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Dan K. F.




Location: Calgary, Alberta
Joined: 12 Aug 2013
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Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sun 22 Sep, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: First experience and impressions with a "real" swo         Reply with quote

I've been interested in medieval swords for a while and when I saw a posting for A&A's English Longsword I decided to snap it up (thanks Chad!). As this is the first "real" sword I've handled, I just thought I'd post my first impressions.

The length really surprised me. I knew the dimensions of this sword when I first bought it (around 44 inches overall) but I didn't fully process how long it would be until I was holding it in my hands. It definitely wouldn't be my first choice for fighting in close quarters but I imagine the reach would be a very welcome asset on an open battlefield and I'm beginning to understand how versatile a sword like this could be in the right hands. The image I had in my head was of a much more compact weapon and single handed medieval swords don't seem much shorter. I can see now why a good dagger was considered such an essential complement.

What also struck me (which probably shouldn't have) was the balance and how light it felt in my hands despite the size. From the reading I've done I knew not to expect something that felt heavy and bulky but given that my closest experience to holding a sword was a baseball bat, I think my muscles were just expecting something different. It's remarkable how a piece of steel so long can avoid feeling unwieldy. That said, just holding this sword in my hands I'm quickly developing a new appreciation for the fitness level of medieval soldiers. I can't imagine fighting with this sword for longer than a few minutes unless I significantly improved my upper body strength and overall fitness level. Add on seventy pounds of armour and a restrictive helmet and it's clear to me now why fighting in such a fashion required a lifetime of training.

Overall this has been a very illuminating experience and it's changed my perceptions about exactly goes into a weapon like this. At the very least I have a much better understanding now of what smiths and more experienced collectors are talking about when they refer to terms like "distal taper" Big Grin . I have A&A's Cavalier Rapier on order right now so it'll be interesting to feel the difference in how it handles, given that the length and weights are somewhat similar.
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David Lewis Smith




Location: NC
Joined: 26 Aug 2003
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Posts: 484

PostPosted: Sun 22 Sep, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That was a magic moment, I loved that first feel, first real sword.

Fighting in full Armour with a sword is not about upper body it is about total fitness. It is about hours of drill over and over again, devolving muscle memory. It is also about sparing, about training your body and brain to react or act on any given situation.

Fit, strong, agile, flexible and able to do it all gain tomorrow and the next day on water and hard bread.

David L Smith
MSG (RET)
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it is something amazing how relatively light a well made sword is. before i picked up my Hirsoulas hand and half, my only experience was with wall hangers. i picked up his sword and couldn't believe how light it was, as i owned it i began to understand the balance of their construction. years later i picked up A&A's GBS to go from a 2lb hand and half to something over then 4lb mark it did feel heavy (still does) but its still not as heavy as a wall hanger sword.

not only will you appreciate weight distribution, but you'll begin to understand or at least see the delicate balance of construction that's within a sword. such as harmonic balance, which pummel, fuller, and blade design all contribute to in order to function correctly.

going with A&A for your first functional sword i don't think you could have done much better.
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Tim Lison




Location: Chicago, Illinois
Joined: 05 Aug 2004
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Reading list: 6 books

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PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome to the "real sword club"! It was really a shock to me the first time I held a real sword too. It was Albion's Kraeghul Bog Sword from their previous line. I knew in my head that the idea of 25 pound swords like the movies would have us believe was ridiculous, but I didn't expect something so light. It was when I swung it at a box that I realized that it still packed a tremendous punch despite it's weight. It's actually pretty shocking how much force can be delivered with a sword even in the hands of a layman like me! Congrats on your new sword and maybe you'll get a single hander so you can see the difference! I've found that I still get a little surprise out of each new sword, hopefully you will too!!!
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,838

PostPosted: Mon 23 Sep, 2013 11:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We just finished another two day display and handling public event and giving folk a chance to handle a broad range of both modern reproductions and antiques can be a real eye opener. Even so in comparing swords that are quite similar types and size. A classic I put in their hands every time is pairing the A&A GBS at 4 1/2 lbs or so and then a Del Tin 5157 that is longer but more than a pound lighter. Then on to handing them a Gus Trim XIIa and on down to the table to an Albion Baron and yet more decent A&A, even Hanwei.

Still a real shocker is the flocking to the shiny Cold Steel 1796 light cavalry that has been reground, compared to a rusty old 1830s mounted artillery sword I bought to cut with. Even reground, just the basic weight difference and handling of a light sabre shocks the owner of the "tuned" Cold Steel. Those familiar with one type may be surprised by another.

No mats but some pumpkins this year, a blunt Hanwei/Tinker viking was the first slices. I handed someone a 220+ year old spadroon sharp to slice the rest and he immediately complained of vibration. We had an audience at that point. "Gimme that" I said and whittled down a pretty soft target to nothing. knowing edge alignment and slicing with spadroons.

Anyway, always fun to put swords of all types in the hands of the public while trying to counter some of the mythology. To many, every large sword is a Braveheart and anything with a cup or counterguard a pirate sword.

Cheers

GC



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Dan K. F.




Location: Calgary, Alberta
Joined: 12 Aug 2013
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Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Lewis Smith wrote:
That was a magic moment, I loved that first feel, first real sword.

Fighting in full Armour with a sword is not about upper body it is about total fitness. It is about hours of drill over and over again, devolving muscle memory. It is also about sparing, about training your body and brain to react or act on any given situation.

Fit, strong, agile, flexible and able to do it all gain tomorrow and the next day on water and hard bread.


This I find interesting. I'm guessing anyone who fought full-time for a living wearing armour and wielding close combat arms would have to train at least as much as professional athletes do now since lack of fitness could very easily lead to your death yet all of this training would have been without the aid of modern nutrition or knowledge about physiology and physical fitness. I realize fighting with a sword would require the use of your entire body but wouldn't your arms do a disproportionate amount of the work (at least as far as bearing the weight of the sword and wielding it)? Given that these are relatively small muscles the warriors who wielded these weapons must have been absolutely ripped. I know it's not much weight but even light weights can feel very heavy when you're doing repetitive exercises with them.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 26 Sep, 2013 11:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I realize fighting with a sword would require the use of your entire body but wouldn't your arms do a disproportionate amount of the work (at least as far as bearing the weight of the sword and wielding it)?


Your arms need to do less than you think. I like to make a distinction between striking with strength, and striking with power. When you are striking with strength, you striking in such a way that you are using your arm strength to try hit with force. The problem in this is that doing so you rapidly fatigue your arms and this makes it increasingly difficult to fight. By contrast, when you are striking with power, you strike in such a way that you can deliver a maximal amount of force with a minimal amount of arm fatigue. This takes a lot of practice and conscious thought when you are trying to learn how to use a sword, but the end result is that you can wield the weapon for much longer, and still strike with tremendous power.

I believe that this is what is meant when long sword manuals instruct to "fence with all your strength" and "fence with the whole strength of your body". A lot of long sword groups seem to focus only on striking quickly and rapidly with comparatively little power, because the manuals elsewhere instruct that those who depend upon strength are not following Liechtenauer's art. Yet this is a mistake, because the longsword manuals do clearly instruct that we should use our whole body in striking with the sword. In my experience, when you have figured out how to strike with power, you can still deliver absolutely devastating blows, and yet, at the same time, you can react and respond exceedingly quickly when the swords cross in a bind.


Last edited by Craig Peters on Fri 27 Sep, 2013 6:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chad Hanson




Location: Winona, MN
Joined: 01 Aug 2013

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri 27 Sep, 2013 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Your welcome, Dan!

I'm glad I could help you have that wonderful "first sword' experience. It really is eye-opening, isn't it? You'll find that the more good swords you handle, the more easily you'll be able to anticipate a sword's handling by looking at it. Or, at least that's how it has worked for me. Your next big eye-opener might be when you get to handle a good two-hander. They're more agile than you'd expect!

It's funny that you mention the length, because the biggest reason I sold it is that I found it too short for my purposes. But then, I also feel my Talhoffer is a bit small for me as well.

Regarding the difficulty of wielding a sword for a long time, I've found that the biggest barrier is getting your forearms in shape. We modern people just aren't used to putting our forearms through such a workout. Once you strengthen the muscles and sinews in your forearms a bit, it starts to seem easy. Also, I strongly agree with what Craig said.

Member of the Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association
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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Sat 28 Sep, 2013 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

something else that you may not expect in the 'real' sword construction. historically based swords, don't be turned away from a whippy quality. this was actually my biggest surprise on historically based swords. i had read about migration period swords that were able to bend back from tip to hilt and reflex (i think i had read this in 'Anglo Saxon Swords in England')

i never saw this until i got my Hirsoulas sword. i was at a ren fair and saw a few smiths they took their swords (big clunkers) and bent them in a little. i got to Jim's booth and took his sword put the tip in the ground and pushed until it bend and deflected 5 -6 inches, he then told me that i couldn't possibly break it or bend it so i bent it back even more and was shocked at how much deflection i got in it and just watched it spring back to shape. the wonders for modern spring steel.
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