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#111225 - 12/26/04 11:59 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?

I'd have to disagree. There are plenty of heavy eastern blades, and plenty of light western ones.

#111226 - 12/27/04 08:03 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Subedei:
Are you honestly trying to argue that medieval era Europe equalled Rome technologically?[/QUOTE]

In terms of things like swords? Yes.

Why does that come as such a surprise to you?

The finest European pattern-welded swords, which were at least as good as--if not downright better than--Ancient swords, were made long after Rome had fallen.

And the homogenous steel swords that generally replaced the pattern-welded types were made after that.

During the Renaissance, metallurgy advanced even more. For example, Renaissance armorers were able to fashion suits of plate that were proof against pistol and even (in some cases) arquebus balls.

[This message has been edited by Armed_Man_Piker (edited 12-27-2004).]

#111227 - 12/27/04 09:02 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Toranaga:
I don't want to sound like I'm favoring a perticular side on this arguement, I love the eastern as much as the western style of blades, but I would have to go with the eastern style being more effective. Both variants are equally sharp, previously argued, but the eastern style blades are much lighter. Allowing a lot more dexterity and grace in your cuts and slices. Now if you want to come in swinging a broadsword when then can simply draw the sword from its sheath and cut you down, be my guest. Simply put the eastern blades win because of the lightness of the blade.[/QUOTE]

No offense bro, but the notion that Eastern blades are "lighter" than Western ones is pure, Grade A, 100% BS.

Western and Eastern swords are in fact of comparable weight (which really should come as no surprise).

And I have handled enough originals to know.

[This message has been edited by Armed_Man_Piker (edited 12-27-2004).]

#111228 - 12/31/04 09:49 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?

there are no real advantages just diffrences

#111229 - 05/08/05 08:16 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side?
Ace Offline

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 101
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
If you have ever delved into the history of sword forging, three names come to mind.. Damascus- Damascus steel
Damascus steel is a type of steel alloy that is both strong and malleable, a material that is perfect for the building of swords. The term refers to the metal used by the artisans and swordsmiths of Damascus, Syria. The process for making Damascus steel, was used between about 900 and 1600 in the Middle East, and then disappeared for reasons that are not entirely understood. It is said that when it was first encountered by Europeans during the Crusades it garnered an almost mythical reputation—a Damascus steel blade was said to be able to cut a piece of silk in half as it fell to the ground, as well as being able to chop through normal blades, or even rock, without losing its sharp edge. Recent metallurgical experiments, based on microscopic studies of preserved Damascus-steel blades, have claimed to reproduce a very similar alloy via possible reconstructions of the (still unknown) historical process.
Japanese- already discussed, made by folding the steel seven times while hammering straw into it to add carbon, creating felixibilty.. note: it had two completly difrent steel types, the core-flexible and the blade-hard but brittle, had many properties as above mentioned damascus steel.
and... Spanish metorite Iron swords- said to be forged at extremly high tempretures, these swords were prized by royals everywhere becuase of their keen blades and almost indestructable steel.... sorry, thats all i got on it, if anyone has any more info, please tell me...
But, as with the arguement, all these swords generally have one blade, becuase to create steel in this manner with two blades would counteract many of the benifits of making them in this manne in the first place.
1) sword loses flexibilty, not being able to flex backward.
2) Smith must devote less time to keening of blade, and forging proccess takes longer, putting intergratity of blade at risk (they can only be forged for a short time before oxygen and carbon are burnt out of blade)
3) blades with two sides are generally wider, and are hardier to weild effectively at high speeds.
3) most two sided blades are produced for thrusting or chopping, and were mass produced for armies, japanese blades etc. were made over a period of days, and allowed the smithy to devot more time to creation, integrity and keen of blade, which were best expressed through a one edged weapon.
4)armor at the time was effective at slowing down thrusts and chops, but high velocity blades with a concentrated striking area (created by V shape of blade) allowed swords to penetrate this arour to greater effective, while allowing a well balanced weapon. As to the wesern sword veiws in general, what make of swords are you talking about? and were there any noted swordsmiths you can bring up the names of so i may research them? i have many famous japanese swordssmiths names if you wish to trade...

#111230 - 05/08/05 04:24 PM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side? [Re: Ace]
ken harding Offline

Registered: 04/21/04
Posts: 721
Loc: UK
Predictably the argument surfaces about European blades versus Eastern, notably Japanese blades. As usual the argument ends up contextually incorrect aside from the normal factual cock ups.

For example, let's take Viking blades and Japanese blades.
The Vikings roved until about 900 AD ish. So to be reasonable one has to compare a Viking (pattern welded blade - yes they were by the way) blade with a blade from the same period in Japan. At this point you'll find no real superiorority on either count.Put two armies of Vikings and 8th century Japanese warriors in the field and I know who my money would be on....yep the Vikings. Why because they did not bother with ritual and fought only to win.

Anyway back to the blades. The tendency is too often to compare an Edo blade, often regarded as the pinnacle of Japaense sword making with something else and then say "Oh better blade ergo all Japanese sword making was superior to anyone elses throughout history" . This is plainly rubbish.

Saracen blades of Damascene steel were every bit as good as the Japansese blades of the 12th century for example.

Come further forward in history and Japanses blades do excel for one simple reason. They carried on making them, fighting with them and regarding them as the main weapon of choice when large parts of the world were using guns.

So, to get the "who's sword is best argument" right one has to say ultimately the Japanese blades as they took the craft further than anyone else, but while everyone used swords I do not think they were more effective on a period for period basis.

To go back rather belatedly to the question of this thread though, triangular shape of the blade reinforces the cutting edge.

For more reading on swords of the West I'd recommend Oakeshott by the way.
Heijo Shin

#111231 - 05/09/05 12:04 AM Re: What are the advantages to a sword with only one sharpened side? [Re: ken harding]
Nik_Miller Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 28
First I would like to introduce myself, my name is Nik Miller, and my style of swordsmanship is German Longsword in the style of master Johannes Leichtenauer.

I dont think the single edge really has any advantage, but the curve does mean more edge area so a draw cut is helped by it. As for a double edged western sword, short or false edge attacks(attacks with the edge that would normally be faceing towards you) can be very usefull because the angles they can be delivered at can put you in a safe possition for opposeing their blade and attacking at the same time. and for those who argue that a single edge is supported better because the shape is a triangle behind the edge, well a diamond cross section double edged sword is just two triangles back to back. alot more could and probably needs to be said on blade geometry vs. cutting abliity and such things, like the level of convexivity the planes of the blade have, sectional mass(blade thickness/width at the point of impact) actual sharpness only really matters if you set the sword on an obect and draw it to cut but on a sword in motion blade geometry plays a much bigger part in cutting that the actual sharpness of a blade.

#111232 - 05/09/05 04:56 AM Curved Swords, and Europe Versus Japan. [Re: cricket]
Ambrosius Offline

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 15
This should actually be divided up into separate questions what are the differences between a straight and curved sword, and what is the benefits to having a one or both sides sharpened.

In short, the advantage to having only one side sharp is that you can safely touch the back of your sword. This is done quite a bit in Chinese broadsword forms and to a lesser extent in some Japanese arts.
Having both edges sharpened allows you to use the back edge for cutting attacks. I recently sparred against someone trained in single edged sword fighting (chinese broadsword) with a european broadsword style. He was very surprised with my combat rhythm, because there was several fast beat moves that I could do that he simply could not, because I could use the back edge.

Now, on to curve:
A sword curved back (like a katana or european saber) has a larger cutting length and also is easier to withdraw from someone as you ride by on an attack. Many calvary swords are made this way, the european saber, the Japanese swords, the Saracen scimitar, and several others. A curved blade also allows you to deflect attacks easier because they more readily slide down the blade. A curve allows you to draw a slightly longer sword faster. (try to quickdraw a katana, then try to quickdraw a european hand and a half sword (aka [censored] sword). Though they are similar (not exactly but close) sizes and weights, the straight sword will be harder to draw quickly. Oh, and yes I almost forgot, the curve makes the blade stronger so you can use slightly harder steel on the edge. The edge on an Edo era katana was incredibly hard, which have it an incredibly sharp edge, but unfortunately made it more likely to chip.

A straight blade has some advantages too, its better for stabbing. A straight sword also tends to have a different combat rhythm than a curved one. For a good comparison compare a the Chinese Jiann (straight sword sharpened 1/3 of the way down from the tip on both sides) and the Japanese kodachi (like a small katana). The jiann's combat rhythm is very different from the kodachi and quite fast.

Now on to what this threat has evolved to, european versus eastern (specifically Japanese) swords.

Now, the reason the japanese katana evolved the way it did was because it took *much*, *much* longer for the japanese to get high quality mass produced steel. The Spanish had good steel mass production by the thirteenth century. The far east did not develop high quality mass-produced steel until much later, and their sword design reflects that. The type of folding that was done to a katana was less than ideal (A very well controlled blast furnace, combined with proper tempering is better), but it was necessary to properly mix in the carbon to make the steel. The Japanese used the technology they had and took it out farther than the west did. (The west just got new technology)

Don't get me wrong, a katana is a great sword and a marvel of ingenuity. However most of the time, European swords are misrepresented as crude objects. First of all, a knight's sword was not his main weapon knights tended to rely on lances then use their swords for close in work. By the 1500's many other weapons in europe were also replacing swords. Various large clubs became popular (the war hammer and guetentag are examples of this) for their ability do disable armored knights despite their heavy armor. The Swiss popularized a style of fighting with pole-arms that was incredibly hard to beat (even by armored mounted knights.)
Another myth is that european swords were not well crafted or sharp. Henry the fifth showed that was false when he cut through an iron bar with his sword without damaging it.

To summarize how I feel, a sword is a tool. Some are better at some things, some better at others. To assign a mythic quality to a sword is in my humble opinion, a silly thing to do.

#111233 - 05/09/05 07:25 PM Re: Curved Swords, and Europe Versus Japan. [Re: Ambrosius]
Nik_Miller Offline

Registered: 05/08/05
Posts: 28
a deep curve does enhance the fluidity of the draw, but one great factor that has been over looked is that an average japanes katana is around 27 inches, while the average hand and a half sword was 36 inches, and longswords were around 40 inches long. So the more than 9 inches of added length will also make the european sword slower to draw. Maybe thats why there are no iaido like arts for longswords and the like

Ambrosius Can you provide me with proof that a curved blade is stronger than a strait one, or even a reasonalbe argument?

Edited by Nik_Miller (05/09/05 07:30 PM)

#111234 - 05/09/05 10:37 PM Re: Curved Swords, and Europe Versus Japan. [Re: Nik_Miller]
Charles Mahan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 06/14/04
Posts: 2502
Loc: Denton, Tx, USA

Maybe thats why there are no iaido like arts for longswords and the like

I beg to differ. There most certainly are. 36" is about a 3-0. That length is not outside the technical ability of a competently trained average height MJER guy assuming the sword is of a traditional shape(ie not a straight sword). I can perform nukitsuke with my 2-4-5(roughly 29") by grasping at the tsuka down at the end rather than up by the tsuba(crossguard) easily simulating a sword 6" or so longer. I can perform most if not quite all of the nukitsuke that I am familiar with. Requires some extra hip movement but is entirely possible. Heck Komei Jyuku guys use swords nearly this long on a regular basis by all accounts.
Iaido - Breaking down bad habits, and building new ones.

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