Western Blades and Fighting Styles

May 2, 1999
This is a place to continue the discussion we were having back in the "modern sword" thread. I, for one, am still using a 14.4 modem and an SGI Indigo 2 with bad memory that likes to dump if it sits around too long.
It seems this topic is not of intrest at present. Perhaps later. Any related comments, pro/con, informative/me-too, are welcomed.
I'm still interested, just don't have much to add unless I can put together evidence that the swords of horsemen of Eastern Europe trace back to weapons used by Mongol invaders/occupiers, and later lead to Western European cavalry sabers. Dunno if I can make that case or not. But I am curious to hear more about the work you were translating, and always eager to discuss swords (or anything sharp) from a functional perspective. Lead on!


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Good to hear from ya, Corduroy! And why does a bear want a pocket?

Now, I can`t speak for you, but the idea of the saber being Easter-influenced seems to have originated as a rumor that it grew out of the scimitar encountered during the Crusades. Well, the time difference, as well conflicting manners of use make this unlikely. Also, it is said that the radicaly curved scimitars now though of are not the Crusade-era weapon. The arguement is often supported by the fact that "scimitar" is a corruption of "shashmir", and the speculation that "saber" is a corruption of either, or both.

I point out that "saber" in Spanish, Spain being a focal point for European weapons manufacture and related arts, means "to know". Perhaps relating to the skill of the saber`s wielders. Or maybe it`s just a false-cognate. Hey, what`s in a name? Actualy, a lot, but linguistics are better used to colaberate(sp?) hard evidence than as a basis for an argument.

Early on, the English prefered a slashing saber with a more-curved blade. They have traditionaly preferred slashing blades of various form, as have the Scandanavians and Germanics. They also produced the infamous George Silver. They came around to the idea of the saber as a cavalryman`s thrusting weapon. In fact, around 1918, at the end of the period of the sword`s use as an active weapon of war, they produced arguably the finest cavalryman`s thrusting sword of all time. Stout blade, cupped hilt, narrow, and with curving handle that had a detent for the
thumb on it`s back. Allowing a more-secure "saber-grip".

There are no shortage of effective slashing blades native to Europe. Nor were their use rare. And any who question a well-made broadsword`s ability to slash are asked to test-cut with one. Slashing blades ruled Bronze-Age and early Iron-Age Europe, with the espada falcata, wasp-waisted and leaf-bladed swords of many forms. The leaf-blade remains an excelent cut AND thrust blade shape. It is echoed in the smatchet. There is no need to bring into the picture a forgein weapon`s influence, and indeed Western cavalrymen do have a prior precedent for slashing, in the Roman cataphract, and his descendent, the Dark-Middle-Age`s knight. In practice the simplest explanation is usualy correct, the less-convoluting chain of events the true course, and Occam carries the day. The saber bears more resemblance to the native backsword.

As for Manual del Baratero, I have completed the translation of the prolouge, and as expected, the rest is proving much quicker to translate. I should be done in a few short weeks. I intend to work with the material, develop illustrations and footnotes, and have it published, original text and English text side by side. This will make it of more value to the historian, as well as be of intrest to the native speaker. I will run both past a native speaker when I am done.

Translation is not an exact science. Many words may have several meanings, many of which may work in a given sentence. Having a familiarity with the culture, and with the arts discussed, I am able to more or less determine how to best convey the author`s words. So many nuances of culture, attitudes, and perspectives show-up in the written word, it is impossible to not lose something.

A note to any who would try to feed these documents through a translating program; If you are intrested in preserving intent, it will be utterly smashed to pieces. Humans may tell a computer what word equates what word/s, and the computer may be capable of calculating these transactions much faster than the human. However, the meaning begins, and stays, with the human. What you end up with is a jumble of miscelaneous possible meanings, transcribed ad-hoc across the page. Moreso when translating older texts such as these. While a computer in theory may be capable of mimmicing any human control system, at present the possible is greater than practical. You have played video games, you have overcome ai's on one level or another. Raw text must be manipulated to fit the syntax of the new language and not lose too much in the process. SO much is in the inflection, in-between the lines.

This work does not cover methods of swordsmanship. It covers the knife-related skills of the lower classes, for both their benefit(the author states that many men of such are of good charachter, and much more likely to encounter a ruffian then someone of higher birth is) and for the benefit of the higher classes, so they may be familiar with the techniques used in bars and gaming houses, on the street, and also so they can master another method of combat suitable for defense. I am still playing with the raw text here, but he seems to also make references to women`s self-defense, which is unusual in his time. The prejudice against knives, as weapons of the lower classes and criminals, even this late(1849), is great amongst the nobles. The author spends much time justifying the weapon, and why a man of high-birth should endeavor to read about, or train in, such weapons and arts.

The methods covered in this text run the gamut from the gaurds, strikes, and footwork one would expect, to feints and ruses, parries and the use of the hat as something of a buckler. Also covered is unarmed grappling with an armed opponent.

These Western fight manuals tend not to be paint-by-number workout routines. Instead they demonstrate mechanics, flow, and theory of weapon-handling, leaving it to the student to put it together, and assuming that he will train with a partner, and most likely attend a school of arms. The result is a framework of technique upon which both student and master build to suit their needs and abilities. Many present themselves as only offering what has worked for them, and that there are others answers to the same problem. Some, like George Silver, violently refuse to accept anything other than what they see as correct(Silver opposed the thrust and the rapier, as an Englishman, he promoted the slash and the buckler). All I have encountered have been written by men who have fought succesfuly with their tools and techniques in life-and-death struggles. No b.s. "worlds most expensive martial art!" or "you will be an invincible killing machine in just three easy lessons!". All are effective. As a whole, Western blade arts allow for a great deal of flexibilty, and adaptability to personal style. They are practical martial arts, as applicable now as they ever were. The basics are easy to learn, the skills easy to maintain.

As I stated in the previous thread, the sword was my first love, and I trained and studdied it extensively. However, as I grew up I found it was not a practical weapon for me. I also found that I had less room in my life for that which was not utilitarian in nature. While I still admire the sword, and will take it up again someday, that is not where my intrest or research is now focused. There are others who deal primarily with this field. They are quite good at what they do, and if this is where your intrest lies, I encourage you to seek them out. As for me, I will continue my quest for street-level blade, stick, and empty-hand techniques.

If you want to see an excelent video depicting just how fast, agile, and well-developed skills relating to the European two-handed swords(true two-handers, not the hand-and-a-half/bastardswords), often seen as slow and unwieldy, are , I reccomend one put out by The History Channel, in it`s Arms in Action series(AWESOME series), simply titled "Arms in Action; The Sword". It deals with different swords types from the aforementioned espada falcata of the ancient Greeks, up to the early twentieth century. I highly reccomend own the entire series to any studnet of arms. It doesn`t just have some guy gabbing and show some pictures, it, as it`s title promises, shows the weapons in accurately choreographed combat sequences. While not "instructional" in scope, it gives on a sense of what the weapon was actualy like in combat. Also, the Discovery Channel put out a series; Ancient Warriors, that discussed weapons, armor, culture and history of many different warrior-cultures. From the Aztecs through Medieval Knights and Samurais. It was available in their Discovery stores or whatever they are called, which have sprung up in malls around here.

I need to get some sleep. `Library closes early tommorow, and I have much work to do. I bid the all good evening.
I really apprecate the time you clearly devited to that response. Let me make some observations, and you may respond at your leisure. I don't at this point feel qualified to mount a counter-argument, just would like it if you could help me with a few inconsistencies.

First, I don't propose to derive the saber from the scimitar or shamshir. The first saber-like weaopons in Europe seem to me to appear in eastern Europe, among the slavic cultures, not among those cultures associated with the crusades. Also, the scimitars I have seen always display one of two forms, either of uniform width but uneven curvature (experiencing a rather steep bend about midway along their length) or of broadening width towards the tip and uniform curvature. While I am sure that there is some significance to these two forms and they probably represent different periods, it seems that the former shape was the more common, "true" form of the scimitar and the latter was largely ceremonial (though Hollywood always eems to prefer this type). In either case, there is a distinct difference from the saber and its precursors, which have generally uniform wiidth AND curvature, and if they show any taper it is usually a narrowing towards the tip. While the enclosed guards on many of these weapons do resemble those of later sabers, the same could be said of the guards on many Indian swords; I think this is merely "convergent evolution."

The crux of the matter, as I see it, is "where did that shape come from?" As I said, I view weapon evolution as a fairly constrained process because people do not seem inclined to just invent new shapes (polearms aside), and when they do, who would carry a radically new arm into battle when all around you were depending for their lives on a traditional pattern? This is not to say that weapons do not evolve, or even do so quite rapidly, but I would argue that there are very few "saltations" or "special creations," where a shape suddenly advances quickly or appears anew; they all come from somewhere, and in this case it is very unclear where that is.

As you say, Europe certainly had many curved blades and many slashing blades. But the curved blades, as your examples show, were of a radically different design. They were all recurved blades that favored a broadening most of the way towards the tip and placed the weight far out from the hand. Whether they were the single-edged Espadas that, as you noted, may have inspired the kukkri, or the various leaf-shaped swords that are today reborn in the Smatchet, this is still a radically different shape than that of the saber; indeed, we unite the two only through the human tendency to dichotomize, in this case to classify as "curved" or "straight." Similarly, while the other slashing blades were all of a straight pattern, and it is surely a huge leap to go even from a single-edged straight blade like a backsword to a curved blade like a saber.

While I applaud your appeal to parsimony, I feel that the study of evolution (be it of natural or of man-made things) is geatly benefitted by recognizing rules or patterns, and applying them to further reconstructions. I would argue that two rules we can see in the evolution of weapons are that there are no leaps ahead,and there is never something from nothing, so I feel that a backsword turning suddenly into a curved blade, or someone merely originating the saber in Europe through a careful functional analysis of the sword, are not possibilities we should accept here.

There were in the world swords of constant curvature and width that predated sabers, and they had entered Europe many times in the hands of invaders from the East (but not from the Middle East). Furthermore, the oldest European swords that look like sabers to me come from the slavic peoples who were longest occupied and influenced by these invaders. Is it really unreasonable to suggest that horseman's sword of later Europe may have taken its cue from the horseman's sword of earlier Asia?


Switching gears entirely, your description of the text you are translating was fascinating, especially with the social commentary you added to it. What are you doing this translation for? Will you sell it, or is it just for your enjoyment?

I wish that I had the History channel...oh, how I wish. But I do watch plenty of discovery and have seen some of the "Ancient Warriors" series; I'll keep my eye out for more.

Finally, a bear needs a pocket for his Spyderco, of course! Didn't you ever read the children's books "Corduroy" or "A Pocket For Corduroy?" I heartily recommend them if you'd like to take a break from translating ;-).

This is a real pleasure. Thanks.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
hey, put me down for a copy of that book, once it's done.

Stay Sharp,
Joe S.
Put me down for one as well. Might just the thing for the BF store. I would be interested in getting those as a dealer as well.


Tom Carey

IF you are a knife maker interested in free space on the web.
Check out. CGA online


Yes, the form of the saber is similar to that of the sword of the Cossaks. The forefathers of the Cossaks penetrated deep into Asia. The Huns, before and during the Roman Empire, conquered vast areas of Asia. I do not hear a similar cry for Western influence on the Mongolians.

Throughout much of history, the Mongolians were nomads, few in number, pinned between the Great Wall of China in the East, and the Roman Empire in the West. The Cossaks were a nomadic people, who left few reccords. There are references to them using swords of the afforementioned style previous to the 13th century, when the Mongolians were on the move. Beyond that, I know little.

Let`s examine the evolution of the Western cavalry sword before and during, and after the Mongolian invasion. In the Dark Ages we see a sword with a pattern-welded blade, paralel edges, narrow crossgaurd. In the 11th century we see the adoption of a homogenous steel blade, tapering slightly, and a wide crossgaurd and wide fuller. This was the first true "cruciform" sword. By the 13th century, the time of the Mongolian invasions, a variant of this weapon is still in use. In the 14th century, we see a move to the "great sword" or "war sword", hand-and-a-half grip, longer than the earlier blades, diamond in crossection, more tapered. In the 15th century, with plate armor in use, we see a radicaly tapered blade, designed soley for the trust, single-handed, diamond cross-section. In the 16th century, with plate at it`s peak, nearly impenetrable to the sword, and with firearms on the rise with the result of infantry abandonning armor, we see a return to the paralel and the slightly tapered cut-and-thrust blades effective against unarmored infantry. Hilt styles are quite variable. The lance was always the primary weapon of offense, but now moreso. The mace, battleaxe, warhammer and polaxe were prefered over the sword for use against armored knights.

As you can see, the Mongolians really didn`t have any impact on the evolution of the cavalry sword. They never consolidated their holdings, everything fell apart after the death of Genghis Kahn. They were an influence for significantly less than one man`s life. Who knows, had they managed to keep their holdings in Eastern Europe, we might all graze livestock on the plain and speak an Eastern dialect, but that`s not what happened.

I am sorry, but I had to laugh when you suggested that we should not consider functional analysis a factor in the evolution of the saber. It was a 19th century weapon. This was an age of reason. Functional analysis was what the saber was all about. It was a weapon of modern, scientific armies. Every army`s procurment records of this time reflect this. Sabers were specificaly designed for specific purposes. This is just a fact. You keep seeing the saber as a curved slashing sword, it just, wasn`t. The various forms of cruciform and broadswords were cut-and-thrust weapons, as such radical curvature seen in pure slashing blades was not practical. There were a number of pure-slashing blades in Europe. The cavalry saber is not among them.

As far as the Cossaks go, the saber was well-established as a cavalryman`s thrusting weapon by the time of Napolean`s Russian invasion, the first significant contact between Western-European cavalry the Cossaks. During and afterward, the trend continued to be towards a thrusting weapon. Curvature was present on some versions to improve cutting charachteristics, but never so much as to impair the thrust. The cavalry were a shock and pursuit arm, sometimes scouts. It was there job to shake an enemy's nerve, reconnoiter, or prevent an enemy from regrouping. They never were intended to wade in and slash it out with the infantry. The heavily armed and armored Medieval knight, possibly the most lethal shocktroop the non-mechanized cavalry has ever seen, prefered his native blade when slashing-up infantry.

There is much precedent for Man inventing wholy new weapons. I point to the bow and arrow. Nothing else like it existed before it`s invention. All of Man`s weapons are unique to Man and without precedent.

You can`t evaluate Western martial culture in the same way as Eastern. Take the Japanese katana. The product of tradition, not evolution. It`s form froze 1,000 years ago, not because it is the pinnacle of sword evolution, but out of tradition. Was the banzai bayonet-charge practical against an army armed with machinegun and rapidfire rifles? No, but it was in-line with their martial tradition. It cost them dearly. However, the Japanese are extreme even amongst other Easterners.

Europe is and has been the most-hotly contested region on Earth. They simply did not have the luxory of holding on to outdated weapons and ways of warfare. This is why these things evolved more-rapidly here than anywhere else. That is also why the entire world makes war in the Western way now. There were many types of swords and weapons in use at any given time in Europe. As far as reluctance in abandoning earlier weapons goes, what about that uniquely-Western weapon, the firearm? They were adopted as fast as they could be made practical. And wholy different from any sword or pre-existing weapon.

Oh, and I mentioned the leaf-bladed, wasp-waisted, and espada falcata to establish that there was a long history of highly effective slashing swords in Europe. And no, it is not far from a backsword to saber. Both hilt and blades are quite similar. Some backswords had a curve to them, some sabers were quite straight. The European bladesmiths were masters of their art, with advanced metalurgy, and a thorough understanding of what bladeshapes were good for what. There is simply no reason for the introduction of a foreign people to account for the saber. In fact, there is no evidence supporting that position.

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 09 May 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 09 May 1999).]
Now, as far as the manual I`m translating;

I am doing this first for my own benefit, second for the benefit of others, and third for a profit.

I plan to get my translation published, but since I want to work this material and develop additional illustrations to clarify the mechanics as well, it might not be ready for some months. I`m trying to join the Army too, so don`t be looking for it before this Winter.

This isn`t just gonna be a transcription, this`ll be a slick, re-vitalized treatise on traditional Western bladework. I`m not planning on stopping here either. I`m still looking for other such manuals, dealing with street-level combat-grade material. This was just the first one I could track down. As mentioned, many sword-oriented manuals also cover other weapons and un-armed techniques. I`m considering studying these and consolodating them into one work. There`s some guys out there doing great work with swords, but not too much going on for knives and un-armed combatives.

Boxing IS a combative form. That`s why it`s got so many rules governing where and how you can hit. It`s a system designed to inflict damage. I am trying to track down some sources for traditional, combat-oriented boxing. Obviously, it`s still pretty easy to figure out how to apply these techniques. Even with all the rules people are getting knocked out. My intrest is what tricks and applications the old guys, who would have used this in a more-serious manner, came up with.

Joe S. and Tom Carey, I`ll be counting on you when I rally the troops to push this thing through... Actualy, it seems I`m getting a lot more support than I thought I would. I think a lot of people have an intrest, but there just isn`t much material out there. This is the stuff that I`m into and train in, I`m going to do everything I can to promote and advance it. Let`s just hope when these arts take-over for the Eastern arts, and Snickersnee is synonomous with Bruce Lee, that we don`t cheapen it with real lame "connect the dots and become a lethal fighting machine" materials and teachers. That`s what lead to my disalusionment with the Asian arts to begin with. It`s not so much because they`re bad or anything, the hype is just too thick.

[This message has been edited by Snickersnee (edited 09 May 1999).]
Snickersnee,facinating info (you too Corduroy), I'll definately take one of your books when you're done.If you don't have a publisher yet it seems like this project would be right up paladin press' alley. I find the HACA stuff facinating also, but just don't have time for studying the sword, but western knife info is long overdue. Western empty hand info would also be interesting, but there is more info on that available than knife stuff already(but never enough).My opinion has always been that the most effective martial arts have been the ones either western in origin(boxing,wrestling) or the ones thoroughly westernized(brazilian jiu-jitsu,sambo). But anyway, thanks for the info and keep it coming as your time alows
Snickersbee, you make an extremely bold statement saying that eastern cultures had no influence on the development of the western saber. It seems like you have also greatly underestimated the Mongolian influence on the west (and vice versa). European culture obviously didn't develop in a vacuum, so I find it hard to believe that European weaponry did.

Do you have any legitimate, academic references to back these claims up?

A bibliography would be nice. I don't mean A&E or History Channel specials. I'm talking well documented books by respected profs., archeological evidence, historical references, etc. I'm not saying I don't believe you, but when I hear bold statements about historical and cultural events, I like to investigate myself. If you can, please include any references you have about pre-saber, curved blades in medieval Europe.


Old style boxing books are getting pretty rare too. I've been told before the Marquis de Queensbury rules, the stance and hand position used came from fencing. Also, that the Bowie type knife employed a modified broadsword style, though some believe Jim Bowie held his knife edge up.

The Manual de Baratero, well, you know my answer, give pic, time, and price is all. You already know combat changes a lot and so I think some old manuals on knife work might not be applicable at least obviously on the street. For ex. the print of hands vs. dagger concerning Marozzo was more for a duelist to defend against a dagger armed opponent who knew of fencing as opposed to the ex con whose just shoved you into an alley demanding your cash.


I am not trying to say that there was no cross-cultural influence. Indeed, as I pointed out, Europe is some of the most-hotly contested land in all the world. This is what lead to the rapid development of arms, armor and technologies here. In some cases we have clear evidence for an Eastern influence on Western arms. It is well-established that blackpowder is derived from similar pyrotechnic compounds used in the East. As we see the invention and adoption of firearms by Western armies shortly after the Crusades, we have a clear line of causaltiy here. I am a student of arms, not a bigot. I may get a bit "vocal" sometimes, but I do not have any ill-will towards Easterners or Eastern-stylists, or Eastern arts. I have cross-trained with Eastern-stylists, and it has served to improve my own technique.

Corduroy proposed that the 19th century Western cavalry and sabers were descended from the Mongolian horseman and his sword. This is simply not the case. In form and function, the saber is much closer to the native backsword. The saber was a product of scientific and functional analysis. This too is an established fact. It was not a weapon of tradition, it was a munition, much like a cannon or musket. The 19th century European cavalryman likewise was not used in the manner of the Mongolian`s of the 13th century. The cavalry of the Dark Ages through Rennaisance likewise was not Mongolian in flavor.

There is no ill-will between me and Corduroy. We`re just debating an issue.

I can`t see why moving pictures with sound are an inferior source of information to the written word. If you see 1+1=2 in a movie, does that mean it is any less-true than if you read it in a book? However, I did not set these series forth a my sole source of information. I presented them as a way to see the weapons in action. There are many books on the subject of Western arms. The histiry of the sword is no longer where my research is focused, so forgive me if my list of references is brief. When I have the time to go through notes, I will post a more-complete bibliography. Like I said, I am actively involved in another project so you`ll have to do some digging on your own. However, two good leads I can give you off the top of my head are; Eward Oakeshot`s Book of the Medieval Sword, and I don`t have an author but, Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight. A search on Amazon should yield results. For that matter, they carry quite a few books on this subject. You don`t have to buy them, just check for titles and authors and go to your library. I`ll get some books up here as soon as is practical. Hey, if you want a good read on the Western way of war, I reccomend Napolean`s Maxims of War. This one`s in my collection. ISBN#0-306-80618-5.


I encourage you to study Western cut-and-thrust swordsmanship. This is where I got my start. I have implemented much of what I have learned into my knife technique, modified for the difference between weapons, of course.


Hey again! You are quite right in pointing out how things have changed in many ways, but the text I`m working on is not about duelling, though it is discussed as this was part of the culture. These are the techniques of muggers, highwaymen and the like, as well as how to defend against them.

The great thing about Western arts is how flexible they are. While the rapier may be obsolete as a weapon of defense, many of it`s skills are not. Much of the trapping and parrying can be carried over into modern technique. This is about concepts, not litteral interpretation. We must endeavor to find ways to apply these techniques to our own circumstances as was intended. These arts are about flow and mechanics, very applicable to modern sittuations. We must use them as a framework upon which to build. It is when you limit yourself to litteral interpretation, and unchanging emmulation, that you render an art obsolete. Make it ceremonial only. We must look at them creatively and think "how can I apply these principles here to make this technique more suitable to my needs?"

You also pointed out that early boxing stances were similar to those used in blade arts. You will also find that the footwork and evasions are similar as well. Similarities between different forms of bladework and weapons show up here because what is happening is flow principles and basic mechanics are being adapted and employed for different weapons and techniques. This is the underlying framework I speak of that unites many Western arts.
"There is no ill-will between me and Corduroy. We`re just debating an issue."

Yes, and I appreciate it very much. I wouldn't call it debating, though. I'm making conjectures based on half-remembered reading of my teen years and you're being patient and gently refuting it. I am grateful.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Snick, you mention native backsword a couple of times. What do you mean by this and were did it come from?

Also, may the western saber was the evolution of the sword, but it all came from the east. Not only did gunpowder come from the east, so did steel and iron used in blades(Damascus anyone) so maybe the sword was an evolutionary step, but there is no doubt that it all came from the east. Oh, and the eastern civilizations were warring while the europeans were still wearing feathers on their heads.
Not precisely as I understand it. The Germanic peoples had mines producing steel "by accident" because of high carbon contamination while at the same time the people of the Middle East (I'm really unclear on the correct chronological and contextual use of Turks, Moors, Saracens, Muslims, etc.) were taking their knowledge of steel-craft by force and by trade through to India and eventually Japan. Yes, their "damascus" steel was vastly superior technology to that of Western Europe, but it is only fair to give steel technology multiple birthplaces. Also, the spread was not really east to west as much as from the Middle East outwards.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)
Cobalt, those are some bold statements;

The term "backsword" refers to a class of weapons more than one particular style. Swords of this style had always been in use in Europe, and many other regions world-wide. They are charachterized as being single-edged, typicaly straight-bladed, sometimes with a degree of curvature. They are suitable for both the cut and thrust. They start getting popular in the 15th-16th century.

It is well-known the Middle Easterners had their butts in gear before anyone else. You underestimate the sophistication of the early European tribesman. You also assume all early Europeans were tribesman. This is not the case. And both the tribesman of the North, and the more civilised peoples of the South/Mediteranian were always proficient warriors. Gunpowder did not come from the East. However, pyrotechnics that gunpowder was derived from did.

Steel and iron were both mined and refined in the West without outside intervention. Spain was particularly noted for fine ores and expert bladesmiths. Damascus was not the form of steel used in early steel swords in the West. Pattern-welded was. Pattern-welding, damascus, and the folded/laminated steel of Japan are all answers to the same problem. Primitive metalurgy incapable of producing homogenous-steel blades suitable for combat, as well as the great cost of refined steel. Pattern-welded blades are charachterized by a twisted and forged core of iron and high-carbon steel with an edge of high-carbon steel forge-welded on. Consequently, they hold an edge better than damascus, which has an edge comprised of high-and-low carbon steel interwoven. Sometime between the 6th and 8th century the Scandanavians developed methods of forging homogenous-steel blades with enough shock-resistance to withstand to rigors of combat. The techniques spread rapidly throughout Europe. The Celts were also accomplished iron and steel workers. They are also the people that originated chainmail, second only to hardened leather in length of use as armor.

This idea of all swords, yet alone all weapons, coming out of the East is utterly and incredibly ridiculous! The sword developed in all metal-working cultures, and wooden proto-swords in nearly all stoneage cultures. For that matter, in Germany there have been what appear to be granite, yes stone, swords, of a slashing variety, unearthed.

I have seen your posts in other forums, they are typicaly much-more thoughtout and inteligent, and well, more on the mark. I will take that into account and assume that this was either reactionary to what you have been taught as correct being chalenged, or as a troll, which I think you are above.

Now for Corduroy;

Yes, we see iron and steel working, as well as copper and bronzesmithing radiating out from the Mediteranian and Mid-East. However to clarify, damascus is superior to iron blades, as iron cannot be tempered, however, it is on par with the similar methods of Western pattern-welding and Eastern folding/laminating. You are also dead on with multiple peoples mining and working iron and steel. For that matter, there is some evidence the Celts may have been the first to work steel. Given that they were a very large group with extensive trade networks, this could well account for the at times odd distribution of steel-working technologies. However, whoever had it first, it does appear that it was disseminated through the Mediteranian/Mid-Eastern region. Given that this area is the major East/West trade hub even to this day, this makes sense.
All sword arms from the East. No. Perhaps this came about from Donn Draeger's quote that Indonesia posesses the greatest number of blade designs.

Heck, ever notice people don't talk about how the enemy has a habit of stealing the slain oppositions firearms? Or how people would like to see Samurai vs. Mongols vs. English vs. French armies?


Very astute comment on victors looting the dead on the battlefield. Stripping armor off the dead was big buisness in Medieval Europe. `One of the reasons peasants would acompany knights into battle. Good chance to grab some riches. More types of weapons and armor are probably adopted this way then any other. That`s how American rocketry got it`s start, captured German V-2's.

I`m not sure I quite get where you`re going with the Samurai vs. Mongol vs. French vs. English thing. There have been many such cross-cultural clashes. It`s a subject I am fully open to discussing. Perhaps you could clarify for me?
"That`s how American rocketry got it`s start, captured German V-2's."

Ummm, there was a certain Goddard fellow...and I don't mean the knifemaker.

No, I'm just teasing, I know that you meant American *military* rocketry. We were employing direct copies of the V-2 into the '60s.

I'd advise caution before we start debating various definitions of "damascus" versus "pattern welding," because I've rarely seen two sources agree on this. Just a good way to get bogged down in semantics, IMO.


(Why else would a bear want a pocket?)