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Old 02-09-2012, 11:00 AM
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Good morning, and thanks again to everyone who welcomed me on the intro forum. I've read some posts on this and other boards regarding swords in a post (insert your scenario here) world. As a practicioner of the German Longsword I wanted to give some of my thoughts regarding a swords place in such a scenario.

I will start with the cons. Sword techniques like that of any other edged weapon are based on correct footwork, measure/ distance, and timing and degree of athleticism is assumed of any practicioner, all of these require training/ drilling to tedium. Then there is the subskill of the ancient masters: grappling. Which takes place at extreme close range in what is known as 'Kreig'. In my own opinion young knights probably learned the wrestling/grappling aspect of the sword arts before taking up the sword itself. I've been at this for 10 years and find myself often revisting and playing catch up in my grappling skills. Contrary to what you might hear the sword arts of Europe are nothing like the clumsy brutish sword bashing of Hollyweird films.
The con here is the weapon requires extensive training.

The second con for some is that of length, in his 1599 treatise George Silver precribed a 'perfect length' according to the stature of the man. As a rule this will fall out to 3' feet or more of blade length. Any less and you lose range any more and you will not be able to wind or uncross efficiently. He also precsribed that ones single hand sword have the same blade length as ones two hand sword. The con here is that in a modern home you will not have much room to manipulate the weapon except by half sword techniques, This con is not an issue outdoors but its certainly something to think about for SHTF home invasion scenario.

The third con is that of expense, I have thousands of dollars in my weapons. They were custom forged to my own specs matching my stature: 5'10 tall. As well as my aescetic tastes.

Swords were and still can be a good sidearm, but there are certainly more efficient choices for those less inclined toward ancient weapons. I also think its worth a mention that a sword was not a primary battle weapon, rather it was part of a weapons system, the primary weapons were spears, pollaxes, maces or in the case of Yeomen; bows. Much like pistols today swords were a secondary weapon, only drawn in when the more powerful and longer range weapons were out of reach or destroyed in battle. The only exception is judicial duel.


All of that being said yet another con is that a decent sword is dreadfully hard to reproduce, note I said a "decent" sword. A great one would take years of practice on unknown steel in a post SHTF scenario. Mass distribution, proportion, heat treat are all essential and very tricky skills to learn, add to this the harmonic stresses a blade must endure and you have a very long, very frustrating learning curve. A sword looks simple but the process to arrive at a good weapon is very sophisticated.

Now there are certain points where a sword will shine, one of these being the dispatch of low tier criminals armed with walmart machetes. A swordman will have longer range and if you've done your dilligence an edge in training how to exploit that longer range. I certainly believe some will arm themselves with whatever they can get so a fight against desperate, club or edged weapon weilding, starving lunatics is not out of the question.

There is also a psychological advantage inherent in the sword, that could at extremes work to a swordmans benefit. However the most reliable advantage is the man using the weapon and realizing a sword is not a single weapon it is actually 5 weapons 1) two edges 2) a point 3) the cross guard 4) the pommel. The pommel and cross can be used to bash an opponent, by gripping the blade in a technique known as "Mortshlag" The cross becomes a hammer.
If your man comes to grips inside your range the pommel can be used to inflict some serious head trauma. If we count the scabbard a sword is 6 weapons as the chape of the scabbard can be used for thrusting attacks to the face.

So it could be said that a sword is situational weapon in the age of firearms its obsolesence would depend on the arms of your opponent. It could either be the queen of sidearms or a relic depending the availability of ammunition, which I dont foresee running out any time soon. Personally I would rely more heavily on my .44 than my swords or other edged weapons. One advantage is inherent in the sword, it doesnt misfire, it doesnt run out of ammunition and it does give you some less than lethal options.


While I certainly wouldnt advise throwing your swords away especially if like me you plan to bug in on private land but neither would I plan on using them extensively given the huge advantages in efficiency with a good rifle and handgun. In short a sword is just another tool in the tool kit it doesnt do everything, but it is a good skill to have in a situation where you need all the skills you can get.

The real value of a sword in these times in my opinion is as a tool of character development, development of hand eye coordination, training your body to move efficiently, developing balance and its good cardio exercise.

I hope you found something interesting/ useful in this post. I do not claim to be a sword expert just a student and I wanted to share my thoughts with others who have either took the plunge into swordsmanship or were thinking of a sword to add to their own tool kit. Most of the survival articles I've read regarding swords either dismiss the weapon entirely or its a medieval fantasy, I just thought this post might add some balance to the equation.

Respectfully,

R.D.Metcalf
Old 02-09-2012, 11:09 AM
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Great post sir!

I love the idea of swords, and being proficient with one, but will never actually devote the time and money to it (to my loss, I'm sure). Firearms absorb those resources for me...
I think you were right in that the prominent edged weapon would be a machete. Look at Africa, still lots of machete carnage there.
I have several machetes, and also some Kukhri's, both of which would be devastating at close range. Though I imagine if I came upon a trained swordsman I'd be hosed - at least until I pulled my pistol Indiana Jones style...
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:14 PM
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Old 02-09-2012, 12:23 PM
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What? No "mortshlag"??


Old 02-09-2012, 01:15 PM
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I took Japanese sword training for many years, and I would never use one for defense instead of a gun. I'd rather have a .22LR revolver in a fight than a sword. It would have to be a last stand scenario or have no other option before trying to fight with a sword.
Old 02-09-2012, 01:38 PM
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KSMedMan,

Thank You.sir I appreciate the kind comment. And quite honestly I think you are absolutely right to invest your resources in firearms and ammunition. I love and appreciate a good sword but I have no illusions that a good rifle or pistol is far more practical for todays enviroment.

What I think is the most frightening aspect of a SHTF scenario is that while we are limited to what weapons and ammo we can afford, the larger gangs that will inevitably become the main threat to security in the worst case, have, through the drug trade almost unlimited resources and an organization already in place to capitolize, by intimidation or force, on just such a situation. Roaming bands of recently dispossessed, scared people, poorly armed and with little or no training, and no organization dont worry me too much....But well armed, organized predators thats a major concern and one that colors every aspect of my security plan.

On a lighter note.
Truth be told I think Indy shot him more out of borebom than self defense Perhaps if our scimitar weilding assassin had been more focused on trying to kill Indy than entertain him he might've fared better, although I doudt it.

Grotius, the mortschlag/ murder stroke happened when Indy's hammer fell


On a sidenote not totally applicable to todays enviroment, the Highland Scots did wreak some serious carnage in a few battles on musket weilding red coats, unlike the example posted above they didnt try to impress the redcoats, they charged right in after the initial volley and did some gruesome feats as at Killencrankie, when a British officer noted that not few of his men had been cut in half.

However on the flipside the broadsword charge at Moores Creek bridge during the Revolutionary War was a failure, a gallant failure, but a failure none the less.
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Old 02-09-2012, 03:47 PM
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"ever bring a knife to a gun fight"

just kidding, i actually think swords will one day play a part in battle once again (light sabers) DUHHH!!. again just kidding, with the way things are going however there will come a day when all the bullets have been fired that things such as swords will come in handy,

that said however with the vast majority feeling the way they do (this site included) being so one sided their views, which isnt bad there is only so many hours in the day/amount of money to be spent, and being so bullet orriented, they like myself will hopefully be around to simply swing a sharp or blunt object and hope for the best.. i dont have the resources nor time to become proficient in an art that may not be needed in my childs life time, so i have to focus on what will keep me going.

but i totally think that swords will some day have a place and actually hope to aquire one eventually just for kicks, i hear its a great stress reliever swinging sharp things around.

unless the zombies come! then its all hands down get your sword on
Old 02-09-2012, 03:52 PM
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i prefer hand folded katana.
Old 02-09-2012, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R.D.Metcalf View Post
KSMedMan,

Thank You.sir I appreciate the kind comment. And quite honestly I think you are absolutely right to invest your resources in firearms and ammunition. I love and appreciate a good sword but I have no illusions that a good rifle or pistol is far more practical for todays enviroment.

What I think is the most frightening aspect of a SHTF scenario is that while we are limited to what weapons and ammo we can afford, the larger gangs that will inevitably become the main threat to security in the worst case, have, through the drug trade almost unlimited resources and an organization already in place to capitolize, by intimidation or force, on just such a situation. Roaming bands of recently dispossessed, scared people, poorly armed and with little or no training, and no organization dont worry me too much....But well armed, organized predators thats a major concern and one that colors every aspect of my security plan.

On a lighter note.
Truth be told I think Indy shot him more out of borebom than self defense Perhaps if our scimitar weilding assassin had been more focused on trying to kill Indy than entertain him he might've fared better, although I doudt it.

Grotius, the mortschlag/ murder stroke happened when Indy's hammer fell


On a sidenote not totally applicable to todays enviroment, the Highland Scots did wreak some serious carnage in a few battles on musket weilding red coats, unlike the example posted above they didnt try to impress the redcoats, they charged right in after the initial volley and did some gruesome feats as at Killencrankie, when a British officer noted that not few of his men had been cut in half.

However on the flipside the broadsword charge at Moores Creek bridge during the Revolutionary War was a failure, a gallant failure, but a failure none the less.

first off I thin you will have to worry more about being able to grow your own food and feeding yourself than you will organized bands of thugs "raiding"

but you can live in your fantasy world.


and as to the scots and redcoats there is a hell of a difference between sword vs rifle that shoots 1 hot every 45seconds in the hands of a skilled musketeer

and charging someone able to put down range the same amount of lead that 30 people could with muskets in half the time it takes to reload 1 musket
and then they take 2 secs to reload a magazine.


Are swords cool. sure they are I have been looking at getting the brescia spadona from albion arms and taking up HEMA and training in the ringeck style of swordsmanship for fun

but I would not say its the most useful weapon to be running around with hell i think a quarter staff would be more beneficial or even a bow.


bonzai charges did not work well for the japs in ww2 and they had lots of guys using guns and swords

it will deffinetly not work for you
unless your using it when no one is suspecting
Old 02-09-2012, 07:04 PM
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Sir, I think you have misunderstood the context of the post. If I had advocated a highland charge against repeating arms you would be right to scoff at me, however I also cited Moores Creek Bridge. I may be alot of things but I'm not daft nor am I a fantasist.



Sigmund Ringecks comments on Master Johanne Leictanauer is within the same tradition I study, I wish you the best with your studies and hope you find it as rewarding as I have.
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Old 02-09-2012, 07:12 PM
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Quote:
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Sir, I think you have misunderstood the context of the post. If I had advocated a highland charge against repeating arms you would be right to scoff at me, however I also cited Moores Creek Bridge. I may be alot of things but I'm not daft nor am I a fantasist.



Sigmund Ringecks comments on Master Johanne Leictanauer is within the same tradition I study, I wish you the best with your studies and hope you find it as rewarding as I have.
the problem I have is finding a group to practice with all the groups are either far east or west of where i live

I still do not think a sword is a very viable tool SHTF
Old 02-09-2012, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
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Contrary to what you might hear the sword arts of Europe are nothing like the clumsy brutish sword bashing of Hollyweird films.
The con here is the weapon requires extensive training.

I also think its worth a mention that a sword was not a primary battle weapon, rather it was part of a weapons system, the primary weapons were spears, pollaxes, maces or in the case of Yeomen; bows.

A sword looks simple but the process to arrive at a good weapon is very sophisticated.

a sword is not a single weapon it is actually 5 weapons 1) two edges 2) a point 3) the cross guard 4) the pommel. The pommel and cross can be used to bash an opponent, by gripping the blade in a technique known as "Mortshlag" The cross becomes a hammer.
If your man comes to grips inside your range the pommel can be used to inflict some serious head trauma. If we count the scabbard a sword is 6 weapons as the chape of the scabbard can be used for thrusting attacks to the face.

One advantage is inherent in the sword, it doesnt misfire, it doesnt run out of ammunition and it does give you some less than lethal options.

I hope you found something interesting/ useful in this post.

Respectfully,

R.D.Metcalf
Oh you are good, mentioned everything I would have and a much much more and leagues better than the way I would have phrased it. I salute you on a great post and hope to see many more from you.
Old 02-10-2012, 12:43 AM
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There are many different forms of swordsmanship from all over the world that are logical and precise in their primary intent to teach a systematic approach to repetitive training in order
to focus the muscles and the mind to react without hesitation.. I was fortunate to take
Kendo and Iaido at a young age with a teacher who was in his late 70s and very serious
about the intent of the training... He would poke me between my eyes with his finger and say
" Work on this, and soon the sword is not needed"... He taught me callligraphy and flower
arranging as well as archery and fighting in water, in a small room, or an alley. I was his last
student, and i have his family swords.. A properly trained swordsman can use anything that
is around like a sword..
Old 02-10-2012, 12:48 AM
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I never liked swords. If I had to use a medieval weapon it would be the 7 flanged mace

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Old 02-10-2012, 03:16 PM
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I'm certainly no expert, but from the old manuals I've seen, western martial arts don't have any of the "spirit" or "honor" aspects so common in eastern martial arts. It's all about dispatching your opponent as quickly as possible, even if it means using tricks like tripping or grabbing your opponent's sword. In a way it's seems more like MMA fighting where only the most effective techniques are preserved regardless of tradition.

As to swords in SHTF, I'm not sure the length of a normal ancient sword is really required as I can't really imagine a sword vs sword encounter. I've noticed that many of the old western fencing manuals had surprisingly large sections on grappling and fighting with daggers. That's what I'd focus on.

I'd imagine that one of the shorter swords like a gladius or cinquedea (sp?) or even a larger cruciform daggers would be the most practical. Then again, I've never actually killed anyone with a sword before.

R.D.Metcalf,
Do you know of a place that sells quality reproductions of old fencing manuals. The one's I've seen and read are all online and of less that stellar quality or with the translations separate from the pictures. I've haven't checked ARMA/HACA lately.


Oh, +1 on the mace although not really practical for anything other than bashing heads.
Old 02-10-2012, 03:57 PM
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I'm gonna carry a ninja katana when TSHTF because they are light and can cut through machinegun barrells and everyone knows ninjas totaly flip out and kill people! I already ordered it from Bud K and it should be here any day now. Everybody nows that nights swords weigh like thirty pounds and a ninja sword could just cut them in half anyway
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Old 02-10-2012, 04:02 PM
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HH, Try Paladin Press and Chivalry Bookshelf.

On the subject of spirit and honor believe it or not its there. Bushido and Chivalry are not identical but do have similarities, Along the way I read Musashis 'Book of Five Rings' and I think Musashi had alot in common with Leichtanauer in that both could be considered to hold an "unorthodox orthodoxy" Musashi considered the Longsword "the key to strategy", Leictanauer used the longsword to reveal techniques with every weapon in the medieval arsenal.

It is a secretive world in those manuals the "merk verse" of the master was coded to shroud his teaching much like the secretive ryu of Japan and for the same reason. It is also important to remember that the medieval German texts deal with the hows not the whys and why nots. In other words ethics were assumed not taught in the texts.
Old 02-10-2012, 06:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hedgehobbit View Post
I'm certainly no expert, but from the old manuals I've seen, western martial arts don't have any of the "spirit" or "honor" aspects so common in eastern martial arts. It's all about dispatching your opponent as quickly as possible, even if it means using tricks like tripping or grabbing your opponent's sword. In a way it's seems more like MMA fighting where only the most effective techniques are preserved regardless of tradition.

As to swords in SHTF, I'm not sure the length of a normal ancient sword is really required as I can't really imagine a sword vs sword encounter. I've noticed that many of the old western fencing manuals had surprisingly large sections on grappling and fighting with daggers. That's what I'd focus on.

I'd imagine that one of the shorter swords like a gladius or cinquedea (sp?) or even a larger cruciform daggers would be the most practical. Then again, I've never actually killed anyone with a sword before.

R.D.Metcalf,
Do you know of a place that sells quality reproductions of old fencing manuals. The one's I've seen and read are all online and of less that stellar quality or with the translations separate from the pictures. I've haven't checked ARMA/HACA lately.


Oh, +1 on the mace although not really practical for anything other than bashing heads.
LOL spirit of honor?

my friend i can promise you if you went back even 100 years the martial arts you see today would be very different with a focus less on sportsmanship and more on killing

the reason for the differences in WMA and eastern martial arts is that the western martial tradition died within a generation or two after the advent of firearms coming to play as they were embraced 110% by european armies and the knight became obsolete

on the other side you have eastern traditions passed down orally in cultures that did not really embrace the firearm until around the 1800s and then after they embraced firearms well the martial traditions of the east became sporterised

look at our modern day fencing with epee its so different than it was in the renaissance

if you went back to between 1850-1940 you would see the martial arts being much more violent and to the kill type thing as thats what martial arts was

training future warriors to kill there opponent in the most efficient method possible and to live to kill again. now its about points hell in a martial arts competition now you get penalized for being too aggressive
Old 02-11-2012, 12:52 PM
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On the whole, I agree with you, FJ.

But I would point out that swords and firearms co-existed for quite some time, German Ritters often carried a caliver with a brace of pistols in the saddle, Cromwells Ironsides were armed with Swords and pistols, Scottish Highlanders often used muskets and pistols and the Early English and Spanish colonists used firearms and swords as well lances, pikes and crossbows. The Mary Rose an English ship bound for Virginia even contained Bow staves as well as the remains of a basket hilt sword.

Frankly, I think it was the invention of the revolver that really made a large back-up blade of any type obsolete although sabres,broadswords and big knives continued to be used.

Although some, like the man in your avatar, Ol' Nathan Forrest forbade his officers to carry sabres in favor of pistols and armed his men with captured repeating carbines. Forrests' results can hardly be argued and his contributions probably saved the cavalry from an early demise as the branch was basically obsolete by 1861 as it was entrenched in conservatism and unable to adapt.

I am not a great man like Forrest, Leichtanauer, or Musashi, but like them I believe that fighting is not a show, the time to be honorable is before and after hostilities commence, during the encounter its time to either overcome or die with whatever weapon is at your disposal in the most efficient way possible.

To paraphrase a quote I heard once: Mankind has fought for thousands of years, there is no excuse for not doing it well
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Old 02-11-2012, 01:15 PM
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I know plenty of gun owners who place way too much confidence in themselves. The general atmosphere on this forum is to be prepared for anything. It might not hurt to know how to handle a sword, use a knife, execute a choke, throw a rock, etc... I know a lot of guys that rely only on their ability to shoot. There are many variables involved in combat. Great posts to all.
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