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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 9:43 am    Post subject: Use of the Great Sword         Reply with quote

Hello, I have a great sword question,

First, by great sword what I refer to is the sword represented by Purple Heart armory's great sword waster. About 53 inches over all, with 11 or so inches of grip. Not a six foot bidden hander, which I think of more as a pole arm.

Would the Great sword be used with the same techniques as Fiore, or Ringneck? It seems to me that an extra four inches of blade, and another four on the grip wouldn't make all that much difference. And if it did it would only add to reach and leverage. I have looked around on the internet and can't seem to find anything relating to this size weapon. In fact the term Great Sword seems to be used to describe large, wide bladed, cleaving war swords, the larger German Two handed swords, and the renaissance two handers.

Specifically I am interested in the historic use of the AT-1592 Danish longsword, and the weapons it represents.

Thank you for your time, Matthew
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 07 Oct, 2010 10:02 am    Post subject: Re: Use of the Great Sword         Reply with quote

Matthew P. Adams wrote:
Hello, I have a great sword question,

First, by great sword what I refer to is the sword represented by Purple Heart armory's great sword waster. About 53 inches over all, with 11 or so inches of grip. Not a six foot bidden hander, which I think of more as a pole arm.

Would the Great sword be used with the same techniques as Fiore, or Ringneck? It seems to me that an extra four inches of blade, and another four on the grip wouldn't make all that much difference. And if it did it would only add to reach and leverage. I have looked around on the internet and can't seem to find anything relating to this size weapon. In fact the term Great Sword seems to be used to describe large, wide bladed, cleaving war swords, the larger German Two handed swords, and the renaissance two handers.

Specifically I am interested in the historic use of the AT-1592 Danish longsword, and the weapons it represents.

Thank you for your time, Matthew


Well, I use mine with the exact same techniques as the shorter wasters I used before with good results.

Maybe we should remember that in period longswords would not all be made to a specific pattern or size and individual fighters might choose longer or shorter swords depending on their preferences.

The extra 3" to 4" is not dramatically longer in my opinion.

Oh, taller fighters might be expected to use swords longer than a shorter fighter but proportionally " ideal " for their height and certain master expressed their opinion on the lengths of longswords they considered ideal but this doesn't mean that one can't use the same techniques with longer or shorter weapons as long as we are within a reasonable range where we don't have to redefine the weapon as being a different animal. Wink Cool

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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is their some kind of formula to determine an "ideal" sword length, or is it more about whats comfortable? Or maybe I'm just over thinking things... wouldn't be the first time.

I have been using my great sword waster in my Fiore classes without any problems, I picked the great sword because I liked the extra length in the handle. I had planned to cut down the blade down to 39 inches, but as it never presented a problem, I never got around to it.

I guess the main thing is what my instructor thinks, and he has one himself.
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Steven H




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 1:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew P. Adams wrote:
Is their some kind of formula to determine an "ideal" sword length, or is it more about whats comfortable? Or maybe I'm just over thinking things... wouldn't be the first time.


I don't know of any Medieval era sources that give such a formula. The earliest such calculations that I'm aware of are from rapier treatises.

Cheers,
Steven

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Eric W. Norenberg




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Matthew,

This article may be worth a read:

http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html

I don't claim to be an authority on this (or much else), but the dimensions you gave for that waster are bigger, I think, than the "grete swerd of war" (say, the type XIIa or XIIIa of the 13th - 14th c.), so the later german long swords and the zweihanders are probably more the model for usage to consider - the ARMA essay should be relevant.

Somewhere I ran across a proportional "ideal" for the smaller of the bigger swords (if that makes sense - I mean the two handers that "work" more like a sword than like a polearm); the pommel should either reach your chin or armpit, with point grounded, and either the entire hilt or just the grip should be the length of the weilder's forearm. Hardly definitive, but it seems to work in the same way that George Silver's "ideal" proportions for the long sword do.

Best,
Eric

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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 10:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The swords illustrated in Goliath certainly qualify as great swords, and they do not appear to be used any differently.
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Craig Shira




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 11:06 pm    Post subject: Ditto!         Reply with quote

.

Craig Peters wrote:
The swords illustrated in Goliath certainly qualify as great swords, and they do not appear to be used any differently.


I was going to say the exact same thing, but you beat me to the punch. Goliath is a perfect example.

At my school, most of us train with swords that have very long handles and we focus on the Liechtenauer tradition. We find that long handles provide us lots of leverage (and more space on our sword for bulky hand protection) but also makes disarms easier because there is more space for the opponent to get between our hands.

Our teacher also has studied Italian Spadone, which is the Italian version of the German Zweihander / Bidenhander / Doppelhander. Even then, a five foot long sword (or even the six-foot long Bidenhander) will be used very similarly to a standard longsword. It has its own unique variations to account for the much longer handle and blade, true, but it is like comparing an orange to a tangerine. A tangerine is smaller, sweeter, and easier to peel, but it is still an orange.

(Craig)

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 11:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Ditto!         Reply with quote

Craig Shira wrote:
.

It has its own unique variations to account for the much longer handle and blade, true, but it is like comparing an orange to a tangerine. A tangerine is smaller, sweeter, and easier to peel, but it is still an orange.

(Craig)

.


Not a bad idea to sometimes train with swords of different lengths: I used the Coldsteel polypropylene wasters which have relatively short handles and blade and also the Purpleheart Greatsword.

Managing different lengths of swords is good for learning to judge measure and timing and shorter swords or longer swords each have their advantages and disadvantages and tactical differences in use.

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Patrick De Block




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PostPosted: Fri 08 Oct, 2010 11:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello,

Apart from Goliath and the Spadone, you could also have a look at the Montante. On the site of Arms and Armor the Rules of Figueyredo are published. They are great drills.
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2010 8:27 am    Post subject: Re: Ditto!         Reply with quote

Craig Shira wrote:
A tangerine is smaller, sweeter, and easier to peel, but it is still an orange.


That's a great analogy. In fact, in the Bolognese tradition the use of the spadone is directly related to the single hand sword, with some obvious biomechanical changes. Marozzo himself made a point of saying that many of the plays are exactly the same (though the larger two hander often times does not require movement of the feet during parries in places that the single hander does).

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Oct, 2010 8:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
I don't know of any Medieval era sources that give such a formula. The earliest such calculations that I'm aware of are from rapier treatises.


Well, it depends on what you define as "medieval" and "renaissance". Vadi gives measurements of his ideal longsword length (the pommel should reach the armpit, and the grip should be the length of the forearm), and is from the 15th century.

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--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Stefan Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Oct, 2010 5:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmm. . .I belive to have read about a spanish fencingmaster, mentioning that a longsword should reach the armpit of the individual, and the guard should be as wide as the length of the handle to maximize it's use. I don't remember where excatly I'm affarid. Hope that was useful.
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Wed 13 Oct, 2010 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you for all the information! This site never disappoints.

And seems to be as I thought, that the techniques are basically the same. I just had never seen anything specifically referring to this size weapon, but if its used in the same manner then their wouldn't be any need to create a treatise for just that.
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James Anderson III




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Steven H wrote:
I don't know of any Medieval era sources that give such a formula. The earliest such calculations that I'm aware of are from rapier treatises.


Well, it depends on what you define as "medieval" and "renaissance". Vadi gives measurements of his ideal longsword length (the pommel should reach the armpit, and the grip should be the length of the forearm), and is from the 15th century.


The pommel reaching the armpit is what I have heard as well. I have a sword that size, and it feels very natural in the solo stances and swings I have done, but I have not done any sparring with it. I'll check the grip vs forearm size tonight, but I bet they're close.

Based on that, sword length will depend on the user's height. I am about 5'10", my sword is ~47", and comes just barely below my armpit.

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 8:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill Grandy wrote:
Steven H wrote:
I don't know of any Medieval era sources that give such a formula. The earliest such calculations that I'm aware of are from rapier treatises.


Well, it depends on what you define as "medieval" and "renaissance". Vadi gives measurements of his ideal longsword length (the pommel should reach the armpit, and the grip should be the length of the forearm), and is from the 15th century.


I stand corrected. And I'll admit that I don't know squat about Vadi.

Interesting though that the length he gives seems to be on the long side of a lot of what I've seen. Sounds more like the proportions of the swords in Goliath.

Cheers,
Steven

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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I wonder if one factor that affects the techniques when swords are much longer than the longsword is that if one isn't careful the sword's point can hit the ground or get stuck in the ground if used at the same angles. As the blade becomes longer the angles that work with a shorter blade has to be changed and at the extreme this makes some techniques impossible to do correctly since the angles are modified to the degree that the guards or master strokes have to be modified or the numbers of effective techniques are reduced in number.

On the other hand range is affected and can be used to advantage, and with halfswording with a very long sword the techniques sort of start to resemble the use of a polearm.

Additionally a very big weapon can't be carried around as a civilian every day sword unless carried on the shoulder i.e. too long for scabbard carry. The very big swords become battlefield weapons only while the longsword is closer to a side arm and back up weapon like a handgun rather than carrying a rifle.

Weight also affects technique as well as the very long and heavy sword become two handed weapons only where freeing up one hand to do some close range wresting or grabbing become difficult as the very big sword becomes hard to control and use at the same time. I imagine that one could still grab with the off hand but the hand still on the sword would just be able to hold the sword but not able to do too much more at any speeed or control/recovery.

Mostly just speculations I'm throwing out there for discussion and questions about what does change when a sword become too big for longsword techniques and must be used in a different way with it's own optimum techniques. Wink

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Steven Reich




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PostPosted: Thu 14 Oct, 2010 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean, you raise some interesting points...

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
I wonder if one factor that affects the techniques when swords are much longer than the longsword is that if one isn't careful the sword's point can hit the ground or get stuck in the ground if used at the same angles. As the blade becomes longer the angles that work with a shorter blade has to be changed and at the extreme this makes some techniques impossible to do correctly since the angles are modified to the degree that the guards or master strokes have to be modified or the numbers of effective techniques are reduced in number.

Plus, the extra mass means that stopping the sword requires a long period of time and/or more effort--thus, full cuts tend to travel on a longer path.

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Additionally a very big weapon can't be carried around as a civilian every day sword unless carried on the shoulder i.e. too long for scabbard carry. The very big swords become battlefield weapons only while the longsword is closer to a side arm and back up weapon like a handgun rather than carrying a rifle.

the typical way to carry the montante was on the left shoulder rather like a rifle. Definitely more of an "assault weapon" than a sidearm. Apparently, they did have scabbards sometimes--but clearly not to wear at your side (unless you're 8' tall).

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Weight also affects technique as well as the very long and heavy sword become two handed weapons only where freeing up one hand to do some close range wresting or grabbing become difficult as the very big sword becomes hard to control and use at the same time. I imagine that one could still grab with the off hand but the hand still on the sword would just be able to hold the sword but not able to do too much more at any speed or control/recovery.

The Spadone material in Marozzo has a fair number of Prese (grappling), but yes, it is rather hard to control the sword one-handed except perhaps when delivering a pommel-strike. OTOH, the length of the handle means that it is a wonderful lever when utilized for throws.

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Mostly just speculations I'm throwing out there for discussion and questions about what does change when a sword become too big for longsword techniques and must be used in a different way with it's own optimum techniques. Wink

It's a matter of degrees based on length and weight. The more massive it is, the more essential it is that you use your whole body to wield it (although you should mostly be doing that with longsword, too). However, a longer sword also allows you to attack your opponent's legs while simultaneously defending your own head, so there are some advantages, too.

Steve

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