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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Dec, 2014 11:10 pm    Post subject: Throwing swords         Reply with quote

I've done a quick search here on this forum and turned up nothing and I think I know why.

My understanding is that the only "benefit" gained by throwing a sword is to disarm yourself. In a discussion elsewhere on the matter I have been referred to the font of all wisdom, Youtube, for clips of practitioners throwing swords. What I have seen does not seem effective for several reasons including telegraphing the attack, poor range, poor alignment, lack of strength/velocity of the attack against anything but bare flesh and extremely limited almost non existant accuracy. The chance of an effective attack by the techniques I have seen seem to be very low percentage. Can anyone please confirm the status of sword throwing as a martial practise. I do not refer to any specialised weapons, only proper swords.

I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2014 3:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sword throwing shows up in Medieval fight books and it is perfectly valid if you have a hand-to-hand weapon but the situation calls for a ranged weapon.
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2014 3:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it was a known manoeuvre - it turns up in Fiore (although incredibly briefly). Very niche, but many techniques are. You hold the sword around the cross guard, and throw it roughly like a javelin - it's about 3lbs, with a sharp point and a keen edge, so will be pretty effective on an unarmoured opponent. When thrown like this they tend to fly fairly stably and accurately, although some practice helps to get your eye in. Matt Easton used to have a demonstration video up on youtube, but it seems to have gone away now.

I've used it in sparring successfully (once). Transition into a lower hanger while well out of measure, change the grip on the sword (this is relatively out of sight of your opponent, so it's hard for them to see), and then throw. If you aim low at the stomach, it can get inside their guard before they realise it's a true attack, and it hits point first with reasonable force - a viable way to run them through in blossfechten.

However, 1 v 1 feels like it isn't the ideal place to use this. Where I would think about pulling it out is a small group melee - if you have no opponent, it might be a viable way to make an attack against someone who is distracted and isn't looking at you. Having unexpectedly more reach, even if it's only 10-20ft, can be really handy in the moment, especially if hitting the target now is crucial - say you're part of a group of bodyguards, and an attacker has got past you and is running towards your principal.

So to sum up: it is effective enough on a purely mechanical level, and could easily deliver enough injury to an unarmoured attacker. It is a very niche technique, and in almost no cases would it be useful, especially against a single opponent who is focused entirely on you. But it can still be used sometimes, and occasionally it fills a niche nothing else in your arsenal does.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2014 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, it does seem like a last ditch method when one has no better options !

Maybe if surprised at close range by a crossbowman one might throw the sword in the hope of taking him out or distracting him enough to miss .... good to have another weapon to charge in.

Another scenario is to distract and turn and run away fast.

If used in any way other than as a desperate techniques one would have to have practiced it enough to have some confidence in one's skill in hitting the target a lot more often than missing.

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




Location: Colorado
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2014 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A little practice makes it an adequate throwing weapon, particularly when its got an awl point. Just going by strawbales, at ranges of 3-4 m, they lodge pretty deep with not particularly forceful throws (hey, I wasn't going to go flinging my precious swords all willy nilly...). Against unarmored people, it'd probably pierce them through.

Now tactically, its maybe not the greatest idea, but say you saw a crossbow being aimed 10 ft away, it might be a better option then trying to dodge it. Even if it doesn't hit, the distraction probably will let you close in and grapple.

Now on a level, uncluttered battlefield, throwing your sword seems stupid, but battlefields like that are not the norm. So knowing how to use your weapon in all sorts of situations to your advantage makes a lot of sense, even if the situation of using your sword as a makeshift javelin is an unlikely one.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 27 Dec, 2014 1:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can work in one-on-one. Aim at face or belly. They think they are out of range, and throwing can surprise them enough to hit without them doing much to defend. Such a throw will be at close range.

When you throw, you will either close while they're distracted to grapple and stab with dagger, immediately run away, draw or pick up another weapon, or wait and see what happens.

I think it's a low-percentage move. You might do it if you think that conventional fighting will leave you with even less chance. Perhaps you are against a good fighter who has a large reach advantage. Perhaps you are against a much better fighter. You might just want to distract them so as to have an extra second head start for running away.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Paul Watson




Location: Upper Hutt, New Zealand
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Dec, 2014 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the feedback. It seems to confirm the low percentage of real applicability and likely successful execution of this manouvere. It may have been well to train for this with respect to exhausting every possible application of sword use but it doesn't seem likely to have been used at all or to any extent of note. The likely benefits seem to be far outweighed by the drawbacks of such an attack.
I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, but that which it protects. (Faramir, The Two Towers)
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Dec, 2014 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
say you're part of a group of bodyguards, and an attacker has got past you and is running towards your principal.


To me, this seems like the most reasonable application (if you could avoid hitting the person you're protecting). It's a situation where your safety is of lesser importance than that of someone else. Diving in the path of a bullet, if you will. Personally, if I had a dagger and a longsword, I'd rather throw my dagger than my sword; I imagine it would be harder to deflect or dodge and I'd still have my sword. But then, I'm not a sword fighter.
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T. Kew




Location: Cambridge, UK
Joined: 21 Apr 2012

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PostPosted: Mon 29 Dec, 2014 1:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Messent wrote:
To me, this seems like the most reasonable application (if you could avoid hitting the person you're protecting). It's a situation where your safety is of lesser importance than that of someone else. Diving in the path of a bullet, if you will. Personally, if I had a dagger and a longsword, I'd rather throw my dagger than my sword; I imagine it would be harder to deflect or dodge and I'd still have my sword. But then, I'm not a sword fighter.


I'd prefer to throw the sword. Three reasons:

1) My sword is already in-hand. Therefore it's faster to action.

2) Swords are thrown like javelins, so they're actually very effective close ranged missile weapons, and slightly miscalculating range or the like won't cause the item to do nothing. Compare that to how difficult it is to land a knife in a target point first - and if you don't hit with the point, you might as well have just thrown a rock.

3) Swords are heavier, and often sharper. This both a) makes it harder to fully deflect, and b) improves the terminal effects. If you hit with a thrown sword to someone's body, it's got good odds of running them through, and 4ft of steel often discourages their previous plan quite effectively.

Basically, I see a sword as being much like a spear when used as a missile weapon, except much more expensive. Thus if you're planning to throw it you buy a cheaper item instead. But if you need to throw it in a pinch, it's much more effective than a dagger.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 29 Dec, 2014 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Peter Messent wrote:
To me, this seems like the most reasonable application (if you could avoid hitting the person you're protecting). It's a situation where your safety is of lesser importance than that of someone else. Diving in the path of a bullet, if you will. Personally, if I had a dagger and a longsword, I'd rather throw my dagger than my sword; I imagine it would be harder to deflect or dodge and I'd still have my sword. But then, I'm not a sword fighter.


I'd prefer to throw the sword. Three reasons:

1) My sword is already in-hand. Therefore it's faster to action.

2) Swords are thrown like javelins, so they're actually very effective close ranged missile weapons, and slightly miscalculating range or the like won't cause the item to do nothing. Compare that to how difficult it is to land a knife in a target point first - and if you don't hit with the point, you might as well have just thrown a rock.

3) Swords are heavier, and often sharper. This both a) makes it harder to fully deflect, and b) improves the terminal effects. If you hit with a thrown sword to someone's body, it's got good odds of running them through, and 4ft of steel often discourages their previous plan quite effectively.

Basically, I see a sword as being much like a spear when used as a missile weapon, except much more expensive. Thus if you're planning to throw it you buy a cheaper item instead. But if you need to throw it in a pinch, it's much more effective than a dagger.


I'll second that, it's logical and a good description of the dynamics of throwing a sword.

Tactically it's for very special and maybe desperate use of the sword when one has little to lose in a very bad situation: One wouldn't normally be carrying extra swords to throw and javelins would make much more sense, but if only a javelins will do, and you only have a sword, then use it !

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




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 8:48 am    Post subject: Throwing swords         Reply with quote

To me swords are not for throwing like axes or knives. They often miss their target and fall to the ground if thrown.
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

- Marcus Aurelius
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Terry Thompson




Location: Suburbs of Wash D.C.
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fiore felt it was worth a mention. In my imagination, I could see throwing the sword being a last ditch effort against a spear or pole arm or spearman.
Assuming you've dispatched or done away with any other adversaries, or you just want to take out one more before you go down, your sword would be at a great disadvantage versus a pole arm or spear. Lets assume the pole arm is walking towards you affirmed in the knowledge that he can step back from your sword swinging range and rain hacking and stabbing blows on you at will. Range is a very considerable thought in hand to hand combat even against like-sized weapons!

A pole-arms-man might be too overconfident that he has the upper hand with range, and though he could possibly bat a thrown sword at him if he sees it coming, it could otherwise be a deadly surprise to him. It would only take a moments distraction as he carefully is slowly edging his way to optimal range, to become an affective disabling blow.

A thrown sword as a javelin may not even kill a pole-arms-man, but if it struck the armpit or inside elbow, it could fully take out the arm supporting the head of the pole, and disabling that one arm could be enough to give you the advantage of closing in even further and finishing the opponent off with a dagger. Pole arms almost always need 2 hands to be effective.

If I knew I was very competent at throwing a sword like a javelin and hitting the mark, in the above situation, I'd probably do it rather than give the advantage of range to the opponent.
-Terry
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Jan, 2015 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If we go by manuals, throwing both swords and daggers could be effective in at least specific circumstances. Talhoffer included one dagger throw.
Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 03 Jan, 2015 4:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://s81.photobucket.com/user/HuronKing/med...r.jpg.html you mean this one?

the scenario also does nicely demonstrate a reason for throwing, the dagger person is being threatened by a spear so one of the few ways to plausibly negate the range is to throw your hat to distract, then the dagger to kill/ distract then you run away

in japan, just as an aside regarding thrown weapons in general, it;s mentioned that the shuriken occupies a space between the minimum practical range for the bow, and the outer reach of the sword. no menttion of spears but the point still stands and would apply to throwing other weapons like swords, axes, and even maces as was showcased both in the bayeux tapestry, and attested to in byzantine written and artistic sources..
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Mark T




PostPosted: Wed 07 Jan, 2015 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Strategy and tactics aside, for a good source on knife throwing technique that can also be used with swords, check out Ralph Thorn's Combat Knife Throwing book and DVD: http://www.paladin-press.com/product/Combat_K...nd_Dvd_Set

The Thorn method is billed as 'any knife, any angle, any distance' ... and it is. Fairly quick and easy to learn, it's a winner. And, yes, on the video, he throws swords, from distance, with effective and solid 'sticks'.

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Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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Fabrice Cognot
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2015 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Throwing swords is documented in Froissart's Chronicles. Even sometimes piercing plate armour.
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Joe Maccarrone




Location: Seattle, WA USA
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PostPosted: Sun 11 Jan, 2015 8:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T. Kew wrote:
Well, it was a known manoeuvre - it turns up in Fiore (although incredibly briefly). Very niche, but many techniques are. You hold the sword around the cross guard, and throw it roughly like a javelin - it's about 3lbs, with a sharp point and a keen edge, so will be pretty effective on an unarmoured opponent. When thrown like this they tend to fly fairly stably and accurately, although some practice helps to get your eye in.


After seeing this in Fiore, I practiced it several times some years ago, with an old Gus Trim XIIIa and an Albion Crecy. Within 10-15 feet it was accurate and powerful, penetrating about 3-6" inches through a sheet of 1" plywood (and sticking there).

When and why you'd do it is another discussion, but it can be done with surprising effectiveness.
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Mart Shearer




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Feb, 2015 2:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Throwing the sword can be useful when there is no chance of your opponent throwing it back.
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b55006072j/f174.item

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Tyler Jordan





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PostPosted: Wed 11 Feb, 2015 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, if you don't want to throw your whole sword at your opponent, you can always unscrew the pommel and throw that, ending him rightly.
http://imgur.com/gallery/MVK8H
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Feb, 2015 8:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's for a duel, challenger must strike the first blow.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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