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Randall Pleasant




Location: Flower Mound, Texas
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PostPosted: Mon 11 Dec, 2006 10:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen

It is always a pleasure but you do seem a little tense in your post. This has been a friendly discussion, let us keep it that way. I don't think anyone has been fixed on anything, nor was anyone accusing anyone else of anything. This is the myArmoury fourm, not SFI, so lighten up a little.

What I have been suggesting is that we do need to make a clear distinction between the two types of swords being discussed. If you want to call them all "rapiers" then I'll say fine but you still need to make the distinction between the two types of rapiers. The scholarship of any interpretation that does not make the distinction cannot help but suffer.

So as to not confuse you I will try to remember to use the term "thrust & cut" for swords that both thrust well and cut well.


Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
...I'm in two minds about Tom's definition because it sets out with the admirable goal of removing the artificial distinction between rapiers and side-swords/"cut-and-thrust" swords...

But is how well they cut an artificial distinction? Did soliders carry side-swords into battle? Did soliders carry narrow bladed rapiers into battle? Should we overlook the distinction shown in the test cutting at the following link?

http://www.thearma.org/Videos/NTCvids/testing...erials.htm

I can easily perform the techniques of both Fiore and Ringeck with either a type XIIa great sword and a type XVa bastard sword. However, I do recognize the clear distinction between type XIIa and type XVa swords. Should I not likewise recognize the clear distinction between a narrow bladed rapier and a "thrust & cut" sword?


Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
...but in the process it makes the definition so broad as to become nearly useless because it would practically include almost all straight-bladed Renaissance one-handed swords.

I fully agree.

Bill Grandy wrote:
By going on what the historical masters said, not by making up our minds first and putting that filter over the historical masters' words.

Question I didn't say anything about not following the teachings of the historical masters. Question
For what I say and think please read my post, only I speaks for himself.Wink

Bill Grandy wrote:
Again, I'm agreeing that having a modern system of classification is a welcome thing. But I'm also not buying into the idea that we should be altering the historical meaning of words: That's historically irresponsible. And yes, giving the term "rapier" a definition that is comfortable to you, but not making the concession that this is a modern definition, is altering the historical meaning.

But that is what Tom did in his article. Read Lafayette's post.

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PostPosted: Mon 11 Dec, 2006 10:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
It is always a pleasure but you do seem a little tense in your post. This has been a friendly discussion, let us keep it that way. I don't think anyone has been fixed on anything, nor was anyone accusing anyone else of anything. This is the myArmoury fourm, not SFI, so lighten up a little.


Randall: Do not tell other members of this site to lighten up. It is not your position to moderate the behavior of others. Do not bring up the politics found on other sites. I will not tolerate it. Please feel free to comment on other's opinions or even their actions, but do not, under any circumstance, attempt to dictate their behavior. If you have a problem with something another says, take it to me or a moderator. Should you have any further comments or questions on this issue, contact me directly rather than posting here.


To everybody else in this topic: Make certain that the topic of the conversation is discussed professionally and without personal attacks of any kind. Such things would be completely out of bounds.


Thank you.

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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 3:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
What I have been suggesting is that we do need to make a clear distinction between the two types of swords being discussed. If you want to call them all "rapiers" then I'll say fine but you still need to make the distinction between the two types of rapiers. The scholarship of any interpretation that does not make the distinction cannot help but suffer.


That is not at all what you suggested in your earlier post where you wrote, "The foundation of all sciences is a good clean system of classification of the phenomenon being studied. By extending the narrow English definition of "rapier" to include almost all one handed swords of the Renaissance period it appears that Toms article is an attempt to do the opposite for the modern science of defense."

The whole basis of Tom's essay and of Bill and my posts is that the word rapier included a number of different types of sword, just as the word longsword did. That's the way weapons classifications used over hundreds of years work. A flintlock Baker Rifle, a Lee Enfield an AK 47 and many types of cannon and tank guns have all been called rifles. No one is suggesting that they're the same or that it isn't useful to classify such weapons separately into, for example, flintlock rifles, bolt action rifles, assault rifles and rifled cannon. While there may have been narrow definitions of the word rapier at specific places and times, it is clear that these definitions changed with time and place. The word rapier was used, like the term rifle, not to refer to a specific weapon, but rather, to refer to the particular iteration of the weapon "rapier" that was in vogue at that particular time.

What Tom, Bill and I are saying is that any modern classification needs to overlay, not to replace historical terminology. You have argued against this, stating, "For those swords that are not covered by the English definition of rapier why not used the terms already used by many scholars in the field today, such as "side sword" or "cut & thrust"? Both of these terms allow scholars to more clearly understand the type of sword being discussed." Despite your claim that "Although Toms is using the historical term “rapier” he is doing so in a non-historical manner", you are the one recommending the use of terms that were not used historically, to replace, not simply to add to or overlay the historical blanket term rapier. It is a little too late to do an 180 degree about face and pretend you were on our side all along.

In order to create a useful modern terminology we need to throw away any modern classification that calls something our ancestors called a rapier, something other than a rapier. We need to start with what our ancestors called the weapons; rapiers, and we need to classify the various sub categories of rapiers, accepting that what Paulus Hector Mair called a rapier in 1542 is not what Swetnam called a rapier in 1617 (no more than Sharpe's Baker Rifle is an AK47). Exactly what form such a classification might take is uncertain, but I would suggest something akin to Oakeshott's classification of medieval sword blades rather than an attempt to create names. Exactly how many categories of rapier we agree to recognise is also open to discussion. Research in one of my upcoming publications suggests that there are indeed two broad categories of rapier, conforming roughly to the modern Italian curatorial distinction of spada da lato and spada a striscia. However, while the early rapiers form a distinct population to the later rapiers, it is very far from a homogenous population. Even the supposedly homogenous later rapiers can be separated into different populations. My colleague Paul Wagner has shown that there are four distinct populations of rapier in a sizeable sample taken from literature and personal measurement.

This is an area of study where we desperately need to escape from generations of modern classification that ignored what was historically called a rapier. Tom has made a start at trying to strip away some of the myths and misconceptions. He is to be praised for the contribution he has made to our understanding of rapier and rapier fencing.

Cheers

Stephen Hand
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Kyro R. Lantsberger





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 6:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really like the initial points that Bill and Tom have made on this forum and others regarding the issues of definition of rapier.

I particularly like the video example of using an I33 sword used for Italian technique. Ive done similar experiment with Chinese Jian, but never had the courage to bring it to a public forum.

This has been one of the most interesting topics discussed in the WMA/historical weaponry community for months. Regardless of other opinions, it should be clear to all that the term Rapier as we use it now is vague ---describing a number of weapons used over centuries across many different countries. There does need to be some sort of precision brought into this from an academic standpoint.
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In spite of some rough spots this has been an excellent thread. It should probably be a spotlight topic.
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Shamsi Modarai




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 8:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
.....accepting that what Paulus Hector Mair called a rapier in 1542 is not what Swetnam called a rapier in 1617 (no more than Sharpe's Baker Rifle is an AK47).


Tee heee. Now I'm imagining Sharpe with an AK47..... Laughing Out Loud



(Sorry, I have nothing else of import to contribute to this converstation......though I agree, it is an excellent topic.)

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
In spite of some rough spots this has been an excellent thread. It should probably be a spotlight topic.


There's always the link at the top to record your spotlight topic nomination... Happy

Happy

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 9:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Frankly, I agree with the idea of establishing an ahistorical but consistent classification of numbered blade-forms--preferably extending Oakeshott's classification further into the twenties. I guess we can probably get somewhere between eight and twelve new categories, although it will be years before we can be really sure of that.
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Michael Olsen





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 10:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just a thought, something to throw out there:

I also agree with the need of an Oakeshott/Peterson-esque typology for rapiers. However, it may be fitting to include some standardized measure of a specific blades types cutting ability, as that appears to be of issue not only here but essentially everywhere the issue of training or practicing with a rapier comes up.

Of course, the issue with this is at least four-fold, removing the element of cost entirely. First, a suitable 'standard' material must be found. Should we test on a totally artificial element such as foam blocks, or try to find a material more representative of actual human flesh? Second, I'm sure most museums wouldn't be too fond of people actually using their weapons to cut on things. Thirdly, the cuts have to be repeatable and I see this as two issues within itself. Cutting: should all the cuts with every rapier be done at the same angle with the same portion of the blade with the same force? Or should the 'best cut' from each type of sword be taken, taking into account physical differences in properties between the blade and edge geometries. Human influence: how much statistical variation is there in human cutting ability? How far does edge alignment differ from optimal between cuts? Is it possible to built a suitable 'cutting' machine that still provides the same motion as a human cut? Lastly, we would have to insure that what evidence we have is not circumstantial: can we be certain that the cutting properties of the sample selection of type "Y" blades would more or less represent the cutting properties of all rapiers with that blade type?

I suppose it is nice to dream and hope that all my questions could be answered and that something like this could some day come to fruition. For the time being, however, I'm not a huge fan of the way that article broadened the definition, as others have pointed out, almost to the point of uselessness. I believe that the only true solace we will find in the categorization and discussion of rapiers will come through meticulous specificity so discussion is understood in context and without misconception.

Quote:
I defy anyone to get hit in the head with three pounds of steel and be in any fit state to continue fighting.

I'm not so certain that such a feat is impossible. To support this argument I present a portion of the 'Private Duels' section from the Arte of Defense, William E. Wilson 2003. The text provides example of a "duel of fighting seconds" and shows that even disfiguring wounds to the head are not totally debilitating and not always lethal instantly, nor in the following days. "Schomberg cut off half of Livarot's cheeck, but Livarot ran him through, killing him on the spot." The text continues detailing the fate of others involved, before arriving at Livarot's own continuation: "Livarot, horribly disfigured, was no longer of interest to the King (Livarot was the second to Quelus, who died a month later from multiple dagger wounds sustained in the same fight - his attacker, d'Entragues, fled france with "only a scratch on his arm"). He was killed in a duel over a woman two years later" (likely due to fault of not providing his own second, as cited in the text) (pp 11-12).

Here, the man was hit in the head with a rapier sufficiently to remove a considerable portion of his face. He was capable of continuing and winning the duel, and survived the wound entirely, save his physical appearance. That is not to say that other wounds to the head could take someone out of a fight, but rather to show that it is at least possible for a face hit to be less that instantly debilitating.
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Eric Allen




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 12:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Olsen wrote:

Here, the man was hit in the head with a rapier sufficiently to remove a considerable portion of his face. He was capable of continuing and winning the duel, and survived the wound entirely, save his physical appearance. That is not to say that other wounds to the head could take someone out of a fight, but rather to show that it is at least possible for a face hit to be less that instantly debilitating.


This is something I would like to reiterte as well.

I think very few of the "rapiers aren't good cutters" crowd would say that "rapiers cannot cut whatsoever-at-all-period-the-end."

What they (we?) are getting at is that many of the weapons we call "rapiers" generally do not deal the immediately incapacitating, often quickly leathal cuts characteristic of more cut-oriented swords.

Without a doubt, some "rapiers," particularly those with slightly wider blades, could break the skin and cause bleeding and much pain. But would such a strike alone kill a man? Perhaps. Depending on where it hits and how deep it cuts.

However, other rapiers, particularly late-model rapiers like the antique shown in the videos Randall linked to, I think its doubtful a cut with the edge would break the skin, and a slash with the tip, though it very well may bleed, would be unlikely to be lethal or immediately debilitating.

Even John Clements, admittedly a vehmnent member of the rapiers-are-not-cutters camp, I don't think I've ever heard him say that rapiers absolutely cannot cut, but I HAVE heard him state that cuts delivered from most "true rapiers" (his words) are unlikely to be immediate fight-enders, but certainly can be used for harassment or wearing down your opponent.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Pleasant wrote:
But is how well they cut an artificial distinction?


That's twisting the arguement to make it seem like you're right, Randal, when in fact that isn't what we're talking about. The arguement is not about how well some swords can cut. I think we can all agree that some blades are designed to cut better than others. Heck, there are some Oakeshott XVa blades that are quite sharp and do not have fairly fragile tips, and there are some that are almost unsharpened with thick, reinforced tips. But they are still both part of the XVa classification.

The arguement is that the word rapier is used incorrectly by most modern people. If you say that a rapier does not cut well, then you are ignoring the fact that many swords, which were referred to as rapiers in period, can in fact cut quite well. You're right, many don't cut well at all. But that doesn't change the fact that the word "rapier" is historically used in a much broader sense than what you're using it for.

Quote:
Did soliders carry side-swords into battle? Did soliders carry narrow bladed rapiers into battle?


Yes. They did both.

Quote:
Should we overlook the distinction shown in the test cutting at the following link?

http://www.thearma.org/Videos/NTCvids/testing...erials.htm


That video, while interesting, only shows that the particular sword being used in the video is not an ideal cutter. No one would disagree with that. And that has nothing to do with the arguement. It's only gathering evidence for a straw man arguement.

Quote:
I can easily perform the techniques of both Fiore and Ringeck with either a type XIIa great sword and a type XVa bastard sword. However, I do recognize the clear distinction between type XIIa and type XVa swords. Should I not likewise recognize the clear distinction between a narrow bladed rapier and a "thrust & cut" sword?


Again, I'm not disagreeing here. But if you tell me that historically these were considered two completely different swords, then yes, I am disagreeing with you based on historical evidence. If you are telling me that you can't use the more cut oriented sword with later "rapier" techniques, then yes, I'm still disagreeing with you based on historical evidence. If you are telling me that the narrow bladed rapier is useless for earlier "rapier" techniques, then yes, I'm still disagreeing with you, based on historical evidence.

Now, if you can provide historical evidence on the contrary, I'll be happy to redefine my idea of the historical usage of the word "rapier". Until that time, I'm going to accept that the word is much broader than what is commonly said about the term.

Quote:
Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
...but in the process it makes the definition so broad as to become nearly useless because it would practically include almost all straight-bladed Renaissance one-handed swords.

I fully agree.


But the article is making a case for the definition using HISTORICAL evidence. I can divide the swords into the categories called Larry, Curly and Moe. That doesn't mean people in history named them as such. If we want to use modern definitions, fine, but we need to make the distinction that they are MODERN definitions.

Quote:
Bill Grandy wrote:
By going on what the historical masters said, not by making up our minds first and putting that filter over the historical masters' words.

Question I didn't say anything about not following the teachings of the historical masters. Question
For what I say and think please read my post, only I speaks for himself.Wink


Randall, that's twisting my words to make it look like you're being accused. I never said that you were not following the teachings of historical masters. You have repeatedly said that there are "Cut and Thrust Swords" and there are "Rapiers", and that these are different swords. Since this is a distinction made by the modern mind, not the historical one, that would qualify it as a modern preconception. Then you said, "How else are we to make useful interpretations of the historical masters?" And I answered that we can't make up our minds with modern preconceptions and then force our preconceptions onto the words of the masters. We need to study the words of the historical masters in their historical context, otherwise we twist the meaning.

Quote:
Bill Grandy wrote:
Again, I'm agreeing that having a modern system of classification is a welcome thing. But I'm also not buying into the idea that we should be altering the historical meaning of words: That's historically irresponsible. And yes, giving the term "rapier" a definition that is comfortable to you, but not making the concession that this is a modern definition, is altering the historical meaning.

But that is what Tom did in his article. Read Lafayette's post.


No, it isn't. Read Tom's article. It's saying that the acceptance of the MODERN definition is twisting what the word meant historically. Do you disagree?

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."


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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric Allen wrote:
What they (we?) are getting at is that many of the weapons we call "rapiers" generally do not deal the immediately incapacitating, often quickly leathal cuts characteristic of more cut-oriented swords.

Without a doubt, some "rapiers," particularly those with slightly wider blades, could break the skin and cause bleeding and much pain. But would such a strike alone kill a man? Perhaps. Depending on where it hits and how deep it cuts.

However, other rapiers, particularly late-model rapiers like the antique shown in the videos Randall linked to, I think its doubtful a cut with the edge would break the skin, and a slash with the tip, though it very well may bleed, would be unlikely to be lethal or immediately debilitating.

Even John Clements, admittedly a vehmnent member of the rapiers-are-not-cutters camp, I don't think I've ever heard him say that rapiers absolutely cannot cut, but I HAVE heard him state that cuts delivered from most "true rapiers" (his words) are unlikely to be immediate fight-enders, but certainly can be used for harassment or wearing down your opponent.


But Eric, all of what you are saying is true IF (with a huge emphasis on the IF) we assume that the word rapier means a sword that is meant for thrusting with limited cutting ability. And sometimes that's true. But there are so many rapiers swords that CAN cut quite well that would have historically been called rapiers. The weapon Joachim Meyer called a rapier in his fencing treatise is not the long slender sword in Randall's video. It is used for broad cutting motions at least as often as the thrust, if not more often. Should we say that Meyer didn't know what he was talking about? Of course not. We should realize that he, a HISTORICAL master, is using the term rapier in a way that doesn't fit our modern preconception. Which means that WE, the modern people, should reevaluate our preconceptions instead of tightly clinging onto our paradigms. I could give other forms of evidence, but Tom did the hard work for me already in his article.

I myself have defined the rapier in the past as a thrusting sword with limited capabilities. Heck, I wrote an article on this very site about Italian rapier usage that uses such a definition. But that was based on modern knowledge that, at the time, was considered correct. Just like in any field of research, newer evidence comes along, and we have to be willing to redefine our old ways of thinking based on the evidence.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 1:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here is a quote from the introduction of the article. The bolded words are my own emphasis:

Quote:
What I did not like about the commonly-heard definitions of a rapier as a "long, thin-bladed weapon," or "a weapon optimized for the thrust" or "a civilian weapon" (or any combination thereof) is that these definitions do not describe the genus "rapier." Rather, they are merely accidents that can be predicated about some sub-species of the weapon. And as such, they are fallacious definitions.


Note that here we are looking at the word rapier to denote a family of swords. Now lets look take a step back to look at a different example, the "saber".

What is a saber? Is a saber curved? Is a saber primarily a slashing weapon? Is the saber a poor thrusting weaon? Is the saber one handed? The answer, as with the rapier, is that it depends on the individual piece. Some sabers are excellent thusting weapons. Others are not at all. Some sabers are straight. Some curved. So, am I being unscientific to say that the word saber encompases many styles of blades? Is the word saber a useless definition? Of course not. So I don't see what the big deal is here in admitting that the word rapier is just as broad a term.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."


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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 1:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Olsen wrote:
Just a thought, something to throw out there:

I also agree with the need of an Oakeshott/Peterson-esque typology for rapiers. However, it may be fitting to include some standardized measure of a specific blades types cutting ability, as that appears to be of issue not only here but essentially everywhere the issue of training or practicing with a rapier comes up.


I don't think such a measure will ever be found, for all the reasons you have cited in the rest of your post. Not only are there too many parameters, but they vary greatly... It would not be meaningful to compare a standardized cut (same motion, same angle, same speed, same target) as swords are not all meant to cut the same way. But even comparing the best cut is greatly subjective. What is best? Deepest cut? Quickest cut? Cut where you don't expose yourself? The only answer is: it depends. It depends on the situation, on the objective, on the opponents' armour.

Note that even for "pure" cutting swords, no one as far as I know has ever come up with such an universal test of cutting ability. I would think it's more difficult to make such a test for more polyvalent swords.

And of course it's not something you will be able to do on museum pieces. The risk of damaging would be too great, especially since some swords may not be in perfect condition. A failed cut is also possible even if you are a trained swordman, when you use a sword for the first time.

I think the balance of the swords is more significant to assess their ability of being used in cutting. And in which kind of cutting. Balance can be measured without any risk of damaging the weapon. It gives insight on how the weapon moves, and not only on how it impacts. For those wondering, yes, I'm obsessed with the subject of the balance of weapons :-)

Michael Olsen wrote:
Here, the man was hit in the head with a rapier sufficiently to remove a considerable portion of his face. He was capable of continuing and winning the duel, and survived the wound entirely, save his physical appearance. That is not to say that other wounds to the head could take someone out of a fight, but rather to show that it is at least possible for a face hit to be less that instantly debilitating.


Interesting story but there are surely the same kind of stories for warrior of all times. Surviving wounds from cutting swords must have happened too... But that does not make them inefficient in the cut. I'd rather take that to mean that not all cuts are perfect...

On this whole subject of cutting ability, I wonder if one could make a parallel between cuts by rapiers and cuts by knifes. I'm not a knife-fighting expert either, but from the little I know cuts are a significant part of their use. Cuts by a knife will not cut a limb, but they are still deemed dangerous and efficient, aren't they?

Regards

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Vincent
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 1:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is always a danger when we use retrospective categorization of imposing OUR sense of order and with the entire period behind us we can see the whole picture ( At least what's left of the historical record. )

Someone in the 16th or 17th centuries would be at the beginning and middle of the rapier period and the use of the rapier and what was called a rapier would be what was commonly called and used as a rapier at that time even if inconsistent from our point of view and knowing later evolution of rapiers, small sword and the desire to keep definitions clear and neat.

In period, a rapier would be any sword that could be used with the current at the time rapier techniques and what would match a certain fashion style of hilt ( Function but fashion as well: A type XVa sword that might work with rapier techniques would just look wrong at court functions and would be called something else! )

Blade type would affect if a specific sword would be good or mediocre for cutting. What we could say is that not all rapiers could cut well but all rapiers could thrust well i.e. No type XIII rapiers. Razz Laughing Out Loud

If we compare rapiers to golf clubs: If every rapier is A golf club some are drivers ( good cutters ) and some are putters ( mediocre cutters ): All are golf clubs ( thrusters )

Anyway, my interpretation of what I think Bill is getting at an my summary of it IF I understood his point correctly: This is not my area of expertise so I could be completely wrong. Eek! Big Grin

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
If we compare rapiers to golf clubs: If every rapier is A golf club some are drivers ( good cutters ) and some are putters ( mediocre cutters ): All are golf clubs ( thrusters )


You know, Jean, that's really not a bad analogy at all...

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Michael Olsen





Joined: 28 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 4:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:


Michael Olsen wrote:
Here, the man was hit in the head with a rapier sufficiently to remove a considerable portion of his face. He was capable of continuing and winning the duel, and survived the wound entirely, save his physical appearance. That is not to say that other wounds to the head could take someone out of a fight, but rather to show that it is at least possible for a face hit to be less that instantly debilitating.


Interesting story but there are surely the same kind of stories for warrior of all times. Surviving wounds from cutting swords must have happened too... But that does not make them inefficient in the cut. I'd rather take that to mean that not all cuts are perfect...


Right. My reply was not to prove that it is impossible for rapiers to cut, or even that rapiers where inefficient in the cut. It was, however, to show that someone can get hit and even cut in the head, often deemed a particularly vulnerable and critical area, and continue to fight. I'll say this again too: it was one isolated instance. It is possible if not likely, it seems, that that a cut to the head on another occasion may have been enough to stop the fight.

And, undoubtedly, individuals were cut without ending a fight with cutting weapons such as the longsword. I believe this is treated as a "given" almost universally. That reason alone is a significant element in free-play or sparring: determining the difference between a 'killing blow', a 'debilitating blow', and a 'wounding blow' is necessary. The use of pressing cuts in the bind and slicing cuts make the situation even more complex. Test-cutting is done, at least partially, to help provide insight into what cut may have what affect.

Vincent Le Chevalier wrote:


On this whole subject of cutting ability, I wonder if one could make a parallel between cuts by rapiers and cuts by knifes. I'm not a knife-fighting expert either, but from the little I know cuts are a significant part of their use. Cuts by a knife will not cut a limb, but they are still deemed dangerous and efficient, aren't they?

Regards


From my understanding, most of the threat of knife fighting exists in getting "stabbed", not cut. In fact, I have spoken to a couple police offices and read from one SWAT member, and a Navy seal about knife fighting, and they all said essentially the same thing: In a knife fight, expect to get cut trying not to get stabbed. Much of what I've read from historical manuals and their modern interpretation backs the idea of the thrust as the preferred attack, showing the use of the thrust with daggers as the primary form of offense. (Given, these are rondels.) I believe the intent of this was much like that with some rapiers: while a cut can wound someone by slicing open a muscle, it is relatively ineffective at directly killing them unless it causes them to bleed out. Cuts could also serve as a definite wounding tool or distraction: after having their wrist slit open an opponent may not even be able to hold their weapon. A thrust, however, penetrates much deeper wounding organs and, as stated in the OP article, is the preferred method of causing death.

So yes, I'd say a parallel exists between knives and rapiers (assuming the broadest definition) in that both could be cutting weapons, but their value as a thrusting weapon overshadows the cut.
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Martin Wilkinson





Joined: 05 Mar 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 4:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can i just ask a question, having not read the articles yet, they're by my bed for reading tonight, instead of going by the blade, is sword type actually defined by it's hilt?

By this i mean, a basket hilt is a basket hilt because of it's hilt, a longsword is that because of it's hilt, etc. Does this apply to rapiers? Or am i mistaken?

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 5:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm not so certain that such a feat is impossible.


It certainly isn't. If you look through old coroner's rolls, you can find a few example of folks taking sword blows to the head and not being incapacitated. Some of them wisely fled the scene and sought medical attention, but they most likely could have kept on fighting if they had wanted to.

More dramatically, you have that example of a halberd blow to the head failing to incapacitate. It's quoted in the SPADA 2 article on the subject.
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Martin Wilkinson





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PostPosted: Tue 12 Dec, 2006 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
I'm not so certain that such a feat is impossible.


It certainly isn't. If you look through old coroner's rolls, you can find a few example of folks taking sword blows to the head and not being incapacitated. Some of them wisely fled the scene and sought medical attention, but they most likely could have kept on fighting if they had wanted to.

More dramatically, you have that example of a halberd blow to the head failing to incapacitate. It's quoted in the SPADA 2 article on the subject.


I think it was a poleax blow, but that's not important, he did die days later, probably from the wound, or infection due to the wound.

"A bullet you see may go anywhere, but steel's, almost bound to go somewhere."

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