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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Let's talk about dual wielding. Reply to topic
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 8:36 am    Post subject: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

I keep hearing that dual wielding two isn't a good idea in real life, even though Miyamoto Musashi and everyone who trains Escrima seems to disagree.

I can sort of see why it was never popular from a historical viewpoint (since carrying two swords around makes you look kinda stupid) and I can also sort of see why using a sword and shield combo would be more practical in most cases. However, if one guy has only a single sword and the other has two, I really can't see anything but advantages to the akimbo guy.

Thoughts on this?
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J. Pav




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 8:42 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
I keep hearing that dual wielding two isn't a good idea in real life, even though Miyamoto Musashi and everyone who trains Escrima seems to disagree.

I can sort of see why it was never popular from a historical viewpoint (since carrying two swords around makes you look kinda stupid) and I can also sort of see why using a sword and shield combo would be more practical in most cases. However, if one guy has only a single sword and the other has two, I really can't see anything but advantages to the akimbo guy.

Thoughts on this?


Grappling. An open hand is still a weapon...
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:30 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
I keep hearing that dual wielding two isn't a good idea in real life, even though Miyamoto Musashi and everyone who trains Escrima seems to disagree.

I can sort of see why it was never popular from a historical viewpoint (since carrying two swords around makes you look kinda stupid).... However, if one guy has only a single sword and the other has two, I really can't see anything but advantages to the akimbo guy.


Although Musashi's Hyoho Niten Ichiryu school teaches two-sword techniques, and some other koryu have two-sword curricula, these are all advanced techniques that are usually only taught once a practitioner has learned a great deal of standard swordsmanship. In Japan, everyone carried two blades; even before the uchigatana daisho (katana & wakizashi) was standardized in the late 16th / early 17th century, people usually wore a tachi and a tanto. That "dual wielding" never became especially popular in such a culture should tell you something. It's also a simplification to state that Musashi taught two-sword techniques as his key technique; in Go Rin No Sho (the Book of the Five Rings) he essentially states that "to die with any weapon undrawn" is dishonorable (not the same as "always take out both blades at once"). It is not even clear that Musashi himself regularly used two swords, or that he didn't only mean that one should have equal fluency with all types of weapons in either hand.

There are many reasons why wielding two swords at once is not automatically better. You give up leverage, acceleration, cutting & parrying power, and fine control when you remove your left hand from a long cutting sword. You split your attention between two blades, which requires some very rigorous training and quick thinking to make real use out of; as I said before, two-sword techniques are usually only taught as advanced training after competency with one blade is reached.

I'm not arguing the obvious superiority or inferiority of any given martial arts methods. I'm just trying to point out that it isn't a case of reductio ad arithmetic - just because one sword is good doesn't mean two is automatically twice as good. History bears this out, with some cultures and time periods finding a simultaneous left-handed weapon advantageous (main gauche anyone?), and other cultures and time periods not.

Personally, I'd prefer a shield, and I'm the nihontophile here. Wink

(PS - Are you sure you meant to use the word "akimbo?" I thought that meant "hands on hips with elbows out.")

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Last edited by Gabriel Lebec on Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:36 am; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:31 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
I keep hearing that dual wielding two isn't a good idea in real life, even though Miyamoto Musashi and everyone who trains Escrima seems to disagree.


I think the main thing you hear is that dual wielding isn't a good idea in a battlefield art. Nito ryu and Escrima are duelling arts.

I think it is safe to say that dual wielding is a difficult thing to train. Renaissance Italian masters who discussed it said that it should not be attempted until you have mastered the single sword in each hand first. So, no, it isn't wrong to use two weapons together, but most styles prefer to use the off hand for either something akin to a shield or buckler, or else to use the off hand as a grappling tool. It depends on the system and what you are trying to accomplish.

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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Compared to the single sword, the sword and dagger is better, since it enables you to defend and attack at the same time, and protects against grappling.

Two full size swords, however, would not be all that practical. The blades would simply end up in the way of each other, and you would not get the short range efficiency of the dagger.

Sword and buckler protects the hands and lower arms, effectively buying the user 30cm of extra reach over someone without hand protection. A two weapon fighter would thus end up being hit in the hands or in the head when he tries to close.

Also, to attack with an alternate weapon, you need to turn your body to deliver the hit. For instance, if you are facing a single sword foe that leads with his sword side, and you lead with the dagger, you will need to make a full step to strike him with the sword, then another to follow up with the dagger, a Time your opponent might use to disengage or counterattack.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
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Roy Robinson Stewart




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Escrima is also originally a battlefield art ( duelling is merely a training method) and usually only a single stick is used, the off hand is used for grappling, disarming etc.

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Eric Myers




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 10:31 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Anders Backlund wrote:
However, if one guy has only a single sword and the other has two, I really can't see anything but advantages to the akimbo guy.

The "akimbo guy" would probably be the first one hit. Eek! Big Grin

a·kim·bo : adv. In or into a position in which the hands are on the hips and the elbows are bowed outward.

On a more serious note, for two (full length) swords to be an advantage, you would need to be an extremely accomplished swordsman, which is probably the largest part of said advantage.

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A. Jake Storey II




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Um... Eskrima is NOT a dueling art!!! It, more then any martial art I know of, makes a huge deal of where "the other guys" are. Eskrima was a combat art and never believe otherwise!!! I take a form of Eskrima with an inviable level of heritage. Battle is a huge topic in the system! I can't stress this enough, Eskrima is an art-of-combat, not dueling!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is actually very little two-weapon wilding in eskrima but all the styles have it as an option. Sinawali eskrima uses two short-swords/sticks, and Espada y daga is a short-sword/stick and knife style. Other then my system contains 7 individual styles and those were the only two-weapon wilding styles in the system, and they are not part of the "three core styles of Inayan Eskrima".
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 2:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

jake, I respectfully disagree.

Escrima focuses on one on one combat making it invariably a dueling art. Battlefields never were 1 on 1 events (well I shoudln't say never...how about "rarely") and learning only combat that teaches you how to defend against a single opponent is not as effective, in my opinion, as larger combat training. Escrima is nothing more than two men with specialized weapons fighting one another. That doesn't make it useless, but it certainly doesn't make it a recreation of true warfare any more than olympic fencing would.

Just my opinion, take it as you would.
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Eric Myers




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not an escrima person, but I know people who are. While they do practice mostly one on one, they all regularly practice versus multiple opponents too. From listening to them, I get the sense that the context for the multiple opponent work is street fighting, which is either one person fighting multiple opponents, or several people vs multiple opponents (equal or unequal numbers).
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Gary A. Chelette




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 3:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Samurai were one on one fighters, ie they were the run down and kill them all types until the Kublai Khan in 1274 showed them that error.
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric, thank you for pointing that out, my mistake.
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:

There are many reasons why wielding two swords at once is not automatically better. You give up leverage, acceleration, cutting & parrying power, and fine control when you remove your left hand from a long cutting sword. You split your attention between two blades, which requires some very rigorous training and quick thinking to make real use out of; as I said before, two-sword techniques are usually only taught as advanced training after competency with one blade is reached.

I'm not arguing the obvious superiority or inferiority of any given martial arts methods. I'm just trying to point out that it isn't a case of reductio ad arithmetic - just because one sword is good doesn't mean two is automatically twice as good. History bears this out, with some cultures and time periods finding a simultaneous left-handed weapon advantageous (main gauche anyone?), and other cultures and time periods not.


Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm not saying I think using two swords is automatically better then using one. I'm saying I don't think that using two swords is automatically worse.

Quote:
(PS - Are you sure you meant to use the word "akimbo?" I thought that meant "hands on hips with elbows out.")


True, but it is also slang for wielding two weapons at once. It's usually used about guns, though. (Guns Akimbo being the habit of carrying one gun on each hip.)

Elling Polden wrote:
Compared to the single sword, the sword and dagger is better, since it enables you to defend and attack at the same time, and protects against grappling.

Two full size swords, however, would not be all that practical. The blades would simply end up in the way of each other, and you would not get the short range efficiency of the dagger.


I see what you mean about the dagger being a short range alternative. However, I disagree about the lenght issue. Whenever I've experimented with (freestyle) dual wielding, the blades getting in the way of each other has never been a problem. The tricky part was figuring out the footwork and learning to coordinate both hands.
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 5:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Addressing the original post, within my own experience studying (although not a good student I will admit) use of the Chinese Jian, I was surprised at the variety of cuts and slices that accompanied many of the moves. Almost every thrust and chop (I don't know the Chinese words for the move, but it's most close to a chopping move) is finished out with a slicing motion as the sword is withdrawn. Because of the reach involved, the empty hand is moved opposite the body to balance the move.
Were someone to try this with two swords against someone with a single jian, I see a high likelihood of them getting one of their wrists sliced.

To better describe the slice, it is a slice like carving a turkey or ham... designed to pull the blade across an arm or wrist and let the edge do its work.

It is hard enough for me to keep the one wrist with blade from getting whacked, let alone worry about a second blade and limb!

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello again Anders.
Anders Backlund wrote:
Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm not saying I think using two swords is automatically better then using one. I'm saying I don't think that using two swords is automatically worse.

That sounds OK to me. Personally I'd expect that without specific training done by an already accomplished swordsman, trying to use two swords could easily backfire. But that's just my less-than-concretely-based opinion. Happy
Anders Backlund wrote:
True, but it is also slang for wielding two weapons at once. It's usually used about guns, though. (Guns Akimbo being the habit of carrying one gun on each hip.)

Ah, thanks for the info; I wondered if perhaps there was a martial aspect that I was ignorant of, which would definitely be true if the term was used for firearms.
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Alex Oster




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
It's also a simplification to state that Musashi taught two-sword techniques as his key technique; in Go Rin No Sho (the Book of the Five Rings) he essentially states that "to die with any weapon undrawn" is dishonorable (not the same as "always take out both blades at once").

I clearly remember him stating that in your off hand you should always have something. Be it a musket, dagger, or spear. I thought that was an interesting perspective. "To die without using all avalible means" I believe it was. This is a slightly vauge way of using his teaching though. his implication is if you have two hands, they should both be armed. However, he also states if you can kill one man, then you can kill 10 (if 10, then 100, and so on). This manner of thinking is ok to set ones mind on the correct path for fighting, but in reality its not practical. One man would be exhauseted after killing 500 men in succession. (sp?) Just as fighting with a musket and spear would be equally awkward.

This is just my perspective on his teachings in this specific passage. Unfortunetly I'm typing on a mobile, so I appologize if it's messy or non-linear in thought.

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
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Mikko Kuusirati




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 4:47 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Alex Oster wrote:
Gabriel Lebec wrote:
It's also a simplification to state that Musashi taught two-sword techniques as his key technique; in Go Rin No Sho (the Book of the Five Rings) he essentially states that "to die with any weapon undrawn" is dishonorable (not the same as "always take out both blades at once").

I clearly remember him stating that in your off hand you should always have something. Be it a musket, dagger, or spear. I thought that was an interesting perspective. "To die without using all avalible means" I believe it was. This is a slightly vauge way of using his teaching though. his implication is if you have two hands, they should both be armed. However, he also states if you can kill one man, then you can kill 10 (if 10, then 100, and so on). This manner of thinking is ok to set ones mind on the correct path for fighting, but in reality its not practical. One man would be exhauseted after killing 500 men in succession. (sp?) Just as fighting with a musket and spear would be equally awkward.

This is just my perspective on his teachings in this specific passage. Unfortunetly I'm typing on a mobile, so I appologize if it's messy or non-linear in thought.

To quote the Book of Five Rings itself:

Quote:
Students of the Ichi school Way of strategy should train from the start with the sword and long sword in either hand. This is the truth: when you sacrifice your life, you must make fullest use of your weaponry. It is false not to do so, and to die with a weapon yet undrawn.

If you hold a sword with both hands, it is difficult to wield it freely to left and right, so my method is to carry the sword in one hand. This does not apply to large weapons such as the spear or halberd, but swords and companion swords can be carried in one hand. It is encumbering to hold a sword in both hands when you are on horseback, when running on uneven roads, on swampy ground, muddy rice fields, stony ground, or in a crowd of people. To hold the long sword in both hands is not the true Way, for if you carry a bow or spear or other arms in your left hand you have only one hand free for the long sword. However, when it is difficult to cut an enemy down with one hand, you must use both hands. It is not difficult to wield a sword in one hand; the Way to learn this is to train with two long swords, one in each hand. It will seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first. Bows are difficult to draw, halberds are difficult to wield; as you become accustomed to the bow so your pull will become stronger. When you become used to wielding the long sword, you will gain the power of the Way and wield the sword well.

(...)

It is better to use two swords rather than one when you are fighting a crowd and especially if you want to take a prisoner.


On one man beating a thousand:

Quote:
To master the virtue of the long sword is to govern the world and oneself, thus the long sword is the basis of strategy. The principle is "strategy by means of the long sword". If he attains the virtue of the long sword, one man can beat ten men. Just as one man can beat ten, so a hundred men can beat a thousand, and a thousand men can beat ten thousand. In my strategy, one man is the same as ten thousand, so this strategy is the complete warrior's craft.

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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 5:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gabriel Lebec wrote:
Hello again Anders.
Anders Backlund wrote:
Maybe I wasn't clear. I'm not saying I think using two swords is automatically better then using one. I'm saying I don't think that using two swords is automatically worse.

That sounds OK to me. Personally I'd expect that without specific training done by an already accomplished swordsman, trying to use two swords could easily backfire. But that's just my less-than-concretely-based opinion. Happy

Apparently the Italian sword masters of the 1500s felt the same way. In their instructions for using two swords, they say that the swordsman must first be able to use a sword equally well in either hand. That is, you should be able to fence with your off-hand as well as with your dominant hand. Then, you learn a set of techniques for both at once where neither sword is favored or designated to perform a particular role--that is, both swords perform the roles of offense and defense equally. Having experimented with some of this stuff, I'd have to very strongly agree. If you haven't trained this way, you're more likely to interfere (or even injure) yourself than help--something that an experienced opponent would notice and use to his advantage.

Steve
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Alex Oster




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 6:19 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
To quote the Book of Five Rings itself:
On one man beating a thousand:


Intersting, we apparently have two different translations... though that dosent surprise me.

The pen is mightier than the sword, especially since it can get past security and be stabbed it into a jugular.
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:07 am    Post subject: Re: Let's talk about dual wielding.         Reply with quote

Alex Oster wrote:
Mikko Kuusirati wrote:
To quote the Book of Five Rings itself:
On one man beating a thousand:


Intersting, we apparently have two different translations... though that dosent surprise me.

The one I linked to is translated by Victor Harris, and is probably the easiest to find; there are also at least two other translations, by Thomas Cleary and William Scott Wilson. I like Harris's version because he doesn't even attempt to interpret all the various Japanese idioms and metaphors in the text itself, but instead provides context in footnotes, which I feel is the most accurate way to reproduce the original text in another language.

I don't think there are any great differences in content between the different translations, though.

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Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
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