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John H





Joined: 08 May 2006

Posts: 60

PostPosted: Thu 18 May, 2006 12:51 pm    Post subject: Historic cutting drills?         Reply with quote

In the Middle Ages, say 13th Century, did they routinely practice cutting? Did it have the emphasis it does today among swordsmen? And what would they have used besides pells?

Thanks in advance for any insights. My apologies if this topic has already been addressed.
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John H





Joined: 08 May 2006

Posts: 60

PostPosted: Thu 18 May, 2006 10:49 pm    Post subject: Thoughts         Reply with quote

I know they used pells. What I'm thinking is that they could have also used animals, saplings, branches, or perhaps bundles of straw.

What I am wondering is whether modern practioners have adopted the emphasis on cutting practice from the Japanese tradition, and that its importance wasn't really appreciated by medieval European warriors.
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George Hill




Location: Atlanta Ga
Joined: 16 May 2005

Posts: 614

PostPosted: Fri 19 May, 2006 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John, you know that they would never strike a pell with an actual sword, don't you? The pell is only struck with wooden training swords.


Now, as to test cutting against say, bundles of straw, I have no idea. I imagine they likely did, as the first thing you want to do when you get a new sword is hit something with it, and I can't imagine they were any different then we are in that respect. But hopefully someone with more books then I will pop up with a real answer in that reguard.

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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David Kite




Location: Clinton, IN USA
Joined: 20 Feb 2004

Posts: 94

PostPosted: Sat 20 May, 2006 7:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMO, the reason RMA practitioners use cutting practice is because we lack the ability to test our swords and our selves the way our ancestors did. (I'm not sure we "adopted" cutting practice from the Asians any more than we "adopted" over-head strikes)

In other words, we use cutting practice against straw, rolled up newspaper, meat, etc because we don't and can't cut against living opponents; and practice/tests of this sort teach us the effects of various strikes and sword types, etc etc.

Did our ancestors also use cutting practice in this way in addition to pell work? I have no idea, but it stands to reason that they may have, and I would certainly be interested in learning whether they did or did not.

David Kite
GFS, ARMA in IN
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Felix Wang




Location: Fresno, CA
Joined: 23 Aug 2003
Reading list: 17 books

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PostPosted: Sun 21 May, 2006 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know of any specific proof of medieval European cutting drills, but they were known to the Mamelukes of Egypt. A riding manual (furusiyyah) translated by Kurtulus Oztopcu clearly describes cutting practice from horseback, using reeds as targets.
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Axel Pettersson




Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Joined: 04 Apr 2006

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon 22 May, 2006 3:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems like they used the pell at least, according to this article.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/pell/pellhistory.htm

Personally I am sure they practiced cutting. Without claiming to know the facts, to me it seems probable that you spent a lot more time practicing than actually fighting, and the pell and/or cutting drills seem like a good choice for practice.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Mon 22 May, 2006 7:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Consider also that today, we need to practice cutting with a sword in order to become skilled with it. The same should hold true for medieval people. Despite the fact that we live in conditions quite radically different from those in the Middle Ages, people are people, and behave by and large in a similar manner to one another, taking into account of course differences due to culture and attitudes. In other words, if people need practice with cutting now, it's almost certain that they needed practice with cutting then; just because you live in the Middle Ages doesn't mean that you don't need training on the fundamentals of sword play.
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