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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2007 12:04 pm    Post subject: My new Darkwood rapier with two hilts         Reply with quote

Hello everyone!

Two weeks ago I received my new rapier from Darkwood Armory, and today I finally took the time to snap a few photos of it...

I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to rapiers, so this will not be a detailed review since I can't really compare it with anything. I ordered this sword as a practice weapon, that is, something that I will not be afraid to scratch, bend, and watch television casually with Happy

I have two rapier manuals here, and I wanted something compatible with both. These are Girard Thibault's Académie de l'Espée and Tom Leoni's translation of Salvator Fabris' Lo Schermo, overo Scienza d'Arme. Thibault is a lot more specific than Fabris about the weapon, so it was my main reference here. Finally, given my stature, I went with a 42 inches bated rapier blade.

The biggest concern was the hilt. My artistic preference drives me to a swept hilt, but as discussed in this thread, there are doubts about the possibility of Thibault's moves with anything other than a half-hilt (due to the special hand position he advocates).

In a spirit of conciliation, I decided to order both Big Grin So I chose a 3 ring swept I guard and a two-port cross guard I, according to Darkwood's terminology. Other details include acorn pommel, wire wrapping and straight quillons with three-lobed tips. I sticked with the standard finish as it was not meant to be ornemental at all.

I was very satisfied with the order process, and the sword arrived in good condition. The packaging did suffer a bit and was pierced by the quillons, but apparently they were more solid than whatever they met outside Wink

I have been interested in the dynamic properties of the weapons for a long time now, and I was curious to know where my new rapier would land. Quite logically, it appears to be somewhere between my Milanese rapier from Arms&Armor (more a cut and thrust blade than a pure rapier) and my foils. Closer to the Milanese rapier, in fact. I don't have scales at home so I cannot give the weight with a decent precision. It is definitely lighter than the Milanese rapier and heavier than my boken, so I suspect it is around 1 kg. I'm not aware yet of any big modification caused by changing the hilt. The pivot point associated to the middle of the ricasso is close to the tip, giving a good tip control. The center of gravity is located 11cm at the front of the quillons, and the perceived blade mass is quite low. The pivot point associated to the back of the handle is a bit further away than on the Milanese rapier, giving a bit slower track in cutting motions. But that's to be expected given the length and purpose of the thing...

All this being a complicated way to say that it is not a cutting sword, but that you can hold it in extended guards easily, and that you control the tip perfectly... So I guess that's right for a rapier Wink

The blade, as I said, is 42 inches, so 106.7cm, and the overall length, pommel to tip is 121cm. The quillons span is 25cm on both hilts. The blade is a bit more supple than what would be expected, I think, of a true weapon, but that does not really affect handling. Despite the blunt tip it is quite capable of piercing already, so if it was sharp, it would still definitely be a dangerous weapon...

Changing hilts is really easy, and once the pommel is screwed back the assembly is very tight. There are grinding marks on the hilts and blade, of course, but the finish is quite pleasant, which is just what I expected. And any sharp angles that could be dangerous for the hand were removed carefully.

This rapier already allows me to experiment with the various grips, and I have found that Thibault's grip can indeed be practiced with a swept hilt as seen in the photos below. I'm unsure however that it allows the full range of motion that Thibault uses, but I'll have to study it further...

The flat surfaces on the half hilt make me think that I could try do some engraving there; however, this is more of a long term project...

Overall, I'm very satisfied with my new acquisition Cool

Regards



 Attachment: 122.95 KB
grips.jpg
Various grips. Top-left: Thibault's grip (index over the false edge quillon, thumb over the true edge quillon); Top-right: the common rapier grip; Bottom-left: Thibault's grip on a swept hilt, the knucklebow faces left; Bottom-right: a cut with Thibault's

 Attachment: 69.41 KB
disassembled.jpg
The parts of the sword.

 Attachment: 87.25 KB
swepthilt-persp.jpg
Perspective view of the swept hilt.

 Attachment: 103.73 KB
swepthilt-front.jpg
Front view of the swept hilt.

 Attachment: 87.93 KB
halfhilt-persp.jpg
Perspective view of the half hilt.

 Attachment: 94.78 KB
halfhilt-front.jpg
Front view of the half hilt.

 Attachment: 88.48 KB
overall.jpg
Overall views of the sword, top: half hilt, bottom: swept hilt.

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Vincent
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Max von Bargen




Location: Stanford, CA
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's a beautiful sword, with two great hilts. Congratulations on your acquisition, and thanks for posting these great pictures!

Max
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

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Posts: 847

PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2007 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Max von Bargen wrote:
That's a beautiful sword, with two great hilts. Congratulations on your acquisition, and thanks for posting these great pictures!


Thanks for your comments!

I only just realize that the caption of the picture with the hand positions seems to have been truncated, here is the full text:
Quote:
Various grips. Top-left: Thibault's grip (index over the false edge quillon, thumb over the true edge quillon); Top-right: the common rapier grip; Bottom-left: Thibault's grip on a swept hilt, the knucklebow faces left; Bottom-right: a cut with Thibault's grip, the thumb goes on the other side, the knucklebow can go as far as touching the base of the thumb.

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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Apr, 2007 2:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting getting two hilts for the blade.

Not something I'm sure I would have thought of.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 847

PostPosted: Mon 23 Apr, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
Interesting getting two hilts for the blade.
Not something I'm sure I would have thought of.


Thanks Happy

To be honest, it's quite likely that I'll buy another blade later. Maybe once (if) I find a training partner... and time...

Regards

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Patrick De Block




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 1:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Vincent,

A few months before this thread, you started one on 'Thibault's grip and choosing a rapier's hilt'. Your artistic preference drove you to a swept hilt , but due to the special handposition Thibault advocates there were doubts as to the possibility of doing Thibault's moves with anything other than a half-hilt. As you had some time to experiment, would you mind telling me about your experiences with these two rapiers?

Thank you,

Patrick
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Vincent Le Chevalier




Location: Paris, France
Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Reading list: 15 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 847

PostPosted: Thu 09 Sep, 2010 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Patrick!

Patrick De Block wrote:
A few months before this thread, you started one on 'Thibault's grip and choosing a rapier's hilt'. Your artistic preference drove you to a swept hilt , but due to the special handposition Thibault advocates there were doubts as to the possibility of doing Thibault's moves with anything other than a half-hilt. As you had some time to experiment, would you mind telling me about your experiences with these two rapiers?


With pleasure Happy

Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to really practice Thibault's moves with this rapier, with intensity and a training partner. This is due to the relative scarcity of people interested in the style now... As well as my other training taking time, I suppose.

That being said, I have tried many moves and positions on my own, and so far I haven't come across one that is absolutely impossible to perform with the swept hilt. But Thibault's work is huge, so maybe I missed something. I'm fairly certain all the basic moves at least work with a swept hilt held as I do in the bottom images of the first attachment. However, if you want to practice specifically Thibault having a half-hilt is probably preferable... The knucklebow is about useless in that position anyway.

If I had to buy a rapier now with a swept hilt, I would change the counterguard or inner guard, specifically the way it is attached to the rest of the hilt. On many swept hilts the counterguard is linked to the knucklebow. This is the most obtrusive part when you try to throw cuts according to Thibault's instructions. I think a hilt where the counterguard is attached to the cross would be preferable, I don't remember Norman's number for that now...

Right now I'm fairly convinced that the optimum compromise between my artistic preferences and Thibault constraints is Norman type 74, like this one. Beautiful sweeps on the outside and a relatively small unobtrusive inner guard...

I don't regret buying two guards the slightest. That way if I want to take a Bolognese class I can pick the half-hilt and my rapier looks like a light early sidesword, if I want to take a rapier class I pick the swept hilt... Even my artistic preferences switch from time to time, depending on whether I'm in the mood for early things or later styles.

Hope this helps,

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Patrick De Block




Location: Belgium
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PostPosted: Fri 10 Sep, 2010 12:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Vincent,

Thank you for your quick answer. I haven't decided yet, but apart from sharps I might do exactly as you, two hilts and one training blunt blade. But of course I'm undecided since you can by a sharp and a blunt at Arms and Armor.

Patrick
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