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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 01 Apr, 2014 2:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is nothing short of incredible that this thread is so long lived and has seen so many posts!

If I´d known that I would have weighed the words in my initial post on a gold smith´s scale :-)

Now just please let me add a little more kindlings to this slow-to-die fire :-)

In the image below, the swordsman ( an allegorical depiction of Wrath in this case) pass the pommel into the heel of the hand *and* extends his index finger, while delivering a powerful blow to the head of his opponent.

Thanks to Matt Galas for making this image known to me!



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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Apr, 2014 10:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:

Why would one make practice swords with round grips?


To save labour, I suppose. Round grips can be directly turned on a lathe. Flattened grips could start that way too but would need extra work to shape them properly. I had the impression that the round-gripped swords were budget items with locally-made hilts (although the blades might have been imported).
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Wed 02 Apr, 2014 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:

Why would one make practice swords with round grips?


To save labour, I suppose. Round grips can be directly turned on a lathe. Flattened grips could start that way too but would need extra work to shape them properly. I had the impression that the round-gripped swords were budget items with locally-made hilts (although the blades might have been imported).


If they turned them on a lathe, they probably just drilled a hole for the tang. Unless they filled the inside with epoxy, that doesn't make for a very secure grip.

That kind of construction is standard on modern reproduction steel Han jian. The only original Han steel jian I've seen grips for had oval-section grips.

If you have a wood lathe, you probably have a good range of other tools. Doesn't take much to flatten a round grip core into an oval with a bench sander. Starting with two slabs and shaving off the corners (sander or plane) will also be quick. Where you will save lots of time is by drilling a hole for the tang. No need to split the core and glue back together, no opportunity to make the core fit the tang closely.

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 03 Apr, 2014 8:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I obviously didn't take the hilts apart but there was a little bit of play in some of those hilts. Now that I think of it, some of the tighter ones made wooden (not metallic) creaking sounds when swung, so maybe those hilts were shimmed to fit the tang.

On the other hand, I wouldn't know how hard or easy it would be to do a flattened grip in a machine shop. The only gripping work I've ever done was done manually with a knife, rasps, and sandpaper, and I whittled the oval cross-section straight out of a more-or-less rectangular slab. Took some hours but it wasn't inherently more difficult than shaving down the round handle of a wooden waster to an oval cross-section -- all it needed was some extra patience.

And I don't think I'd want to do single-sword work with rounded handles ever again!
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Apr, 2014 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Rounded grips are an anomaly that you see on modern low quality swords. You do not see that in original viking period or medieval sword grips, or hardly any other sword grips either for that matter (although there are some rare exceptions, like the Dao, for example). Perhaps you can find one or two swords with nearly round cross section in their grips, but if so, that is just the exception to the rule.

As you discovered there is a good reason for this. You will not be able to properly grip or wield the sword if it has a grip with round cross section.
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Lancelot Chan
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Apr, 2014 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

FYI, Burmese Dha and Thai Daab were of round grips, traditionally too. There were some Chinese swords that were made that way also.
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Sean Brown




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Sep, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This may have already been mentioned, but I was reading through R. Ewart Oakeshott's The Archaeology of Weapons and was reminded of this thread. Given the wealth of martial documentation we have uncovered (rediscovered?) about European fighting methods of the Middle Ages, I also always wondered about the historical veracity of the grip, so it popped into my mind as soon as I saw the diagrams in Oakeshott and I figured that my reading would be interesting to readers and practitioners on this thread.

I haven't read through all pages of this thread in the lifetime it has been here but I did chime in at one point. And there was considerable debate about the appropriateness and some conversation about the historical accuracy of the grip (this may have been cleared up but, again, I haven't read through every page).

Oakeshott references the Psalterium Aureum (Golden Psalter of St. Gall), specifically Codex Perzoni. It was a manuscript written sometime before and around 883 AD (Viking-era time period). It depicts what we called the "handshake" grip with a Viking-style sword, with the fingers firm and the pommel of the sword fitting into heel of the hand.

Of interest, Oakeshott's depiction (pg. 172, Archaeology of Weapons) also shows a variation of our "handshake" grip with the pointer-finger over the guard. Oakeshott shows another variation with the little finger over the pommel, presumably because, as Oakeshott states, "...a man with large hands would have to have one finger outside the grip itself, for generally [the grip] is too short... to accommodate four large fingers." (Oakeshott's words, not the Psalterium Aureum's).

So, it seems that this grip is not only historical but also understood by chroniclers and fighters of the Viking era using Viking-styled swords.

As to the effectiveness of the grip, the proper employ of the weapon with said grip, and possible uses of the grip, I do not know if records attest to that. I suppose that is a question and experience for the martial artist and the student of historical European fighting styles (I, myself, have no experience with historical European styles).

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Mike Ruhala




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PostPosted: Wed 24 Sep, 2014 11:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's actually pretty fascinating in that regard. Individual styles will favor certain tactics, techniques and weapon configurations, terminology and organization of information can vary but on the whole it's remarkably consistent from the time of the gaddhjalt to today. Things become less clear before the gaddhjalt but there's still some obvious connections, like the way a center gripped shield plugs into KDF arming sword/messer.
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Mike Stillwell




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PostPosted: Thu 02 Jul, 2015 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if the issue is not so much that of which grip to adopt as how to make the cut?

The short hilts of Indian swords such as tulwar were referred to some pages back. If the Vikings had a similar approach to sword use to Indian swordsmen, it may be they used the back muscles rather than wrist and arm to power the cut. If so, then an arm kept bent at 90 degrees and a wrist swivelled and not bent would not only give powerful circular cuts but require a short confining hilt to make those cuts. Certainly the feats achieved in the Norse sagas and from period accounts of Indian swordsmanship seem comparable.

This presupposes that the Vikings had a quite different approach to sword use than we do. However, If Viking sword hilts were the best possible design for the sword style used, and we find it difficult to agree on how to use that design, then I think we need to consider as one logical possibility that their whole approach to making cuts was essentially different from our own.

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Augusto Boer Bront
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jul, 2015 3:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

These two video might be of help.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrzOHN2rzE8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KOIzQI999w

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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Jul, 2015 5:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Stillwell wrote:
I wonder if the issue is not so much that of which grip to adopt as how to make the cut?

The short hilts of Indian swords such as tulwar were referred to some pages back. If the Vikings had a similar approach to sword use to Indian swordsmen, it may be they used the back muscles rather than wrist and arm to power the cut. If so, then an arm kept bent at 90 degrees and a wrist swivelled and not bent would not only give powerful circular cuts but require a short confining hilt to make those cuts. Certainly the feats achieved in the Norse sagas and from period accounts of Indian swordsmanship seem comparable.



That means that they used their whole body and not just their arms. Sounds logical to me. After all they were also farmers. Just try loading hay on a wagon for a whole day, only using your arms.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Jul, 2015 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Even with the "handshake"grip, most of the power for the cut doesn't come from the wrist or the arms -- it comes all the way from the body core, and the hand and arm are mostly there to direct the sword and stabilise the edge alignment through the cut. So power generation isn't really a major difference between the "handshake" and "hammer" grips.
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Gabriel Winner




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Aug, 2015 10:50 pm    Post subject: question         Reply with quote

Is there a best book for the use of viking swords sheild and the mighty viking axe?
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