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Andrew Shultz




Location: Boston MA
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An important distinction from iaido practice that applies to any sword:

Do not put the blade in the sheath as you start. Put the sheath on the blade.

I know, sounds like the same thing. It isn't. The worst possible thing is to poke the point out through the side because you're misaligned. If you're pushing the blade home right at the start your alignment is much less likely to be correct than if you're putting the sheath onto it.

Iaido sheathing is not meant to be real, it's a representation (and some of the movements also strengthen your hand). If your sword was covered with blood you'd do more to clean it. The point is to finish out the form still under as much control and with as much attention as you had at the beginning.

Anyway the general idea should be similar - the left hand finds the mouth of the scabbard so you know exactly where it is, and the right hand guides the blade to it. Unfortunately you cannot use the iaido method of running the blade over your left hand to find the point, you'll have to learn to put the point at the scabbard without looking. There are Japanese styles which do it this way.

I'd practice with a blunt first!
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 1:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
If I'd just dispatched an enemy, I wouldn't want to sheath my bloody sword without cleaning it. Blood is salty and wet, which is a good recipe for corrosion. It gets sticky as it dries which is a good recipe for gunk staying in the scabbard and/or making it difficult to draw the next time.

In a battle or formal duel, you'd be more likely to leave the scabbard with a squire/second. In an impromptu medieval street fight, you probably didn't want to stick around for a while after killing someone in public. You'd probably get arrested or beaten up by the decedent's buddies if you stuck around. You and your buddies probably would have made haste to get away to a quiet street a few blocks away, where you'd regroup, clean yourselves and weapons up and then get about the rest of your business.

My 2 cents.


That does make sense. My original question was just about sheathing with a longsword in general. Somewhere along the way it turned into what one would do in a combat situation. It may have been done as you said in the past but I guess I was wanting to know how someone would do it today. After all, most people don't have squire to attend to their weapons Wink I should have been more clear. Sorry.
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T Lui




Location: Florida
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marc Blaydoe wrote:
George Hill wrote:
You are in no danger whatsoever when putting the sword away.

Heck, if you're worried, just go off by yourself to do it.

The Japanese idea of perfect awareness following a fight rather overlooks the need to clean the weapon with more then a shake and a swipe prior to replacing it in the scabbard.


First off, Iaido does not involve actual combat, and is not really, in spirit, a "combat" technique. It is more about achieving a mind-state and awareness than actually killing an opponent (You are actually your own opponet), so there is no need to "clean" the blade. The act of sheathing is simply a return to readiness and calm while maintaining a state of awareness.

Secondly, many Iaido forms do, in fact have a "cleaning" before the blade is sheathed. It may only consist of a broad swing to fling the visera and blood off the blade, but it is, in fact, a cleaning act. Not every form has this, since it really is not necessary since there is no real blood, but this at least indicates an awareness that cleaning the blade before sheathing is important.

Another interesting note that the origins of Iaido involve assassins. The idea is to strike quickly and either make a low-key exist or at least a low-key profile ("I didn't do it", I'm obviously way too calm to have just killed somebody, he went that way!")



Correct me if I'm wrong as I have never practiced iaido or had any formal martial arts training, but I was under the impression that iaido was developed specifically as a response to defend oneself from assassins, not as a means to assassinate discreetly?

Seeing how the samurai (at least the later periods) were expected to leave their swords (excluding a sidearm like a wakizashi or tanto) at the door of a residence or other building out of respect for the host (or at least take the swords out of the obi and place them on the floor next to them when seated), iaido was useful to protect themselves from would-be assassins who might strike suddenly and without warning (and in cramped or confined quarters), which makes more sense to me. Self defense would also count as combat, at least to me.

Unless you're joking then please forget what I just wrote. Happy

That said, I also did wonder if Western sword arts had a similar method for sheathing weapons, though of course I wasn't expecting anything as highly ritualized as how the Japanese developed theirs (otherwise most of us would have heard about it).
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
If I'd just dispatched an enemy, I wouldn't want to sheath my bloody sword without cleaning it. Blood is salty and wet, which is a good recipe for corrosion. It gets sticky as it dries which is a good recipe for gunk staying in the scabbard and/or making it difficult to draw the next time.

In a battle or formal duel, you'd be more likely to leave the scabbard with a squire/second. In an impromptu medieval street fight, you probably didn't want to stick around for a while after killing someone in public. You'd probably get arrested or beaten up by the decedent's buddies if you stuck around. You and your buddies probably would have made haste to get away to a quiet street a few blocks away, where you'd regroup, clean yourselves and weapons up and then get about the rest of your business.



While I do agree with not wanting to sheath a bloody sword (assuming the swordsman didn't have anything to clean the blade off), your comments about getting arrested and/or getting beat up pose problems.

The first problem is the priority of self-preservation . Yes one may get arrested after killing someone in a sword fight, but that person is also trying to kill you (assuming you are not the instigator). Rule of law may have prohibited such conduct but that does not mean it didn't happen. Evidence collected from our own period concerning conflict is proof of that.

The second problem goes hand in hand with the first. To not act in an aggressive, life threatening situation out of fear for what the aggressor's friends will do to do defeats the purpose of even having a sword. One wouldn't have to worry about the aggressor's friends because death would be the result of the first encounter.

Sorry to backtrack and I do not mean to be overly critical. I apologize if I do seem that way. I guess my point is that fear of punishment or vengeance of friends shouldn't make the idea of sheathing the sword useless (not that you are saying that). These concerns simply aren't reasons to forgo learning how to efficiently sheath the sword.

~nic
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

T Lui wrote:
Marc Blaydoe wrote:
George Hill wrote:
You are in no danger whatsoever when putting the sword away.

Heck, if you're worried, just go off by yourself to do it.

The Japanese idea of perfect awareness following a fight rather overlooks the need to clean the weapon with more then a shake and a swipe prior to replacing it in the scabbard.


First off, Iaido does not involve actual combat, and is not really, in spirit, a "combat" technique. It is more about achieving a mind-state and awareness than actually killing an opponent (You are actually your own opponet), so there is no need to "clean" the blade. The act of sheathing is simply a return to readiness and calm while maintaining a state of awareness.

Secondly, many Iaido forms do, in fact have a "cleaning" before the blade is sheathed. It may only consist of a broad swing to fling the visera and blood off the blade, but it is, in fact, a cleaning act. Not every form has this, since it really is not necessary since there is no real blood, but this at least indicates an awareness that cleaning the blade before sheathing is important.

Another interesting note that the origins of Iaido involve assassins. The idea is to strike quickly and either make a low-key exist or at least a low-key profile ("I didn't do it", I'm obviously way too calm to have just killed somebody, he went that way!")



Correct me if I'm wrong as I have never practiced iaido or had any formal martial arts training, but I was under the impression that iaido was developed specifically as a response to defend oneself from assassins, not as a means to assassinate discreetly?

Seeing how the samurai (at least the later periods) were expected to leave their swords (excluding a sidearm like a wakizashi or tanto) at the door of a residence or other building out of respect for the host (or at least take the swords out of the obi and place them on the floor next to them when seated), iaido was useful to protect themselves from would-be assassins who might strike suddenly and without warning (and in cramped or confined quarters), which makes more sense to me. Self defense would also count as combat, at least to me.

Unless you're joking then please forget what I just wrote. Happy

That said, I also did wonder if Western sword arts had a similar method for sheathing weapons, though of course I wasn't expecting anything as highly ritualized as how the Japanese developed theirs (otherwise most of us would have heard about it).


"Assassin" is a sensitive word. If you ask most iaidoka they would not use the term "assassin." "Guy trying to kill you" or "enemy" is what they would say.

While iai could definitely be used to protect oneself from an assassin it could be used on the offensive as well. Iai seems to teach how to draw and the cut with the sword in a general combative sense. Yes there are waza with an assassination context to them, but they are few and far between (depending on the ryu I'm sure).

~nic
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
While I do agree with not wanting to sheath a bloody sword (assuming the swordsman didn't have anything to clean the blade off), your comments about getting arrested and/or getting beat up pose problems.

The first problem is the priority of self-preservation . Yes one may get arrested after killing someone in a sword fight, but that person is also trying to kill you (assuming you are not the instigator). Rule of law may have prohibited such conduct but that does not mean it didn't happen. Evidence collected from our own period concerning conflict is proof of that.

The second problem goes hand in hand with the first. To not act in an aggressive, life threatening situation out of fear for what the aggressor's friends will do to do defeats the purpose of even having a sword. One wouldn't have to worry about the aggressor's friends because death would be the result of the first encounter.

Sorry to backtrack and I do not mean to be overly critical. I apologize if I do seem that way. I guess my point is that fear of punishment or vengeance of friends shouldn't make the idea of sheathing the sword useless (not that you are saying that). These concerns simply aren't reasons to forgo learning how to efficiently sheath the sword.

~nic


You're kind of missing my point. After the duel, sheathing your sword may not be your highest priority. Not getting arrested or beat up by angry supporters of the likely-deceased is a bigger priority after the initial encounter. Deal with the issues you face in the order of importance.

1) Make sure you're no longer in danger. Make sure the guy is dead or can no longer hurt you. Make sure you're safe.
2) Clean yourself and your sword.
3) Sheath your sword.

The reality is that most people who could afford to own swords and were trained in their use probably traveled around with retainers/cronies/hangers-on. If you fought someone one-on-one in a street duel, your friends and/or his friends were likely still nearby. The romantic notion of one-on-one moonlight dueling may not have been the norm or common. Even thugs usually didn't travel alone. There's safety in numbers, no?

Arrest/reprisal fears aside, if you dealt a severe enough blow to be able to think that the guy is dead, simply step out of his range of attack, wipe your sword off and sheath it if you had to sheath it right away.

When I sheath my swords, I look down to make sure I've lined up the point with the scabbard mouth, then drive the sword home. If I were in a sword-fight I would simply make sure that the 2 seconds I looked down at my scabbard occurred when I was no longer in danger. It's all about priorities. Happy

Happy

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You are right. Sheathing your sword is not the biggest priority. But in your original post it cam across as though it were not a priority at all. At least that was my interpretation. Thank you for elaborating.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:

Sorry my replies are all out of sync and order...

The whole idea of sheathing a sword efficiently and maintaining one's awareness seems important to me. While on a battlefield it may not be of any particular consideration however, when out and about anywhere else it would appear necessary. One may not have to immediately redeploy their sword but they are dealing with a deadly weapon and would probably want to know how to put it away safely. To train to an expert level with such a weapon, to learn how to use it in every effective manner possible and then fidget around with the scabbard afterward would be counter productive.

With regards to Japanese swords and re-scabbarding (noto) them, it may look cool but it is not born out of ceremony or aesthetics. It probably comes from common sense.


As to needing to redeploy the sword quickly on a battlefield why bother putting it away quickly or neatly ?

When doing repeating cycles of Iado there is a good point in doing the re-scabberdering quicky and with good control and for all the mental discipline reasons etc .....

Oh, keep in mind that the question was about Western techniques of quick and safe re-scabberdering if they are known to have been trained for or have specific techniques ! Which seems to have been no or something done when convenient.

This discussion shouldn't be perceived as a criticism of the Japanese techniques or their usefulness in themselves depending on context, training or fighting !

Oh, the idea that this might be useful for a quick killing in a public place and quickly looking like every other Samurai peacefully ambling down the street rather than walking around with a drawn and bloody sword. Wink So the assassination context or the need to be discreet after a killing in unfriendly territory seems like a plausible theory to me. Big Grin

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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 2:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:

Sorry my replies are all out of sync and order...

The whole idea of sheathing a sword efficiently and maintaining one's awareness seems important to me. While on a battlefield it may not be of any particular consideration however, when out and about anywhere else it would appear necessary. One may not have to immediately redeploy their sword but they are dealing with a deadly weapon and would probably want to know how to put it away safely. To train to an expert level with such a weapon, to learn how to use it in every effective manner possible and then fidget around with the scabbard afterward would be counter productive.

With regards to Japanese swords and re-scabbarding (noto) them, it may look cool but it is not born out of ceremony or aesthetics. It probably comes from common sense.


As to needing to redeploy the sword quickly on a battlefield why bother putting it away quickly or neatly ?

When doing repeating cycles of Iado there is a good point in doing the re-scabberdering quicky and with good control and for all the mental discipline reasons etc .....

Oh, keep in mind that the question was about Western techniques of quick and safe re-scabberdering if they are known to have been trained for or have specific techniques ! Which seems to have been no or something done when convenient.

This discussion shouldn't be perceived as a criticism of the Japanese techniques or their usefulness in themselves depending on context, training or fighting !

Oh, the idea that this might be useful for a quick killing in a public place and quickly looking like every other Samurai peacefully ambling down the street rather than walking around with a drawn and bloody sword. Wink So the assassination context or the need to be discreet after a killing in unfriendly territory seems like a plausible theory to me. Big Grin


The original question was never actually about drawing a longsword in combat. It was about sheathing one effectively either afterward or whenever one may choose to do so.

And I agreed before on the notion that you would not HAVE to put it away on a battlefield. You may choose to though.

Also, being discreet is a good point. It may be in the swordsman's best interest to be as discreet as possible. Happy
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 4:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?
It seems to me, based on other posts, that a western swordsman did not carry his sword all the time? Sorry to group the west together but I'm trying to discuss in generalities as much as possible.
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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 5:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?
It seems to me, based on other posts, that a western swordsman did not carry his sword all the time? Sorry to group the west together but I'm trying to discuss in generalities as much as possible.


If you don't carry your sword suspended on your left hip (actually slightly to the rear of your left hip), then you carry it in your left hand with the pommel up. There's a practice form I've done where you use the scabbard of the sword carried in your left hand to block an incoming downward blow, then use your right hand to draw out the sword and stab the opponent. That is the way I would carry the sword if it isn't suspended on you.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 28 Jul, 2009 10:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryce Felperin wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?
It seems to me, based on other posts, that a western swordsman did not carry his sword all the time? Sorry to group the west together but I'm trying to discuss in generalities as much as possible.


If you don't carry your sword suspended on your left hip (actually slightly to the rear of your left hip), then you carry it in your left hand with the pommel up. There's a practice form I've done where you use the scabbard of the sword carried in your left hand to block an incoming downward blow, then use your right hand to draw out the sword and stab the opponent. That is the way I would carry the sword if it isn't suspended on you.


That's pretty interesting. Do you have an illustrated example of this?
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Samuel Bena




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PostPosted: Wed 29 Jul, 2009 2:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
Bryce Felperin wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?
It seems to me, based on other posts, that a western swordsman did not carry his sword all the time? Sorry to group the west together but I'm trying to discuss in generalities as much as possible.


If you don't carry your sword suspended on your left hip (actually slightly to the rear of your left hip), then you carry it in your left hand with the pommel up. There's a practice form I've done where you use the scabbard of the sword carried in your left hand to block an incoming downward blow, then use your right hand to draw out the sword and stab the opponent. That is the way I would carry the sword if it isn't suspended on you.


That's pretty interesting. Do you have an illustrated example of this?


I remember seeing something similar in one of the works of Fiore Dei Liberi

Probably something like this:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n5KkLsHOB0
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 29 Jul, 2009 3:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Personally, I find that sheathing the sword is something you do when everything is dead, and/ or at least five meters from the enemy, while switching back to your primary.
A formalized, fast and perfect resheathing is good as the end of a techinque or pattern, but not a must on the battlefield.
It also appears to me that curved swords resheathe better; my sabre will fall perfectly in place as soon as the tip is placed in the scabard.


Most sword suspenisons are made for convenience of carry rather than pure combat stability.
In combat, you want your sword to be glued to your hip, so that it does not bounce about when you are running or moving around.
For everyday wear, you want the sword to hang more freely, so that you can do stuff like sit down, or walk through crowds.
One way of doing this is, as mentioned, to simply take the sword belt of and carry it in the hand. This would especialy be the case with long swords, since they have a even more pronounced tendency to poke people in the shin, and sitting down with them would require a very long belt.
The japanese slove the problem by having swords not attatched to the belt, and in a horisontal position, so that one can asume the seiza(?) without taking them of.

The romans, migration period, and, later, enligthenment europe solved it by having a baldric slung over the shoulder. This means that the sword is hanging quite freely, and can be easily taken on and of. On the down side, it bounces a lot when running.

In the early and high middle ages, it seems that the norm was belt with one or two risers. In the period depictions, these are usually hanging quite low in the front. I have found that this is probably achieved by passing the regular waist belt between the two risers, so that the sword hangs in place even if the sword belt is very loose.

This is not so well suited for longswords, though, as they are balanced diferently; Swords with a lot of weigth in the handle tend to tip forward in this rig.

Since its outslide my period, I dont know a lot about longsword rigs. I do on the other hand own a hussar sabre with suspension. These have extremely long risers; in period they are often worn all the way down to the knee. This means that they bounce around a lot, but that you can carry the sabre in hand without taking the belt of. You can also tighten the front riser all the way up, so that the sabre hangs almost horisontally, for stuff like dancing.



 Attachment: 14.48 KB
Megvinter.jpg
High medevial sword rig

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Hussar sword rig.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Wed 29 Jul, 2009 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Samuel Bena wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
Bryce Felperin wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?
It seems to me, based on other posts, that a western swordsman did not carry his sword all the time? Sorry to group the west together but I'm trying to discuss in generalities as much as possible.


If you don't carry your sword suspended on your left hip (actually slightly to the rear of your left hip), then you carry it in your left hand with the pommel up. There's a practice form I've done where you use the scabbard of the sword carried in your left hand to block an incoming downward blow, then use your right hand to draw out the sword and stab the opponent. That is the way I would carry the sword if it isn't suspended on you.


That's pretty interesting. Do you have an illustrated example of this?


I remember seeing something similar in one of the works of Fiore Dei Liberi

Probably something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0n5KkLsHOB0


Against a dagger, yes this video looks right. Note that they are blocking/using the scabbard for binds.

Against a longsword you hold the scabbard in your hand around the scabbard throat (sword pommel up). When you opponent cuts at you, you parry it with the scabbard while pulling the sword out of it and then stabbing forward. The secret is you don't block, you parry the blow away from you (or your hand holding the scabbard may suffer). You also use footwork to get off-line of the blow while parrying.
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Nicholas Allan Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 29 Jul, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the video it looks like the scabbard is placed in the cleft of the arm, in between the arm and the elbow. I don't see how this works exactly. Does the arm get forced down and away?
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 29 Jul, 2009 9:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Question: When would these techniques be useful? In the duel, isn't the scabbard discarded before action? And in the street, wouldn't one be wearing a belt that would prevent this sort of action?

M.

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Bryce Felperin




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2009 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Question: When would these techniques be useful? In the duel, isn't the scabbard discarded before action? And in the street, wouldn't one be wearing a belt that would prevent this sort of action?

M.


Some applications for the use of these techniques that come to mind...

When you just woke up to an intruder in your camp/lodging/abode and you grab a sword to investigate and are suddenly attacked...

Alternately, you took your sword off your belt to sit down at a table at an Inn and you get into a violent disagreement with one of the other patrons...

You're in military camp and have either a disagreement or fight, then grab your sword off the rack where it's leaning...

You were in bed with the wife of another man and he bursts in to the room, so you pick up your sword in its scabbard to defend yourself from his wrath...

You get the idea...there are a lot of applications in real life where these techniques would of been useful. :-)


Bryce
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 2:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?


If I'm allowed to make a very broad generalization, then wearing a sword with a civilian outfit was not commonly practiced in Europe before the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, when you wore a sword on the streets then you were a patrolling soldier, an agent of the law, or a member of some other profession that would have legitimate reason for carrying such an obvious weapon in day-to-day life--or a lawless ruffian whom other people would (and probably should) avoid at all costs. It's a bit comparable to openly carrying a machine pistol or compact submachine gun clipped to your hip nowadays.
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Aug, 2009 5:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Nicholas Allan Wilson wrote:
And since the idea of dueling came up ...I'm curious to know just how often a "swordsman" would carry his sword around with him? I put the swordsman in quotes because if he doesn't carry a sword on him does it still make him a swordsman?


If I'm allowed to make a very broad generalization, then wearing a sword with a civilian outfit was not commonly practiced in Europe before the Renaissance. In the Middle Ages, when you wore a sword on the streets then you were a patrolling soldier, an agent of the law, or a member of some other profession that would have legitimate reason for carrying such an obvious weapon in day-to-day life--or a lawless ruffian whom other people would (and probably should) avoid at all costs. It's a bit comparable to openly carrying a machine pistol or compact submachine gun clipped to your hip nowadays.


Hm, I was under the impression that the nobility wore their smaller swords when visiting in urban environs?

M.

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