffers almost as if I were still holding it in a hammer grip. Sad

Ruel: are you certain about that? The iconography show a straight-wristed grip, no wrist motion? Surprised
Hey, maybe this IS how it was supposed to be used. Confused
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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 11:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not in any position to give you improvement advice. I, however, share the same problem you have when handling tulwar and I have no other option but to limit my wrist motion, resorting to hammer grip only (I'm usually big into the "handshake" grip).

So if anyone have the clue, I would like to hear about it too. Happy

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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Fri 29 Oct, 2004 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Ruel: are you certain about that? The iconography show a straight-wristed grip, no wrist motion?


Quite sure. I've had the same question in my mind for years, and have tried to figure out the correct technique from manuscripts, in which I've seen hundreds of talwar. Not ever are they shown fingered, as many have speculated, and as Eljay noted it doesn't improve anything when you actually try it because it puts the disc at an even more painful angle into your write/palm heel.

There does seem to be wrist motion, however, in illustrated follow-through movements. Whether that motion occurs before or after striking the target I don't know...

I hope one of you can figure this out, as it has been bothering me for some time. Clearly, the disc pommel reinforces some sort of specific cutting technique, and clearly this technique is so different from the way that "normal" swords are swung that the one can't be intuited from the other. Confused
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Chris Holzman





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PostPosted: Sat 30 Oct, 2004 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ruel A. Macaraeg wrote:
Quote:
Ruel: are you certain about that? The iconography show a straight-wristed grip, no wrist motion?


Quite sure. I've had the same question in my mind for years, and have tried to figure out the correct technique from manuscripts, in which I've seen hundreds of talwar. Not ever are they shown fingered, as many have speculated, and as Eljay noted it doesn't improve anything when you actually try it because it puts the disc at an even more painful angle into your write/palm heel.

There does seem to be wrist motion, however, in illustrated follow-through movements. Whether that motion occurs before or after striking the target I don't know...

I hope one of you can figure this out, as it has been bothering me for some time. Clearly, the disc pommel reinforces some sort of specific cutting technique, and clearly this technique is so different from the way that "normal" swords are swung that the one can't be intuited from the other. Confused


Remember that conversation you and Russ and I had? I'm thinking that what we ended up with, was the idea that the cold steel one's grip should be shorter, and should really lock the hand in place, with the disc against the bottom of the hand.. once you do that, you've got power cuts from the shoulders, and finesse cuts from the hips and elbow... and that the huge curve (specially on that small tulwar you had) was ideal for a close distance cut with the deep part of the curve and a follow through that would slice deeply into the wound once it was started... but this is just a hazy recollection of that conversation....

later,
chris

Chris Holzman
River City Fencing Club
Wichita, KS
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David R. Glier





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PostPosted: Sat 30 Oct, 2004 4:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have either of you come up with a way of dismounting the blade??? Surprised

I *used* to be convinced that the hilt was held on with a pommel nut, but I haven't been able to make it budge a bit. Now I'm not sure. Cold Steel hasn't replied to my e-mails. I'm wondering if it's brazed on or epoxied in place. Confused

If you wear gloves that are thick enough to fill up the space betwen the cross and the pommel, the performance *does* noticably improve.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Sat 30 Oct, 2004 6:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've owned a couple of antique tuwar over the years. Both of them had wide circular pommel disk.

They both had smallish hilts that made for a very secure grip when my hand was wedged between the guard and the disk. They were, however, a bit uncomfortable when more than minimal wrist action was used. I'm next to ignorant when it comes to middle eastern weapons, so I'm afraid I can't be of much help.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Ruel A. Macaraeg





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PostPosted: Sat 30 Oct, 2004 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris,

I do remember, but we didn't actually try it at the time, and when I went home to try it the same problem resurfaced -- as you swing the talwar, you fight two natural inclinations, (1) centrifugal force pulling the sword outward/forward and (2) rotation pulling the pommel upward/inward. Both of these motions drive the disc into the hand.

My small talwar is typical of some light-bladed versions in being rather thin and having a COB closer to the hilt.




However, it seems that a greater number of talwar were heavier, thicker, and had CsOB farther out, such as my other talwar. The Cold Steel Tulwar (which I also have), other than the grip length, is very similar in proportion to this talwar.




Talwar with this weight configuration simply can't be used with non-disc-pommeled sword techniques. They must therefore have techniques of their own, that are fundamentally different from even the Persian and Turkish sabers with which they are often (too often, maybe) compared.

* * * * *

Consider this also. The disc pommel is found not only on saber-bladed talwars, but also on straight bladed khanda swords and reverse-curved sosun pata and kirach like the ones I have below. They even appear on some maces!




Disc pommels also are found on Bronze Age Celtic short swords and on 18-20thc. Western Sudanic swords such as the Tuareg takouba. Clearly, this feature serves some functional purpose -- something that goes beyond saber technique.


* * * * *

PS- Wanted to mention also that I scribbled down some thoughts on talwar evolution on this webpage:

The Talwar: Speculations on its Origin and Development
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Mike Stillwell




Location: U.K.
Joined: 08 Oct 2004

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PostPosted: Sun 31 Oct, 2004 5:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi David.

I do an Indian martial art using tulwars etc. The issue is not so much about on foot or on horseback as the fact that it's usually used with a small shield, and that the sword weaves constantly between chambered positions, making a series of cuts until the swordsman commits himself to one, then another. The shield and sword alternate rather like bicycle pedals - as one comes out the other comes back, with both visible in front of you. The disc is only a problem in the swing AFTER the point at which you would hit someone with the blade, and at that point you are twisting [never bending] your wrist to bring it back as the shield comes out. I enclose a short sword and shield training pattern which is useful for practicing these sorts of cuts. This sword and shield drill can be done solo, or as a training pattern by partners, one mirroring the other a beat after. Just remember that you're using the sword and shield as a boxer might, keeping them close together and so with both your hands in sight, like a boxer keeping his guard up.. Also check out the media clips on http://www.warriorsaints.com/

The diagram is of your opponent [which shows HIS right and left]. The cuts are your cuts and begin with the number and end with the arrow. The numbering of the cuts is for this exercise only. Keep sword and shield close together [think boxing]. You are right foot forwards and right hand with stick forwards, shield back [think boxing again]. There's enough cuts here to make a good beginning.

To start. Put your right fist on your left shoulder, sword pointing behind you, then bring up buckler to cover your left ear.

1. Drop buckler while cutting horizontally forwards at your opponents right ear.
2. Bring the sword back the way it came, wrist skimming the top of your head to go round to your left and behind you, ready to shoot forwards from your right, but keeping your hand in sight.. As the sword is going back, at the same time the shield goes forwards to cover the right ear. then the shield drops and the sword goes forwards to hit his left ear. Go back to start position. stick back first then shield to cover the ear. This is called the 'ear ear' exercise.
3. Drop your shield and make cut 3. as your sword goes down and back up on the right, the shield comes forwards and...
4. ..as you make cut 4. the shield goes back, and the shield comes out straight forwards as the sword goes under the left arm.
5. Shield pulled back as you make cut 5., then forwards as you chamber mid-level on the right ready to make..
6. ...cut six, ending up with fist holding sword at your left hip with shield out....
7. ...and then make cut 7 diagonally up, shield pulling back as you make the cut, with shield then coming out as your arm drops down to make ..
8. ..a thrust, just to be different, then shield out as your arm comes back where it started at your right hip to make..
9. ..a diagonal cut up. But this time as your sword finishes the cut, keep your buckler close to your hip and make..
10. ..cut 10, a low horizontal not very sensible with a sword alone, but here you move the shield out a beat after the sword, higher than the sword and ready to cover your head, and then make..
11. .. cut 11 in the same way but the opposite way, and to finish with a grand finale which is to..
12. ...leap into the air, bringing both feet up to go over a cut coming in at your legs and windmill down across your body to hit down on your opponent's head - or hopefully his shield if he's fast enough!

As all this is quite complicated, it's a good idea to just do cuts 3,4, 7 and 9, making a cut down on the right and on the left, and a cut up on the right and on the left. In fact making a figure eight cutting down left and right, then after a while making a figure eight cutting up left and right in the same way, is good practice with these sorts of swords.

Hope this helps. Also people I train with say the best disc pommels curve away from your hand.

Best wishes

Mike



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David R. Glier





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PostPosted: Sun 31 Oct, 2004 9:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear GOD, where on earth is the point of balance on these things supposed to be??? Inside the hilt??? Eek!
The media clips on the website are more than informative, especialy the Gatka Demo, but I can't make out what the weapons are made of. As fantasticly and almost rediculously fast as some of them are moving (assuming the video has not been sped up), I have to wonder whether the training weapons acurately reflect weapons of war. Are we watching what amounts to the Indian equivalent of Wushu, or are the practicioners in the clips simply the creme de la creme? Confused

This is marvalous materiel.
Actualy, it's a little reassuring. The methods you've outlined and that I'm seeing in the videos reinfoce the conclusions I was drawing while I was cutting.
I'm greatly obliged.
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Mike Stillwell




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Nov, 2004 1:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David R. Glier wrote:
Dear GOD, where on earth is the point of balance on these things supposed to be??? Inside the hilt??? Eek!
The media clips on the website are more than informative, especialy the Gatka Demo, but I can't make out what the weapons are made of. .


Not aluminium! standard modern or antique Indian tulwars - It's common to use antique blades rehilted due to wear. You'll see a display or demonstaration style which informs - is used as practice for - the actual fighting.

Best

Mike

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Mike Stillwell




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Nov, 2004 3:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry for the double post

I myself am only a beginner, so please don't base any opinions on my own words, which are my interpretation of one small aspect of what I've been taught, and is not how I've been taught it - there's plenty of gatka sites on the web, such as http://www.gatka.de/ which describes the various weapons, techniques and the history of gatka. I would seriously suggest contacting Sikhs directly through the sites who may be able to both answer questions and also perhaps direct you to temples offering training near you. This is the route I took. I looked at the amazing collection of tulwars and other Indian weapons in the Wallace collection in London, wondered how they were used [since I had one at home that hurt my hand when I tried to cut with it!] and determined to find out.

There is a tradition that an Indian Buddhist monk taught the Chinese the basis of their martial arts - not surprising when you think where Buddha came from. The Indian martial tradition is a very ancient and effective one. If you were to imagine that our own battlefield arts had been passed down through the centuries, father to son in an almost unbroken tradition , you will understand some of the excitement I feel at learning these arts.

Studying the clips it is sometimes difficult to know what you are seeing, as there is the demonstration and display style for religious festivals, then individual fights, and also methods effective against multiple opponents. There is also the difference beteen gatka stick-fighting and the sword-fighting, like the difference between singlestick and sabre, as well as fighting with the long pole [lathi/ 'la-tee']. The Sikhs were often in the position of fighting against obverwhelming odds - and winning. Fighting multiple enemies is a core part of the system, and to take out as many opponents as possible without being killed, and without getting tied up in wrestling matches and ground-fighting, is an important aspect.

My experience is that the Indian battle arts have a huge amount to tell us about how Western medieval martial arts were perhaps actually used, even taking into account differences between some of the weapons - the similarities are more importan than the difference I believe - and particularly in in terms of the spirit and the flow of fighting. The Indian arts show a continual cutting between chambered positions, whereas we often tend to see our own arts as if they were moving from one static guard to another, like in the old pictures in the treatises. We need to press the 'play' button, and not base the recreation of our own arts on 'still frames', - in my opinion only, of course.

Best wishes

Mike

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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Nov, 2004 8:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe herein is a clue as to the use of a Viking sword... Big Grin

Hey, Mike, you got any western swords? Idea
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Mike Stillwell




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Nov, 2004 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Douglas S wrote:
Maybe herein is a clue as to the use of a Viking sword... Big Grin

Hey, Mike, you got any western swords? Idea


A most interesting point about viking swords.

Yes, various sabres, viking, longsword - as well as Indian swords

I'm on a bit of a mission to put my Sikh friends and WMA friends together, and this has taken place a couple of times recently at a couple of WMA events in the UK and in earlier in the year in Dijon. The sparring between singlestick and gatka different but very interesting - individual duelling vs a battlefield style. French la canne similar in some ways. And rapier and dagger, and messer and shield, can also have a very good conversation with someone playing gatka too. And a lot both ways to learn from Western I33 sword and buckler.

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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Nov, 2004 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's a parallel debate going on just now, about the proper grip for a Viking sword; since the Tulwar exhibits some similarities as to apparent limitations in the grip, it may be interesting to compare notes, so to speak...
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