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Robert William Tucker

Joined: 05 Feb 2019

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2019 8:15 am    Post subject: blocking binding flat or edge damage etc.         Reply with quote

Hello everyone, I know this topic is all to familare and has been talked about and talked about to the point where some folks won't even click on this and some are so annoyed and frustrated that it seems like it might never stop. But I am going to try and explain myself very carefully here, I have been following what everyone from both sides of the table have been saying about this topic for some time, for me that's going back 17 years, on edge damage and whether you should be blocking with the edge or the flat, or the strong of the flat. Along the way it seems very much to me that it's all rather relative if your practicing with longswords because I don't think you can ever escape the possibility of any of it happening, which furthermore means your sword will be damaged in a fight if it comes into contact with another sword sometimes major sometimes minor regardless of how you bind or block or attack. But my real question was and still is to high degree the bind and the sticky sensation of rolling to the edges of the swords this has to be a different sensation then with federschwert or wood or synthetic practice swords? And also what is the kind of damage that you could expect from this sort of movement? And the mechanical change in the technique that might occur? Just like test cutting can teach us so much about the amount of force necessary in any given attack this also I feel must be experimented with and analyzed to help the HEMA community grow and learn some of the more subtle and intricate parts of these techniques. A couple of men over at blood and iron came up with a short video that I think gets us moving in the right direction.
I feel there's a lot to learn here and I myself know as soon as i can will be conducting more of these types of experiments myself.
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Michael Beeching

Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 265

PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2019 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote


1. Some will not like my opinions.

2. Some will question my experience - and this is fine.

3. People have never agreed on martial arts. And they never will.

Points on the subject:

1. As you noted, damage cannot be avoided in a swordfight. It can only be mitigated. This is where skillful use of the weapon comes into play. You have your life and your livelihood to defend in combat. If you defend your life but lose your weapon, your livelihood is diminished. If you get yourself into another scuffle, now you're in a tight spot. Therefore, you should imply that the ideal combatant uses the weapon to its greatest extent, mitigating the damage in all interactions.

2. I study the Liechtenauer tradition, and this will have an effect on my responses from thus onwards.

3. Proper strikes are generally directed at the target, and not the target's weapon. If your opponent does the same thing, your blows naturally will not come to the 90 degree edge-on-edge impacts that John Clements raves about (or rather, against). Note that you cannot control your opponent - you can influence what the adversary does and try to get them to do what you want, but you can't control them. Therefore, if they want to strike at your weapon directly, how can you stop that? It would be unwise to react specifically to such bad swordplay on your part - strike at the opponent, and "do not go after strikes," if you will.

4. "Blocking" on its own is an "empty voider." You should not do that... Therefore, you should not have a specific mindset in place on how to block a blow. Instead, you should strike at your opponent in such a fashion that you both defend yourself and harm your opponent.

5. Mechanically, it is true that your sword will likely face less damage if it takes a hit on the flat. Mechanically, it is also true that your weapon will be easier to push aside if it takes a hit on the flat. This is why the Krumphau is effective. This is also why winding in a bind is important. Edge-to-edge, a sword has a far greater second moment of area, which is a property used to describe resistance to bending or deflection. Flat-to-flat, the moment of area is very small in comparison. If you do receive a strike to your flat that results in a bind, you should wind into that bind to gain control against your opponent.

6. A good swordfighter likely spends very little time with onset strikes - these are your Maesterhau or other conventional strikes. Such strikes are the ones that are likely to damage the sword. However, once in a bind, you are likely to bring the fight to a close very quickly. In the bind, the swords will impact each other very little, and force/leverage will decide where the points of the weapons end up.

7. I am told and fully believe that some sources tell the swordsman/woman where exactly to strike with a sword against another sword (specifically edge-to-edge). My sources are principally Ringeck and "Dobringer." Aside from Liechtenauer specifically noting that one of the uses of the Krumphau is to strike at your opponent's flats (obviously with the edges of your own sword) due to both leverage and second-moment-of-area issues, most of the time I recall reading about the manner in which you should maneuver/strike with the weapon (without too much explicit concern for the opponent's edge orientation). This ties in with the first point - I cannot control my opponent, how they hold their sword or how they orient their edge. But directly striking their edge (full on, no deflection) intentionally sounds stupid, not only because it will damage your weapon readily, but also because it will not beat aside that weapon as readily if there was deflection or if it hit against the flat.

8. In combat, the theory and practice of the art can become very different things. For the skilled fighter, probably not so much, but that is an aside. For instance, if you need to counter a Zwerchau, you will probably throw a Zwerchau against it. This will likely result in an edge-on-edge hit... but it's better than being hit with a Zwerchau. Think of it as a "Notch of Rememberance."

In short, skillful use of the sword should mitigate damage, but the damage will happen. Instead of focusing on blocking strikes, focus on making strikes which both block attacks while making your own. Last, you cannot force your opponent to fight in a certain way, so do not try to worry about their edge alignment. Instead, do what is necessary to bring the fight to a close.
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Robert William Tucker

Joined: 05 Feb 2019

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2019 3:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Michael,
those are great points to make and are important, my focus to be more clear is when proper technique is used how will this change a bind or different movements compared to blunt swords ? And what kind of damage can be expected? The goal being that we could possibly start using that information to better understand technique, and possibly at the same time start seeing and identifying the same type of dings and scrapes on actual artifacts.
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Michael Beeching

Joined: 22 Jan 2014
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 265

PostPosted: Thu 07 Feb, 2019 4:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, here I will say that the best I can offer is to say that I think the article you linked to was very interesting, and I liked reading it. I can't give you better examples than what was presented there. If pressed to offer more, my response is as follows:

I do not have the resources available, nor the experience to confident, in any sort of sharp-on-sharp interaction. That said, logic says that the finer your edge and the harder the strike, the more you will have to contend with hard binds and damage. I do not think you risk doing damage to a sword during winding aside from dulling the edge. Any time you cut anything you risk dulling the edge regardless!

If you own a sharp, you could do a test which would not be hard to repair concerning winding: clamp or otherwise secure the sharp, and then take a knife and then press - not strike - the edges together. Then, try rubbing them along the lengths and compare the damage. If the knife steel is harder than the sword's steel, which may very well be the case, you may get some gouging where a press is done. It is likely you will just note both edges getting duller as a result of the interaction.

As per how blunts change your martial attitude: look at sport fencing, and what logical conclusions could happen in HEMA if or when the focus shifts from a martial mindset to a sporting mindset. You will use a sporting tool in a manner in which allows you to win most effectively with that tool, rather than what that tool is supposed to simulate. If careless use of a blunt is rewarded in a sporting situation, you should not anticipate that the results would be ideal in a martial situation.

A side effect of blunts that I have heard/read comments on is that because they often don't bind as well, people may not alternate between "onset combat" and winding/grappling. Instead, they use the waster for its intended purpose - hitting the sparring partner with less chances of injury. Here, they just pull back and hit again with another onset-type strike.

...Blunts and wasters are often not very well weighted, either. They can be much lighter than a proper sword - sometimes for safety - and their points of balance can be different as well. I have the modular Rawlings wasters - if you put a heavier or more durable pommel on them, they can start to balance like a knife. That may in turn inspire different behavior in the end user if the focus changes from how to use a sword properly to how to win at sparring.
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