British Pattern 1821 Light Cavalry Officer’s Sword

A gorgeous Victorian light cavalry officer’s sword retailed by Hawkes, with a virtually perfect blade. The hilt and scabbard of this sword are in good condition, bright and with only minor pitting to the scabbard. The hilt is solid on the tang and while it has had the grip wire removed, the shagreen is in excellent condition. However the real highlight of this sword is the blade, which retains about 95% of the original mirror polish and frost etching - it shows what these blades looked like when first made. The frost etching is outstandingly executed, as you would expect of Hawkes, who were a prestige outfitter of the time. Even the washer is dyed red to make the sword appear as high quality as possible. To add to this fantastic package, the sword handles wonderfully also. It has not been service sharpened and probably saw very little service, if any, but is a beautiful sword.

This is the sword Matt Easton shares in this video.


A French sword for Finland in the 20th Century

After finding images for my post on various saddles with sword suspensions I was intrigued by the Finnish example which dated to the 1940s. According to an antique dealer’s website, these Finnish swords are French Mle. 1822 Light Cavalry Sabres which were adopted around 1920 and used into the 1940s. They were modified by shortening the blades (and scabbards) by 12cm (4.7″) and removing the additional bars on the guards. The service life of the Mle. 1822 and its descendants is really quite amazing!

A Finnish French manufactured soldier’s sword m/1822. The sword features an arching blade, a brass guard and a bright metal sheath. This model was mainly manufactured by the Chatellerault weapons factory in the 1870’s. The swords were given to soldiers in 1919 and 1920 and they were quickly found to be too long. As a result during the years from 1923 to 1925, a 12 cm piece of the blade and sheath was removed as well as three branches of the sword’s guard. The sword’s handle has a leather tassel that was used for making sure that the sword doesn’t fall off. The sword features the name of the person who received as a gift for distinguished service, and stamps that uncover some of the swords history. The stamps are “3365 HV, AUK (NCO course) 65”. The sword is in fine condition and features only slight signs of use.

anonymous asked:

In movie sword fights, there's always a lot of parrying, but it feels like that would damage the swords a lot, especially in those situations where the combatants just press their swords against each other in a strength struggle. Do real sword fights involve a lot of parrying?

They do, but it looks different from movie parrying. You’re right in that it would, did, and does damage the swords a great deal which is why it’s not the preferred method in real sword fights. The technique you’re describing has been termed as Flynning (after actor Errol Flynn) and the Tropes page has a pretty good description of it versus some discussion of real fencing. It’s important to remember that the point of a movie is primarily to entertain. While it has no connection to actual swordfighting, Flynning is a great deal of fun to watch and much more visually interesting than traditional swordplay.

One of the most accurate gun fights in film is in Michael Mann’s Heat with the bank robbery. The sequence was universally panned by audiences as not being “exciting” enough.

Finding a comfortable middle between entertainment and reality is something each writer will struggle with. However, luckily for you, you’re not working with a visual medium.

Lots of fencers, especially HEMA fencers, will tell you that movie sword fights are stupid. In the real world, when two knights ended up in a movie style blade lock they wouldn’t monologue. One would just punch the other. It’s one of many reasons why you wear gauntlets.

One of the great flaws in how a lot of writers structure their fight scenes, particularly with weapons, is that they get very focused on the weapon itself and forget about the other body parts involved.

Two warriors ending up in a blade lock seems like the perfect time in the movieverse for a monologue. They’re nose to nose, too close to actually stab each other. If you disengage at that distance, one or the other has to back up to use their swords again. If you’re thinking only about the sword and not say disengaging into a head bash or a punch because this is a sword duel and sword duels only ever involve swords, then it’s not going to occur to you.

In the real world, combat doesn’t wait five minutes for punchy dialogue. Someone talking means they’re either A) trying to distract in order to create an opening or B) are distracted themselves which means there is an opening.

You do, however, parry a great deal and not just in sword fighting but also in hand to hand. The parry is a key part of defense and creating openings by which you attack. In combat flow a basic attack is countered by the parry which allows the defender to remain on the defense or take up the offense with a counterattack. So, think about parrying not as clashing and banging but deflection.

It’s easiest to think of this kind of defense and offense as applications of pressure. Physics are ultimately key in understanding a lot of the defensive concepts that are the core across multiple disciplines. While everyone does it differently, the concepts remain the same.

Blocks and parries are two separate move sets.

The block takes the hit.

The parry is a defensive move that creates openings in the enemy’s guard when your opponent attacks.

So, what happens when you lean into someone else? You lay your weight on top of them/against them? Or when two people pull on a rope? If two people lean into each other, they can stay upright even though they’re off balance. This is what the blade lock is, the basic theory that Hollywood is using and it requires two people to be interested in applying the same pressure against each other. But what happens when one person just lets go? The other person loses balance, they fall over, and possibly go all the way to the ground. It’s rarely this dramatic, but that’s the concept. You take the path of least resistance,

Your parry is your give. This is where the attacker who fights without control gets into trouble. If you’ve totally committed to your strike or over-committed then you find the expected resistance no longer there and you come forward into the enemy’s counter.

What you’ll notice in sword combat is that the blade catches but then it rotates, turning the other blade aside. After that, the counterattack comes.

Real fencing is also fast. Most of the time, it’s over in only a few moves. For a real head trip, go look up Olympic Fencing on YouTube. Assume every time the buzzer sounds is a kill.

You’ll notice when you watch fencing videos, like those below, that the movements tend to be fairly tight compared to movies where the swords are swung in wide arcs. Part of the reason why movies and plays do this is so the sword can be seen by the audience, but it’s worth remembering that the bigger the motion then the more tiring it is. Also, the greater the opening it creates in the defense and the more distance the blade/fists/legs have to go in order to connect. The same technical reasons which make big slow motions so great for audience viewing are the same ones which will screw you over in a real fight.

There is a strategy which comes in at the higher levels with blocks, parries, counters, and feints. The upper levels involve bringing multiple concepts together to seamlessly move from one state (defensive) to another (offensive), and often involve tricking opponents through body language and false attacks (feints) into making choices bad for their health.

TLDR: parries are part and parcel to the foundations of martial arts across the board, not just fencing.


Some Fencing Videos:

Longsword Techniques: zornhau, oben abnehmen, duplieren, mutieren  

More Swords from IndenSchwertkamf

A Glossary of Fencing Terms from Wikipedia

Fencing Strategy and Tactics: Counter-Time from SelbergFencing, a discussion of parries as an offensive action from Master Charles Selberg. (I’d check out his whole channel and watch his discussions about fencing strategy, techniques, and their purpose.)

As always check out Matt Easton’s channel Scholagladitoria for in depth discussions on HEMA, Fencing, Medieval Weaponry, and Hollywood mistakes.

And Skallagrim for the same.

We also have a swords tag for more references, resources, and our thoughts on different issues.

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Antique British Napoleonic era infantry officer’s sabre

Ella Hattan, better known by her nom-de-guerre “Jaguarina,” was Colonel Thomas Monstery’s most accomplished student. Born in 1859 in Ohio, she would go on to become widely regarded as one of the greatest swordswomen of the nineteenth century, and perhaps of all time. Hattan would defeat more than sixty men in high-profile combats on both horseback and on foot; according to one major newspaper, more than half of these men were fencing masters.

For more details of Hattan’s extraordinary career, her training, and her lengthy master-student relationship with Monstery, see the following article:


pizzerchickenpicnics  asked:

Hi! I'm writing a character who's had no actual training in any kind of combat style, and isn't agile, but has lots of strength and endurance, and who's weapon of choice is a spiked club (basically, she fights like a bull). What would be a good strategy for her to use against an opponent who's weaker, but more accurate with his attacks and very well trained with a broadsword?

Well, she’s fucked.

I know that sounds harsh and I’m about to explain to why, if taken at face value, your character would get killed. We’re going talk about weapons, how they work, generalized versus specialized, and a concept called reach.

Reach or Distance: Distance to target i.e. how close do you have to be in order to hit the other guy. It’s very important to be able to judge distance in combat because the teeniest error in judgement can be the difference between a hit and an almost hit. While reach is a key part of hand to hand training, it’s even more vital when it comes to understanding weapon’s combat. Particularly, how different weapons play against each other. It shouldn’t shock you (though it surprises some people) that different weapons come in different lengths. The length of the weapon changes the weapon’s reach or distance it takes to hit an opponent.

This becomes more important when talking about theoretical combat between two different weapons, especially when the difference in length can be anywhere from a few inches to several feet. A few centimeters can be the difference between life and death, and there’s a rather vast difference in length between a longsword and a club.

Distance is important, because if the other guy can hit you before you can hit them then you’ve got problems. This is why the saying, “never bring a knife to a gunfight” exists. The thought process is if the guy twenty feet away has the gun and you’ve got a knife, you’re pretty thoroughly screwed.

I’m going to assume you meant a longsword when you said “broadsword” and not a Roman gladius. In this situation, the guy with the longsword can strike the girl with the club well before she reaches a range where she can hit him. He can do so safely and with far better defensive capabilities when it comes to deflecting her club, while the club on its own doesn’t provide much as a means of protection. It’s a solid offensive weapon in the right circumstances, but there’s a reason why it’s paired with the shield.

If she rushes to close the gap, she will get killed even more quickly.

Differences in Damage: This not about which weapon deals damage better, but the kind of damage they deal. The kind of damage they deal directly relates to how the weapon is designed to move, and as a result the path of movement it needs to take in order to achieve results.

The club/mace/morningstar have weighted tips just like a bat. The idea that physical (weightlifting style) strength is necessary to wield them is a misnomer, you don’t need to be in order to wield them. The weapon is weighted so that it naturally achieves greater momentum when swung, the momentum is what achieves the strength behind the blow rather than the strength in the arm itself. Speed, ultimately, is more necessary to the success of the club than physical strength. The faster you swing, the greater your momentum, and the harder you hit as a result. The strength is in the force of impact.

Neat, huh? We tend to think the Europeans of the Middle Ages as dumb brutes or assume the Barbarian tropes, but they were efficient when it came to figuring out means of killing each other and overcoming obstacles… like armor.

The problem with club is that it’s short. This is not a problem when you’re most likely facing enemies that are unarmored and aren’t carrying weapons or carrying weapons of similar size, but it becomes one when facing a longer weapon. Especially one that is as deadly as the sword, especially when that sword is in the hands of someone who knows how to use it.

In Europe, the sword was the great generalist weapon. It’s somewhat akin to the modern handgun in terms of popularity and usefulness in a wide variety of situations. They’re both sidearms, but they can both fulfill roles outside their designed function. The sword is deadly.

Fiction often downplays just how deadly the longsword sword is. But trust me, it wouldn’t come in so many different variations or be the model Europeans kept coming back to if it didn’t work. It’s such a useful weapon that it became part of our cultural consciousness, surviving down in different forms through countless ages, to become a symbol of kingship.

The sword is not the best weapon, it is a secondary weapon or sidearm. What makes it dangerous is the extraordinary ease in which it allows one person to kill another and the wide variety of varying circumstances in which it is useful.

The sword deals damage through very specific points of impact and any glancing blow it makes can end up being fatal. It also strikes on a more confined pattern than the club, making it’s attacks both faster, more difficult to see, and requiring less time for windup. You don’t need to pierce deeply into the body to reach muscles, find tendons, or to cause someone to bleed. Whether it’s punctured via the tip or caught in a glancing slice, all those wounds become debilitating. Debilitation leads to death.

“What’s he going to do? Poke me to death?”

“Yes, actually.”

People don’t come with specially armored skin. The sword is designed to pierce and efficiently carve up the human body, even a cut just an inch or two deep can quickly become debilitating.

Blood loss is a legit strategy.

Strategy: Strategy is a plan of action. It starts with recognizing your own capabilities and weaknesses in relation to your opponent versus their strengths and their weaknesses.

When you’re writing strategy, you should be bound by the limitations of your character. You don’t have to be, but it’s more honest to who they are. Think about the events from the character’s perspective, chucking out everything except what they know and understand about the world, their combat abilities, their opponents, and their limitations.

There are only so many strategies I could give, but it’s better if you start to use the above to formulate your own in conjunction with what you know about these two characters, where they are, what their goals are, what they want, and what the stakes of their conflict are.

The human element in combat is never to be overlooked. A lot of the time, talking about this can feel like a more complicated game of rock, paper, scissors. The problem is it isn’t that clear cut. While knowing what a weapon can do and what it can’t do is all fine and dandy (and important to writing your fight scenes), the heart of the fight are the people who participate. Two people can be given the same arsenal and use to it to extraordinarily different results. They change the rules by deciding what they will do, what they won’t do, what they want, and what kind of people they are.

It’s not so much that the baseline rules change, but rather how people choose to work within them.

I can’t answer any of those questions. They’re your characters, you’ve got to do it yourself.

So, what I need everyone who follows us to do is take your concept of physical strength and it’s importance to combat and then chuck it out a window.

You have a character who wanders into combat, fights like a battering ram, and thrashes about until everyone is dead. This will work against people who are unarmed and have no idea what they’re doing.

She’s fighting an opponent who is better trained, better armed, and carrying a weapon with much greater reach (I am assuming when you say “broadsword”, you mean a longsword and not a Roman gladius). The longsword is actually longer than her arm. Just as importantly, the strike patterns of the club lend themselves to large openings in the defenses.

This is why when someone fights with a mace, they usually bring a shield and plate mail. If you’re going to be raising your arms above your head, you better be wearing protection.

If she bull rushes him in an attempt to knock him down, she will either end up impaled on the sword itself or he’ll let her go past him and carve the sword up her back.

She’s got to figure out how to get close enough to hit him, and he has a weapon that is 1) very quick and 2) long enough to ensure she can’t in any easy way. If she’s not wearing armor, she can’t just wade in. It’s also worth remembering that sword training includes striking soft targets like the legs and the arms before going for the center. She could get close enough, think she’s in the clear, and end up with his blade pierced through her boot.

What I am saying is that if she fights him on an even keel in an honest duel: the deck is stacked against her. More importantly, she’s stacked the deck against herself. She’s wielding an inferior weapon against an opponent with superior training and a superior weapon, one far more deft at making use of openings, greater reach, and with greater defensive capabilities.

You have to be able to reach your enemy in order to hit them.

Right now, you’re trying to treat these two characters like they’re equals. If you recognize how utterly fucked she is, you can work within her limitations and possibly pull off a victory. However, the strategy she chooses to use is a reflection of who she is as a person. Strategy itself lives within a person’s ability to recognize and operationalize their strengths and weaknesses while acknowledging the person across from them. You also need to know how to use the environment and other factors outside of just statistics.

Statistically, she’s screwed. If she’s aware enough to realize that she needs to gain a different type of advantage (an emotional or psychological one) over her opponent, then great. If she’s a dumb, brute force type character unable to register that just because someone looks inferior doesn’t mean they actually are then she’s most likely dead.

An opponent with superior training and wielding a superior weapon is a difficult challenge to overcome. An opponent with inferior training who knows just enough wield a superior weapon, even badly, is a difficult challenge to overcome.

Weapons are not just aesthetic choices. They are not created equal. Each one comes specifically designed for certain situations. A sword and a club are two very different weapons, with the sword designed for a wider range of uses. It’s a much more flexible weapon.

A shield with armor (at the very least protection for the legs, feet, arms, and hands), or trading in the club for a staff (that she knows how to use) to regain the reach advantage would help her.

The assumption made by those who understand nothing about combat is that the guy with the sword is always going to strike for center mass or the main part of the body. However, one of the key parts of combat is the concept of carving your way inward. The sword can cut and damage, even superficially, any part of your body that is unarmored. Taking out hands, legs, feet, and arms if they can’t reach the middle is all acceptable. She raises her club to swing at him and he drives the blade’s tip into her armpit. It might sound silly, but that’s a legitimate target point.

There’s an artery there, striking it means fast bleedout and ruins your opponent’s ability to use their arm. He’ll have been trained to aim for it by his swordmasters because it’s also one of the openings left in plate. The same is true for the knees, or the inside of the thigh. He’ll naturally aim for the joints because those are the openings left due to the need for articulation.

Hands and arms are major targets in sword duels. The understanding is that if they can’t fight then they can’t stop you from killing them.

Untrained fighters tend to offer up those targets more regularly and frequently because they don’t realize that they need to protect them. Stabbing someone in the foot is not glamorous, but it works.

So, she needs a way to counter that sword, it’s speed, and it’s reach. It could be as simple as adding a parrying dagger or a shield if she can one hand the club. The strategy begins with finding a way to nullify the sword, protect herself so she can get close enough (without taking debilitating damage) and end the fight.

As she is now, she’s pretty doomed. Running at him won’t work. Rushing him will not work. The usual bullish skills she relies on are naturally countered by the length of his weapon and his training. She’s basically in a position of “bringing a knife to a gun fight”. If she cannot strike him down before the sword comes out then she is in some serious trouble.

It’s not impossible, but don’t treat them like equals. Treat her like she’s fighting at a severe disadvantage. (No, not because she’s a girl. It’s because she’s ill equipped and has no combat understanding other than learned experience.) Knowing that and working within it is the necessary understanding that’s key to victory.


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Object Title

Sword (khanda)



Object Number



From the Indian disarmament in 1859. Presented by the Indian Government 1861 (Hewitt 1870).

Physical Description

The blade is curved and single edged with two narrow fullers. Towards the tip the blade gets narrow er on the back edge. The langets are long and onion shaped. The quillons are curved and flat. The guard is flat with pierced sections attached to a knuckle bow. The guard has a red velvet cushion on a leather backing. The hilt is bound with fabric. The pommel is disc shaped with a central dome and curved spike. The spike has been broken and repaired.

© Royal Armouries