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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 5:51 am    Post subject: Longsword Grip Length...         Reply with quote

What would you consider the minimum and ideal grip length for pursuing study in the longsword as found in Liechtenauer and Fiore?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 7:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whatever grip length is found on the various swords from the 14th and 15th centuries are right for Liechtenauer and Fiore. Yes, I am being serious. This question was not important to either master, which demonstrates that grip length should not be our concern either.

Find a grip length that feels good to you and stick with that. Practicing and developing your technique and martial mindset are infinitely more important than a theoretical ideal.
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Andrew Gill





Joined: 19 Feb 2015

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PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Craig in general: if the grip is long enough, it is long enough, and probably won't make much difference.

Regarding minimum length, however: Fiore seems to prefer to hold the lower part of the grip rather than the pommel of his longsword. I think this is because he tends to use the pommel for clubbing or as a lever in some of the close plays, even without armour, so the grip should at least be long enough to accommodate both hands if you want to use those techniques. He also shows some disarms where you grab the opponent's sword grip between his two hands (and some drawings show a small gap between hands) - which I personally find more comfortable, as the two hands don't have to be mashed together.

In German tradition, the roughly contemporary Ms.2337 a explicitly tells us not to grip the pommel because it supposedly messes up the dynamics - which places a limit on the minimum grip length (other german sources disagree and show the left hand gripping the pommel, but there sword grip is still generally shown as two-and-a bit palms long - like many extant longswords from around 1400). But by around the 1500s some manuscripts (which have realistic, accurately proportioned people) tend to show much longer grips roughly the length of the fencers' forearms - and my limited experience doesn't seem to suggest that a long grip is a problem (I actually find that it allows greater control and leverage).
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Michael Kelly





Joined: 22 Sep 2015

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PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So 7 1/8" [not including pommel] should suffice then?
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Michael Beeching





Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 162

PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 10:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Andrew Gill wrote:
I agree with Craig in general: if the grip is long enough, it is long enough, and probably won't make much difference.

Regarding minimum length, however: Fiore seems to prefer to hold the lower part of the grip rather than the pommel of his longsword. I think this is because he tends to use the pommel for clubbing or as a lever in some of the close plays, even without armour, so the grip should at least be long enough to accommodate both hands if you want to use those techniques. He also shows some disarms where you grab the opponent's sword grip between his two hands (and some drawings show a small gap between hands) - which I personally find more comfortable, as the two hands don't have to be mashed together.

In German tradition, the roughly contemporary Ms.2337 a explicitly tells us not to grip the pommel because it supposedly messes up the dynamics - which places a limit on the minimum grip length (other german sources disagree and show the left hand gripping the pommel, but there sword grip is still generally shown as two-and-a bit palms long - like many extant longswords from around 1400). But by around the 1500s some manuscripts (which have realistic, accurately proportioned people) tend to show much longer grips roughly the length of the fencers' forearms - and my limited experience doesn't seem to suggest that a long grip is a problem (I actually find that it allows greater control and leverage).


I've wondered about this aspect of "Dobringer" a few times myself. My best guess for why you'd not want to grip the pommel would be that such a "close" grip reduces the distance of the rotational point [between the hands] from the sword's center of mass - this in turn results in a lower moment of inertia (which is good). The question then is if the additional torque and maneuverability you get from holding the pommel is appropriate for the situation at hand. Even better to ask, when does that extra torque overcome the losses from a higher moment of inertia?

...As you can probably tell, I've considered the merits and dismerits of gripping the pommel, but I've not yet done any real scientific work on the matter.
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Thu 24 Mar, 2016 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Kelly wrote:
So 7 1/8" [not including pommel] should suffice then?


It depends on the size of your hands. For me, assuming that I'm not slipping the pommel, 7 inches is the minimum grip length.
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