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#111185 - 10/15/01 08:55 PM What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
cricket Offline
Newbie

Registered: 10/14/01
Posts: 6
I suppose that this is a stupid question, but it is one to which I have not been able to find an answer or reason out on my own. Japanese swords (as far as I know) are only sharp one one side. Originally, I imagined that this was so for the strength of the blade; European broadswords, however, seem to be just as strong as any Japanese sword. I suppose that the quick answer to this question is because the sword is curved (another question I have regards the advantage of a curved sword, anyone know?). It would seem to me that while it would not be an ideal cutting surface (the concave back side of the sword) it would do in a pinch (to defend from a second attacker advancing from behind, for example). Anyways, please excuse the longwinded above. I'm sure there is a good reason, and I'm sure that one of you knows.

Thank you.

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#111186 - 12/15/01 08:24 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
fifthchamber Offline
Newbie

Registered: 11/18/01
Posts: 10
Loc: London, U.K.
Hello,
The advantages to a one sided sword really depend on the way it is designed to be used.
The Katana was designed as a cutting weapon..unlike the 'broadsword'(which was more a smashing type of sword..designed to stab) This meant that the curve in the blade would allow a smooth cutting motion to be used when the sword hit an object..the object would naturally 'run' along the length of the blade and be cut easier by it.
This curved design meant that the Katana would be one sided as it added strength to the blade in a cross section (the triangle shape working the best) and also meant that the blade could be made of two types of steel a harder type on the 'Ha' cutting edge and a softer metal on the rear of the blade to absorb the impact of the strike to the weapon. These two metals meant the blade could be incredibly sharp on the cutting side and still retain its strength and durability..Making the blade with only one metal meant that the whole sword would be 'damaged' per strike and this is why the broadswords are just that..Broad. They were never designed to be as sharp as the Katana and as I mentioned earlier were used with more brute force to stab into the enemy rather than cut into him. (neccessary because of the design of European armour..full metal jackets meant a sword would be easily damaged in a cut but knock a man in armour down and stab him was a option given by the size of the blade and it's weight.
Hope this helps clear up the question.
Abayo.
Ben Sharples

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#111187 - 12/20/01 04:07 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
frank Offline
Newbie

Registered: 12/01/01
Posts: 6
Loc: England
[QUOTE]Originally posted by fifthchamber:
Hello,
The advantages to a one sided sword really depend on the way it is designed to be used.
The Katana was designed as a cutting weapon..unlike the 'broadsword'(which was more a smashing type of sword..designed to stab)

I am sorry, but this is a myth, the European broadsword, Backsword, Bastard sword, Longsword, etc were all swords made with razor sharp edges, they were meant to cut as well as any blade in the world. The fighting in armour was a short time historically, and swords were adgusted to these methods, swords such as the estoc.But remember the large majority of people did not wear armour, and so needed sharp swords, and very lethal martia skils behind them.

In the WMA we have, as you in the OMA our myths and stories of great swordsmen, whose swords were so sharp they cut through cannon barrels, rifle barrels.

Our swords were also able to cut men in half with a single strike.

This meant that the curve in the blade would allow a smooth cutting motion to be used when the sword hit an object..the object would naturally 'run' along the length of the blade and be cut easier by it.

The west also has its curved blades, Ie Saber, and some backswords.

This curved design meant that the Katana would be one sided as it added strength to the blade in a cross section (the triangle shape working the best) and also meant that the blade could be made of two types of steel a harder type on the 'Ha' cutting edge and a softer metal on the rear of the blade to absorb the impact of the strike to the weapon. These two metals meant the blade could be incredibly sharp on the cutting side and still retain its strength and durability..Making the blade with only one metal meant that the whole sword would be 'damaged' per strike and this is why the broadswords are just that..Broad.

Western swords were works of art, as just as the japanese smiths were held in awe, so were the western smiths held in awe, our swords were patterned welded, not just a sharpened iron bar, they were so light, that a broadsword would only weigh about 3 pounds.

They were never designed to be as sharp as the Katana and as I mentioned earlier were used with more brute force to stab into the enemy rather than cut into him. (neccessary because of the design of European armour..full metal jackets meant a sword would be easily damaged in a cut but knock a man in armour down and stab him was a option given by the size of the blade and it's weight.

I have already answered this, but it is so wrong to assume this, suits of armour were so light, that if you threw them into water, a lot of thesuits would float, European swords were made to be as sharp as any sword in the known world, this is a complete myth.

Frank
Provost in the company of maisters

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#111188 - 01/11/02 11:22 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
Brewer Offline
Member

Registered: 01/15/01
Posts: 468
Loc: Arizona,U.S.
Hey Cricket,
One can utilize the flat edge to block without having to damage his blade,break a bone or joint without having to cut or maim and can use it for techniques that envolve utilizing the other hand on the back of the blade.
Your Brother in the Arts

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#111189 - 05/24/02 01:52 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
TAZ Offline
Stranger

Registered: 05/24/02
Posts: 4
Loc: Regina, SK, Canada
Cricket,

There really isn't much advantage to a one-sided sword, at least in combat on foot. The blunt side of the sword is useful for blocking limbs and weapons without cutting or damaging those limbs/weapons, but in real combat, where the objective is to dispatch your opponent as quickly as possible, I doubt wether most swordsman would have worried about not hurting their opponent.

Curved, one-sided swords such as the Japanese katana were originally designed for use on horseback. The aristocratic warriors upon whom the samurai are based were mostly cavalrymen, fighting from horseback with bow and sword. Fighting from a horse, you use mostly slashing attacks, with the occasional stab to finish someone off. So you hit your opponent on the side with a slashing attack, use the momentum of you and your horse to draw the sword along or through your target, and race off to find another target. The attack uses only one side of the sword, so there really isn't much need for a second edge. Defending from the back isn't really a problem when you're on horseback, because you're always moving forward at a good speed.

The curve of the blade helps the sword maintain contact with the target throughout the entire slashing attack, which again is especially important when fighting from horseback, where you really have only one or two good attacks on an opponent before you or he moves out of range. If you look at most swords used by cavalry or horse soldiers, such as the American or European cavalry of the 19th century, or the wickedly curved blades of the Arab nomad horsemen, you see the same curved, one-sided pattern as the Japanese katana.

So when you see a curved, one-sided sword being wielded by a samurai warrior, you're actually seeing a holdover from an earlier era. The samurai kept the curvature of the blade and the one-sided pattern as much for tradtion as anything else, and adapted their style of sword fighting to accomodate the sword's shape.

P.S. There are Chinese and Japanese long swords with two blades. The two-sided, straight-bladed swords are common in Chinese martial arts such as T'ai Chi, but less so in Japan. As you can probably guess, these swords were designed for use on foot, where stabbing, thrusting and chopping actions are more common than quick slashing.

Hope this helps. Cheers

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#111190 - 01/18/03 01:37 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
Jamoni Offline
Veteran

Registered: 01/17/03
Posts: 1514
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
Study Iaido, and you will quickly learn one value of a curved sword. Have you ever tried quickly drawing a large straightbladed sword? You have to pull the sword straight out, then around. With a curved sword, you can draw and strike in one motion. The katana is optimized for this. As far as single edged versus double edged, IF you have decided on a curved weapon, it will be CHEAPER, lighter, and stronger if it is only single edged. In the case of the katana, it will also be suitable for armored or unarmored ground fighting, cavalry style slashing, and just plain all around usefullness. If you really want to get technical, look at the effects different grinds and blade geometries affect cutting. Get Sir Richard Burton's "Book of the Sword".
BTW, Taz, your history lesson was right on target.

[This message has been edited by Jamoni (edited 02-11-2003).]

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#111191 - 04/17/03 03:11 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
ImmortallyWounded Offline
Stranger

Registered: 04/17/03
Posts: 2
Loc: Oregon city OR USA
My guess would be so that unintelligent people wouldnt cut themselves if they were goofing around and decided to block like they do in some movies by putting the hand on the backside of the blade [IMG]http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubb/smile.gif[/IMG]

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#111192 - 07/24/03 10:32 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
MAGon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 1737
Loc: Miami, Fl.
Great thread!!! Learned a lot!
Frank, I loved your input on the Western side of things.

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#111193 - 07/25/03 09:28 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
MAGon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 1737
Loc: Miami, Fl.
Frank: BTW, what's a backsword?

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#111194 - 07/25/03 09:38 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
MAGon Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/22/03
Posts: 1737
Loc: Miami, Fl.
Frank: Also, is it true that bastard sword technique strongly resembles Kenjutsu technique, despite the lack of known contact between countries?
Sorry to be a pest, but you're the first Western fencer I've been able to pose these questions to.

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