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Re: Sabre Stab Positioning

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 5:06 pm
by global village idiot
Concerning the straight sword... Given the bewildering variety of Western straight swords:
o Longsword
o Bastard (used with shield and without)
o Backsword
o Smallsword
o Rapier (singly, w/dagger, w/sword break, w/cloak, etc.)
o Arming Sword (used w/buckler)
...and so on...

I'd say it's impossible to give a simple "yes/no" answer.

Western swordplay seems to have no use for forms; however, they place a greater emphasis on postures and reactions, a series of "if/then" problems that seems almost Socratic in effect (which would stand to reason, wouldn't it?).

In addition, you must take into account the sort of clothing and/or armor the swordsman and his opponent would be wearing at the time (this WAS trained around/for), whether he was mounted/dismounted (and if the former, whether he was attacking from a gallop or not) and you begin to see the difficulty in answering the question with anything like definitive certainty.

"Less clear is why the wrist is less vulnerable to injury when used this way." Look at your own wrist. Hold something - anything - in your sword hand, such that you would be effecting a "blade down" hold. Lower your wrist to its lowest possible extent, and you'll see that the best you can do is get the "blade" roughly parallel with your forearm, and you'll feel the hold is weak. Next, raise your wrist, and you'll see that the "blade" travels a much greater arc - you can nearly get it to point at your shoulder while still keeping complete control.

Now, consider this range-of-movement (particularly the limited range of movement with the "blade-down" position), not from the chair you're sitting in, but in a real fight where you and/or your opponent are running toward each other or even worse, galloping full-tilt toward each other. Imagine the forces acting on your wrist at that moment.

Actually, you don't have to - the guy in this video demonstrates what it looks like with an Indian "tulwar" which is very close to a Western cavalry saber... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmWdAxolrqw&feature=related

As to your follow-up question, "whether the capability of cutting out as the opponent falls is what protects the wrist, or if the rotated wrist is stronger as well," it seems safe to say that cutting out was done because the wrist is less prone to injury when turned thus. In the case of single-handed blades, the training regimen did call for considerable conditioning, but the same can be said of all "sweat-powered" weapons, Occidental or Oriental. I don't think, however, that this conditioning was intended to make the rotated wrist stronger as such. It is simply a matter of anatomy, and observing in which direction (blade up/blade down) gives the blade a greater arc of travel as outlined above.

Ancient swordsmen of East and West knew this, and taijijian/taijidao are relatively modern sword methods.

Below you should find enough resources to answer your questions on how Western swordsmanship was trained. I find the last youtube link especially useful - Matt Easton does every subject he touches quite to death. You'll tend to have few if any questions on a topic after you hear what he has to say about it.

http://www.thearma.org/pdf/ColdSteel.pdf

http://www.thearma.org/manuals.htm#.WShXCbidfLs

https://myarmoury.com/features.html

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/

https://www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria

Cheers!
gvi

Re: Sabre Stab Positioning

PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2017 8:28 pm
by DPasek
global village idiot wrote:Now, consider this range-of-movement (particularly the limited range of movement with the "blade-down" position), not from the chair you're sitting in, but in a real fight where you and/or your opponent are running toward each other or even worse, galloping full-tilt toward each other. Imagine the forces acting on your wrist at that moment.

Actually, you don't have to - the guy in this video demonstrates what it looks like with an Indian "tulwar" which is very close to a Western cavalry saber... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmWdAxolrqw&feature=related

The wrist rotation in the Taijidao form that I referred to in an early post on this thread is actually the opposite direction to what is shown in the above video [down & in rather than out & up]. A difference is that the video is talking about being on horseback and charging, whereas the Taijidao form is sparring on the ground in a back and forth interaction.

Cutting out from a falling opponent who was stabbed would still apply.

But another question comes up if cutting out when an opponent falls is important, for either freeing the dao or for protecting the wrist. Some instruction for both dao and jian have the blade held horizontally when the target is the ribcage, allowing penetration to damage the lungs, etc. rather than getting stopped/stuck in the ribs. If the stabbed opponent then fell, wouldn’t this also be problematic for either freeing the dao (or jian) or protecting the wrist from damage?

Re: Sabre Stab Positioning

PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 8:12 pm
by global village idiot
I think from those positions, the biggest problem is having the sword pulled from your hand.

That stab with palm up is structurally weak - as the target (and the sabre) falls, the pivot is the wrist but the only thing holding onto it is the fingers, particularly the pinky and ring fingers. With the palm down, same thing happens. But the sabre remains strongly in your hand and the rear of the grip rotates around the "outside" of the arm as your wrist naturally rotates.

It's somewhat less of a concern in sabre vs. sword since the damage a sabre does is more via cut and less via stab. With a sword - particularly the jian - the proportions are reversed; it's a stronger stabbing weapon and weak on the cut. And you'll notice that many of the "drawing" moves in taijijian would be equally applicable both in defense and in withdrawing a sword from a stabbed opponent (some are better at this than others).

I'm uncertain if any school of sword, Eastern or Western, spent any time teaching what to do once you'd stuck your man. There are some European training methods that deal with a wounded opponent who still has some fight left in him, but it was just in the way of advice along the lines of "once you've struck, be on guard against further attacks."

The only martial art I know of that deals in any detail with the subject of "what to do with a guy who's stuck on your weapon" is bayonet fencing. And I can understand why. Sword fighting happened historically in many different contexts, but bayonets figure in only one: melee combat in large groups. The fight isn't necessarily over once you've successfully finished off your opponent - you need your weapon back under your control as quickly as possible to deal with the guy who just watched you stab his best friend. You're basically taught to withdraw the bayonet with far more force than you used to stick your man. An EXTREMELY "yang" maneuver, as he will remain very stubbornly (and gruesomely) attached to the bayonet no matter if it's lodged in bone or viscera/muscle.

gvi