The ancient roots are derive from edged-weapon, lethal force conflict. Contesting for force vectors with long sharp pieces of steel and flying steel projectiles is not a viable option if one is to survive in this environment. Here is a basic overview. Plate armor was not common in Russia. Chain mail armor will not stop a hard sword cut on a rigid target. My friend Hank Rienhardt demonstrated this for me and allowed me to test it myself. We took a pork loin with bone, covered it with a gambeson and put chain mail over it. When struck hard with the sword the chain mail was cut, the gambeson was not, however the damage to the flesh underneath was catastrophic. Plate mail was not common in ancient Russia, however chain mail was. Mikhail had told me that the reason Systema evidences the kind of blending movement was because the chain mail would not protect a rigid target. Hank proved it too me and allowed me to test it for myself. Thus the necessity for the warrior to be constantly moving, absorbing, and redirecting the cuts from the sword. The energy that ensues from this motion is directed back into your sword, which cuts the enemy as he is attempting to cut you. Does this make sense to you?
poobear,1. Maille can be cut with a broadsword, provided that it strikes the target squarely and soundly--however, many modern tests are performed with butted maille, as opposed to riveted maille. Rivetted maille is WAY stronger.2. I've seen Reinhardt do some cutting tests just like that described above (in a Paladin Press video), and the damage to the meat below the gambeson varied considerably, IIRC.3. Period artwork does show the damage that maille could suffer.4. But again, if maille was as bad as some folks suggest, it would not have been used for so long.5. As far as the Russians go, they used maille, but they also used scale and lamellar armor, often in conjunction with maille. These armors are actually much tougher than maille alone--their's a lot of metal to deal with, and it's more solid overall. Many later Russian armors look almost like those worn by Turkish sipahis heavy cavalry--a blend of maille and lamellar.However, only nobles would be equipped as heavy cavalry, with that kind of armor. Other Russian cavalry were light horse-archers, and their protective equipment was probably restricted to a thick, padded coat (like a gambeson). So, I'm not so certain about the systema writer's reasoning above. It personally sounds a bit sketchy to me. No matter what kind of armor you wear, you still don't want to be hit--you'll do your best to avoid that.Peace,TFS
'So, I'm not so certain about the systema writer's reasoning above. It personally sounds a bit sketchy to me. No matter what kind of armor you wear, you still don't want to be hit--you'll do your best to avoid that. Peace, TFS 'Well, actually, it's James Williams who wrote that. The point, I think, is to not get hit as you say: In another part of the essay (that I hadn't posted here [edit - because I'm really not trying to blatantly pimp systema on a non-systema board, in fact I was trying to edit out any references to such)] he says thatWith edged weapons the space that is being attacked is vacated by you, the opponent's target. As he enters that space to attack your weapon meets him in the very space that you vacated. I think, in fact he is saying that you should not be there, or if you are there, to be as yielding as you can be.I just wanted to know if plate armour was in fact not that common in Russia, and whether gettng out of the way/being soft would be an appropriate strategy. Which I think you are saying is the case. But I think you are also saying you'd have to be soft wearing plate too.
Question about the broadsword cutting maille (sort
of :-))-- is the damage done to the "meat"
underneath the maille from the cut--or more from
the blunt force trauma?
Most of the broadsword/backswords I've seen,
while they were sharper than a stick, weren't really
that sharp in comparison to other types of blades.
If you took one and drew it or push-cut with it
across an un-cooked hunk of meat, you wouldn't
get much of a cut (again with the blades I've seen).
What blades have you seen?
What exactly do you mean by "broadsword"? That could mean anything from a viking sword to a naval cutlass, depending on who is using the term.
There has been many tests where maille has been cut with a sword, but many people disregard these because they are not made against a moving target. A person moving and dodging the cuts will make cutting through the maille much harder. Thats true, but I cant help thinking about sword vs maille as a kind of boxing match. Not every blow will be fatal, but the one to lose the fight will be the one who makes the first fatal mistake of say, moving the wrong way, going into the cut instead of away from it.
About the sharpness of medieval swords and such, I have heard about swords beeing completely blunt, and other beeing sharp enough to cut paper, like a sword examined by Peter Johnsson in Sweden. But its not easy to say what was the norm when we are talking about 500-1000 year old weapons. A sharp edge will not last a thousand years, even if unused, unless the sword is perfectly preserved.
One of Vasiliev's old tapes has a clip of some huge RMA demo that for a few seconds features a fellow both evading and deflecting sword blows with his mail shirt... the movements he was using appeared to be meant to achieve both goals, so that if he didn't evade far enough he was still escaping the brunt of the blow.
I knew you were going to ask that. . . :-)
With the exeption of a few types of (the more
obvious) swords, the scimitar, katana, foil, saber,
cuttlass, et cetera, I am [ ] this close to sword
illiterate. . .
I'll have to get back to you on the names of the
swords. There is a dealer in Denver that I
occasionally check out. Most of the swords I've
seen, up close and personal, were from his
collection and store. . .
I'll see if I can't get down there this weekend, and
then post again early next week.
Sorry for the wait.
"Most of the broadsword/backswords I've seen, while they were sharper than a stick, weren't really that sharp in comparison to other types of blades. If you took one and drew it or push-cut with it across an un-cooked hunk of meat, you wouldn't get much of a cut (again with the blades I've seen)."Chuck, if you were looking at antique blades, remember, that the edges on many western antique blades would be looong gone. That is worn out over hundreds of years or misuse, harsh elements and poor handling. I assure you that while these blades were in their prime, they had a very good edge on them. Broadswords and backswords are very capable of carrying a very sharp edge due to the shallow bevel created by such a broad blade.The problem is, that many western swords are found in fields, muddy river banks or locked away in someones collection, but rarely cared for. Who knows how much a 15th or even 17th century blade was abused over the hundreds or years it was out of use, as it passes from owner to owner. Historically, it would be quite inefficeient to spend so much time and energy making a blade out of good steel -forging it and temempering it- and then not bothering to sharpen it well. Not to mention the utter foolishness of going into battle with a sword that has a poor edge on it. I am sure that the soldiers from centuries past wanted to make every blow count.Poobear and TFS,"2. I've seen Reinhardt do some cutting tests just like that described above (in a Paladin Press video), and the damage to the meat below the gambeson varied considerably, IIRC."Hank Reinhardt does do this test in a video (TFS, you showed it to me), but I do believe he was using butted maille, which would make all the difference.If one gets hit on the arm or collarbone with a broad blade while wearing maille, they can still suffer a fracture. But, I am always weary of such historical martial claims as theone posted above, due to the fact that they cannot be proven, and also due to the fact that arts inperceptably change over time.
Ye Lunatic--some GREAT points! Almost
everything I've seen has been an antique, and that
may have clouded my sense of them.
The type of swords I was thinking of were:
The Two Handed Bastard Sword, The Great
Scottish Claymore Sword & The Giant Great
German Landsknechte Flamberge Sword.
When I think of a broadsword I invariably have
these kinds of things in my head (rightly or
They seem to have such a "weight" about them that
I have a hard time picturing someone actually
being able to perform a draw-cut, or push-cut with
them. Rather what I have in my head (having never
swung one of that weight) is more of a hack, like
that of an axe, with a possible push, or draw--after
contact--to withdraw the blade.
Having studied some Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu in
the past and handling a "live" katana which
weighs--what?--3lbs. maybe, it's hard for me to
picture these behemoths in action.
Thanks in advance,
Chuck,Some of those "antiques" you saw may have been bad Victorian forgeries, or they might be genuine antiques that are in fact "bearing swords" (extra-large 2-handers that were never meant for actual use).I say this because you describe them as being overly heavy, and they should NOT be. A good European "fighting" 2-hander should weigh in the 4-6 lb range, with maybe 7 +lbs being the maximum.Also, the British arms expert A.V.B. Norman once noted that there are actually quite a few original European swords that are still very sharp (ones that were kept nicely in armories or churches). One main difference between European swords and Japanese ones is that the European blades are given a stiff spring temper throughout the whole blade, as opposed to the differentially heat-treated blades of the Japanese. This makes the European swords different in several ways:1. It means that the European swords are, on average, much more durable than the Japanese ones, since they can flex several inches out of line without taking a set.2. However, it also means that European swords won't hold an edge as long as the katana and other Japanese swords. They require more frequent sharpening. Ewart Oakeshotte estimated that an "average" sword probably had a working life of about 50 years--in that time, it could be honed so much that it might me misidentified by modern experts. For example, there are some Medieval swords that may have really been Type XVIIIs (broad cut-and-thrust blades with gradual taper), but they have been classified by modern curators as Type XVs (much more sharply tapered, predominantly thrusting swords)--and this may simply be because the blade was sharpened so much in the sword's working lifetime that it actually altered the overall profile of the blade.Peace, TFS
"Some of those "antiques" you saw may have been
bad Victorian forgeries, or they might be genuine
antiques that are in fact "bearing swords"
(extra-large 2-handers that were never meant for
actual use). "
Hmmm. You're right in that I have no way of
authenticating the swords.
More research on my part. . .
"I say this because you describe them as being
overly heavy, and they should NOT be. A good
European "fighting" 2-hander should weigh in the
4-6 lb range, with maybe 7 +lbs being the
I would guess (I was only allowed to handle the
Bastard, & the German Landsknechte Flamberge
Sword--though not really get a "swing" going), that
the Bastard weighed in around where you
suggested (4-6lb) but the German, man that thing
had to have been 12-15lbs. The freakin thing was
longer than I am tall (it was approx 75").
Anyway, thanks for the info.
And a sideways question if I may. If I wanted to
"authenticate" a sword, is there a good resource
for it that is available?
I've only been "coming" to this part of the forum for
a little over a month, and it is rapidly becoming one
of my favorites on MMA.tv. So much to learn! And so
much great information! You all seem to give good
Chuck,I would guess (I was only allowed to handle the Bastard, & the German Landsknechte Flamberge Sword--though not really get a "swing" going), that the Bastard weighed in around where you suggested (4-6lb) but the German, man that thing had to have been 12-15lbs. The freakin thing was longer than I am tall (it was approx 75").OK, a few things...The bastard sword should weigh closer to 4lbs (as opposed to 6)--it should essentially be light enought to wield in one hand, despite the long grip (think katana).The flamberge is definitely a "bearing sword"--the flamberge blade style was generally not used as a "fighting" sword--sharpener's nightmare, you know.Also, if it weighs in the 12-15lb range, that's a dead giveaway of non-functionality right there. Anyway, thanks for the info.Anytime--and Welcome to the History Forum (if you haven't been welcomed already). :) And a sideways question if I may. If I wanted to "authenticate" a sword, is there a good resource for it that is available?Short of taking it to a museum curator, that's a tough one--some Victorian copies are actually quite good--proper weight and balance, plus some are actually sprayed with a mild acid solution to simulate centuries of corrosion--very sneaky. I've only been "coming" to this part of the forum for a little over a month, and it is rapidly becoming one of my favorites on MMA.tv. So much to learn! And so much great information! You all seem to give good learning!We try, bro.We certainly try.Peace,TFS
But weren't the big Landsknechte Flamberge wielded by big, brawny Doppelsoldaten (soldiers receiving double pay) who had the hazardous job of running up to pike formations and lopping off the ends of the pikes?
Duck,But weren't the big Landsknechte Flamberge wielded by big, brawny Doppelsoldaten (soldiers receiving double pay) who had the hazardous job of running up to pike formations and lopping off the ends of the pikes?Flamberge refers to the wavy-bladed two-hander, and this usually wasn't a "fighting" sword.It was the ordinary, straight-bladed two-hander (bidenhander; zweihander) that was used by the doppelsoldner (though some prefered halberds or other polearms).BTW, Welcome to the History Forum.Peace,TFS
"wielded by big, brawny Doppelsoldaten"There isn't really any evidence that the Doppelsoldners were big and brawny. They were probably just nuts. One did not need to be extra big to weild a well balanced two-hander.In fact, if one looks at woodcuts from the era, most Landsknechts (including doppelsoldners) looked very lean and fit. This was probably due to years of marching and camp life.
Some polish fencing expert mentioned, that katana was not actually meant for sword fighting, because when its blade hit the other blade, it cracked (a little, but still), while european swords didnt.
Is that true?
Personally I was taught to NEVER go blade on
blade (Shinkage Ryu & Aiki Ken).
I was taught to always use the flat, or back of the
blade--and the less block , and more parry the
better. . .
Though of course [sh]it sometimes happened. :-)
Never had a problem with my blade though, at
least until I had it stolen. . .
TFS & YL,
Thanks for the comments. My own comment/question about the Landsknechte Flamberge and those who wielded it was a driblet remembered from a "museum replicas" catalog I eyeballed years ago. The Flamberg they showed had the wavy blade and was 68" long; I don't remember the weight. I recall that the soldiers who were paid double were called "doppel-something-or-other," misremembering the second part of the word as "soldat," or "soldier," when in fact it is "soldner" (umlaut o), "mercenary."
"Some polish fencing expert mentioned, that katana was not actually meant for sword fighting, because when its blade hit the other blade, it cracked (a little, but still), while european swords didnt. Is that true?"Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that the katana was not meant for sword fighting. It is true, however, that a katana traditionally has a very hard edge and can chip or crack. Then again, if any sword meets another forcefully edge on edge it will sustain some damage. A softer tempered steel will nick, while a harder steel will chip or crack.