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 Post subject: East Vs West
PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:44 pm 
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Image

Well, I could not get a larger print of the XIPHOS to post, but suffice it to say that, other in the Materials used and the design of the hilt, the two swords posted differ little.

Accoding to my Sifu, the Gim, especialy a War Gim of Carbon steel as opposed to the typical SS of Spring steel blade out there (which I DO recommend you practice with as the one shown above is razor sharp) was intended to slice or slash at areaa of the body unprotected by armor.

A little talked about tactic of the Romans was the use of a palm up or palm down thrust over the shield at the oponent's eyes. Thhe sword pictured would be very dangerous if used in such a fashion.

Although the Gim is more lighly structered than, say, a "Spatha" might have been, it could easy be used to find openings in an apponents armor.

One thinks of bearing down on the opponent's sheild when hitting the enemy line and delivering such a thrust.

Indeed, It was mentioned that a Caesarian Centurion, given a bit of a hero status after Pharsalus, was killed in such a manner.

Many (but not all) of Pompey Magnus' legions were veterans.

Likewise the Xiphos' pictured put me in mind of such a tactic being used in myceanan times (as perhaps Portrayed in "Troy") becuase of it's apparent light but long blade.

Don't not let the fact that the Xiphos was of Bronze Dissuade you regarding its effectiveness..

Bronze is a tough material and the crystalization of the edge was perhaps only acheived my master smiths, and could be were deadly sharp and stronger, in effect, than iron of some types, but, like the Gim, not necessarily having the weight to "hack" its way thru shield or armor. (at least if we go by this example)

Image


Image


John

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:50 pm 
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IIRC, what you are calling a "xiphos" is what is referred to by archaeologists as the Mycenaean Type C rapier. It is one of my favorite designs. The term, "xiphos", is generally used to refer to Iron Age swords of the type generally associated with ancient Greek hoplites. These are leaf bladed and their blades can vary from about 30" down to about 12" for the later Spartan version. But the sword was very definitely a secondary weapon to the Greek phalangite as his primary weapon was his spear. If the battle lasted longer than the spears that the hoplites carried, they were in trouble.

As to calling that Gim "Damascus", I suppose that general usage has so corrupted the term by now that it has come to mean anything that more or less resembles the original "Damascus" steel. The original Damascus was a steel obtained from India and is what we also call "wootz" steel. It has a very distinctive crystaline structure and makes an extremely fine blade. A friend had a sword from the mid-East that dated to around 800AD and it was true Damascus or wootz steel. In 1961 when I first saw it, he put on a pair of gloves and bent the tip of the sword around so that it touched the pommel. When he slowly relaxed the pressure, it went back to straight. This on a 1200 year old sword! It was sharp as Hell as well. And the patterning on the blade was stunning. The Crusaders ran into these blades and called them "Damascus" because they looked like the pattern in fine damask linen and also because they thought that they came from Damascus, Syria.

Much of what we call "Damascus" today is really "pattern-welding" where the smith takes iron rods and forge welds them together, twisting them to make a pattern as well as to increase strength. Before we had the technology to make bulk quantities of homogeneous steel, this was the best way to make a blade that had both ductility and hardness. Your gim appears to be a finely made piece of pattern-welding which is what the best of Patrick Barta's swords are.

The Japanese had a similar process where they had one or more layers of iron and they pounded it out and then folded it over and then repeated this process over and over countless times. It accomplished much the same purpose as pattern-welding, combining ductility with hardness. The constant heating and reheating in charcoal introduced sufficient carbon to make the aron into steel, just as it does in pattern-welding.

Note that pattern-welding and the Japanese system are not lesser forms than wootz, simply different.

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 Post subject: Thanks
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 7:13 pm 
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Hugh:

Thank you for clarifying that.

I thought you might be interest in seeing the forge pattern on the blade.

Although, for certain, the "xiphos' is by no means identical to this Gim, I guess the best that I can say is the form follows function.

If I had to face a more or less fully plate armored man, where openings were/are hard to come by, I would probably wish for a proper war hammer or mace.

At least with the latter a 'stun" might be acheived.

A "Damascus" shotgun barrel consists of several bands of steel, mostly showing some patterning, forged around a barrel "mandril" hence the twisting rotary patterns seen in these old weapons. This is merely giving an example of the mutation of the use of the word that Hugh Mentioned/

They are generally NOT considered presently safe to use without a gunsmith's inspection and then, they must only be used with black Powder.

I intend to get into a bit of a discussion regarding Greek Swords and Swordsmanship, but I wish to get the Osprey Book on the Spartan Army before landing too hard on the "300" although my information on the later type blades use by them is the same as yours.

The Later Spartan ( Peloponessian War) Hoplite, I believe, relied on Helm and Shield and Mobility for protection.

One could perhaps best describe the typical sword of the later hoplite as a slightly larger version of "Sting", but research will tell.

J

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:49 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2007 10:22 pm 
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I doubt that you'll find much on Greek swordsmanship as they really did not focus on it the way that the Romans did. Think about the difference between a phalanx and the duplex or triplex acies checkerboard battleline of the legions and you will see the reasons better. The Romans did nt remain in a tight shield wall situation but launched their pila and then charged into the enemy with each soldier using his shield and sword as offensive weapons. The Greeks and the Macedonians were pretty much constrained to their rigid phalanxes which one author describes as a rugby scrum with weapons.

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 Post subject: this time
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:44 pm 
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This time I cannot agree with you totally my friend. I am posting several pictures of sword shapes and type that would have been used by Greek Phalangites and Macedonian and Successor Phalangite.

It IS quite true that the sword was not the primary weapon of the Phalangite, their "Swords" ab initio, if you will, would have been the broad razor sharp front head of the double ended "Dory", ie: a sword at the end of an eight foot shaft..

In Macedoninian practice, the point of the Sarissa longer (up t 14 feet) was point was fuirther out in front of the phalangite than was the case with the standard Greek Hoplite sach as those that Phillips' troops would have fought at Charonea (Number one) .

The Sarissa needed two hands to control and the Macedonian and Successor Phalangite's Sarissa's sheilds were lashed to their left arms.

I'll post the various sword shapes first.

Image


Image


You will note that the first sword is literally "Sting" from the Lord of the Rings.

The second was merely labeled a a Spartan Phalangite sword.

Although Greek Swordsmanship was NOT up to the standard of a legionary, it was not unseen in actual practice, especially among the "Normal" Phalanxs from other Greek States in service with Alexanders Army.

The "Kopis" i beleive was primaraily the secondary arm of the Macedonian Companion Cavalry. It's name comes from the Egyptian sword "Kopesh" or sickle sword, although they were not reallyl similar.

One might surmise that, somehow, that not only did the Kopis serve with the Companion Cavarly, but perhaps with Macedonian Officers as well.

Also, the basic shape seems to have migrated and re evolved (again form follows function) in the shape of the knife/sword shape of the Nepalese Khukri.
Image

Kopis 1

Image

Kopis 2

Note that neither the Dory of the Thermopylaen Era Spartan Hoplite Nor the Sarissisa of the Macedonian Phalangite were ever thrown (more than a few feet) they were just not built for Thatl
.

The Dory of the Greek Phalangite could have been wielded overhand (most likely) or sometimes underhanded.

The Sarissa would always have been handled in two hand underhand thrusts, as in many bo forms such a "Tokumine no Kun".

The Sarissa appears to have had a more narrow Panetrating point and I do not think it was meant to just be a shaft with a "cut and slash" blade on the end. I beleive it was intended to penetrate, and if you have done "Bo" forms such as Tokumine, you will know the incredible power that can be generated by such double thrusts.

So, the Phalangite could and did occasionally drop his spear and defend himself or go on the attack (such as in the case when his spear was shattered, although in the case of the Dory, the other end could still have been used.

The Word Entymology dictionary completely misses the mark when naming the source for the word for the "dory" which was a double ended fishing rowboat ot the Northeast.

The Dictionary mentioned refers to a type of Mosquito.

I guess they had a different reading list and upbringing.

Nick Secunda has Printed an article on greek swordsmanship, and although it is clear is was not the first choice of the Phalangite ((aka Hoplite) the sword was used.

You can look up and print out his article on "Greek Swordmanship" or, as I said, wait for me to distill it down a bit.


John

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Last edited by JOHN THURSTON on Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:55 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Greek Swordmanship
PostPosted: Sat Sep 08, 2007 1:51 am 
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I have printed out Mr. Sekunda's article which I mentioned.

It is quite interesting and after I digest it a bit I will try yo cover the highlights as there is not much, as you say, written on Greek Swordsmanship.

Although the Hoplite is name dfor his shield, know for his spear(s) he lived with his Swords, although it was never pretended that they were the primary arm of the Hoplite.

The "Kopis" of the companions literally means "Chopper' and could easily sever a limb with one stroke.

This coincides with the Chinese view of weaponry in that they often say that the spear is most easily learned, the bow the next less difficult, but the sword is a weapon that requires years of study.

That having been siad, I note (or paraphrase) on Japanesse Commander reporting to his theater commander to the effect "that how can we beat the Americans, even Miramoto Mushashi, the best swordsman in history, could not compete with a great bowman"

What he was referring to was that with the destruction of Japanese Naval Aviation, Japanese surface forces could not force the issue, except, of course, at night, when surface action still ruled--but the Japanese began to lose night actions when the American introduced radar tecnology to the fray.

I think I posted something on the los of Kirishima at night to Washingtton and another South Dakota Class BB-primarily because although the Japanese fleet was mush better prepared for night action via "searchlight illumination" (a much ballyhooed between war skill/necessity) these skills were made useless by the Introduction of Surface Gun Control Radar.

John

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