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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The handshake grip has some similarities to the " sabre grip " which has the thumb on or near the top of the handle as opposed to the thumb down in a closed fist of a hammer grip, but in use one goes from saber to hammer grip without one having to think about it naturally when one goes from a more relaxed grip to tightening one's grip just before impact.

The handshake grip with the very short handle and wide pommel of the Viking sword locks the hand in place, prevents losing one's grip even when it is relaxed and helps in indexing the orientation of the edges.

Basically agreeing with Greg and Elling and just adding in my " personal experience " with a wide variety of swords and handle lengths and styles.

A pommel can give support to the heel of the hand even with a longer handle but it's subtlety different than the handshake grip in usefulness and the way it is done: More behind the heel of the hand and the pommel; less or not at all to the side.

The human hand is very adaptable to various gripping styles and most of it happens in adapting to the design of the sword handle: The design almost imposes the style of grip used, and some hilts allow or disallow different grips to various degrees i.e. some handles are very optimized to using a specific grip to the point that any other grip become uncomfortable or impossible to use.

The wide disk of a Tulwar mostly forces one to exclusively use a hammer grip in my opinion. Wink
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Jack Savante





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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 8:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's never easy rowing against the tide as they say, nonetheless I stand by my comment that the handshake grip (as Peter has depicted it) is not only wrong, but likely to cause injury to the wielder.

It is wrong because it transposes modern thinking onto medieval objects, in particular expectations of comfort.

It is wrong becuase there is no solid archaeological record to back it up.

The original respondent to this proposition was right, the Viking sword is meant to be held exactly as it looks despite us moderns thinking it may be uncomfortable with our like and expectation of all things in life being easy.

I'm a huge fan of Peter, but I must challenge this idea of his of the 'handshake grip'.

To the forumites who believe I am being rude to Peter merely by challenging one of his ideas I ask you to realise that all propositions should be expected to face scrutiny, regardless of who makes them. Disagreeing with someone does not constitute being hostile towards them, and disagreement is the cornerstone of intellectual advancement.

I stand by my advice that the best people to proffer information on a given subject are the person who 'do' rather than 'emulate'. In this case the best people to consult are soldiers and criminals. However, Peter will always be one of the world's greatest sword smiths, and I will continue to refer to his work for invaluable information always.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 8:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack Savante wrote:

I stand by my advice that the best people to proffer information on a given subject are the person who 'do' rather than 'emulate'. In this case the best people to consult are soldiers and criminals. However, Peter will always be one of the world's greatest sword smiths, and I will continue to refer to his work for invaluable information always.


And modern soldiers and " criminals " know how to handle a sword because they either had some training with a knife using modern methods, or criminals because they may have stabbed someone in the prison shower in the back with the handle of a sharpened tooth brush ! How does this relate at all to expertise with a Viking sword ?

So, take a modern criminal with some skill with a knife, send him back in time with a Viking sword and have him fight a duel with a skilled Viking swordsman, the " criminal " holding any kind of sword for the first time, and expect him to know as much about holding a sword as the Viking warrior ?

Comfort has nothing to do with using the handshake grip: One doesn't use it because the hammer grip feels " uncomfortable ", it just a very secure grip one can use with a relaxed grip and not lose the sword.

And it's easy to fluidly transition from handshake to hammer without much need for conscious thought as needed when needed.

Sure you can be skeptical, and it's your right to be skeptical, but nothing you said has convinced me that it's anything more than opinion or a gut feeling that could be very erroneous..

I will believe more what I feel holding the handle of a Viking type sword in both the handshake grip and the hammer grip unless there is a lot more convincing proof that we are all wrong.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack,
I hope you can appreciate the irony here. You are saying Peter's opinion isn't backed up by evidence. And you're not giving any evidence to back up your opinion. Happy Please give us evidence, or a summary of your experience in this matter so people can decide how much weight to give your opinion.

In terms of evidence, here are quotes from earlier posts in this thread:

Shane Allee wrote:
The Archaeology of Weapons, R. Ewart Oakeshott; pg 172 figure 77
From the MS of St. Gall, circa 900-950 "C" depicting the little finger over the pommel.
Oakeshott comments, "a curiously awkward grip shown in very many of these tenth-century drawings;...."

The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, Hilda Ellis Davidson; Illustrations XVI number 114

Hastings 1066, Osprey Military Campaign series, Christopher Gravett; pg 36
Early 11th century, MS Cotton Cleopatra C. viii fl8v; The British Museum Library
A duel, combatant on the right using "hammer" grip while the combatant on the left uses a "hand shake" grip.

Viking Weapons & Warfare, J. Kim Siddorn; pg 69 figure 31
illustrated depiction of the above "judicial combat" by Levick

Anglo-Saxon Weapons & Warfare, Richard Underwood; pg 130 figure 74
Eleventh century, MS Cotton Claudius B IV f24v "Confusion of the Battlefield"
Clear depiction of a "hammer" grip in the middle center, however a depiction of the "handshake" grip by the King wearing mail located in the upper left hand corner. This is a photo from the British Museum, although illustrations of the scene can be found in a variety of other books.


Patrick Kelly wrote:

The 'handshake' grip is shown being used in period medieval art work like the Bayuex Tapestry so I don't think it was confined to the viking age alone.


Eric Meyers wrote:

My group and I have generally come to prefer holding a viking sword in a loose hammer grip as the "default grip," but we do almost no cutting with that grip. Its OK for up close work - especially close range thrusts, but I prefer to cut further out in my reach. Basically, we "cast" from hammer to handshake for the cut, slipping the pommel up to the wrist as shown in Peter's picture, and then recover to that loose hammer grip again. I can do this at very close range or at extreme reach equally comfortably, and with similar precision.


Stephen Hand wrote:

Interesting topic gentlemen. As is usual in this sort of thing I had to say "I don't know, I'll let my body tell me". So I went out, grabbed one of my Viking swords and went through a number of the actions shown in Manuscript I.33, the world's oldest fencing manual. I found my hand constantly moving between a hammer grip and a handshake grip. Some actions were impossible with one, some impossible with the other. In many actions I found myself seamlessly transitioning between the two grips. That suggests to me that both grips must have been used.


What we have are several instances of period art showing both grips. Sounds like evidence to me. Eric Meyers is a respected HEMA instructor. Stephen Hand is a published author and martial artist and has studied period treatises and collaborated on their translation and interpretation.

To say a handshake grip doesn't exist ignores pictorial evidence. To say it isn't martially sound ignores practical evidence by people who have spent a great deal of time working with period manuals and HEMA instruction.

I think both grips were used, though I find myself in the handshake grip more often than not. We have period and practical evidence for both.

This idea isn't Peter's; other people before him and independently have made the same observation. I think Peter is one of the most knowledgable folks out there, but that doesn't mean we're all sheep following him blindly. Rather, there is practical and period evidence from multiple sources of what he's discussing that gives some of us enough comfort to try the idea.

If you have evidence or experience to the contrary, please post it. Otherwise, you're only offering an opinion with no evidence to back it up.

Happy

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Matthew Harrington




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 9:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:


And modern soldiers and " criminals " know how to handle a sword because they either had some training with a knife using modern methods, or criminals because they may have stabbed someone in the prison shower in the back with the handle of a sharpened tooth brush ! How does this relate at all to expertise with a Viking sword ?

So, take a modern criminal with some skill with a knife, send him back in time with a Viking sword and have him fight a duel with a skilled Viking swordsman, the " criminal " holding any kind of sword for the first time, and expect him to know as much about holding a sword as the Viking warrior ?

Comfort has nothing to do with using the handshake grip: One doesn't use it because the hammer grip feels " uncomfortable ", it just a very secure grip one can use with a relaxed grip and not lose the sword.

And it's easy to fluidly transition from handshake to hammer without much need for conscious thought as needed when needed.

Sure you can be skeptical, and it's your right to be skeptical, but nothing you said has convinced me that it's anything more than opinion or a gut feeling that could be very erroneous..

I will believe more what I feel holding the handle of a Viking type sword in both the handshake grip and the hammer grip unless there is a lot more convincing proof that we are all wrong.


I agree with this wholeheartedly and was in the midst of typing the same response as you posted this. I don't understand how a criminal could beat (without tooting my own horn...) someone like me who has been fighting with viking age swords for the better part of a decade. It really makes no logical sense.

~See you in Valhalla, brother.~
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 22 Dec, 2012 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack Savante wrote:
It's never easy rowing against the tide as they say, nonetheless I stand by my comment that the handshake grip (as Peter has depicted it) is not only wrong, but likely to cause injury to the wielder.
[...]
in particular expectations of comfort.


How is it likely to cause injury?

One of the arguments offered many times in this thread against the handshake grip is that it is uncomfortable. People who use the handshake grip tend to not find it uncomfortable, but argue for it based on mobility and reach, not comfort. "Comfort" is an anti-handshake argument.

I find hammer grip comfortable, on a suitable sword. Hammer grip with an 8cm grip is fine for me. An 8cm grip, in hammer grip, is more comfortable than a 10cm grip. How does the "modernism" of "expectations of comfort" apply here?

Jack Savante wrote:
It is wrong becuase there is no solid archaeological record to back it up.


There isn't any solid archaeological record to back up the hammer grip. Is the hammer grip therefore wrong? This argument applies equally to both grips.

Both grips are shown in Medieval art. The artistic evidence supports the use of both.

Jack Savante wrote:
It is wrong because it transposes modern thinking onto medieval objects


What's wrong with applying modern thinking, and modern experiment? Humans are still pretty much the same physically, even if less fit on average. Swords can still be made to handle the same way. The biomechanics of human + sword is pretty much the same today as back then. If a little-trained feeble modern human can make it work, then surely it was feasible back then, too.

In any case, "comfort" is used as an anti-handshake argument. How would the wrongness of applying the modern expectation of comfort, if it is wrong, say that handshake grip was not used historically?

There are (at least) 4 sides in the argument:

(a) Only the hammer grip was used historically.
(b) Both hammer grip and handshake grip were used historically.
(c) Only the hammer grip can be used successfully.
(d) Both hammer grip and handshake grip can be used successfully.

Archaeology doesn't say anything about any of them. Artistic evidence supports (b) over (a).

Arguments about (c) and (d) are purely modern, but if correct for accurate replicas, should say something about (a) and (b). Given that some modern people successfully use both grips, (d) is correct, and (c) is wrong - it only takes one modern person able to successfully use handshake grip to show that (c) is wrong, and in addition to that, one modern person able to successfully use hammer grip to show that (d) is correct.

Which shows that (b) is possible, functionally speaking. The functional plausibility, combined with the artistic evidence, says to me that (b) is correct. I don't understand why people strongly support (a). I can understand why people who do strongly support (a) don't present convincing evidence for (a), because it's really hard to show that handshake grip was not used historically. What kind of evidence could possibly show this convincingly? (This is an invitation for anybody strongly supporting (a) to provide convincing evidence!)

Of course, one can say that (b) is correct, and then proceed to argue about which was more used.

In the opening post of the thread, we have: "You may still use a hammer grip in some situations, but that has a limiting effect on the performance of the sword. I think the hammer grip is used when only short chops in close mode is an option. In full length distance a more supple grip is used."

If I replace "short chops" with "draw cuts", or perhaps "draw cuts, short chops, or short stabs around a shield", I agree. But I'd add that the "only" might be a large fraction of the time. Perhaps all the time for the non-expert in the stress of battle. Handshake grip might be more of an expert technique, excellent in the duel.

On the other hand, there might be a temptation for the less expert to stay at maximum range, aiming to stay out of trouble while trying to hit with the very tip. Which necessitates handshake, if you want maximum reach. The expert might then want to get in close and kill/win quickly and decisively. Which might make hammer grip the expert technique.

I think that "which was used more" is something we don't have any good way of knowing. Par for the course, given, e.g., what we know of the hand-to-hand detail of Roman battle, hoplite battle, the "push of pike", etc.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.


Last edited by Timo Nieminen on Sun 23 Dec, 2012 12:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Greg Ballantyne




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PostPosted: Sun 23 Dec, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jack I am not one calling you rude (although I can understand why others might). I definitely agree there is far too much modern thinking put into this subject. Suggesting that todays soldiers and criminals might be consultant on the subject appears to perpetuate that error as much as any of the other posters on the subject. What usually drives us into error is emotional attachment to an argument. Its a difficult thing to lay aside once taken up.
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Christopher B Lellis




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PostPosted: Thu 09 May, 2013 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The handshake grip has more endurance than the hammer grip, I found this out while drilling and cutting with my Albion vigil which isn't exactly a small 1 handed sword.

When my grip was getting tired, I found I was naturally adjusting my hand to the handshake grip to continue, so I just kept it like that and found I could wield it a lot longer.
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Sean Brown




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Jul, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Re: Gripping and using a Viking sword         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
This post and the resulting topic that will continue here was originally created to respond to This Post by Joel Thompson in another topic. I felt it was generally off-topic enough to that original topic and informative enough to split into its own topic. Fact is, this is all extremely interesting stuff that needs to be discussed on its own. It's so interesting that I've also made it a Spotlight Topic. [Nathan Robinson]

(In response to Joel Thompson, sharing his experience with his Albion Clontarf sword and showing a photo of him cutting with it)

Hi Joel,

I am happy top see that you are putting the Clontarf to good use.
However, the way you are gripping the sword wil not bring out the best out of it.

It seems that the proper way to hold a viking sword is less than instantly intuitive. Many try to use a "hammer" style grip. This will unfortunately invite too firm a grip that will make the sword "dead" in the cut.

A sword must be held with a more supple and lively hand. No harder than a pleasantly firm handshake. As you hit the target you will make the grip more firm, but not cramping.

The shortness of viking era grips seems to mystify many contemporary students of the sword. The ever ongoing question seems to be why vikings had so small hands...(They did not)
(This is the same kind of question as "how sharp is a sword?": try to ansver the question: how shap is a 20th C pocketknife?...)
We need to understand the proper context and use of these weapons if we are to appreciate their real character and potential.
...


Thank you for this insightful post. I was curious about something, however.

I understand that there are advantages to the firm "handshake" grip that you described, but are there historical references to the handshake grip? Say, something described in a saga or some other literature of that era (I'm relatively sure Vikings didn't write fechtbucher on the subject)?

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Erik Buchholz




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jul, 2013 4:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I took a great class on viking swordsmanship. The instructor was upfront that he had never seen nor heard of a good record (unlike, say, German or Italian longsword).

It seemed to me that the "handshake" grip* was very useful for false/short edge strikes to the back of the knee and for rotating strikes over the shield (#1 and #2 in the first image thrown from something like the second image but hand higher). This is very useful because it comes over and under the shield, supposing the opponent fails to defend, of course.

Sorry these aren't great images but they're the best I can find on the 'net while I should be working....

http://www.americankangdukwon.org/images/escrima003.gif

http://i.ehow.com/images/a02/88/j4/strike-esc...00x800.jpg

Also, we held the weapon with the thumb on the fuller (sometimes called the "German grip" in other kinds of fencing). With that thumb position, we could rotate the weapon between "hammer" and "handshake".

Also, we did this strike that would start as a hammer strike toward the head, was easily absorbed with minor movement of the opponent's shield, but at the last moment dropped the tip and we either false-edge-struck to the back of the knee or, more interestingly, came around with the tip from the shield-side in this odd crossed position.

With the "handshake" grip and thumb on the fuller, these strikes were very easy to make, rotating the blade about the axis of one's wrist by moving the elbow a lot. They did not work so well with a "hammer" grip.

Thrusting to the eyes with that grip was easier than with the other grip. The "handshake" grip also made the blade horizontal which would be more likely to get a thrust through any eye slits.

All this convinced me, at least, that the "handshake" grip is quite valid. "Hammer" grip could also be used, but I think less frequently because of that uncomfortable pommel.

* A few notes on the grip itself:
- Thumb on fuller
- Blade is parallel to the first finger digit, i.e. the part between the big knuckle and the medium knuckle.
- Blade is not pointed toward the middle knuckle (put your thumb on the middle knuckle of your pointer finger, that's not where the blade edge points)
- Blade is agile as opposed to strong

And one thing I never did figure out was how to hold the weapon comfortably if the pommel is flat (H shaped handle). I don't know if the size was wrong or if I lacked callouses or what, but the two metal and one wood models I tried were never comfortable. I strongly prefer a disc-shaped pommel.

Anyway, that's just my two cents, for what it's worth.
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Wes B.




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jul, 2013 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This video pretty well sums up how to hold a sword properly as i understand it, IMHO the handshake grip is just asking to have your sword knocked from your hand, whereas a hammer grip is rock solid. When using a shield you dont need to make long sweeping blows that the "handhsake" grip allows, it also puts undue stress on the wrist since the wrist flicking is doing all of the work behind the cut as opposed to the hammer grip where your forearm, biceps, shoulder upper body , and even hip rotation come into play

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIcm5f6zFPw&am...load_owner

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jul, 2013 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wes B. wrote:
IMHO the handshake grip is just asking to have your sword knocked from your hand, whereas a hammer grip is rock solid.


Both are solid. A handshake grip is not the same as the sabre grip (thumb along grip), since the thumb is around the grip, not along it. It isn't the same as the foil grip (where the thumb and 1st two fingers grip the hilt), since the thumb and last two fingers do the gripping. If the handshake grip wasn't secure, we wouldn't see it so widely used in martial arts with old living traditions - it's the "correct" way to hold katana (not modern; see Book of Five Rings) and jian.

If there was something terribly wrong with hammer grip, we wouldn't see so many swords optimised for it, or even demanding it.

Both work. We see both in period art. We see both used in sword arts with a living tradition. IMO, it is simply wrong to say that either is wrong, that one or the other is the One True Way to hold a sword.

They do different things. Handshake grip gives you reach, and thrusts inline with the forearm (which you can't do with hammer grip with a straight hilt), and hammer grip gives you superb draw cuts. Both are secure (if done properly). use the right one at the right time, with the right sword.

Wes B. wrote:
When using a shield you dont need to make long sweeping blows that the "handhsake" grip allows, it also puts undue stress on the wrist since the wrist flicking is doing all of the work behind the cut as opposed to the hammer grip where your forearm, biceps, shoulder upper body , and even hip rotation come into play


Body and hip should be used for both. Handshake grip should not have "wrist flicking" doing all the work. Both hammer grip and handshake grip allow the same wrist motion; either can be used with wrist motion, or without.

I don't get the first point, since hammer grip wants long sweeping blows to be effective. ("Long" as in the sweeps are long, not long as in long-ranged.) Shields do favour hammer-grip swords, since one can fight closer safer.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Jul, 2013 8:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To add: you don't "hammer" the opponent with the sword using a hammer grip. With hammer grip, you should elegantly slice-and-dice, draw-cutting in close. If you want to "hammer" the opponent - chop at them - use handshake grip.
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Erik Buchholz




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 8:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One dumb question - on the Viking sword that fits you best, regardless of the grip you like to use, does your whole hand fit in the grip between the pommel and quillons? Or is the grip just a little shorter than your fist as measured from pointer finger to pinky?

Just want to get it right before ordering a custom one....

And thanks, I appreciate you sharing your knowledge.
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Erik Buchholz




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 8:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, and Wes, that video was nice, but it does not describe the gripping of a Viking sword with its short grip and unique pommel designs.

I could not hear the video (I'm at work) but it also gave me the impression that the guy was advocating the use of one grip. When longsword fencing, I regularly change grips from a "hammer" to a "German" grip, where the German grip has the thumb along the fuller. This is especially useful for the Zwerchhau (see link). Notice his thumb position.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/Mastercuts/Zwerchhau2.jpg

Sorry if the audio in your link already described this. I had it on mute and had to watch in a tiny little window....
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Erik Buchholz wrote:
One dumb question - on the Viking sword that fits you best, regardless of the grip you like to use, does your whole hand fit in the grip between the pommel and quillons? Or is the grip just a little shorter than your fist as measured from pointer finger to pinky?


I approach Viking swords like I approach tulwars - my hand should fit snugly. So the guard and pommel should be tight against my hand in hammer grip; the grip should be a little shorter than my hand to get that tightness.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Greg Ballantyne




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PostPosted: Tue 09 Jul, 2013 4:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My Viking sword measures 4 1/4" grip length, and my open palm measures the same across. When I grip the sword with a "hammer" grip, my palm swells with the curvature and grip, resulting in the quite snug grip Timo mentions. I have a larger than average palm, and would also like to try a shorter gripped sword to see how that feels. I suspect that the 4 1/4" grip will suit me best however. The "handshake" grip places the pommel right on the bottom heel of my palm, not quite in my hand and yet not quite out of it.
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Erik Buchholz




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Jul, 2013 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the answers, Timo & Greg.
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Roland Warzecha





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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jan, 2014 12:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I fully agree with Peter.

I have worked with both medieval and Viking Age type swords for over a decade now, trying to reconstruct the according fighting arts. I have come to the insight that, not surprisingly, weapon design never was arbitrary.
Because there are underlying universal principles that make a martial art work and because these principles are based on anatomy and physics, the design of a sword holds clues regarding its use. Laws of physics and anatomy are absolutes and there is no point discussing them.

One of the essentials in close combat with bladed weapons is measure.
The truth is that the so-called hand-shake grip allows for exploiting maximum reach with a Viking sword while the hammer-grip does not. Only the former allows for making the blade a straight extension of the sword arm. The reach advantage compared to the so-called hammer grip is enormous. A Viking sword cuts effortlessly through appropriate practice targets if cast forward to maximum extension and then moving around the shoulder joint in an arc. And this is how swords should work: effortlessly.
Look at this photo: Ingo lets the blade fly forward to full extension, using the grip suggested by Peter. Note also that while accelerating the weapon, it looks like he is using a hammer-grip. This is the moment of a blow that we often see depicted in period art. But the decisive part is when you hit the target. It is amazing how little resistance is felt when you let the sword do its job in such a fashion.

Interestingly, this kind of blow is hardly possible with a different pommel design: disc or wheel pommels do not provide the same safe lock for ring finger and pinky that prevents the sword from slipping out off your hand. This is because they were designed and optimized for a different kind of combat that focuses on blade binds (as opposed to Viking combat being focused on shield binds, as I explain in this video). I will not touch upon the historical reasons for these developments but it is quite telling that the intermediate brazil nut pommel allows for both kinds of blows: The traditional cast blow with the sword forming a straight extension of the arm, as well as the medieval covering blow (schirmschlag) with the sword held at an angle, sword arm crossing the torso, in order to provide cover while striking. See an according period depiction of an extended blow with a brazil nut pommel sword here:


In this photo you can see Oliver executing an extended blow with a brazil nut pommel sword. Note the impressive reach.
Apparently, the extended blow was given up in the long run, because it does not provide cover. In blade-bind focused fencing, well documented by according treatises and which was to dominate the last centuries of European swordsmanship, covering blows were called for.
And combat requirements dictate design.

So the bottom line is that
a) Viking spatha type swords cut excellently at maximum reach applying the grip suggested by Peter
b) a combatant insisting on using a so-called hammer grip would willingly reduce weapon reach. So he would inevitably need to get closer to his opponent. Because distance and time are inextricably intertwined in swordsmanship, this means that he would be in reach later than an opponent wielding an extended blow using the hand-shake grip, which would put him at a tactical disadvantage from the start.
This does not make sense at all in martial arts and is likely to prove fatal. I doubt that this grip's proponents lived long enough to ever make it popular.

In fact, I believe that fully embracing a handle is inadequate not only to a sword, regardless of type, but to any tool. Does anybody of you hold a knife while slicing bread in such a fashion? Anyone holds a file this way? And do you really press a hammer handle into your palm consistently while using it? I doubt that any expert user, say, a smith or carpenter ever does this.
Fully embracing any handle deprives you of your fine motor skills and these are eminent in any craft if executed with skill.

Swords are about precision, not about force.
Otherwise the sword would have never been developed.
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Ian S LaSpina




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jan, 2014 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roland Warzecha wrote:


In fact, I believe that fully embracing a handle is inadequate not only to a sword, regardless of type, but to any tool. Does anybody of you hold a knife while slicing bread in such a fashion? Anyone holds a file this way? And do you really press a hammer handle into your palm consistently while using it? I doubt that any expert user, say, a smith or carpenter ever does this.
Fully embracing any handle deprives you of your fine motor skills and these are eminent in any craft if executed with skill.

Swords are about precision, not about force.
Otherwise the sword would have never been developed.


Roland, I greatly respect your opinion and forgive me for zeroing in on one aspect of your response here but I'm interested in your thoughts on this. I share the opinion that the handshake grip is the intended grip for the viking sword, but there's something I can't reconcile in my head. You point out that over-gripping the handle of anything, much less a sword, deprives you of your fine motor skills. However, it is widely accepted that during the stresses of actual combat, fine motor skills go out the window anyway, and gross motor skills are considerably more reliable.

If we accept that fine motor skills are in this case 'compromised' during any actual combat as it would be in a battle, then how do we reconcile this with a grip designed to take advantage of fine motor skills that may weaken the strength of your grip on a weapon? Is training alone sufficient to overcome the loss of fine motor control during the stresses of combat? Modern soldiers undergo considerable training, yet the phenomenon still exists. Thoughts?

A grip without full purchase on the hilt of the weapon could lead to other issues in combat besides the problems introduced by being unable to use subtle technique to your advantage. It doesn't matter how you grip the sword that just fell to the ground, wrenched from your hand in a melee as the result of a less complete grip.

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