Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Mythbusters, cuttung a sword Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
David Jackson




Location: Maple Ridge BC Canada
Joined: 14 Oct 2004

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject: Mythbusters, cuttung a sword         Reply with quote

Does anyone watch the show Mythbusters? The other day I saw one of their Hollywood myth episodes. The myth they were working on was weather or not a sword could slice through another sword. They used a scene from The Count of Monte Cristo as an example but I have seen this many times in other movies. They started testing with katanas. They had a few "battle ready" katanas as their high end samples and a couple of cheapy stainless steel ones. Their conclusions were that it was impossible to slice through a blade. They did break and bend a lot of swords though. Also tested were a "viking sword" (not very accurate viking blade I must say) a Braveheart claymore and a rapier. It was interesting to watch the blades bend and whip in slowmo, though I wonder how the tests would go with top quality repro blades like atrim or albion.

Dave J
View user's profile Send private message
Alex Oster




Location: Washington and Yokohama
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats kind of cool. I'll have to check local listings for that one.

It seems that records mention many times the issue of swords breaking or being broke in combat though... I wonder if we just "make 'em better" now?

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
This site would be better if everytime I clicked submit... I got to hear a whip crack!
My collection: Various Blades & Conan related
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You probably won't cleanly slice through a blade, but you can break it. I've been to a Ren faire where at a demo one participant cleanly broke the blades of not one but two side swords during a fight. Snapped off cleanly. Both were made by good quality manufacturers too (Willow and Darkwood Armoury). Admittingly though, both blades were optimized for flex rather than stiffness since they were fighting rather than historical war blades.
View user's profile Send private message
Will Thompson




Location: Utah
Joined: 18 Nov 2005

Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 5:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alex Oster wrote:
Thats kind of cool. I'll have to check local listings for that one.

It seems that records mention many times the issue of swords breaking or being broke in combat though... I wonder if we just "make 'em better" now?


hey there

A couple thoughts, take them for what they're worth.

It's true that there are several records mention swords being broken, but I've yet to see a single one describing one sword breaking another. Rather, most seem to describe the sword breaking when striking the ground, stone, etc (As in the description of the death of Thomas Beckett, in which the tip of one of the knights involved breaks his sword when it strikes the floor after cutting through poor old Tom). Furthermore, it's possible that some of those accounts describe the sword breaking as a way of exaggerating the force behind the blow, and perhaps should not be taken literally. At any rate, there's no appreciable difference between the construction of high-end swords such as those produced by Albion and historic weapons (at least, not enough that one would break and the other wouldn't when receiving equivalent stress).

As for the ren fair example, I wonder first at the quality of the swords used and the techniques involved in the fighting- many ren fair fighters that I've seen make use of dramatic yet highly non-historical static parries (sword-banging, as it were) that do not accurately represent the way swords were used back in the day, and would perhaps make the swords more susceptible to breaking after extended use.
View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 5,690

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is really a matter of common sense people. Can a sword break another sword? Well, yes. If a sword is suffering from fatigue or significant damage somewhere along its blade length it can be broken if struck by another sword or weapon.

Can a sword intentionally be used to slice through another sword? I would say generally no. All things being equal, like the design of the swords in question, I don't see it happening. If we're talking about two drastically different designs like a medieval cutting sword and an 18th century smallsword, then I would say the differences in the comparison are drastic enough to invalidate any findings.

In regards to Myth Busters: in the programs I've seen involving topics on which I'm familiar, their shadetree scientific findings usually perpetuate a number of myths equal to those they're trying to dispell. Using poor quality weapons in reality television style 'testing' isn't going to be definitive or even entertaining.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,198

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 6:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Slicing another sword in half ? I would be very surprised unless it was an extreme case of a very soft and very thin iron sword sliced in half by a very good hard steel sword.

Oh, and as Patrick has pointed out using cheap reproduction swords of hard to quantify quality doesn't prove very much more than how cheap swords react to being stressed.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Doug Gardner




Location: Southwest Ohio
Joined: 19 Jan 2005

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 267

PostPosted: Wed 20 Sep, 2006 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Will Thompson wrote:

As for the ren fair example, I wonder first at the quality of the swords used and the techniques involved in the fighting- many ren fair fighters that I've seen make use of dramatic yet highly non-historical static parries (sword-banging, as it were) that do not accurately represent the way swords were used back in the day, and would perhaps make the swords more susceptible to breaking after extended use.


I saw that episode, too. I enjoyed it, and there is something to learn from the exercise, but there are some limitations to their method. In principle, they did use a systematic approach to studying the question. They brought in a sword practitioner (katana) to measure both his speed and the cutting power. They used those figures for reference, and then built an apparatus to swing their "high end" katana horizontally, like a baseball bat. Then they clamped the cheap target sword vertically to intercept the arc. It looks like they positioned the two blades so that they would intersect at (close to) the center of percussion. They oriented the target sword (first) to take the hit on the flat of the blade, as you might if you were to parry. However, the blade was quite rigid, and took the hit at a 90 degree angle. The first hit (on the flat of the target blade) resulted in the sword bending out of the way. When the blades were hit edge-to-edge, the stainless steel katana failed. Frankly, it looked to me that it broke, rather than being "cut through" as they were hoping.

The high-end (by their standards) rapier also broke, but only as it straightened out after bending every which way. In slow motion, it looked like a whip crack, and it snapped where the blade doubled back on itself.

I think the biggest problems with their methods are that they
1. didn't account for metal fatigue, or progressive damage
2. didn't replicate their own experiments, and change the order of testing
3. didn't test all combinations of each sword with each other sword
4. were looking for the sword to be "cut." A break has the same result, for all practical purposes
5. I'm also not convinced that the dynamics of their swinging mechanism are very close to a person with proper technique, but I'm willing to cut them some slack on that.

However, they did clearly show that swords are not indestructible, despite their conclusion that cutting a sword in two was a myth. Swords can clearly fail from sword to sword contact, if that contact is especially violent. They also showed that swords can take significant damage from a single bad hit. It is unclear how often that kind of contact would happen in a battle, as fighters were well trained and would not make that kind of contact if they could avoid it. However, if I had the choice between blocking with the edge of my sword or taking a cut to my neck, I'd block!

What does this tell us about sword damage in battle? Well, I certainly wouldn't want to overgeneralize. It doesn't PROVE anything. However, it does say that it is certainly plausible, perhaps even likely, that swords probably took significant damage from hard contact with very hard objects, and they probably failed outright on occasion. My guess is that those failures would have occurred at a very awkward time, indeed. Eek!

Doug Gardner
View user's profile Send private message
Alex Oster




Location: Washington and Yokohama
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

Posts: 410

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 1:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess I am mainly talking about broken swords in general. The slicing through like cheese is just rubbish, but all in all, I am sure a big sword could sunder a smaller one with the right conditions.
The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
This site would be better if everytime I clicked submit... I got to hear a whip crack!
My collection: Various Blades & Conan related
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website Yahoo Messenger
Chuck Russell




Location: WV
Joined: 17 Aug 2004
Reading list: 46 books

Posts: 936

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 3:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

cool episode.

i saw what they were going for vs the swords they were using. they had some cheapo viking and braveheart looking ones that they said were battle ready etc. hehehe right away (thanks to my learning here) i said "hey look at that viking blade, its all wrong, its got no fuller and a hexigonal shape!!" hehe my wife jsut rolled her eyes
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I didn't see the episode.

They are local to me. I would love to work with them, but I'd have to get my welding and other skills up to par to be of any use to them.

Anyway. They should consult with me about the sword thing.

Oh well.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Steve Fabert





Joined: 03 Mar 2004
Likes: 10 pages

Posts: 493

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
They should consult with me about the sword thing.

Oh well.


They did get some help from a pair of experienced Japanese sword aficionados, who showed them how to cut tatami mats.

But they had no help at all with choosing the Western swords they used for their own testing. A fairly sorry looking lot of hardware.

Their testing demonstrated both the flexibility of cheap swords within limits, and their potential danger when their limits have been exceeded, with sharp pieces flying around when a blade snapped. The tests confirmed that swords break, and can be broken by a blow from another sword at certain angles of impact.

I am sure the episode will be rebroadcast at least two or three times in the near future. Mythbusters is an increasingly popular show, and they milk it with a lot of repeat showings.
View user's profile Send private message
Kenneth Armstrong




Location: Alexandria, VA (for the moment)
Joined: 24 Aug 2006

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 3:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
I didn't see the episode.

They are local to me. I would love to work with them, but I'd have to get my welding and other skills up to par to be of any use to them.

Anyway. They should consult with me about the sword thing.

Oh well.


Apparently, they contacted John Clements of ARMA about this, as stated here: http://www.thearma.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=22284
View user's profile Send private message
Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,192

PostPosted: Thu 21 Sep, 2006 11:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
It's true that there are several records mention swords being broken, but I've yet to see a single one describing one sword breaking another.


Well, it seems the Italian writer Viggiani thought swords could break on other swords: "The two swords will clash true-edge on true edge, and since your forte will meet my debole, my sword may actually break."
View user's profile Send private message
Katie Neal





Joined: 17 Jul 2006

Posts: 38

PostPosted: Fri 22 Sep, 2006 10:01 am    Post subject: Del tin Vs Cold steel         Reply with quote

1 sword can break another sword!

i watched my friend break the cold steel "blutcher" in half with his 11th century deltin! it was pretty kewl!
the del tin did have a ding in it though..

and boy did he whack the snot out of it!
View user's profile Send private message
David Fictum





Joined: 12 Aug 2006

Posts: 22

PostPosted: Sun 24 Sep, 2006 2:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, my conclusion is that with sword vs sword, the slicing of sword by another sword is highly unlikely (but possible), the bending, cracking, and any other major damage done to a sword by another sword is very plausible.
One example always sticks out in my mind when dealing with the concept of swords and how they break:
http://www.realarmorofgod.com/video/stainless_steel_warning.mpg
Not only can swords be dangerous to your opponent intentionally, unintentionally that can be deadly to you! Depending on how a sword is made, God knows what they will do.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Mythbusters, cuttung a sword
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum