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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 1:59 am    Post subject: Sword dents during fencing practice         Reply with quote

I'm new to medieval fencing.

After my first lesson with a steel sword I noticed that my humble practical knightly word by Hanwey did take some small dents, while I saw that my instructor blade (from a low level italian maker) looks more like an hacksaw than as a sword because of past dents.

At my school they are not aware of the better swordmakers, despite being rather good at teaching (I'm the only one on the right side of the digital divide).

I wonder wether buyng a better sword from swordmakers like deltin, albion or the like of it could save me from dents.

Also I would like to hear of some professional remedy.

I already have a balpeen hammer with a rear flat surface that I could use to planish out dents, a technique I suppose should be better than a simple filing, which would just eliminate ridges of metal leaving dents.

What I would really like to have would be a sword resistent to denting at least under normal conditions.
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Jonathan Blair




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 3:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Edge to edge strikes will always result in damage to each sword, which is why the flat was used to parry. Higher quality swords, such as from Del Tin or Albion, will stand up better on average than would other lower quality swords, but eventually striking edge to edge will leave even the best blade looking like a hacksaw. Instead, wasters (wooden swords) would be a safer and more economical suggestion for regular heavy sparring than steel. Otherwise, find swords designed as blunts, such as Albion's forthcoming Maestro line.
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 4:48 am    Post subject: alternative to steel for practice         Reply with quote

Jonathan Blair wrote:
Edge to edge strikes will always result in damage to each sword, which is why the flat was used to parry. Higher quality swords, such as from Del Tin or Albion, will stand up better on average than would other lower quality swords, but eventually striking edge to edge will leave even the best blade looking like a hacksaw. Instead, wasters (wooden swords) would be a safer and more economical suggestion for regular heavy sparring than steel. Otherwise, find swords designed as blunts, such as Albion's forthcoming Maestro line.

Our group has recently started using aluminum wasters. Ours are made by Charles Jevons of Swordcrafts and they are almost as pretty, flashy and sexy as steel. They also make a really cool chiming noise when they hit each other. Seriously, I like them as a useful training tool and alternative to steel. My steel swords are also pretty banged up, but then again they've probably seen more steel on steel action than some historical swords.

Pamela Muir

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"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 4:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Bruno,
(-Didn´t we meet in Haute Koeningsburg during the Compagnie of Saynte George event 1999? I was part of the Swedish group)

It is very much like Jonathan said: blunt steel swords used for practice will after a while show marks of use.
Swords specifically designed for blunt training will hold up better and provide a longer using life than badly made ones. The blade of a good training sword is made specifically for the purpose of training: it needs to be designed differently from the ground up. Just putting a blunt edge on a steel sword otherwise meant for sharp use will result in some kind of compormise that has more or less severe impact on safety, handling and interpretation of techniques.
A dedicated trainingsword will be safer (as the risk of catastrophic failiure (=breaking!) will be minimized) and also allow a proper interpretation of the techniques.

It is important to remember that regardless of the design of the sword part of the damage and wear will depend on how the sword is used. If heavy static blocking parries is the norm in training you will se much more damage on the swords. If glancing/deflecting parries are used the training tools will provide a much longer working life.
The nature of the sharp edge is often not properly incorporated in the study of historical fighting manuals. Often the training is limited to using wood wasters or blunt steel swords, while cutting exercise with sharp swords is neglected. The effect of the sharp edge is left to specualtion that results in over or under estimating the power, controll and dedication needed. Practitioners who has not experienced properly made sharp swords are usually surpriced when they first handle a good example. The result is often fundamental changes in the interpretation as the potential and limitations of a sharp sword becomes aparent. Some techniques will demand much less motion and effort, while other moves/interpretations show themselves to be less than practical or even obsolete/unpractical.

If the training with blunts cause excessive wear on the training swords, my guess is that there is some misunderstanding in the interpretations of the techniques used. Some minor damage will always be unavoidable, but techniques that in short order turn swords into sawblades would not be the way to use sharp weapons in the first place.
We must also understand that a sharp blade would suffer some damage during use. it is very common to see restored edges on ancient swords: small nicks and dings have been honed out and the sharpness restored, resulting in a slightly snaking outline. It would also not be uncommon to get a new sword after having survived intense finghting during a battle or desprerate skirmish. Not always of course as much damage can be restored as long as the blade does not break clean of or takes too dep nothches.

Sharp blades are fundamentally different from blunt training swords however. You do not want to replace your training tool after a period of intense training. (You will tend to train more often than you defend your life with a sharp sword in hand...)
I am presently working on the blades for the Albion Maestro line: the training swords. They will have a generous blunt edge and deep fullers to combine structural strength and agility. They are constructed fundamentally different from sharp swords because they will have to face much harsher conditions than any sharp sword would. Mounting of hilt, design of fullers, shaping of distal taper and profile outline is different from that of a sharp sword: all this to allow the blunt to come close as possible to a sharp sword in handling and responsiveness, without having to undershoot the weight too much (It is always possible to make a training sword lighter or smaller than the sharp counterpart, but that will have rather severe effects on interpretations of the techniques, just like working with a overly heavy or badly balanced sword will be detrimental to the interpretation).
The intention is that these trainingswords shall survive even some abuse without showing much damage. Normal sensible use should leave them with very few marks at all.

To make a low cost training sword last longer (and provide safety), two things are important:
-Avoid static blocking. Use glancing parries as much as possible (that would have been the typical way to use a sharp sword as well).
-Remove dings and marks with a file, not a hammer. Small nothches from training are less damaging than coldworking the blade with a hammer. If you hammer the notches out there is high risk of micro fractures that can make the blade snap clean off during swordplay. The broken peice can cause ugly damage to yourself or your partner.
Try instead to file the notches down and work the surface smooth.
Notches from swordplay are also results of structural damage. It is impossible to know how severe this damage is untill you get the final break. Usually there is no real reason for concern, but it is good to be aware of this fact. Hard play and severe blocking will increase the risk of catastrophical failiure. A heavily damaged blade should perhaps get an honorable discharge and be replaced with a new and safe sword. Training with cheap swords is therefor expensive as they need to be replaced more frequently.
Regardless if you are using blunt or sharp swords in your training, try to foster an attitude like that a craftsman has to his tools: try to be mindfull of the best way to apply the tool and you will work quicker, safer and more efficient. The tool will also last much longer. Even the best tools get blunt or nicked after some time, but you can restore them as long as you do not abuse them. The same applies to swords, both sharp and blunt.
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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It sounds like you may have some hard edge blocks contributing to the damage. As Peter said, this is better to be avoided. Edge to edge hits are acceptable as long as you close in and accept them close to the hilt. This way your blade will not absorb the full energy of the oncoming blow. Using your edge to set aside his blow is fine but best done along the flat of his blade. Proper technique will naturally help you avoid unwanted edge trauma but it can happen. We see examples of blade failure in period artwork. I've been using steel blunts and neither of them has suffered severe edge damage until I let other people use them. Mad
Gary Grzybek
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R Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Blair wrote:
Edge to edge strikes will always result in damage to each sword, which is why the flat was used to parry. Higher quality swords, such as from Del Tin or Albion, will stand up better on average than would other lower quality swords, but eventually striking edge to edge will leave even the best blade looking like a hacksaw. Instead, wasters (wooden swords) would be a safer and more economical suggestion for regular heavy sparring than steel. Otherwise, find swords designed as blunts, such as Albion's forthcoming Maestro line.


90 degree edge to edge contact is to be avoided but most treatise that I am familiar with use more of a 45 degree contact rather then a 90 degree static parry. The flat of the blade is not very strong against an incoming edge. Easy enough to test this out.

"Those with wisdom loathe the one forced to defend." - Liechtenauer

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Gary Grzybek




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

R Smith wrote:
Jonathan Blair wrote:
Edge to edge strikes will always result in damage to each sword, which is why the flat was used to parry. Higher quality swords, such as from Del Tin or Albion, will stand up better on average than would other lower quality swords, but eventually striking edge to edge will leave even the best blade looking like a hacksaw. Instead, wasters (wooden swords) would be a safer and more economical suggestion for regular heavy sparring than steel. Otherwise, find swords designed as blunts, such as Albion's forthcoming Maestro line.


90 degree edge to edge contact is to be avoided but most treatise that I am familiar with use more of a 45 degree contact rather then a 90 degree static parry. The flat of the blade is not very strong against an incoming edge. Easy enough to test this out.



I think the flat of the blade is plenty strong if by the same rule, not to be used in a static manner. I test this constantly with successful results.

Gary Grzybek
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just an example of what edge damage can look like.
The sword is from around 1500.
The blade is thin and flexible. Thickness behind edge is about wht you get on a typical vegetable knife. Last sharpening of edge angle is less acute than on such a knife though.
Still there is not much material.
Damage is small and shows cuts into the blade at a sloping angle of around 60 degrees lengthwise to the blade. On both sides of this cut the edge is flaked away diagonally towards each side.

This tells us that the sword met an incoming blade in a glancing, slanting parry. No static block. That would have produced a much deeper cut.

Hope you can see these details in the photo:



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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
Just an example of what edge damage can look like.
The sword is from around 1500.
The blade is thin and flexible. Thickness behind edge is about wht you get on a typical vegetable knife. Last sharpening of edge angle is less acute than on such a knife though.
Still there is not much material.
Damage is small and shows cuts into the blade at a sloping angle of around 60 degrees lengthwise to the blade. On both sides of this cut the edge is flaked away diagonally towards each side.

This tells us that the sword met an incoming blade in a glancing, slanting parry. No static block. That would have produced a much deeper cut.

Hope you can see these details in the photo:


Hi Peter,

Thank you for posting that photo. It almost makes me feel better about some of the damage that has been inflicted on my swords. Certainly my parries would not be the same quality as that of a swordsman whose life depending on his parries, Happy but the damage looks quite similar. Do you think those nicks were from one fight or several? You mentioned the "last sharpening", could there have been more damage that was removed during a previous sharpening?

Thanks.

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Note:
To get an idea of the amount of damge: the deepest nicks are not much more than 1,5 mm deep.
A sharp edge is *much* more fragile than a blunt edge on a training sword.

For contemporary swordsmen this can still be something to help create a perspective of the strength of the sharp edge: A swordfight *will* damage a sharp blade to some degree. As with any tool you will have to do some resharpening and maintenance.
Even in ancient times you could make edges "stronger", but that would be to the price of cutting performance. Looking at authentic blades in god condition it is obvious they sought to create as sharp an edge as possible with reasonable durability.
Final sharpening angle will also depend on the overall thinness of the blades and typical resistance: large thin bladed warswords who will have to survive contact with arour can have narrow, rather blunt secondary bevels. Thick diamond sectioned blades can have an invisible trasition from main bevel down to cutting sharpness.
Light baldes that are not going to see contact with defensive armour are acute indeed: very much like very sharp knives.
To build sturdier blades types like XVII and XV were developed that had more meat behind the edge, but the final edge angle (the one that produces the sharpness, not the main bevel) was more or less the same.
That is what I mean with "the last sharpening": the final angle of sharpening that produces the cutting edge. It is normally a smooth curving transition from main bevel to acute sharpness.

Anyway, this was a deviation from the theme of the thread.

A blunt sword for training must obviously be built to take severe punishment, but should still be used keeping in mind how a sharp sword can and cannot be used. That is the focus for the traning after all, is it not?
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Jeffrey McClain




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 11:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Bruno

I read your post and I just wanted to tell you I feel your pain, being on two different fencing teams, one being a classical group which I train with small-sword and now swordcane. I have learn to use wood and aluminum training weapons whenever I can. I would say on average I go through at least a dozen epee and saber fencing blades a year. Albion is suppose to be coming out with a training smallsword some time this spring, which I plan on purchasing with great enthusiasum because I will no longer need to use my good custom small- swords for training.
Many of text that I have read make it pretty clean that most training was done with wooden weapons, swords are expensive now just like they where back then.


Lesson; " save the steel, exploit a tree "
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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 12:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, thank you for taking the time to respond. I always learn so much from your posts.
Pamela Muir

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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 4:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This has been done to death. Please take a look at this topic http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2384&highlight= Here is the text of one of my posts in that topic.

"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[/url]

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Amen, Stephen.
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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

After reading Stephens post I feel I need to qualify my previous answers somewhat.
The topic of parry is a very worn one, but as with the nature of the sharp edge it seems it can never be exhausted...

I very much agree that we need to aproach the material with an open mind to get closer to a good interpretation.

Damage seen on surving blades is commonly of the type I showed above. You do find other types of damage as well.
There are those notches that are small triangular chips that has been struck out f the edge. To me that is the mark of a parry between blades that has met at a blunter angle and perhaps with more of a blocking effect. This kind of damage can be deeper than the slanting cuts, but is often surpricingly shallow.
It is easier to see this type of damage on later era swords (16th C and onwards: thin bladed C&T swords). That might mean something, but could just be a freak effect of the nature of surviving material.

You also see more dramatical damage like small hungry semicircular bites being taken away from the blade. These can be half a cm deep or more. To me that could be the effect of a sword hitting a ridge in armour or some other hard solid object (a poelarm perhaps?). This type of damage can be so severe as to make the sword blade in need of replacement. This damage is more rare to see. Perhaps that is because of blades thus damaged were quickly replaced? It could also mean that this type of damage was not very common. It is impossible to say.

I will maintain however, that a hard static block at right angles across the edge will risk rather deep nicks in the opposing swords. I do not mean to say such an action will make the blades break in that instant, or that this was not done. The result will naturally vary with different types of swords. If lighter blades meet the effect can be less severe.Those swords with sturdier geometry will also not suffer as much damage if they oppose a blade with thinner section. Naturally it is impossible to say just how damaging the effect is. There are so many variables. It might just be good to point out that an interpretation that makes use of mostly static blocks is not probably very realistic. I made this point as Bruno remarked that his teacher´s sword looked like a saw blade.
Based on what I´ve seen of damage in surviving swords it seems to me that the most common way to oppose an incoming attack with your own sword was a deflecting countercut at a slanting angle (in those instances when the blades actually did meet, that is). That type of damage in the edge is very common.
I have not made statisics of this, so what I say is not scientific. Only a testimony of my impression.

I gree that you will oppose an incoming sword in just about any way you can. I also think that training and techniques will favour and develop those methods that are most effective and least detrimental (applies to both swords and the swordsman) but that in the actual fight you might do something other than what you trained for (perhaps run away?Big Grin).

This thing with parries, damage of blades and resiliency and performance of the sharp edge is surrounded with much speculation and misunderstanding.
Imagine some reenactors and scholars in the distant future that tires to form an idea about the 20th C car.
They might debate how we dealt with empty fuel tanks, deflated tyres and what the cost of a car and its maintenance could mean for a normal 20th C person. Some might argue that cars were only owned by banks or representatives of big corporations and were not really available to the common man. Some might come to the conclusion that cars really meant for driving had solid rubber wheels and run on solar power (even if proof for that is lacking in the material as those cars were probably used till they were scrap).
To us there is no mystery, but remove the car from its time and place and it becomes difficult to understand.

I never intended to make out that parrying or the crossing of blades always happens in one single way. Instead I very much agree with what Stephen says.
I´d like to stress the need to qualify the results of practical study & analysis of old manuals with a cross reference to surving swords. Not all damaged swords has survived. We can never get a complete picture from just looking at the swords, but neither can we get a realistic idea by doing practical training based on written material alone. We must combine all our available sources.
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Martin Wallgren




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 12:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter Johnsson wrote:
We can never get a complete picture from just looking at the swords, but neither can we get a realistic idea by doing practical training based on written material alone. We must combine all our available sources.


So very true!

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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 12:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, the tire/car analogy is excellent.
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Bruno Giordan





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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you everybody for your competent advice.
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Shawn Shaw




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PostPosted: Thu 12 Jan, 2006 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Starfire forges makes a good sword that I believe is used by many re-enactors at Rennfaires and the like. The downside is they're a bit generic historically but they're pretty darn tough and they have nice thick edges on them-ideal for beating the bejeezus out of. Plus, they're relatively inexpensive, so even if you destroy one (which I'm told is nearly impossible) it won't be nearly so heart/bank breaking to replace as one of the new Albions or something similar.

Plus, since they're real steel, you get the weight and "feel" of steel, rather than aluminum or wood.

Their website:
http://www.starfireswords.com/
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