Saviolo fencing

Discussion of Chinese historical swordsmanship from all styles.

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Saviolo fencing

Post by jaime_g » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:28 am


taiwandeutscher
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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by taiwandeutscher » Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:05 pm

Yes, quite nice, but what is it with touching the blades with bare hands/gloves? My sharpend swords woudn't allow that, as I cut myself through gloves when cleaning a first few times.
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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Fei Li » Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:59 am

Didn't they have iron gloves at the time?

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Steven Reich » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:36 am

Saviolo is actually fairly clear about having you parry (thrusts) with your left hand as he says something to the effect that the mail mitten is common and even if you aren't wearing one, it would be better to hazard your hand than your left. Note that parrying doesn't mean grabbing, just redirecting a thrust aside.

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Nik » Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:55 pm

Well, from watching, my gut feeling was, they were giving away so many openings, one should have been dead rather quickly.

Parrying is possible with a chain glove, or when the sword isn't razor sharp. Some sword types were designed for thrusting, not for cutting. I still prefer being out of reach, or intercepting the move to connect first, and go in.

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by TCosta » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:15 pm

Still, nice work. I enjoyed it.

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by kg6cig » Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:48 pm

taiwandeutscher wrote:Yes, quite nice, but what is it with touching the blades with bare hands/gloves? My sharpend swords woudn't allow that, as I cut myself through gloves when cleaning a first few times.
Hi all- I'm new on here, just happened to note this in passing, and its relevant to my own training and experience.

Simply touching a blade- or even hitting it relatively hard- won't cut you. The blade works by slicing- i.e., as it drags across the surface. You have to impact relatively hard to cut with a strike. Chefs know this very well- watch how one holds a paring knife.

To be sure, you have to do it quickly. before the other person withdraws the blade, but in both German and Italian martial arts from before Saviolo we see techniques where blades are grasped all the time. Indeed, fighting with a sword in armor is done by grasping the blade at midpoint with the left hand. It takes some practice, but one can halfsword with a very sharp sword with no injury.

Regards,

Joseph

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by taiwandeutscher » Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:49 am

Well, I must confess that I don't have any experience in partner work with steel blades, and also have not much idea about western or eastern armour. We only are allowed to use wood in partner work, and that can hurt a lot, too.

Concerning sharpness of blades, I cut my self surprisingly deeply, just polishing my custom made, in touching unintentionally the blade with a very little movment along it's side. In action I doubt you can impact on a blade in exakt 90° and all oblique impacts should, so I think, result in cuts, at least on my blade.

PS: I also use some leather for warming up the blade before oiling and putting it back in it's scabbard. Same result: getting cut easily. So, I wonder, do you wear metall gloves or cevlar or something?
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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by kg6cig » Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:32 am

taiwandeutscher wrote:Well, I must confess that I don't have any experience in partner work with steel blades, and also have not much idea about western or eastern armour. We only are allowed to use wood in partner work, and that can hurt a lot, too.

Concerning sharpness of blades, I cut my self surprisingly deeply, just polishing my custom made, in touching unintentionally the blade with a very little movment along it's side. In action I doubt you can impact on a blade in exakt 90° and all oblique impacts should, so I think, result in cuts, at least on my blade.

PS: I also use some leather for warming up the blade before oiling and putting it back in it's scabbard. Same result: getting cut easily. So, I wonder, do you wear metall gloves or cevlar or something?
No, we don't. Now, bear in mind, we don't use sharps with each other either- only to test the techniques against a static object. I have seen my Fechtmeister (Master) take away a dagger, by the blade, _after_ immobilizing the forward momentum of the hand. (I can describe the technique if you have an interest.)

Yes, you can get cut with only a little slide. But it does have to slide. I don't know Saviolo- I study Liechtenauer- but if you watch the video again they make hand contact with the blade either on the flat or when they've already stopped it's momentum with the sword.

My cooking knives are _very_ sharp_ my mother was a chef- and yet I routinely hold the paring knife blade while using it- grasping the blade is the proper method. You can get a knife from your own kitchen and try it. Grasp the blade and squeeze hard. There's no blood. Don't let it slide! There will then be blood, I'm sure!

To be fair- I thought this was hogwash. Grabbing a sword? Are you kidding? But you'd be surprised- my XVa longsword (from Albion Swords, their Talhoffer) is quite sharp, and I have no trouble halfswording without injury.

Regards,

Joseph

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Nik » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:28 am

PLEASE don't do it. Just because someone calls his knifes, blades, etc. "very sharp", you cannot take that for granted. I touched a traditionally made japanese sword without any pressure, and it did cut me down to the bone. Depending on the grade of sharpness and edge geometry, touching, let alone with pressure, WILL cut you heavily. Not just by "slicing".

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by kg6cig » Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:19 pm

Nik wrote:PLEASE don't do it. Just because someone calls his knifes, blades, etc. "very sharp", you cannot take that for granted. I touched a traditionally made japanese sword without any pressure, and it did cut me down to the bone. Depending on the grade of sharpness and edge geometry, touching, let alone with pressure, WILL cut you heavily. Not just by "slicing".
Nik-

To clarify, when I say very sharp, I mean chef-sharp. Which is one step shy of surgeon-sharp. The paring knife I described is sharp enough to slice pieces of garlic so thin they are translucent. And yet, I hold it, with my fingers around the blade, every day. No blood. These same knives will, with a slice, cut a piece of meat as easily as you slice butter. I am very respectful of them. But they do not simply cut by touch alone. I have never found a blade so sharp- and I have handled some traditionally made japanese weapons as well- that it acted in the manner you describe. I have, however, noted that such weapons do cut with very little motion, and it's quite possible you didn't even realize you did it.

Sorry, Nik, I don't mean to come off holier-than-thou; I've just never seen _any_ empirical evidence to support your contention that blades can cut with a "touch" I have seen a lot- as in 30 years of my own experience with really sharp knives- to support my ideas of how cutting occurs. I.e., by slicing or a relatively solid impact.

If, however, you distrust this, try another method. Go get a pork loin, or better still, a leg of pork. Take a kitchen knife and press it into the pork leg. Pull back and not the lack of a cut- an indentation, yes, but no cut. Repeat with increasing force until you do have a cut. You'll be surprised at how much force is actually required.

Now, repeat the process with a slicing motion. If the knife is as sharp as it should be, it will be quite easy to slice with it. Now repeat the process again, striking the leg. It will take less work than if you simply pushed, since now you have acceleration on your side, but it still will require some work. Not much, though. You could do this with your favorite sharp blade if you don't believe properly sharpened kitchen knives are sharp enough- though I assure you, they are

Again, I am not trying to be condescending or minimizing- email is not the best medium for not being offensive even when you're trying not to! But I disagree with you on this point, Nik, and will continue to do so.

Regards,

Joseph

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:59 am

Joseph, I had a sword break the skin with a touch once. I had been doing the dao cut, jie. Then I accidentally picked up a jian. It was barely a touch on what should have been the back of a dao blade before I realised I had the wrong sword. I pulled my hand away after only the briefest touch and the skin was cut just short of bleeding. That was with a Zheng Wu jian. My antique jian is sharper and it's only on a medium polish. In my experience, it's definitely possible to cut with a touch. The palms and inside fingers of my hands have very soft skin - softer than arms or legs, for example.
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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Nik » Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:11 am

Hello Joseph,

didn't want to break up a "war on truth". :)

The way you describe sounds as if you are grabbing the knife without pressing directly onto the edge, but merely have the edge between thumb and index finger. Also the disarming would be done in that manner, not downright grabbing the edges with force. Depending on the edge geometry and level of sharpness, and possibly the carbides size from crystallization, you would get cut after a certain amount of pressure is applied. And, I have no idea how much is too much there, and would not suggest to try that.

Cheers,
Nik

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by kg6cig » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:39 pm

Linda Heenan wrote:Joseph, I had a sword break the skin with a touch once. I had been doing the dao cut, jie. Then I accidentally picked up a jian. It was barely a touch on what should have been the back of a dao blade before I realised I had the wrong sword. I pulled my hand away after only the briefest touch and the skin was cut just short of bleeding. That was with a Zheng Wu jian. My antique jian is sharper and it's only on a medium polish. In my experience, it's definitely possible to cut with a touch. The palms and inside fingers of my hands have very soft skin - softer than arms or legs, for example.
Linda-

I suggest you try my "pork leg" test, being very careful not to let the blade slide at all at first. That being said, it requires very little slip to effect a slice- a few millimeters. I don't discount your experience, I simply think that most "touch" cuts involved slices that the person didn't realize were happening. I've certainly had that happen- my first warning that I've cut myself is that blood is dripping onto the cutting board! :-P My paring knife is unbelievably sharp- to be fair, all of my knives are- but I actually hold the paring knife _by the blade_ when using it for paring. I truly don't believe that even your jian- antique or no- is sharper than instruments which are used, for all practical purposes, to carry out surgery. On dead flesh and on plants, to be sure, but surgery nonetheless.

I would be interested to see someone demonstrate the ability to cut with simply a touch. This idea has been an issue of much debate in Historical European Martial Arts- "well, the swords couldn't have been sharp because you hold them by the blade in armored combat." I've demonstrated to my own satisfaction that it doesn't work that way, but others contend that it can. I could be wrong; it would be interesting to me to have someone demonstrate me wrong on video.

As I said to Nik, Linda, I'm not trying to be obnoxious. I just _know_ from long experience that it's possible to put a lot of pressure on a very sharp blade without getting cut (you want to hold pretty tightly so that the blade doesn't slip, so the result is a pretty firm pressure).

And if I'm wrong, I welcome the chance to be shown the error of my ways. I'd just have to see it first. Everyone will note, I hope, that I ask no-one to simply take my word for it. Test it for yourselves, please.

Regards,

Joseph

(something odd happened- if this is a second reply, sorry about that...)

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Re: Saviolo fencing

Post by Linda Heenan » Tue Jun 15, 2010 6:57 pm

As the family cook, I often cut pork legs. I have to saw into them even with a sharp kitchen knife. However, the skin on my hands is much softer than that.

That said, I've trained in halfswording techniques including batting a thrust out of the way. The person teaching me these things is an expert swordsman and following the techniques set down in European manuals. One day he was deflecting a cut from me in this manner. I accidentally dislocated his thumb. The techniques are out there; they are used. I'd still be very careful and do this only if there was no other choice.
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