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Austin D.G. Hill




Location: Darien IL., USA
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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2012 4:58 pm    Post subject: Batman ninja vambraces, Historical or no?         Reply with quote

i have always wondered if the bladed/scalloped vambraces that the ninjas use in batman begins are historically referenced or no. i know that movies do many unhistorical things, but these do seem rather believable, plus they do have a practical use of ensnaring an enemies blade. plus if you raised your forearm in defense to a punch, the puncher would definitely be injured by the spike blades. i am just wondering however if anything like this was used in real life by the ninjas.
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2012 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know with anything near 100% certainty but I'll go out on a limb and say no...just no.

The idea of catching any blade heavier than a rapier on the forearm with anything less than a buckler or shield is essentially kissing that arm goodbye in my very limited, modern, aging, yuppie, experience. Admittedly, my frame of reference stinks and there are illustrations of people wrapping their arms with a cloak to do something similar (usually later period against thrusting swords). Never the less I really think you try it against a saber, cutlass, katana, or longsword and the best you're going to get is a dislocation. If you misjudge or mistime things get downhill quickly. Better I think just not to be in the path of the strike. Just an opinion though.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Jojo Zerach





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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
I don't know with anything near 100% certainty but I'll go out on a limb and say no...just no.

The idea of catching any blade heavier than a rapier on the forearm with anything less than a buckler or shield is essentially kissing that arm goodbye in my very limited, modern, aging, yuppie, experience. Admittedly, my frame of reference stinks and there are illustrations of people wrapping their arms with a cloak to do something similar (usually later period against thrusting swords). Never the less I really think you try it against a saber, cutlass, katana, or longsword and the best you're going to get is a dislocation. If you misjudge or mistime things get downhill quickly. Better I think just not to be in the path of the strike. Just an opinion though.


Although I haven't heard of any such ninja vamabraces being used, I doubt catching a a sabre or longsword on such a thing would damage your arm.
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Thu 19 Apr, 2012 11:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The arm won't be damaged unless one attempts to stop a zweihander or a halberd this way. However it's a big question what is better: to stop an incoming blade so that your opponent only has to drag it back to ready a thrust or step to the side and hide behind his blade from your attack or to deflect the incoming blade it so that it goes down and your opponent has to raise it to be able to attack or defend.
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2012 3:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have personally neither seen, heard nor read anything that would lead me to think that these were historically utilized designs. I think they likely originated in the Batman comic book, continued through the Adam West television series and eventually found their way into the new movies reborn as ninja armor.

On a side note, I have to say I got a chuckle participating in a conversation about the historical veracity of ninja armor worn by Batman. That's what I call a twofer. Big Grin

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aleksei Sosnovski wrote:
The arm won't be damaged unless one attempts to stop a zweihander or a halberd this way. However it's a big question what is better: to stop an incoming blade so that your opponent only has to drag it back to ready a thrust or step to the side and hide behind his blade from your attack or to deflect the incoming blade it so that it goes down and your opponent has to raise it to be able to attack or defend.


I'm pretty sure a longsword (at least) used with intent will drive right through that defense as well. Even better, in the hands of somebody with some skill, they will simply move the attack around it. Either way I still think the experience will end up being painful. Another consideration, at least in the case of longsword is that if your opponent has any idea what he's doing his cut, even if it is deflected, will end up in a guard or very close to one. This assumes of course that the attacker even bothers to pause his assault. If the attacker continues the assault he will merely move through the guard.

The blade does not have to raise to present a threat and that threat can be attack and defense at the same time. Unfortunately you'll need somebody with more martial knowledge than me to explain this better and correct my inevitable mistakes and omissions.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Fri 20 Apr, 2012 7:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Apr, 2012 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jojo Zerach wrote:
Joe Fults wrote:
I don't know with anything near 100% certainty but I'll go out on a limb and say no...just no.

The idea of catching any blade heavier than a rapier on the forearm with anything less than a buckler or shield is essentially kissing that arm goodbye in my very limited, modern, aging, yuppie, experience. Admittedly, my frame of reference stinks and there are illustrations of people wrapping their arms with a cloak to do something similar (usually later period against thrusting swords). Never the less I really think you try it against a saber, cutlass, katana, or longsword and the best you're going to get is a dislocation. If you misjudge or mistime things get downhill quickly. Better I think just not to be in the path of the strike. Just an opinion though.


Although I haven't heard of any such ninja vamabraces being used, I doubt catching a a sabre or longsword on such a thing would damage your arm.


I've love to hear from somebody who as actually tried it in sparring against a sparring mate intent on hitting them. We know shields and bucklers work. We know you can do something similar with a cloak against certain weapons, usually those intended for civilian use. We know this can work in the Batman movies when the other guy does not intend to hit Batman.

Battle field weapons driven with intent though?

Again just my unqualified hobbyist and yuppie opinion, but long swords and other military weapons can hit hard. Very hard. I've been surprised by the amount of concentrated and controlled force they can deliver more than once. I've also been surprised by how little impact they have to deliver to impart damage that would be catastrophic. that being the case I suspect that the batman forearm ninja gimmick provides a poor defense against Meisterhauwen because you're really talking about a small stopping/blocking area that cannot be significantly extended from the body and rotated/positioned in ways that optimize coverage of approaching angles to help expand the defense. Even if it can be used to block without injury I think the margin for error for doing so seems to be very low.

In the movies, cool and great. Against a rapier, sure if a cloak can go dance, why not these. Ditto a dagger, sure why not. Still not convinced of the utility against some of the other stuff though. AND, I've never seen anything similar in a period illustration or museum collection BUT I have seen stranger things in illustrations and collections so anything might be possible!

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Aleksei Sosnovski





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do you know why people used half-swording against plate-armored opponents? That's because battlefield weapons that hit hard could not hit hard enough to reliably injure people in armor. Well, using a vambrace as a shield might not be the best idea (depends on the thickness and hardness of the steel) but deflecting blows with an armored limb works just fine. And it works especially fine when while doing so you ready your weapon for a strike. People often don't expect this. Vambrace is not so different from a small shield. Make it from a little thicker steel, use some padding underneath and it will be a shield.
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Austin D.G. Hill




Location: Darien IL., USA
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2012 7:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i suppose that if a large sword or katana was used that could have a chance of cutting through the vambraces or causing some serious damage to the arm, the side step method used in akido could be applied to some degree.this could deflect and ensnare the blade.

so they aren't historical Cry oh well, i still REALLY like the concept though
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Jojo Zerach





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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2012 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Austin D.G. Hill wrote:
i suppose that if a large sword or katana was used that could have a chance of cutting through the vambraces or causing some serious damage to the arm, the side step method used in akido could be applied to some degree.this could deflect and ensnare the blade.

so they aren't historical Cry oh well, i still REALLY like the concept though


Although a solid sword blow might dent a vambrace, your chances of actually cutting through it are to small to be considered an effective attack.
Against especially thick vambraces, the strike would be nearly useless.
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William Jordan Harmon




Location: Idaho, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2012 10:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In The irish wars 1485-1603 It has a Picture of an irish Kern with an Iron Gauntlet and it is described in the book as "Note that A2 wears an iron gauntlet on his left arm, used in place of a shield to parry blows; others wrapped their cloak around the arm instead." The description of the Kern is dated to the 1540's. While It's not exactly like the Ninja vembraces that batman used. They're somewhat similar in that they are used defensively.


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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its been well established that you don't have to cut armor (and most likely won't) to hurt the tender bits underneath in a vast number of threads on a vast number of discussion boards by people who actually are authorities on the subject. That said, I think that a vambrace with a proper base garment is going to disperse the energy of a blow in a much different way than the batman kit because of area it covers, because of the padding beneath it, and because it is part of an integrated defense with other armor bits. If we assume the vambrace is part of a kit it is also going to be usable in ways that the batman thing cannot be used, because it is applied in isolation. Also, if a vambrace is the only armor defense I don't need to half-sword, there are lots of tender cut-ty bits exposed to attack. That's the biggest problem I see with the batman ninja thing. It is that it is a comparatively small defense used in isolation that cannot be held away from the body as a buckler or shield can be to use angles to its advantage.

The cloak is a closer analog to the batman ninja bracer but its mainly referenced in later periods facing small-swords, rapiers and the like. To me there is a very narrow defensive area with the batman ninja bracers that is protected or that deflects. Be off just a bit in one direction and you lose a hand. A bit in the other direction and you lose the arm. Far better to dump the batman ninja bracer and just acknowledge that you need to be where the opponents blade is not, than to think you can take a risk a block with it and then make a mistake.

All of this thread is conjuncture and opinion so far. I've qualified my opinion carefully as amateur, so who knows. Maybe batman ninja bracers do work just fine. Never the less I'm not going to be the volunteer to test it. I don't trust the tool. In addition, the Irish Kern bit and cloaks are the closest things to actually used document-able examples anybody has come up with so far. If somebody posts a historical reference to a tool that is clearly similar to the batman ninja tool I'll gladly accept that it works and is historical. Until then we're all just arm chairing (especially me) and spouting generally unqualified opinion about "could be used" which does make for interesting discussion, but was not the original poster's question.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Mon 23 Apr, 2012 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It reminds me of Roman boxing gloves. I know from hearsay that there are some speculations that these were modified with metal spikes and blades in order to get more visible effects in the arena.
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Isn't there a historical system of Rapier and Gauntlet?

I've been able to push or knock away a blade, and even take hold of one with my bare hand in sparring with Chinese swords before, and even became quite good at it. This is obviously easier against a single edged blade. It would only ever be a desperation or intimidation technique against a real weapon, though. Prosthetics just aren't good enough to risk it too often at this point in time...

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Rod Walker




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know a guy that had his forearm broken through his gothic vambrace with a sword hit. I wouldn't be using my armoured forearm to block a sword blow if I could help it.
Cheers

Rod
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And tilt at windmills under a wild sky!
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
I know a guy that had his forearm broken through his gothic vambrace with a sword hit. I wouldn't be using my armoured forearm to block a sword blow if I could help it.


This opinion, unlike the opinions of most of the rest of us, actually does have authority backed by experience on this subject matter. Neat to see it shared here. At least neat to me! Big Grin Cool

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2012 9:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rod Walker wrote:
I know a guy that had his forearm broken through his gothic vambrace with a sword hit. I wouldn't be using my armoured forearm to block a sword blow if I could help it.
Better broken than severed.

I say the guy in your story was simply unlucky. I would trust my Italian vambraces--and the extra layer of steel of the long gauntlet cuff--to defend my forearm just fine from even a heavy sword-stroke. It's not ideal, and I might bruise, but I don't think the arm would be out of commission. Why wear the armour if you can't trust it to save you from a simple swordblow?

Non Concedo
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Ben Welch




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Actually the idea that you "cant" parry with a gauntlet is ridiculous, there are refrences to using a gauntlet in single hand swordplay going all the way back to the bolognese system with arming sword/ cut and thrust sword. I use a left handed gauntlet all the time actually, and I've parried everything up to a longsword without any trouble, and thats with just a leather bracer. As consolation, you can get bruised up pretty bad if catch a full powered blow from the wrong angle.
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Colt Reeves





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PostPosted: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just to add my 2 cents here:

Blocking is a stupid term and I hate how it is used all over the place without thought. Most martial arts do not teach you to block, but to deflect. I for one would not want to "block" an overhand sword strike with an upper forearm block, armour or no, but an outer forearm block to deflect it could be done relatively (relatively!) safely with a bare arm if you were careful and quick. This Batman thing is used in the movie to effectively block in some cases, not to deflect as it should.

If it isn't clear what I am talking about: An upper forearm block is when you raise your arm from your waist or chest into a semi-horizontal position over your head. (Slanted so as to help make the blow slide off.) An outer forearm block is when you take your arm and swing it sideways in a vertical fashion to move an incoming blow to the side. While some might advocate using the upper to deal with blows from above, it is my opinion that that is stupid and the upper forearm block is better suited to deflecting blows that are coming in straight at the head. Far better to void if possible though, something that shouldn't be difficult the way movie bad guys telegraph...

I think the confusion between blocking and deflecting is clouding the issue here. Though I haven't seen any of these techniques or moves for using a gauntlet against an incoming blow, my guess is that they aren't used to block, but to deflect.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Mon 23 Apr, 2012 7:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Welch wrote:
Actually the idea that you "cant" parry with a gauntlet is ridiculous...


Slightly off topic (not that we are really on topic) but this is one of the cruder uses of a straw man I've seen recently. Blush

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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