Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Nik
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Fri Jul 31, 2009 1:54 pm

Update: the ship with the fittings arrived in Hamburg. I can now make 100 jian with the well-known dragon head LQ fittings, and 3 each with high quality jian (x2) and dao (2x peidao type, 1x niuweidao) fittings. I will see the smith end of next week and probably start with a couple of samples.

Is there a need for dao blunts you could spar and practice hitting (chains, etc.) with ?

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Linda Heenan
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Linda Heenan » Fri Jul 31, 2009 7:22 pm

Yes, there is definitely a need for dao blunts. The simple fact is steel plays differently to wood. The wood bounces more, meaning beats are more effective. The steel slides. If we are to advance to the next stage of real Chinese swordsmanship, we are going to have to use steel at least part of the time. I don't think many people are thinking like this yet, but they soon will. It's part of what we need for the future. If we can get steel blunts with correct weight and balance in both jian and dao it will help us improve our skills. I have Hutton sabres for steel dao play but they are way too light and the have guards that cover the hand, so they are not right for our training. Wood is better than those.
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Thu Aug 13, 2009 1:29 pm

My stuff has arrived at the smith site, so I can start talking to him on what samples to make now.

Suggestions for weight classes to try ? I think I go for the following at first:

Jian
- 700g blunts for the reduced impact on hitting, usuable for weaker players
- 800g regular sword blunt/sharp (forms and cutting)
- 900g for the collection items for their heavy fittings, otherwise the POB is hard to keep without a flimsy blade

Dao
- 550g for a light peidao / blunt (cannot imagine that more than 100g were grinded off to get to that 450g on light blades)
- 850g for a heavy peidao

- 750g for a light niuweidao
- 1100g for a heavy niuweidao

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:34 am

Linda Heenan wrote:... a need for dao blunts. The simple fact is steel plays differently to wood. The wood bounces more, meaning beats are more effective. The steel slides. If we are to advance to the next stage of real Chinese swordsmanship, we are going to have to use steel at least part of the time...
It is certainly true that wood plays differently than steel, but I've wondered if it is really a significant difference?

The reason I wonder this, is that a large number of historical systems used wood, not steel blunts, as their training swords, yet fought effectively with steel in true combat. This is not a minor question for us given that there are two significant problems with moving to a steel blunt based practice. One is that there is such a significant increase in hazard in respect to using the thrust, that most players I know using steel blunts do not allow the thrust as it could penetrate the steel armor they wear. This is a real problem for those of us practicing cut & thrust systems, taking away the thrust would kinda defeat the purpose. The second is that using steel requires a whole second set or expensive armor. Given that the full kit for wood on wood play can easily run $500 USD or more (unless one is sewing his/her gambeson personally) the idea of another set of armor with steel plates is going to be more than a bit problematic for the vast majority. So its not that I'm against training with steel blunts, just see where we are going to run into very real problems if we move that way...

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Fri Nov 06, 2009 5:24 pm

I had the smith make the tip completely round for the thrust issue, i.e. it's a half circle. A normal tip that was just a bit flattened would have been too dangerous.

There are other production issues that forged blades made from hard steels have, that rolled blades or such made from softer steels don't have. I have to bring a metal work expert who happens to be my brother (;)) to change the process of straightening, as the traditional method creates too much drop outs or gets too work intensive. I don't want to use lesser, softer qualities of steel to make up for that problem.

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:03 am

[quote="Nik"...I had the smith make the tip completely round for the thrust issue, i.e. it's a half circle...[/quote]

That is the same tip on steel swords used by European style swordsman who say that it is still too dangerous, that a powerful thrust can still penetrate armor. I have no experience with this myself, but this advice is coming from men who really wail on each other, striking with the edge full power. If these guys say no thrust, I tend to take their word.

Perhaps you can actually roll the end of your steel blunts so that there is a loop of steel at the end. That might work, but you are going to have to test it...

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Tue Apr 27, 2010 7:38 am

On the question regarding the tang make, it is of course forged out of the blade as a one-piece construction, hardened, and strong enough. The rat tail is only for fixing the pommel, it goes maybe one inch into the handle. The tang is rectangular 17x7 mm and ~150mm long, reaching almost completely through the handle. The rat-tail to fix the pommel is also forged out of the blade with no welding at all. The handle is glued to the tang with industrial two component resin that gets that hard it grinded like metal. The nut is only a safety measure, and to keep the handle in place while the resin hardens.

The vibrations on the prototypes result from the fitting not sitting tight enough on the tang, I will find a solution for this. The polisher reached a bit into the tang, making for some minimal space between the fittings edges and the tang. I already asked him to make it the other way around, with the tang reaching minimally into the blade to keep a tight fit.
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:36 pm

More pics of the prototype send to Linda, almost 100% finished (the pommel will be fixed by peening if possible):
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Jun 17, 2010 1:06 pm

Nik wrote:More pics of the prototype...
Please send in a sharp for a Product Test in this Forum, thanks,

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:49 am

Will do when the new smith' blades are mounted and tested. Currently, I only have complete swords with blades from the old smith, so there would be differences and no conclusion for the new ones.

BTW, since some have misunderstood, these aren't china-produced blades fitted in Germany. They old smith' location was recently Wermelskirchen which is around 10 minutes from the Solingen city border (had to relocate since being kicked out for well-oiled political ties of the "other" big Solingen forge), the new one is sitting in Remscheid which is another 10 minutes from Solingen in another direction. Both forges have continuous sword making tradition from the late 19th, early 20th century, as they inherited their work from the old Wedi Schmiede (Wester & Dinger) in Remscheid which was the #1 forge in the Solingen area for damascenian sword making during the 20th century, founded from old smith families of the region. The current main work of those forges is military sabers for todays militaries ceremonial needs, and fencing blades for sports and student corps fencing ("Mensur"). The new smith also makes traditional tools, knifes, scissors, pincers, etc.

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Jun 27, 2010 4:46 am

Hi Nik, I took the jian to my reenactment group today to give them a good workout with people who always fight with steel. It went very well. The reenactors were impressed with the weight, speed and balance of the swords, and the blades were strong and performed very nicely. They do need to have wider edges to comply with reenactment safety standards, but other than that, no problems with the blades.

We discovered the source of the rattle. There is a piece of metal fitted underneath the guard. It is not attached to the guard itself but is loose. That is moving about and causing the vibrations. My group has craftsmen able to fix that but they want to know the make up of the fitting metal. What is is made of? Can it take hammering, or would it be too brittle? Can it be soldered, or are we limited to glue? My suggestion would be to find some way of moulding the guard so there isn't a loose piece added, or just leave it off altogether.

The reenactors were impressed with the care that had been taken with the scabbards, grip wrap and other details. I used the swords against each other and against a European sabre, as did other swordsmen. They hold their own in "real" battle very nicely. I even did some blocks with them, rather than just deflections, to see if their strength held up. It does.
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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:53 am

Hello Linda, thanks for the kind review.

The material of the fittings should be zinc-alloy, although it is in its uncoloured appearance a bit copper-reddish. No idea if that means it's not zinc, or if that's the natural appearance of zinc-alloy. The clip that holds the blade in place is, differing from the fittings, to my understanding made of brass. I cannot tell you how much temperature the fittings can take, as we are going to bolt the new blades to the pommel in red-hot state in the next two weeks, then I know if they can take it. However, the fittings are assembled in themselves with a kind of soldering, so they at least can take a low temperature solder application. We are going to use industrial glue instead just for the better control we have then, and because it's more durable (cars are glued like that meanwhile).

BTW, I instructed the polisher to make the edges on the new blades by the rim size of a 5 euro-cent coin. First grinded down to a 10cent rim, and then having the edges rounded.

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by kg6cig » Sun Jun 27, 2010 1:29 pm

Hi folks-

One possible alternative you might consider is Arms and Armor. I re entry haid a conversation with Craig- I believe he's their production manager or something like that- and he said he believes it would be possible to mount their "Scholar's sword" blade on their Jian fittings.

A&A's training swords are _superb_. We use their fechterspiel- which you can see at http://www.armor.com/train203.html
because it is designed to reduce cutting impact while maintaining accurate performance.

The Scholar's Sword http://www.armor.com/train207.html performs very well, though I don't know if it handles like a jian. If you're looking for a bit more safety, I'd consider it. They are, however, not cheap, just very good.

Regards,

Josephq

MOD NOTE: A & A's JIan was reviewed in this Forum, please see- viewtopic.php?f=8&t=890

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by Nik » Sun Jun 27, 2010 2:59 pm

I can assure you that our jian handles like an authentic jian as well as it is designed as a historically weighted and balanced blunt training jian and not taken from a german medieval blade with a totally different balance, is produced by a german industrial forge next to Solingen by licensed trained professional metal craftsmen instead of some hired hand who mounted car tyres before, weights 750g instead of 1000 or more for production convenience, has a balance of 6" instead of 4" for production convenience or plain ignorance, that the edge will *not* be blunted from a chinese sharp import blade but polished into a 1-1,5mm safety edge from the raw forged blade, is _always_ out of 55Si7 quality steel hardened in a computer controlled industry heat treatment facility to 54 HRC, and will be insured against breakage. That means, if the sword survives our testing procedure but breaks within a certain time frame after usage (not decided yet, say, 3 months), we replace it if it is a confirmed production fault (i.e. no intentional destruction for giggles). Just to make that clear.

BTW, we are going to make german medieval swords as well, but we're not mixing them up with chinese swords just to reduce model numbers or production costs.

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Re: Development of swords for chinese swordmanship

Post by kg6cig » Sun Jun 27, 2010 3:58 pm

Klaus-

I hope I haven't stepped on your toes here, it sounds from your response as though you're offended. Please understand, I'm in no way trying to disparage your work, especially as a I don't know it. If I'm misunderstanding your tone, I likewise apologize. But your remarks about swords not being made by people who change motorcycle tires suggest a certain... Asperity, shall we say?

I do, however, know A&A's work, and they do good stuff. If- and somebody more competent than I at Chinese swordsmanship would have to evaluate this- they can produce a blade suitable for Chinese swordsmanship I recommend them because they're a good company and they take care of their customers. This is not to suggest in any way that you don't.

A German sword from the 15th century is very well blanaced, responsive, and quick. My scholar's sword approximates an Oakeshott type XVIII, in terms of weight anid performance. I haven't a clue if it would work with jian fittings. But, because of narrowed blade that attempts lot replicate performance rather than appearance, it has a thick edge that helps prevent split skin on knuckles and foreheads.

It sounds like you have extant examples of training jian, which is cool; while are fechterspiel are based on specific examples, the s hollers swords is not. They just applied the same principles in developing it. I'm curious, where does one find examples of training jian?

Regarded,

Joseph

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