Discussion in 'Weapons' started by saikyou, Sep 30, 2003.

  1. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I've allways wondered what it is with asian ma's (or weasterns impression of eastern-ma that leaves us to believe) that things were so specific and specialized? The martial art of wielding the nunchaku, the martial art of the staff, the martial art of drawing the sword, top ten deadly kung fu weapons, the circus-tent-peg-hammer-super-club-weapon, the beheading-frizbee... Constructing swords specifically with the aim of horselegs? How specialized does it need to be? When we do test-cutting on pigs, and cattle on Medieval shows, etc, anything can cut a horseleg, from a small onehander, upwards.

    I'm pretty sure horselegs have been cut a lot of times during mankinds flirt with metallurgy, but I have problems believing that swords were designed just with that in mind; "Oh quick, come with the anti-horseleg-sword... oh, no, he turned, now I need the anti-incoming-missile-shield... oh wait, here comes a lance, give me the anti-incoming-lance-shield instead!":p

    I'm not trying to make fun of anybody, and this is perhaps off topic, but I am convinced that when asians fought eachother in distant past, they followed consistant teaching and systems that could be applied outside the box. If they had swords, they were probably capable of beeing quite flexible in their use, and the only way to know how, is to play with them (unless we have manuals that tells us how they were used).

    Specialized blades exists in Europe as well, you have the excecutioner-swords and proseccion swords, but what they have in common is that they are not meant for combat.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2010
  2. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    There are several blades that are basically pole arms in China that were supposedly made for dealing with horses. Kwan Dao, Pu Dao these are a few I wouldn't really consider them to specialized due to the fact at least the Kwan Dao has hooks to trap weapons. The early Japanese weapons were basically the same as the Chinese wont get into it to much but the change in swords shape had to do a lot with the location and materials as well as who they were facing. Swords and weapons other than blades often change to to changes in armor. If you look at the evolution of armor you understand the change in weapons being used. Early Japanese used Bows a lot things change with cavalry and fighting methods changed with how wars were conducted and stuff of that nature. There are many specialized weapons.
  3. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    The more stuff you can teach the cooler you are. That probably hasn't changed in millennia.
  4. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Oh yes of course, but an anti horse weapon?

    I'd love to hear some sources.

    Take the angorn of european iron age( ), we have no sources on how it was used, and it looks highly specialized. My guess is that it's got that "fish-hook-tip" for a specialized reason, probably for it to get stuck somewhere, either a shield, a person or both, but I wouldn't dream of suggesting that it was anti right-leg weapon or anti horse-spear???

    I mean, would they find another weapon if they were to kill an enemy on foot, or a donkey?

    Perhaps it's just the way we formulate ourselves on forums, the european helebard was developed to give infantery a possebility to fight back if they were attacked by chavallery, and many think that it's more because the developement of the european polearms than the development of firearms that spells the doom of the classical fully plated knight. That said, noone would dream of saying that the european hellebard is an axe meant for cutting horses, it's fully capable of cutting, smashing or thrusting into whatever the wielder wants it to.

    Specialized? yes.
    Anti horse axe? no, no manuals dwell on "the art of cutting a horse!"
  5. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    You need to explore the French cooking section of the library then! :)
  6. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    Anyway the Pu Dao and other such weapons could be used against even a person but many sources say these type of pole weapons were used against horsemen to cut the legs from under a house. If you look these weapons up it shows up in many descriptions several call the Horse Cutters.
  7. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    Actually look into the Chinese Tiger Fork this was specifically made to kill tigers. The Bill or Billhook in Europe was originally made for agriculture not as a weapon. The Bill was used to cut tree branches and things but worked well against armored knights.
  8. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I stand corrected :D

    I'd allso like to see the source for the bill originally beeing a tool turned into a weapon. Not because I doubt you, but because I like sources and to learn. And still, if what you say is correct, they never said that the billhook should only be used for cutting lances, or the legs of people wearing skirts, or somthing like that. When you look at any medieval manual, what you see is principles that are meant to be used in many situations; Fiore's manual from 1410 actually must be read a a whole, he shows basic-techniques in his wrestling-section that is essential if you are to understand his principles in his later chapter on fighting on horseback with a spear.

    I should allso stress that I'm talking about tools for war, not tools for set duels under specialized rules, or tools for specialized labour. I have no problems with scissors meant for cutting textiles and scissors meant for cutting paper. It's the tendency to dissect the eastern ma's into separate arts that I'm after. I believe this is a modern phenomen, not somthing asians were adhering to in "the good old days".
  9. beer_belly

    beer_belly Valued Member

    Trouble is the asian arts cover a huge range in time and geography and culture with wildly differnt views to combatatives.

    The Japanese have been dissecting combat into separate arts for hundreds of years - they were writing catalogues of schools 300 years ago grouping them into kenjutsu schools (with a sub category for those that specialised in fighting from the draw), spear schools, archery schools etc - the early sogo bujutsu (comprehensive system) could have military strategy, sword, staff, rope tieing, combat swimming, halberd, wrestling, firearm etc etc etc sub systems but they can treat each one a separate area for learning that influenced the other.

    Hinatsu Shigetaka's 1716 classic the Honcho Bugei Shoden is the textbook example listing schools living or dead at that time, showing the mid Edo period approach.... SMR is a stick school dating back almost 400 years that has separate subsumed arts for hook and chain, sword, short stick.

    So in the limited case of Japan the specialisation into separate arts is not just a modern phenomena
  10. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    Let me check my book real quick lets see. Pg56 Weapons An International Encyclopedia From 5000B.C. To 2000.A.D. #7 Bill- Based on a tool for cutting hedges.

    Pg114 A glossary of The Construction Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor

    Bills- It started as an agricultural implement was modified for war and still survives in England as an agricultural implement. The Bill has a broad blade with a cutting edge and a variety of spikes and hooks projecting from the back and end. It is mounted on a long shaft.
  11. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Heh, that is what fassinates me, because in Europe, it seems that the "masters" took an entirely other approach to learning martial arts, where you wrestle to learn knife, do knife to learn lance, do lance to learn spear, do spear to learn sword, etc.

    Wolf: I'm sure I sound difficult, but what are those statements based on? Speculations from the author?

    I'm very sorry but I've read so many books about history, where the authors demonstrates their inability to go to the sources, but bases their statements on others' statements, or on archaeologics' inacurate speculation about the marial field (a field most archaeologics don't know much about). That's why I'm the way I am.

    I'd love to see the material that makes the authors of theese books to make that conclution. I've read in books that states that the glaive is a schyte adapted for warfare, where others say that it have nothong to do with scytes, but is rather a spear-head inspired by the messer or longseax.

    But I've allso seen combat manuals fielding unaltered farm-impliments, like sicle and scyte, and in those cases, I suppose one can say for sure that -not only is it a weapon inspired by a farm-tool, it actually is that very farm-tool. Perhaps the Bill is depictured in manuals like that, just like the scyte and the sicle?

    Here is a link to a replica of the onehand/twohand-version from the maciovsky-bible: (i'm thinking about the number two from the top-picture). Is that a short bill adapted for warfare do you think?

    Here is a link to a thread regarding farm-implements used for war (only the first post is in english, but it's the links I'm thinking about):

    All this is perhaps a little off topic, as wether some weapons are based on farm impliments is a little beside the point; nobody have claimed that certain twohandswords from japan were farm-tools adapted for cutting horses during wartime ;)
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2010
  12. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    I understand where your coming from but I have not seen a source that doesn't describe the Bill as never being an agricultural tool. Even looking on the net I find every page that fully talks about it's use mentioning it's agricultural background. Many conscripted common folk didn't have money for swords and armor they used what they had. I tried to do a search on it not being an agricultural tool and didn't find anything saying no. Im no expert on historical arms but it's been an interest of mine for as long as I could read. I have several books on weapons and some on the uses of these weapons mostly asian. I do however own a book on German Long sword that goes over many weapons and things as well as unarmed fighting. I also own a book by John Clements over Medieval Swordsmanship.

    This guy wrote the one book the other was a collection of people from the way it looks and covers more modern arms.

    European martial arts is hard to really put together because many of the books that survive I have heard were more like advertisements for masters. They didn't discus all that much and didn't show all the techniques just a sampling. As I have never studied with a group as I would like to I can't say much. I like martial arts and read a lot about other arts. I am not the type to toss out the ideas of other arts although I may not agree with the schools way of teaching them and may dislike some techniques. Anyway I am not above accepting I could be wrong but I will usually do as much research as I can. I have been through many arguments over things and have been banned from a few groups due to my thoughts and people getting angry that I keep posting reference material they didn't like.
  13. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    [ame=""]YouTube - Paulus Hector Mair Exotica[/ame]

    I find this funny yet interesting.
    [ame=""]YouTube - [around_china] 18 Rarely Seen Chinese Martial Art Weapons from Zhejiang[/ame]

    [ame=""]YouTube - Tuvok using Bat'leth[/ame]
    The guy who created this for Star Trek had some martial arts experience and supposedly came up with the idea from hooked Chinese weapons I have seen one that came close but then found the above video of a very similar weapon.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  14. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    My guess is that there is no place where a medieval written source states "Then we tooketh that hedge-cutter and decided it could be used as a military weapon". Therefore it will probably never be possible to prove this. It wil allso be impossible to prove that the assumption is wrong. I'll put this in the "educated guess"-category :)

    It seems very plausible that this assumption is correct if there are pictures of bills beeing used as hedge-cutters that are older than pictures of bills beeing used as military weapons.

    The manual you linked to is the excact one I was talking about :)

    I hope you'll get the chanse to join a WMA-school someday, it's really rewarding. I've been training WMA for allmost 10 years now, and it gives you another angle on the understanding of the weapons. I allso recomend to go to gatherings, as one single "master" often have his own personal twist, willingly or unwillingly -and it's very rewarding to compare "masters". Like my "master"; Colin Richards had a background from Aikido, I think in hindsight that his take on WMA was a bit influenced by the Aikido-way of doing things. I've allso been training with others, and all have their personal twist to a given technique, not nessesarily different interpretations, more like flavours.

    When I use the term "master", it's out of simplicity. Colin for instance hate beeing called master, and I've not met a single wma'er that calls himself a master. Some calls themselves a scholar at best. We're all amateurs, and the resurrected WMA-arts have only been studied for roughly 20 years, and the understanding of the manuals is in constant change. Unfortunately some "masters" get more focused on selling their product or overdoing their importance in the community, and I generally don't recomend any WMA-book, going to different teachers is much better, IMO actually printing out the original texts and pictures and researching from scratch yourself is probably better than reading some "master"'s book, as you're then interpreting directly from the source, not interpreting someones interpreting of a source. After all, all masters' undestanding of any given manual is based on them trying to understand medieval german/italian/english and 2d-pictures!

    The day someone prints a WMA book that have all manuals we know of + all major interpretations of them, I might recomend a WMA-book; a mammoth of a WMA-synopsis :cool:
  15. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    It would look like a set of encyclopedia! :)
    I understand exactly what you're saying about different instructors. Several years ago, there was a large gathering near where I live (it was in Lewisville), and my friend David from Mugen Dachi asked me to come by and help them out with a cutting seminar they were giving. I wandered around and watched parts of several seminars, and worked pretty closely with a number of instructors at the seminar. Several of them practiced from the same historic German manual (can't remember the name now) yet they moved and approached things in a much different manner. This is quite a bit different than the Japanese schools where you can have instructors from several different branches of the same school, and they'll all be basically the same. Details will differ, but the movement and approach will be the same, making the base school very obvious.
  16. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    15 years ago what you're saying would be largely true. Talhoffer's 1467 book really seems more like a CV than a manual, and back in the day if that's all you had to work on, you had your hands full. Same with one of the Fiore versions, which is really quite terse despite nice images.

    Manuals like Von Danzig, Ringeck and Gladiatoria are really quite detailed and much easier to interpret. Likewise for some rapier texts, since about 80% of the rapier's blade actions were preserved in classical epee anyway.

    The hard part isn't the techniques themselves as many of the descriptions are quite clear. The devil is in the details, so one has to be prepared to engage in large amounts of trial and error. This really isn't a big deal, since even in the living lineage arts I do, I have to engage in trial and error to get it to work for MYSELF, even with the instructor standing right there! :)

    My opinion is, if you adhere to the principles, can make the techniques work, and comply with the text, then you're probably doing it right, or as right as it gets, given the variation in the texts written by different masters describing the same technique. There is after all, a certain amount of grey area even in living arts. It's reasonable to assume it was also the case when these manuals were written.

    Best regards,


    N.B. You are also cordially invited to attend my class, should you ever find yourself in Calgary. :)
  17. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    If I didn't live here in a hole located in Southwest Kansas I would like to train swordsmanship Im not really into rapiers more into Sabre, Cut and Thrust style blades and long swords that sort of thing. We just don't have much options and it's hard to get things started without knowing something of what your doing. I need to try to save up and travel a bit more to some areas as my Sifu did. My Kung Fu teacher trained in various arts for many years before finding a Wing Chun school he liked. He then traveled to Australia for months at a time to learn. Unfortunately I can't do this at least not to the extent he did training everyday for a few months then coming back. If I could find a good school that not to far away I could eventually take off on my vacation time and try to talk an instructor into showing me things to start with and come back. I know a few who are interested in this stuff but the only thing they do is some odd SCA stuff. I was not impressed. They seem to lack knowledge on actual martial technique and use of a sword.
  18. Langenschwert

    Langenschwert Molon Labe

    SCA can be hit or miss. Some are rather good, with a solid grasp of swordsmanship. Others... not so much. The best SCA fighters are very difficult to deal with. That being said, their training is largely optimized for SCA combat. Given the amount of force required to make an opponent call a "hit" in some kingdoms, some of them turn into "Buffalos" which is medieval German fencing lingo for a crude fencer who relies on strength.

    There is the Great Plains Fechtschule in Kansas. I have no experience with them personally. Ms. Finley (the chief instructor) is certainly well-known, and her custom-made grappling jackets (some of the German wrestling uses clothing grabs) are apparently top-notch. I am not aware if she has a specialty in a particular weapon. It couldn't hurt to drop by for a visit... Topeka is certainly closer than Calgary. :)

    Best regards,

  19. Wolf3001

    Wolf3001 Valued Member

    This girl I know is from Arizona I was talking to her about things but she had no experience with the use of a long sword in a historical martial context just her SCA stuff. I was going over a few guards and things I have seen used and she was basically saying no way. I was trying to explain these things come from actual manuals and I have seen them used by everyone I could call legit. She was using some techniques that in my mind were like Boxing or something fast but not really hits that I would be to worried with if I were wearing any form of protection. She would get a slight tap on my arm and tell me it was unusable. I have cut myself rather badly in the past I told her that I may be injured but it wasn't enough to cripple me completely. I don't know I wasn't impressed and was telling her im interested in learning actual methods not sport. She told me she had done some fencing but im not sure where or how much she really knew. Im not into rapier to me it was more of a gentlemanly art or civilian method of combat I would prefer Sabre or something if I went that route. Not that if I had the chance I wouldn't try fencing.
  20. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    What exactly are you going on about? If you aren't wearing armor then she was most likely pulling the blows. I assure you I could use a-historical power generation to cut deep enough into flesh to render a limb useless. I could the same with a few different historical power generation techniques. And I know a great many kingdoms in the SCA go to great pains to not cripple people, especially newcomers.

    If this was while in 'armor' then she wasn't hitting you hard enough and that is the rules of how heavies is played. If you can't feel a stout enough blow then you ignore it.

    You need to provide some greater context. Was this with sticks, foils, epees, schalgers, bated rapiers, bated backsword blades?

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