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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 8:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Please note that I am not bashing any of these activities, the groups, or their members - just pointing out the differences



Aye, there's the rub. We have to learn without killing our sparring partner, so we comprimise for safety's sake. Just a fact of life. While we all pick our priorities, we're all falling short in one area or another because we're not trying in earnest to to what it is we're playing at.

One thing I haven't heard mentioned is attacks to the shin/ankle/foot region, which is taboo for many organizations for this very reason. It's very hard for me, anyway, to protect my lower legs with a heater or round shield, and I think a longsword would take off a foot quite nicely.

I also think that depending on the design of the two handed weapon, a shield is not a guaranteed swordstop. I'm reminded of that picture of Steve Peffley cutting the scutum with his falx. While I don't think I'd want to have my weapon lodged in my enemy's shield, it's a sobering image for a shieldman.



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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 8:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not to mention a long column of other angry guys with Falxs behind the first one while you try to defend yourself with that stuck in your shield.

Wonder how the Roman would have reacted to a Halberd or Danish axe or 14th century Knights ? Anachronistic question I know. Razz

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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 8:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't think chopping a rigidly mounted shield with any weapon is a valid test of anything.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 9:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't tell the fine folks at Cold Steel that! Laughing Out Loud
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Don't tell the fine folks at Cold Steel that! Laughing Out Loud


I've always found Cold Steel's "testing" dubious at best so this is no surprise.
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 9:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Getting back on target, how would a shieldman defend against shots to the lower legs, other than a norman kite shield or scutum, an agressive offense? I'm thinking in terms of transitional armor, mainly because it's in my area of interest, so the leg defenses I'm thinking of would be chauses.
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 9:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Getting back on target, how would a shieldman defend against shots to the lower legs, other than a norman kite shield or scutum, an agressive offense? I'm thinking in terms of transitional armor, mainly because it's in my area of interest, so the leg defenses I'm thinking of would be chauses.


Against a longsword? Bring the foot back and hit the other guy on the head. That's a pretty common defense in many martial arts against low attacks. Should the opponent have a shield or a buckler and uses it to protect the head, modify this to attack the sword arm instead.
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Patrick Kelly




PostPosted: Tue 08 Nov, 2005 9:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Getting back on target, how would a shieldman defend against shots to the lower legs, other than a norman kite shield or scutum, an agressive offense? I'm thinking in terms of transitional armor, mainly because it's in my area of interest, so the leg defenses I'm thinking of would be chauses.


I'm far from a shield expert but I would think that distance would play a key factor in this.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Geting your weapon stuck in a opponent's shield would be a major problem. Especially on a battlefield, where the other guy's friends would cross strike you through the eye, because your are out of your lines, and defenceless.
There is a story from the sagas where one especially hulking fighter goes to the front of the battle, slams his daneaxe into an opponent's shield, drops it, and goes back to the rear to get another one, throughout the battle.

Now, a few other things when it comes to sword and shield vs single sword.

A shield fighter generally has his sword high, covering the head; With the shield in front of him, there is no other place where he can be hit with a single direct blow. (except maybe the leggs, but we will come to that...)
Sword and buckler fighters are similar, but to a lesser extent. Their defence is also high, but they have less coverage for the legs and abdomen.

This has a number of effects. The first one is that the longswordman is quite limited in his use of techniques. He would have to strike and feint high most of the time. Should he elect to strike low, he is at the same time lowering his defence, inviting a snap blow or stab to the face.
Wich again is linked to a oft neglected element of combat; Psychology. When we sparr or train, most of us do so in a very safe and abstracted way. No one dies, the first hit wins, repeat.
In a real fight what is slight annoyances to us (Hey, stop hiting me on the right shoulder all the time....) becomes worries about life and death. In this context, the urge to keep your defences up becomes a lot more compelling.
Wich brings us back to the shield fighter. The shield fighter is standing behind a mobile wall. He knows that 75% of the time, this wall will protect him. This allows him to be much more confident in his attacks, since he retains much of his cover, a luxury the longswordman does not have.
Armour has the same function. An armoured fighter can make a head on, high strike with the confidence that a counterattack will harm little more than his surcote.

There are a lot of posible techniques against sword and shield. Question is if you would use them when your life is on the line.
And, in the long run nothing beats "Find a friend, and gang up on him." Wink

"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."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 6:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Getting back on target, how would a shieldman defend against shots to the lower legs, other than a norman kite shield or scutum, an agressive offense? I'm thinking in terms of transitional armor, mainly because it's in my area of interest, so the leg defenses I'm thinking of would be chauses.


Step one: Move your leg 10 cm back. It should suffice.
Step two: Hit the other guy over the head. His defence eslewhere, trying to hit your leg.
Step three: Push him over, because with his weapon pointing downwards, he will be easier to unbalance.

Or, if you are wearing chauce, take it like a man, and say "OUCH! why did you have to go and do that" while executing step two and three.

Over all, you are armoured and facing a agressive offence, block and step into him. It will force him on the defensive.

"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."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Aaron Schnatterly




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 7:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
Getting back on target, how would a shieldman defend against shots to the lower legs, other than a norman kite shield or scutum, an agressive offense? I'm thinking in terms of transitional armor, mainly because it's in my area of interest, so the leg defenses I'm thinking of would be chauses.


Elling Polden wrote:
Step one: Move your leg 10 cm back. It should suffice.


Bill Grandy wrote:
Bring the foot back and hit the other guy on the head.


Patrick Kelly wrote:
... I would think that distance would play a key factor in this.


I'm seeing a trend here... Razz

I used to do a lot of SCA-style fighting. At that time, I also did a huge amount of stage fighting. In the first case, the lower leg was not a "legal" target. Getting hit there kind of sucked, but it didn't count, and armour generally kept things tolerable. In the second case, unless someone really screwed up, every movement was pretty much expected... looked great Cool , wowed whole crowds Eek! , annoyed campus security Laughing Out Loud ... Life was grand! Neither of these activities did much to develop proper footwork, distancing, stances, and the like.

My shield stance at the time generally was right leg back, slightly bent, 60% of the weight, left leg forward, angled slightly off to the left, relatively straight, 40% of the weight. I tended to be flat-footed rather than keep the weight on the balls of my feet. My heater was held about 12-14 inches from me, sword in some form of high guard. Putting myself in this arrangement now, my left foot (and lower leg, actually) were extended PAST the shield! I was using my leg to force more distance between me and my opponent - since "you" can't hit it, I'll put it in "your" way. Things changed when I started sparring without these restrictions... I'm working to keep both legs slightly bent, and to keep my weight on the balls of my feet. I am learning to use proper footwork to glide instead of trudge (period footwear is actually a huge advantage, but don't go there for SCA - you'll be on your butt - too slippery). If fighting with a shield, I try to use it more wisely - I'll move behind the shield, or I'll use the shield as an offensive piece.

I guess where I am going with this is to suggest you look hard at your stance and fighting style. See if you can get someone to take pictures from straight on, and at 45 degrees and 90 degrees to your sides. If you ahve access to the equipment, video a few bouts. Watch for areas where your legs tend to be exposed. Are you holding your shield too close? Consider ways to modify these, to keep yourself better protected.

A second suggestion is to check out Tobler's Fighting With the German Longsword. Chapter 2 is on footwork, distance, and timing. It really goes into a good bit about this topic. Perhaps a read or three through this and a little playing around with the concepts will help modify your fighting style a tad.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Micha Hofmann




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:

The shield fighter is standing behind a mobile wall. He knows that 75% of the time, this wall will protect him. This allows him to be much more confident in his attacks, since he retains much of his cover, a luxury the longswordman does not have.


Excellent post.
And it also shows the reason why I don't recommend attacking the legs of a shield-user:

It lowers your reach and the shield fighter is more inclined to be on the offensive, since he's got... a shield. Wink
If you want to attack his lower openings, you have to be covered while doing so - or have to dodge one of his blows.
Otherwise, it's just a "double-kill" - situation - which is nothing anybody would want to happen in a real fight...

So maybe I should try going for the sword arm next time...
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David Black Mastro




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 12:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Taylor Ellis wrote:
I would venture that the western martial arts as they are being taught today are probably closer to their historical counterparts than the vast majority of Chinese modern martial arts are to their own ancestors. I personally think there would be a massive amount of common ground with Chinese and European historical arts (and I mean military arts, not monk dancing et al), just like many people have commented on with some forms of German and Japanese fencing styles.


If only things were that simple...

There are a couple of significant problems with Historical European Martial Arts, as they are being "practiced" today:

1. They are dead arts, and, regardless of surviving manuals, etc., they will remain so. We may get fairly close to what was actually being done 400 years ago in many instances, but we'll never know for certain, unless H.G. Wells' Time Machine eventually becomes a reality.

2. HEMA styles are being "taught" by folks from a variety of backgrounds. I think it goes without saying that people who set out to reconstruct HEMA (or any other dead method) either need to have a background in existing functional martial arts and combat sports, or they must consult such folks, or both. One would think that this is usually done--but there has been at least one instance in which an otherwise interesting and well-written HEMA book featured a reconstruction of Medieval wrestling that sorely revealed the author's lack of knowledge regarding basic biomechanics, as they apply to grappling. The resulting reconstruction was, unfortunately, really bad.


Now, I agree that many Asian systems that are supposedly "living lineages" are not what they once were. Some methods have degenerated into what can only be called performance art (eg., wushu). Nevertheless, there are clearly surviving functional Asian styles.

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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David Black Mastro




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 12:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Asian Swords vs European Swords and Swordsmanship         Reply with quote

Bob Burns wrote:
What I have here are questions and not the answers, so I would like to toss this up for discussion and feedback. I am new in this obsession but already have well over a dozen pieces and some 20 books and growing.
It seems to me that European swords and swordsmanship both would be superior to the that of the Asian world. For two reasons this stands out to me and gives me this uneducated opinion. European swords have quillons or crossguards, Asian swords have not much of a guard if any. European swords for the most part are double edged, Asian swords for the most part are single edged.


A couple of points:

1. Do European cross-hilted swords really offer more protection than the small, disc-like guards found on Japanese swords and Continental Asian sabers?

Clearly, one does not see substantial hand protection on European swords until the 15th century, with the development of the so-called "swept-hilt", and the even more protective basket-hilt only appeared later still.

2. A double-edged sword is not by definition "superior" to a single-edged one. Both styles have their pros and cons.

In addition, your post reveals the dangers of making gross generalizations--i.e., you ignore the fact that there are actually quite a few single-edged European weapons (messers, falchions, cutlasses, hangers, sabers, backswords, etc), as well as double-edged Asian ones (jians, krisses, and so forth).

Quote:
The Asian world admirably has kept alive it's martial arts with the sword, while the European world did not seem to do so except for dueling with epees, foils, etc. People are much more informed from movies etc of how Asian warrior mastered his sword, but not so with the European sword. So it seems to me that the appreciation for how awesomely expertise a medieval European swordsman has been overlooked and disregarded in comparison to the Asian sword masters.
To my uneducated mind in this area, it would seem to me that a medieval European sword expert put into battle with an Asian sword expert, that the Asian would have little chance against the European. Especially given the double edge of his sword and the protection of his crossguard, along with a straight blade design vs a curved blade.

These are my thoughts, I am very curious to hear the insight of others!


As I have discussed on past threads, there were times where European swordsmen came into conflict with their Far Eastern counterparts (from the 16th century onwards). It appears that both warrior cultures respected the others' abilities.

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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Felix Wang




PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is worth noting that in Armour from the Battle of Wisby, 1361 the skeletons show bone injuries most commonly to the lower leg - of all body parts.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 1:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It must also be noted that the battle of Visby was a fight between very uneven sides;
A heavily armoured feudal/mercenary force attacking local peasant levies.
It was more a masacre than a battle.

Having the luxury of armour, vs a mostly unarmoured foe, the danish forces would press their advantage, going to close combat, and attack under the opponent's shield (if they had any...I have not studied the battle that well... But I've been to Visby...)
Many of the attacks could also have come after the fighter in question had already fallen. or from behind, as he was fleeing.

In a stand up, one on one shield fight, your main targets are head, head, hand, and arm. If your opponent has his hand forward, it is a easy target for a "snap strike"; Not a very powefull blow, but towards the fingers still sufficient to win you the fight.
Combined with movement (to the left...) it is also a quite "safe" blow; the sword covers you as it's coming in.
This is the same blow as the I33 first ward strike.

It must also be mentioned that dropping your shield in favour of all out offence was a well known concept, but regarded as a do-or-die measure. Either your enemy breaks before the onslaught, or you die horribly.

"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."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Jared Smith




PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Patrick's "implication of the idea" that cuts to the lower leg have potential to be effective even if the defender has a shield.

If fighting German Longsword style, the beginning of a diagonal cut aimed at lower legs, from Ochs/Ox ( point guard held above shoulder/head) or other high guards, does not reveal what is comming until it is too late for average opponents to recognize. It looks like a shoulder or head strike until the last fractions of a second, and can be shifted very subtly to actually strike the back of the ankle to lower calf from with the blade striking partially to the rear of the defender's body (only full coverage greaves will offer immunity to a cut injury.) This is hard for the defender to anticipate, and is generally one of the first sparring scores that beginners succeeded at against veteran "sport fencers" in the ARMA events that I have attended. I have been able to do it against all veteran opponents, at least 50% of the attempts, as a beginner from day 1.

Also note, this offers maximum developed velocity (like a golf club swing) and really hurts even when done with very well padded sparring weapons and good sportsmanship. I would not want to get hit with a sharp weapon in this manner, regardless of the quality and coverage of greaves. If done with serious intent, it will tend to displace the defender's foot/ leg (or flat out drop him) and seriously disrupt counterattacks he has in progress.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Jared Smith




PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Correction:

It looks like Gavin implied that lower leg shots might work well....

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gavin Kisebach wrote:
One thing I haven't heard mentioned is attacks to the shin/ankle/foot region, which is taboo for many organizations for this very reason. It's very hard for me, anyway, to protect my lower legs with a heater or round shield, and I think a longsword would take off a foot quite nicely.


Legs, particularly lower legs should be defended by distance, not with the shield. That's why we have pictures of knights fighting with heater shields with guige straps on, physically incapable of covering their legs with the shield. If you try to defend the legs with a shield (other than a kite shield or similar which is long eenough to cover the legs) then you'll get into all sorts of trouble.

That is an amazing picture of the falx vs the scutum. Given the way scuta were held, that cut would have gone straight into the top of the helmet. No wonder the Romans reinforced helmet crowns during the Dacian campaigns, as well as using gladiatorical manica (arm armour). One of the biggest inaccuracies in both re-enactment combat and western martial arts is that scary terror weapons like the falx and the Danish axe can't be used as they were historically without the risk of historical results.

Stephen Hand
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Author of English Swordsmanship, Medieval Sword and Shield

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Stephen Hand




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Nov, 2005 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Jared,

If you're fighting longsword according to German principles, if you threaten an attack to my head or shoulders, I will counterattack, probably with a Zornhau or a Zwerchau at your head. If you then drop your weapon low, you may well hit my legs, but you will be struck on the head because you are uncovering yourself. How does injuring me, even severely, help you if your head is in two pieces? In his verse on Uberlauffen (overrunning), Liechtenauer advises against attacking the legs with the longsword as someone going for a high target can slip back his leg and still strike you. If you deceive me, then I counterattack without slipping the leg and I hit you in the head as you take my leg off. If you don't deceive me, I slip the leg and hit you in the head. Either way you lose.

I have to ask, if you're fighting in a "German longsword style", why are you doing something that the German longsword masters explicitly warned you not to?

Cheers
Stephen

Stephen Hand
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