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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 24 May, 2006 10:37 pm    Post subject: Spending the day with Scott Rodell and Paul Champagne         Reply with quote

I had a blast today. Swordsmith Paul Champagne was researching antique Chinese swords, and was visiting with Scott Rodell, who's most well known for his work with historical Chinese Swordsmanship (and directs the Great River Taoist Center), but who is also a dealer of antique Chinese arms and armour. Scott invited me over to meet Paul and to play with some three dozen antique swords.

And stupid me forgot my camera. What can I say but, "Sorry guys!"

Nonetheless, getting to handle so many Chinese swords was fantastic. I knew next to nothing about Chinese weaponry (and still am woefully ignorant despite being priviledged to listening to Scott's enlightening education today), but the swords were amazing to examine and hold.

Paul Champagne was also fascinating to talk to, as the man is incredibly knowledgible. He's also a super nice guy. He was glancing at some of these antiques and telling us things about the pattern welding of the steel that I never could have realized, and he explained it all in ways that were really easy to understand. It was also very interesting to hear Paul's personal philosophies of sword making. He doesn't really sell a lot these days, as he's much more interested in creating pieces as exactingly close to originals as possibly purely for the study of them, including smelting his own steel to be as close to period steels as possible. He makes many of his swords just to break, in fact, just so he can start understanding the properties better. It was very interesting stuff.

Scott's always a blast to talk to (I know him because his son takes classes from me), but it was so cool to see him demonstrate a few Chinese moves with these antiques, as I could really see some striking similarities to German swordsmanship. Not that it really surprised me, but it's still just awesome to see the similarities in person. Plus, even when he was just doing a few moves in an off-hand way without really intending to demonstrate anything, you could see the beauty and grace of someone he truly knows his art and has dedicated his life to it. Scott's work is very interesting, because just as those of us in the western martial arts are trying to recreate our forgotten swordsmanship styles through historical reserach, Scott is trying to revive Chinese swordsmanship as something more than just forms that no one understands, also through historical research. Except where we in the WMA world have manuscripts to help our studies, the Chinese swordsmanship realm has the living tradition of their forms, where the applications have been forgotten. It's really cool stuff.

It really was quite an experience to be able to just casually handle so many antique swords, particularly ones that I knew so little about. The only danger I see here is my interest in Chinese weaponry, which has been dormant but long present, is starting to rear it's head...

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very cool Bill. I was hoping I'd open this thread and you would be telling us how you had seen and photographed a bunch of Mr. Champagne's work though. Happy Drat. I saw the history channel episode featuring both he and John Clements recently and he seemed like a very competent and down to earth guy. I too had been told recently that his interests have very much moved to chinese weaponry. I'd just like to get a peek at some of his finished pieces is all. He seems to have a very dedicated make that VERY dedicated following and I would love to see what all the fuss is about. Happy
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
He seems to have a very dedicated make that VERY dedicated following


That seems to be the case. I still haven't seen any of his swords myself. Happy He says he really doesn't do any of the online thing, and he has certain repeat customers who tend also to be the type who don't really get online so much.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Russ Ellis
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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Russ Ellis wrote:
He seems to have a very dedicated make that VERY dedicated following


That seems to be the case. I still haven't seen any of his swords myself. Happy He says he really doesn't do any of the online thing, and he has certain repeat customers who tend also to be the type who don't really get online so much.


It would seem that he's reached that enviable state where his wares are so highly sought after that he no longer needs to advertise. He also seems to be happy to go his own path without regard to whatever trends the market happens to be following at any given moment. More power to him.

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Chris Lampe




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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott is a great guy to talk to and you will learn more about Chinese swords in a fifteen minute conversation with him than you could in months of reading. I purchased an antique blade from him and would highly recommend him to anyone interested in Chinese swords.

I was also impressed by Paul when he was on the History Channel program. It showed him forging a sword and then showed him holding a finished (i.e., different) sword which I think was the same one in this photo. It is one of the most beautiful swords I've seen. Very simple and elegant in it's lines. I've thought a little about trying to fit it into Oakshott's typology but I can't seem to figure out where a flattened diamond cross-section, fairly narrow blade and little profile taper fits.



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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 7:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Lampe wrote:
Scott is a great guy to talk to and you will learn more about Chinese swords in a fifteen minute conversation with him than you could in months of reading.


Yeah, you're not kidding! He's not like a lot of Chinese swordsmanship practitioners who go off of heresay (which is common in sport fencing as well). He really knows his history, and is quite passionate about researching it correctly.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 7:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris Lampe wrote:
I've thought a little about trying to fit it into Oakshott's typology but I can't seem to figure out where a flattened diamond cross-section, fairly narrow blade and little profile taper fits.


Not to get too off-topic, but if a medieval Euro sword lacks a fuller and has a diamond cross-section, it pretty much has to be either a Type XV or Type XVIII. The slight amount of profile taper would lean it toward Type XVIII. The Type XV usually tapers pretty radically to a point. Type XVIII's often taper to a good point but, as with most types, there's a lot of variation. So it appears to be closest to Type XVIII.

Happy

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Chris Lampe




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PostPosted: Thu 25 May, 2006 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Chris Lampe wrote:
Scott is a great guy to talk to and you will learn more about Chinese swords in a fifteen minute conversation with him than you could in months of reading.


Yeah, you're not kidding! He's not like a lot of Chinese swordsmanship practitioners who go off of heresay (which is common in sport fencing as well). He really knows his history, and is quite passionate about researching it correctly.


When I received my antique jian I started taking Tai chi lessons from a local guy with a very good reputation. I showed him my blade and he played with it a little and then said he preferred a blade that was more flexible (he meant "whippy") so that when he swung it the tip would flex around his opponent's sword and cut him.. Eek!


Chad Arnow wrote:
Chris Lampe wrote:
I've thought a little about trying to fit it into Oakshott's typology but I can't seem to figure out where a flattened diamond cross-section, fairly narrow blade and little profile taper fits.


Not to get too off-topic, but if a medieval Euro sword lacks a fuller and has a diamond cross-section, it pretty much has to be either a Type XV or Type XVIII. The slight amount of profile taper would lean it toward Type XVIII. The Type XV usually tapers pretty radically to a point. Type XVIII's often taper to a good point but, as with most types, there's a lot of variation. So it appears to be closest to Type XVIII.


Thanks! I have "Records" and have seen most of the common modern reproductions but most of the XVIII's I've seen have much more profile taper than Paul's and I wasn't sure his had enough to fit into the historical parameters of an XVIII.


I didn't mean to derail Bill's thread so now to get back to the topic at hand.......
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