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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 4:59 pm    Post subject: New ARMA article: "On Damaged Edge…"         Reply with quote

http://www.thearma.org/essays/damagededge.htm

Arma has published an excellent new article on edge damage. It's a worthwhile read.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't know how to get into this without it being a edge/flat parrying debate, but here goes.

The article is well researched, but only shows half of the evidence. There is ample evidence of parrying with the edge in period fencing texts as well as evidence of flat parrying. I don't even understand how anyone can try so hard to say that it was only done one way and not the other.

It also is ridiculous to lump fighting in all of the middle ages and say that throughout several hundred years everyone fought the same way.

A search of SFI's HES board will find you plenty of evidence for both sides (if you care to read through pages and pages of bitter sniping from different camps of thought). John Clements has already listed some excellent sources about flat parrying in his article here, so I'll list a few of edge parrying.

Edge parry from Joachim Meyer's fechtbuch: "When your adversary strikes at you from his right side with an Oberhau, then hit with a zornhau from your right shoulder against it. Strike with your true edge and in your strong."

Edge parry from Codex Wallerstein, Plate 9: "...so deflect with you
short edge and run on him..."

Every Italian sidesword manual I've ever heard of very specifically says to parry with the edge, although there seems to be some disagreement between masters as to preferences towards the true and false edge. (Marozzo has a preference for using the false edge more often, Viggiani has a preference for using the true edge).

Every single saber manual I've ever seen specifically say to use the edge.

Greg Mele wrote a fantastic article in SPADA on the subject called, "Much Ado About Nothing, or The Cutting Edge of Flat Parries". In it he shows plenty of evidence for both cases, where he basically states that those who staunchly say things were done one way or the other simply haven't done their homework. He sums it up best with, "The when, why and how that flat and edge are used must be based on an understanding of the underlying dfensive principles and biomechanics taught explicitly and implicitly by the medieval masters themselves."

So in other words, Edge or flat? It depends.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 7:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The when, why and how that flat and edge are used must be based on an understanding of the underlying dfensive principles and biomechanics taught explicitly and implicitly by the medieval masters themselves.


I believe that's probably the best quote I've read on the subject.

Bill,

In the sources that you've mentioned (primarily the medieval ones, not the later renaissance based ones) when a defence with the edge is indicated are they specific in how that should be accopmplished? Do they indicate striking your edge against your opponents edge, or is it a case of displacing or stopping your opponents blade by striking his flat with your edge, or both?

This is a pretty tired topic however, it can lead to interesting discussion if approached correctly.

(I hate using the term "parry" since it generally promotes the wrong image in the modern mind.)

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 9:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It depends. Many of the masters do not say anything about your opponent's blade, though there are definately cases where masters specifically will say a certain technique should be done by using your edge against the flat. Meyer in particular, and although he's technically a Renaissance master, he still follows along the medieval Liechtanaur lineage. But medieval masters were largely quiet on the subject, leaving a lot of room for interpretation. This is most likely because they were more concerned with voiding the attack, or striking in a single-time defence.

A perfect example of something that could be interpreted either way is from Sigmund Ringeck (Tobler's translation): "If he strikes an Oberhau (downward cut) at your head, jump to his left side with your right foot; while you jump, turn your sword so that your hilt is high in front of your head and your thumb is down [on the flat of the blade] striking at his left with your short edge. You catch his strike with your hilt and hit him simultaneously on the head."

So in this case, someone's striking down and you're both defending with the sword and striking in one motion. If it is a perfectly downward strike, then you'll hit edge to flat. But if there is any degree of sideways motion (and there almost always is) then you'll strike edge to edge. Some people will say that ideally you hit edge to flat, some say you should be hitting edge to edge, some say it doesn't matter so long as you lived to tell the tale.

In Italian sidesword, such as found in Marozzo, they will say things such as "strike with your false edge a falso manco to deflect a mandritto squalembrato" (strongly paraphrased from no particular manual Happy ) which would mean that your opponent is striking a diagonal cut downwards, and you would strike aside the oncoming cut with an upwards cut with the false edge. I'm not the best versed in the sidesword manuals, but they do appear to be more specific about these things than earlier manuals were.

And I have never even heard of a flat parry in saber. Any classical/historical saberist will use many static edge parry-riposte actions. While I'll concede that saber is much later period, we're still talking about a very sharp sword, one that would take as much damage from edge parries as many earlier medieval ones, and these guys didn't seem to mind.

On SFI there are pages and pages of evidence, enough to show that it simply can't be generalized into, "They always did this," or "they never did this."
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:


A perfect example of something that could be interpreted either way is from Sigmund Ringeck (Tobler's translation): "If he strikes an Oberhau (downward cut) at your head, jump to his left side with your right foot; while you jump, turn your sword so that your hilt is high in front of your head and your thumb is down [on the flat of the blade] striking at his left with your short edge. You catch his strike with your hilt and hit him simultaneously on the head."

So in this case, someone's striking down and you're both defending with the sword and striking in one motion. If it is a perfectly downward strike, then you'll hit edge to flat. But if there is any degree of sideways motion (and there almost always is) then you'll strike edge to edge. Some people will say that ideally you hit edge to flat, some say you should be hitting edge to edge, some say it doesn't matter so long as you lived to tell the tale.



This is the Zwersch you are describing here, if I am not mistaken. I agree with the observation that in most cases (unless the attacher's strike is perfectly vertical) there will be some edge to edge contact. When my training parter and I do these kinds of excises there is some edge to edge contact. BUT the edges do not meet at 90 degree angle, i.e. the force of the blow is distributed over an area of at lest few millimeters. That in my opinion will make all the difference. If the edges were struck squarely (at 90 degree angle) all the force is concentrated on an extremely thin area (the edge per se), and the edges would damaged. But if the edges do not meet squarely , then the force is distributed and there might be little or no damage on the edges. I have seen some little nicks on a period sword that looked like the damage expected form the edges meeting at an angle.

To avoid misinterpretation of what I mean, I want to clarify what I mean by "edges meeting at an angle" If you imagine an edge hitting the flat of the sword, then move the hitting sword such that now it touches the edge and the side of the edge as well. I am not sure how much sense that makes, but at lest I tried.

I my limited experience, the most of the contacts between the two swords are of this kind: the two edges might meet but by one edge hitting the side of the other.

I think that what J. Clements was mostly trying to communicate is that the direct , square edge to edge contact ( a la Hollywood) is to be avoided. And what we are discussing here are details which are obvious and understandable to mostly the practitioners, and researchers.

Alexi
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 10:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is also worth remembering that most parrying is done with the forte, where edge damage doesn't really matter as much and where the edge was sometimes left duller anyway, which will also reduce damage.

Quote:
I think that what J. Clements was mostly trying to communicate is that the direct , square edge to edge contact ( a la Hollywood) is to be avoided. And what we are discussing here are details which are obvious and understandable to mostly the practitioners, and researchers.

Alexi


Even that (hard stops with the edges meeting squarely on the forte) was advocated by some masters; Viggiani (and propably other Italian sidesword folks... I wonder if Tom Leoni visits here?) did it, the English backsworders did it, and, unless I'm mistaken, most sabreurs did.

"A Stop.
Is to receive your Adversary's Sword with a proper Guard upon the Edge of your own Sword.
"

- Page, "The Use of the Broad Sword"


"Student: 'In this manner, our two swords would meet cross-wise, true edge on true edge.'

Teacher: 'This is the common parry, taught by all Masters and used by most fencers.
'"

- Viggiani, "Lo Schermo"


Rabbe


Last edited by R. Laine on Fri 01 Oct, 2004 10:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 10:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was indeed referring to the zwerchau.

And yes, I agree, it usually will not hit at an exact 90 degree angle... but if the whole debate is over whether the edges hit at 90 degrees or at 45 degrees, well, then that just seems silly to me. (To be honest, I think the fact that there IS such strong disagreement over something like this is silly, but such is human nature.)

Another one that I see as an edge parry: "If you are in vom Tag (the roof guard, sword high, tip pointing up) and he strikes a Zwerchhau ("cross strike", the technique previously described) above you, immediately strike a Zornhau ("strike of wrath", diagonal downward strike) with strength against his sword and find an opening to strike with the point."

In this technique it is clear, to me, that you need to use your edge against the oncoming edge, unless if you interpret the Zornhau in this case to be striking with your sword sideways. Again, there is enough ambiguity that people can place their own lense over to make work within their own preconceived ways, but really, I think it's so much easier to just do what the primary source says. A zornhau is performed by making a downward cut with the true edge, and a zwerchau is a horizontal cut with the sword above the head. I just can't see modifying the strike specifically to avoid edge contact.

Is it a 90 degree angle edge to edge parry? More of a 60-70 degree, depending on the specifics of where you were standing vs. what your opponent was doing. Is it really important to be that picky? I really don't think so, but maybe that's just me.

My whole point was just that we can't make these blanket statements that things were always done a certain way, ESPECIALLY when there's so much evidence that multiple things were done.
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2004 10:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,

I referenced this ARMA article in the hopes that it would stimulate exactly this kind of discussion. All too often these discussions never reach past the level or "absolutely yes" or "absolutely no". Not to mention the equally worthless position of "you do whatever it takes to survive" . (certainly not a worthless viewpoint, but not one that engenders detailed conversation).

Thank you.

Bill,

I agree that the original debate seems to concern a 90 % angle edge-on static parry, and I also agree that it's ridiculous to spend time discussing it in that context.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2004 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Gentlemen,

I referenced this ARMA article in the hopes that it would stimulate exactly this kind of discussion. All too often these discussions never reach past the level or "absolutely yes" or "absolutely no". Not to mention the equally worthless position of "you do whatever it takes to survive" . (certainly not a worthless viewpoint, but not one that engenders detailed conversation).

Thank you.

Bill,

I agree that the original debate seems to concern a 90 % angle edge-on static parry, and I also agree that it's ridiculous to spend time discussing it in that context.



agreed, very ridiculous to think of it that way.

Think back to your sabre past - lessons with Maestro H, especially.. What are your parry positions really? they *look* edge to edge - in fact, Ted even says 'catch it on your thumb'.. but if you look at the mechanics of the push cuts or the molinelli, and the mechanics of the parry, the truth is that its not that simple. as an example, the fifth parry has the point of the sabre about 20 degrees or so above parallel with the ground, and 20 to 30 degrees less than perpindicular to the opponent (generalities here of course) ie, the point is higher than the hilt, and turned forward to the opponent somewhat.. the edge is about 45 degrees less than vertical (but edge forward, not backward).. so if you think about the combination of angles involved, you're not presenting an edge on angle except in very very rare circumstances.. everthing else is aligned for a glancing deflection rather than a hard stop.. the sixth parry position is even more obvious.. third and fourth are less so, but the parries are taken way down in the forte, often with the point forward of the hilt and off the line, to help channel the incoming blade into the forte, and are more edge on, but again, the angle of a downward diagonal cut is going to provide for a deflection rather than a hard stop... the hard stop comes on impact with the guard after sliding down the blade. There are some illustrations in Radaelli that imply a flat-ish parry in third and fourth low position, but they're a crowding parry with a big cross-step in, which would suck up some of the momentum of the incoming cut as well. something else to consider with sabres is that often they went from dead dull to sharp, progressively from forte to foible.

ok... very tired here, off to bed. if this doesn't make any sense, yell, and i'll clarify if i can.

Chris Holzman
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2004 10:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I don't know how to get into this without it being a edge/flat parrying debate, but here goes.

The article is well researched, but only shows half of the evidence. There is ample evidence of parrying with the edge in period fencing texts as well as evidence of flat parrying. I don't even understand how anyone can try so hard to say that it was only done one way and not the other.

It also is ridiculous to lump fighting in all of the middle ages and say that throughout several hundred years everyone fought the same way.

A search of SFI's HES board will find you plenty of evidence for both sides (if you care to read through pages and pages of bitter sniping from different camps of thought). John Clements has already listed some excellent sources about flat parrying in his article here, so I'll list a few of edge parrying.

Edge parry from Joachim Meyer's fechtbuch: "When your adversary strikes at you from his right side with an Oberhau, then hit with a zornhau from your right shoulder against it. Strike with your true edge and in your strong."

Edge parry from Codex Wallerstein, Plate 9: "...so deflect with you
short edge and run on him..."

Every Italian sidesword manual I've ever heard of very specifically says to parry with the edge, although there seems to be some disagreement between masters as to preferences towards the true and false edge. (Marozzo has a preference for using the false edge more often, Viggiani has a preference for using the true edge).

Every single saber manual I've ever seen specifically say to use the edge.

Greg Mele wrote a fantastic article in SPADA on the subject called, "Much Ado About Nothing, or The Cutting Edge of Flat Parries". In it he shows plenty of evidence for both cases, where he basically states that those who staunchly say things were done one way or the other simply haven't done their homework. He sums it up best with, "The when, why and how that flat and edge are used must be based on an understanding of the underlying dfensive principles and biomechanics taught explicitly and implicitly by the medieval masters themselves."

So in other words, Edge or flat? It depends.




Your argument is valid to an extent but remember something importaint. When the Masters speak of "parry with your edge" they often mean that it's the strongest way. What you really have to ask yourself is what are they hitting with their edge? Are they intentionally bringing their edge directly in line with the opposing edge or are they hitting their edge against the flat of the opposing blade? We beleive this would have seemed obvious to the swordsman at the time and by use of proper technique , any static hard edge parries would have been avoided unless it could not be helped. The exception to the rule would be closing in and making edge contact on the forte before the attacker gained enough energy to do any real damage. The lower area just past the guard can take more edge contact due to it being thicker and often unsharpened as we see in swords with ricasso's. I would also agree that edge on edge is acceptable once you are in the bind and proves stronger due to body mechanics. I just feel that we should be careful not to take things too literally if they do not seem to hold ground out in the field which is obviously the best classroom.

Take it for what it's worth. In my insignificant 8 years of training it seems to work fine and yield some decent results. The topic is interesting but could be argued infinately I'm afraid Worried

Gary Grzybek
ARMA Northern N.J.
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Alexi Goranov
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2004 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
I was indeed referring to the zwerchau.

And yes, I agree, it usually will not hit at an exact 90 degree angle... but if the whole debate is over whether the edges hit at 90 degrees or at 45 degrees, well, then that just seems silly to me. (To be honest, I think the fact that there IS such strong disagreement over something like this is silly, but such is human nature.)

Another one that I see as an edge parry: "If you are in vom Tag (the roof guard, sword high, tip pointing up) and he strikes a Zwerchhau ("cross strike", the technique previously described) above you, immediately strike a Zornhau ("strike of wrath", diagonal downward strike) with strength against his sword and find an opening to strike with the point."

In this technique it is clear, to me, that you need to use your edge against the oncoming edge, unless if you interpret the Zornhau in this case to be striking with your sword sideways. Again, there is enough ambiguity that people can place their own lense over to make work within their own preconceived ways, but really, I think it's so much easier to just do what the primary source says. A zornhau is performed by making a downward cut with the true edge, and a zwerchau is a horizontal cut with the sword above the head. I just can't see modifying the strike specifically to avoid edge contact.

Is it a 90 degree angle edge to edge parry? More of a 60-70 degree, depending on the specifics of where you were standing vs. what your opponent was doing. Is it really important to be that picky? I really don't think so, but maybe that's just me.

My whole point was just that we can't make these blanket statements that things were always done a certain way, ESPECIALLY when there's so much evidence that multiple things were done.


Bill,

I agree with just about everything you are pointing out, and my response was not intended to counter your points, but to elaborate on what you have said.

Gary has also emphasized the valid point that when you are told to use your edge, it does not mean to hit squarely the edge of your opponent's sword.

Overall I think we are all in agreement.

Alexi
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2004 2:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing to consider in the debate of edge vs. flat defense is what happens after the defense, and how what portion of the sword used in defense plays a role in the actions immediately after. Take for instance uke nagashi in japanese swordsmanship; this is where the hilt of the sword is brought up over the head, with the tip of the sword lower than the hilt and used as a defense against overhead cuts. When learning this technique I was always taught to present the side/back of the sword when receiving the incoming blow, to prevent damgage to the edge upon contact with the opponent's sword. But, one thing that I learned when practicing this technique was that when the blow was received using the side of the blade and my sword was brought around for the counterattack the edge presented itself for an effective countercut with virtually no extra effort on my part. However, when I practiced this technique by receiving the blow with the edge rather than the side, it was more awkward and difficult to properly orient the edge for the countercut. So it is important not only to consider the effects of edge vs. flat defense upon the integrity of the sword itself, but how presenting either the edge or the flat will affect the effectiveness of the counter attack; in other words, how easy will it be to properly orient the edge for an effective counter attack after the defense has been made.

Another thing to consider is the grip of the sword. Regardless of the weapon I was studying I was taught that it was best to hold the weapon as if I was holding a small bird; tight enough that the bird could not fly away, but not so tight as to crush the life from it. This degree of looseness in the grip allows for an easier manipulation of the sword when presenting the flat, back, or edge, depending on what you're doing with the sword at the time. In The Rules and Regulations for the Sword Exercise of the Cavalry, pages 18-25, there are illustrations depicting the hands in various stages of performing the six main cuts. Each individual cut is shown in stages, depicting how different fingers are either tight or loose upon the grip, depending on the stage of the cut. By alternating the strength of the grip of each finger it is easier to maniuplate the orientation of the sword, flat vs. edge, in order to execute whatever technique you are trying to perform.
In the next section of the book, Modes of Parrying, we see how the grip of the sword affects the orientaion of the sword when executing the defenses. The first two are the Left and Right Protects. Through both text and illustrations Le Marchant is explicit in stating that when executing these two defenses, the back and side of the blade are to be presented, not the edge; the illustration depicting Left Protect shows the knucklenow formed by the stirrup hilt alongside the back of the hand, and the curvature of the blade going away from the left side of the body. It is interesting that Le Marchant chooses these two defenses as the first to be taught; when practicing these with my 1796 light cavalry saber I find these defenses to be the more difficult to execute than those that follow, because of the ways that I must adjust the degree of my grip in order to execute them as he describes.
The next defense, Horse, Near Side Protect appears at first to contradict Le Marchant's admnishment not to oppose an enemy's saber with the edge. When adopting this defense the sword is placed alongside the left side of the horse's head, with the point lower than the hilt and with the edge up, in the direction of the incoming attack. Le Marchant acknowledges this, stating "The edge will be upwards in this instance, but it must necessarily be exposed from the nature of the guard." One thing that I have noticed, when attempting to adopt this defense as depicted on page 28, is that although the edge, rather than the flat or back, is presented against the incoming attack, it is presented in such a way that many blows will fall just beside, rather than directly upon the edge of the sword.

Ultimately I think that whether you use the edge or the flat of the sword for defense, you not only want to minimize any damage to the sword itself, but also to be able to quickly and easily launch an effective counter attack.

Rob Zamoida
"When your life is on the line, you want to make use of all your tools. No warrior should be willing to die with his swords at his sides, without having made use of his tools."
-Miyamoto Mushashi, Gorin no Sho
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Oct, 2004 7:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexi Goranov wrote:

Bill,

I agree with just about everything you are pointing out, and my response was not intended to counter your points, but to elaborate on what you have said.


Oh, I realized that, and I hope it didn't sound like I was snapping or anything, I was sort of just typing as I thought of things. I guess the emotionless tone in print sometimes'll come across as being upset. Happy



Quote:
Overall I think we are all in agreement.


Overall, I think so too.
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2004 12:49 pm    Post subject: One thing I haven't seen discussed         Reply with quote

I don't pretend to be an expert about these texts. However, I think that some edge on edge contact would be inevitable. So no one has ever mentioned who drew the illustrations. Was it a scribe? Was it the fencing master himself? I think one can get in trouble relying on medieval illustrations to "prove" a point. We all know that hitting two sharpened swords edge-to -edge will nick or dent the edge. I think what needs to be discussed here is would there be an advantage to blocking with the sword's edge as opposed to the flat? In what situations would that be? Argueing over what a particular cryptic passage means or what an illustration is a waste of energy. Many of you here have experience in swordplay and I think you need to speak up. Please don't think I am "taking sides" on this issue, but as Patrick observed, some pretty heated exchanges have broken out over this issue. I would really like to hear your opions on the questions I posed above. What do you guys think?

Joel Whitmore
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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2004 5:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Joel,

The reason this topic keeps coming up is that most people don't realise that parrying can constitute many different types of action, all valid ways to use your sword to prevent the other chap's sword hitting you. The other confusion is that counterattacks, attacks made by the defender while the initial attack is in motion and which dominate many early systems are not parries, even if they prevent the opposing sword from hitting you. They are attacks and trying to think of them as parries gets you in all sorts of strife, both in words, and in fencing. By the way, attacks made after parries are ripostes, not counterattacks.

Many early texts use a lot of deflections, which must absolutely be done with the flat. Ceding parries must also use the flat. You've mentioned blocks, or what the English called stoppes. These are designed to stop the opposing sword, taking away it's momentum and leaving it in the state that Silver called Lying Spent. Stoppes, as the historical authors all state, must be done with the edge, as close to the hilt as possible. This results in very minor damage to the blade, but I have never seen a sword break when stopping with the edge of the forte. I have seen a sword snap when stopping with the flat of the forte (trying a stoppe with the flat also places your wrist in a horrible position, the edge is in line with the bones of your forearm so presenting the flat requires you to turn your wrist, which places an unbelievable stress on your wrist) and of course the mechanics of leverage dictate that stoppes cannot be done anywhere on the blade other than the part of the forte closest to the hilt.

So in short, were parries done with the edge? indisputably yes. Were they done with the flat? again, indisputably yes. There is indisputable historical evidence for parries that can only be done with the edge and ones that can only be done with the flat. Were these actions the same sort of parry? no, not at all. Can we come up with one overarching rule that covers all parries? no we can't, because a parry is simply a defensive action with the blade against your opponent's blade that prevents you from being hit by his attack. There are a lot of different actions that fit those criteria. Trying to oversimplify the art of parrying, saying all parries were done this way, or that way is counterproductive to our understanding of historical fencing. We should read each individual historical text and do precisely what the master tells us to do, without any preconceptions that actions must be performed this way or that way. Only by approaching the historical texts with a clean slate can we hope to understand what they're saying and perform it with any degree of authenticity.

Cheers
Stephen

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PostPosted: Sun 03 Oct, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Re: One thing I haven't seen discussed         Reply with quote

Well said, Stephen!

Joel Whitmore wrote:
Argueing over what a particular cryptic passage means or what an illustration is a waste of energy.


Joel, I think you are under the common misconception that the majority of fencing treatises are cryptic (though I may be wrong, and if so, I apologize, I'm just guessing that you believe that based on that quote). They aren't. In fact, most are pretty clear, at least for the majority of techniques. The stuff that masters didn't feel necessary to write down tends to be pretty interpretive, and often times one manual doesn't say something, so you have to reference another manual of a similar lineage to fill in some gaps. If it were one or two cryptic passages, or one or two illustrations, then I would agree with you. But when there are so many masters of the same lineage who say the same things, it's something that shouldn't be ignored for modern "common sense".
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Joel Whitmore




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2004 5:01 am    Post subject: Bill I thnk you missed the point here         Reply with quote

I own several of the translated manuels and I think you are overgeneralizing my point here. I am not implying that ALL of the fencing manuels are cryptic or that every one of them is trying to conceal the arts they convey. Now pardon me for being percieved as sensitive here, but your tone is why this topic is always hard to discuss. If the fencing manuels were so crystal clear on this topic I don't think this would be such a debated issue. There are some unanswered questions I think that have not been brought up and your post did not adress the ones I mentioned earlier. I was specifically refering to the ilustrations that people so much rely on to take one position or the other. Who drew them? Did they use actual students for models or was the artist drawing form memory? Another question that begs to be answered in my mind is was edge integreity all that important in fencing duels? Were the swords used thought of as precious objects or just tools to be disgarded after the duel or battle? I think that these questions need to be answered (if possible) to further this discussion. We modern swordsmen tend to be overprotective of our sword edges in part, I think, because swords for us are not common objects. I think you are spot on in projecting modern snesibbilities onto another era; that can lead to erronous assumtions.
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Joel Whitmore




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2004 5:14 am    Post subject: Thanks for replying Stephen         Reply with quote

I am curious about the stoppes you mentioned. Does this apply to the longsword also? It would seem to me that these stops would apply to certain situations only. Having cut with my A&A Two hander, I would not see anyone stopping that blade completely on a charged overhand strike. If the other person were not moving out the way I really believe the best he could do is have his own sword crash into his head. I suppose if you were helped this might not be as bad. The only manuels I own and have read are The Codex Wallerstein, The Secrets of German Swordsmanship, Fiore de LIbere's and the translated Talhoffer text Medieval Combat: A 15th Century Manual of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat. If possible, could you elaborate on these stoppes? I am very curious here.

Joel
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R. Laine




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2004 6:47 am    Post subject: Re: Bill I thnk you missed the point here         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
I own several of the translated manuels and I think you are overgeneralizing my point here. I am not implying that ALL of the fencing manuels are cryptic or that every one of them is trying to conceal the arts they convey. Now pardon me for being percieved as sensitive here, but your tone is why this topic is always hard to discuss. If the fencing manuels were so crystal clear on this topic I don't think this would be such a debated issue.


I'm not Stephen, but... It depends on the text, but I don't know of one single manual that leaves any doubt on whether a parry is to be made with the edge or the flat. Whether a parry made with the edge hits the opponent's edge or not is what causes most of the confusion, and that depends on the timing of the strikes, the starting positions of the fencers, the size of their footwork etc. And to futher mix things up, it seems that many of those who oppose edge-on-edge agree in that the edges may meet at some smallish angle but not squarely at a 90 degree angle, or at the forte, which to some is clearly an edge-on-edge parry... This, of course, leads to problems when someone who does not consider forte-on-forte contact edge-on-edge says that edge-on-edge did not happen to someone who thinks a forte-on-forte parry in which the unsharpened fortes meet is edge-on-edge. And then there is the issue I mentioned earlier, whether a "light" meeting of the edges at some angle is edge-on-edge... *g*

While it appears a bit silly, this is propably the biggest reason why the whole debate exists; in general, people are pretty much in agreement but are using different terminology to describe their points of view. Or, at least, that is the impression I got while reading through some of the posts in the edge damage thread at the ARMA forum.

Quote:
There are some unanswered questions I think that have not been brought up and your post did not adress the ones I mentioned earlier. I was specifically refering to the ilustrations that people so much rely on to take one position or the other.


They do?

Quote:
Who drew them? Did they use actual students for models or was the artist drawing form memory?


Depends on the text. Many (Dürer, for example) were illustrated by the author.

Quote:
Another question that begs to be answered in my mind is was edge integreity all that important in fencing duels? Were the swords used thought of as precious objects or just tools to be disgarded after the duel or battle?


If folks could avoid edge damage, they likely did it. However, that is not too important concerning this discussion; a proper parry with the forte will *not* damage the cutting edge, whether it hits the opponent's edge or not.

Quote:
I am curious about the stoppes you mentioned. Does this apply to the longsword also? It would seem to me that these stops would apply to certain situations only. Having cut with my A&A Two hander, I would not see anyone stopping that blade completely on a charged overhand strike.


It is quite possible to perform a stop against almost any strike, as long as you remember to use the forte, especially if your weapon is a two-hander as well... However, you are correct in that stoppes weren't as popular with most two-handed swords as they were with single-handers.

Quote:
If possible, could you elaborate on these stoppes? I am very curious here.


A stoppe is just that: a parry that stops the opponent's cut on the forte. These were a very important part of British backsword, and, unless I'm mistaken, were used in other countries as well after the Renaissance.

Rabbe
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PostPosted: Mon 04 Oct, 2004 8:14 am    Post subject: Re: Bill I thnk you missed the point here         Reply with quote

Joel Whitmore wrote:
Now pardon me for being percieved as sensitive here, but your tone is why this topic is always hard to discuss.


Joel,
Please don't take anything I said personally. In fact, I didn't say at all taht you are being sensitive, and if you notice, I said I apologize if I'm misinterpreting you. I didn't mean for my tone to sound harsh, but if it did, again, I apologize. It's the nature of online forums, I'm afraid.

When you talk about "who" made the illustrations, I think it's fair to say that there is room for error. In fact, Fabris, who used the court artist, says in his manual that there are a few illustrations that aren't fully correct, which is why it is so important to read the words of the masters, and not necessarily go by the pictures. Durer, on the other hand, as Rabbe pointed out, did the illustrations himself.

It's just that when you see the same things over and over again from manuals of the same lineage, it's hard to say that we're right and the originals are wrong. Paraphrasing something John Clements said in Medieval Swordsmanship that I always agreed with, we're all just modern hobbyists who practice on the weekends and in our backyards. None of us is a swordsman in the same sense of a medieval warrior. Because of this, I'm a big fan of Hick's law of doing what the period texts say to do, and when it seems wrong, we shouldn't be dismissing it, but rather trying to understand why *WE* say it feels wrong. I remember thinking the zwerchau was a bizarre, awkward technique until I starting working with the Liechtanaur system, and came to realize just what an incredible and versatile strike it is.
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