Test Cutting Assumptions

This Forum is a place for students of swordsmanship to ask advice from moderators Paul Champagne & Scott M. Rodell on how to practice test cutting in a manner consistent with how swords were historically used in combat. Readers use this Forum at their own risk.

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B.Ko
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Post by B.Ko » Thu Jul 27, 2006 12:20 pm

Hi Ben,



Becareful of cutting with the Kris Cutlery sword. I bent mine with a misaligned hit. Even with aligned hit, the blade began to take on a curve like a saber. I suspect heat treatment is an issue.



I have 2 differentially treated blades which 'bounce back' even from misaligned hits.



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Post by ben hanawalt » Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:57 am

Thank you for the suggestions, Scott.





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Post by J HepworthYoung » Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:41 pm

I have used a few things to practice cutting. I have an Ontario Knife USMC machete that I have frequently taken camping and used to cut many things, ranging from dry firewood to soft green plants.



I have wondered if such practice would translate well with the Jian type swords.



I have owned the machete for many years and spent hours experimenting with different edges . it was after I became familair with the structure of a katana that I stopped sharpening the machete like a knife and put a more sword like edge on it. At that point I found I could cut a 2X4 in half with two blows, one from the left and one from the right and could cut the quince tree in my yard in a way that left very smooth attactive curfaces on the cut.



I also try cutting rose stems and find it very hard to get a nice clean cut. I can swipe at soft stem type plants like hops with my hand and often "cut" them in the same way one would with a fast moving stick, speed it the key there, but with a machete or my straight sword I found speed was not nearly as important as form. Last week I was putting a carbon steel ninja-to forward at an angle only 1-2 inches from the target and then turning at the waist (or hip) with only moderate speed. Not only did I find the sword cut right through the target material easily, thus confirming to my mind Mushasi's claim that a cutting stoke need not be fast, but I found that when I tried the same thing with my curved katana I could not get the cuts to work well and they were not clean. The edge of the ninja sword is not as smooth or as polished as the katana, I wonder if the straight blade and the presence of microserrations lend themselves to facilitate these slow horizontal cuts on soft targets? The katana is nearly 4 lbs however and the straight sword is under 2 lbs so I have more subtle control over the lighter blade.



I have a Hanwei Hsu sword for practicing, the one that had only a sharp point but no edge. Is it impractical to polish/sharpen it to have a cutting edge at least toward the last 1/3 of the blade near the tip where the harmonic node is located? I should like to have a sharp jian, though I don't mind waiting a few years to obtain one.

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Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sat Jul 29, 2006 8:05 pm

J HepworthYoung wrote:I have used a few things to practice cutting. I have an Ontario Knife USMC machete... I have wondered if such practice would translate well with the Jian type swords...


Yes & No... some aspects of cutting are universal, such as the importance of the edge & cutting plane being parrallel; but obviously, there would not be so many different blade types if they all cut in the same manner. The important point is to understand how different blade types work, what are the strengths & weaknesses of each, then select the right one for the job at hand. It is also useful to undestand these qualities so that one understands the best way to engage each weapon type & how that weapon is likely to be wielded against one.

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Test Cutting with Jian & Dao Video

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Thu Oct 19, 2006 8:18 am

Here's what I was talking about when I first started this thread...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... dell&hl=en



As you can see in this video, both the straight bladed jian & curved dao are cutting the same targets with equal efficiency. Sure, one could a thicker target with a two-handed cut, but what point would there be in cutting a target that is thicker than a human is in respect to historical swordsmanship?

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Post by josh stout » Thu Oct 19, 2006 11:03 am

B.Ko wrote: Even with aligned hit, the blade began to take on a curve like a saber. I suspect heat treatment is an issue.

Ben Ko


Scott, can you comment on this? I thought a sword would not bend in the same plane as the edge. I recently found an antique seven star duan jian with a saber like curve to the blade. I though this must be intentional as it is impossible (or at least very difficult) to bend a blade in that direction. Was I wrong?

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Re: Test Cutting with Jian & Dao Video

Post by J HepworthYoung » Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:53 pm

Scott M. Rodell wrote:Here's what I was talking about when I first started this thread...

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid ... dell&hl=en



As you can see in this video, both the straight bladed jian & curved dao are cutting the same targets with equal efficiency. Sure, one could a thicker target with a two-handed cut, but what point would there be in cutting a target that is thicker than a human is in respect to historical swordsmanship?
That video is very nice. What make of Jian did you employ?

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Re: Test Cutting with Jian & Dao Video

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:42 am

J HepworthYoung wrote:... very nice. What make of Jian... ?


It is a Huanuo Royal Peony Jian with a sanmai blade, see:

http://www.sevenstarstrading.com/huanuo ... =goldpeony

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Post by PaulC » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:56 am

Josh -



Its more difficult for a sword to bend against the hardened edge, but it can happen. You can see this on historical examples from many different cultures. If a sword bent against the edge on soft target cutting it was a very soft sword.

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Re: Test Cutting Assumptions

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:03 am

Scott M. Rodell wrote:... the notion that there is a great difference in effective cutting ability between a straight blade and a curved blade is false....
Concerning the cutting efficiency of straight vs. curved blades
see- Japanese Katana Vs European Broadsword

"The European sword, even with it blunted edge, did just as good a job (of cutting)."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxYvwEnK ... re=related

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