Hand guards on swords.

sabre, sword, spear, etc

Hand guards on swords.

Postby Simon Batten » Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:39 am

Western fencing early on developed hand guards on swords to protect the sword fingers and more importantly, the wrist of the sword hand, to protect the fencer against strikes that could disable the sword hand. These included of course, baloon guards that virtually enveloped the entire hand and they are still conventionally represented in epee with its large guard and sabre with its guard wrapping around the hand. But I was wondering why Chinese swords never developed these sorts of guards? Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby Bradeos Graphon » Wed Aug 22, 2007 2:05 pm

Asian swords don't have that feature largely in order to make it easier to switch the sword from one hand to another. Many later western swords; rapiers, cutlasses, etc., with elaborate guards and basket hilts are hand specific, while Asian swords didn't really develop that way.

The elaborate guards of western swords were used not only to protect the hand, but to strike the opponent, like brass knuckles. Asian swords had longer handles and heavier pommels than their western counterparts to do similar things, as well as using them as levers to trap opponent's limbs, etc. Most taijiquan weapon training will feature pommel manipulations and strikes as an important part of forms and applications.

18th and 19th century western cavalry sabres are notably descended from central Asian designs and don't have the hand specific feature.

[This message has been edited by Bradeos Graphon (edited 08-22-2007).]
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Postby Simon Batten » Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:07 pm

Bradeos, I can see the points your are making here, particularly in the use of the pommel. Certainly, in the version of Yang Style sword I have learned, the pommel is used with the sword in the left hand to block the opponent's right forearm and then circle back and round again to attack his throat/neck (in Three Rings Encircle the Moon). There follows a turn with backward slice to the opponent's calf (the opponent envisaged now at rear) with the sword now switched to the right hand; and Big Chief Star follows that. As for the other point about a guardless sword facilitating switching from one hand to another, the point I would make sounds quibbling but is nonetheless logical, I would submit: namely, with a sword without a guard, of course one is much more likely to get ones wrist cut and therefore HAVE to switch the sword to the other hand. On the other hand, with a sword with a guard, the likelihood of being cut on the wrist is much reduced, so one is unlikely to have to switch as a result of injury in any event .... Kind regards, Simon.
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:27 pm

I think the distinctive S-shaped guard on the dao1 used by the Yang family can be used to hook and trap the opponent's weapon and disarm him.

Image
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Postby JerryKarin » Fri Aug 24, 2007 6:28 pm

Some of the very loose hand techniques on the jian make it difficult to have an extensive guard, IMO.
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Postby Bradeos Graphon » Fri Aug 24, 2007 10:05 pm

There is still a guard on Chinese swords, but as Jerry says, not an extensive one. One should learn to be good with it if one wants to keep all one's fingers! ;-) The ability to change hands is very important, especially in narrow spaces and against multiple opponents.

Also, in the Chinese martial arts there are actually two forms in one when you do a single sword form. You have the techniques and footwork necessary to defend and attack with your sword, but also a "form within a form" for the empty hand (punches, palm, wrist, peng, lu, ji, an, etc.) and leg (kicks, trips, sweeps, etc.).

Some southern Chinese styles make use of shields in the other hand, and some southern sabre styles have full hand guards like cutlasses as a result. As well, Wing Chun is known for its double "eight chop" or butterfly dao, which many have the full hand guard and the top "S" curve for trapping an enemy blade like the Yang style dao does. That trapping implement was a feature of east Asian police weapons for centuries. They might not have had swords themselves, but they had implements for disarming swordsmen, a famous example is the "steel whip" of Single Whip form fame, a big bar of steel with a sword-like handle at one end for breaking sword blades (and bones). Another is the three section staff that Gordon Liu made famous in his movies.

Cheerful subject, eh?
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Postby Audi » Sun Sep 02, 2007 4:56 pm

Hi everyone,

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">a famous example is the "steel whip" of Single Whip form fame</font>


Could you elaborate on this and how the "steel" whip might relate to the form posture?

Take care,
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Postby Simon Batten » Mon Sep 03, 2007 4:07 am

Bradeos: also, Yang Jwing Ming in his 'Taiji Sword, Classical Yang Style' states at p.16: 'Northern characteristics were as follows: ....2. Sword guards face forwards so that the swordsman can lock the opponent's weapon ... Southern characteristics, on the other hand, were: ...2. Sword guards slant backward toward the hilt, to slide the opponent's weapon away, in preparation for an attack at close range. ...' Certainly, the implication is that the hilt was a tactical feature rather than a defence for the fingers or wrist. It would seem that either type of guard could be useful in Tai Chi sword depending on the application. For instance, in Part Grass in Search of Snake, the northern type would arguably be more appropriate, as the action consists in parrying the opponent's blade and then sliding down it to lock it at the hilt, with the possibility of a strike with the sword fingers thereafter/simultaneously; whereas Left and Right Wheel Sword, for instance, consist of dissolving the opponent's attack backwards followed by a counterattack and this would seem more appropriate to the southern type of hilt. Kind regards, Simon.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Bradeos Graphon:
<B>There is still a guard on Chinese swords, but as Jerry says, not an extensive one. One should learn to be good with it if one wants to keep all one's fingers! ;-) The ability to change hands is very important, especially in narrow spaces and against multiple opponents.

Also, in the Chinese martial arts there are actually two forms in one when you do a single sword form. You have the techniques and footwork necessary to defend and attack with your sword, but also a "form within a form" for the empty hand (punches, palm, wrist, peng, lu, ji, an, etc.) and leg (kicks, trips, sweeps, etc.).

Some southern Chinese styles make use of shields in the other hand, and some southern sabre styles have full hand guards like cutlasses as a result. As well, Wing Chun is known for its double "eight chop" or butterfly dao, which many have the full hand guard and the top "S" curve for trapping an enemy blade like the Yang style dao does. That trapping implement was a feature of east Asian police weapons for centuries. They might not have had swords themselves, but they had implements for disarming swordsmen, a famous example is the "steel whip" of Single Whip form fame, a big bar of steel with a sword-like handle at one end for breaking sword blades (and bones). Another is the three section staff that Gordon Liu made famous in his movies.

Cheerful subject, eh?</B></font><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
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Postby Bradeos Graphon » Tue Sep 04, 2007 1:01 pm

Greetings everyone.

Audi,

When I asked that question, I was told "It feels like you get hit with one". It applies to the use of the forearm in the version I was shown, redirections of incoming force (esp. with the hooked hand) and powerful strikes delivered with either hand, hooked or open.

Simon,

It is difficult to describe these applications completely in 2 dimensions. There is definitely a hilt lock application to Clearing Grass to Find Snake. I first learned the "press" intercept downwards with the blade, because if it done well, your sword is free to intitate the triangular strike sequences of knee, groin; knee, groin, knee. If you use Clearing Grass to Find Snake as a spear technique; ankle knee; ankle, groin; ankle, knee, ankle and so on.

Cheers!
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Re:

Postby rudybro » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:18 pm

JerryKarin wrote:I think the distinctive S-shaped guard on the dao1 used by the Yang family can be used to hook and trap the opponent's weapon and disarm him.

Image


Yeah I think so... that's a good sword.
“Take things as they are. Punch with sap gloves when you have to punch. Kick when you have to kick.”
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