Friday, December 7, 2012

Pumpkin Cutting, Mid November 2012

There are MANY reasons for cutting inoffensive squash with swords.  For one thing, it really teaches "edge consciousness", a skill which can be learned like any other.  Cutting pumkins, watermelons, or cabbages helps to provide feedback to crisp up this skill.

Of course the real reason one does such an oddball activity is because all in all, it is great fun.  We had a bonfire, with plenty of hot apple cider.  Kept everybody happy.  I didn't see a single long face there the entire day.

Above and below you can see Shayne and Lorne using the biggest baddest sword on the planet.  This anime scaled blade is particularly large, especially when you consider the guy holding it is 6 foot 4. 

The pumkin Mayhem has begun.

Above are a collection of the assorted exotic weapons available for use.  All, sooner or later, passed through a pumkin.  In the back you can see the pumkin on my archery target.  We stuck to throwing weapons since we did not think it good practice to use an unsecured archery lane in the midst of a crowd.
    (well, duuuuh....grin!)

Many thanks go to John at Bowman Farms, and Canamore Orchards for all the pumkins.  Very decent of them.  They tell me they were more than happy to get ME to compost them.  Ah shucks...

The metal stantions that Brian Fence made us came in really handy when it came time to define the thrown weapons lane.  

Eventually we shoveled 3 trailer loads of smashed pumkins to the cows, and there is this much yet again preparing to render down into compost.  Cows didn't quite know how to take it.  I think they eventually decided that broken pumkins were edible, but not like tasy fresh grass of course.   We had left on the ground a plethora of seeds which has kept the squirrels, rabbits and racoons VERY happy. I don't imagine many of them will germinate next spring, but believe it or not, under that orange carpet of yellow fleshed mayhem is my plowed garden.  So, you never know.  Most of the seeds will fall victim to undersnow field mice I am fairly certain. Did we have a good time?  Oh, lordy!  The feast later on was stunning,  with cider and ribs with pulled pork in the tent.  It was becoming a bit cold (Jeff said he had trouble deciding whether the sauce covered items he was sticking in his mouth was ribs or fingers, his hands were so cold) so I may have to think of a way to warm the tent next year.
And yes, there WILL be a next year. You know, we had between 120 and 150 people!  How am I gonna feed all those people if they ALL buy meal tickets?  In shifts I guess. 

We had a thousand pictures, but I think I liked Natalia's pictures the best.  I know there are a dozen sword handlers with photo accounts, please feel free to post the addresses of such accounts in the comments below. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012


The disengage.  Now there is a place where you can shine!  Or fail miserably! 

It is all part of knowing how to deal with what is thrown at you and how to handle it. 

First rule....get into guard.
Second the attack, deflect it, turn its energy against the attacker.
Third rule...Disengage and get into guard.

That disengagement is where you can get into a lot of trouble.

It was a development of techniques which I shoved together because I had to teach a class filled with veteran fighters who wanted to see something different.  Its not so much a matter of coming up with something totally different as combining existing techniques in new ways.  So its not just one technique, but rather several tacked together.  And if I can do it the way Talhoffer did it, even better!

First I got into guard.  Second, I deflected his sword over my head.
So far, fairly straightforward.  Thats just rule number one and two.
Then I pushed the hilt forward and hooked his sword hilt with my pommel, pulling on his arm trying to straighten it.

Stepped in, place my foot behind his, and tried to drive him into an arm bar by slamming my shield hand against his elbow.  (I like to use the back of my hand, my shield, buckler or forearm, but Talhoffer just pushes the elbow with the palm of my hand.  Same, same.  The other difference is of course that Talhoffer steps in front of his opponent's leg instead of behind it.  This leads to a different finish yet.  But...back to the arm bar...

An arm bar almost never works...he bends his arm, the armour locks up, so I go to the fourth part of the techinique quite smartly.  I brought the sword blade up towards his neck for a throat cut.
        Cute technique.  And quite complex with four discrete moves.  (four things to go wrong! ha!)  But it won't work on a guy in armour because of that pesky gorget.  So now we must disengage.   (rule three) 
         To do this, I must free the sword from its tangle of pommels, heads and so forth.  Only direction it CAN go is forward, so I shove the quillion into his throat, and lift my pommel out of the action.  Also, I body check him forward as I am doing this.    Hopefully my left knee is still behind his right knee...not a guarantee!
      Withdraw the sword smoothly from the action and place the blade into a tail guard, then bang the pommel into his ear.  This covers up my movement of my fist behind his head to the far side...I place my left hand on his left shoulder. 

      These next two things must be done at the same time... I unlock his right knee with my left knee, and shove his body down towards his right foot.  He should drop in front of you. 

   My sword was still in its tail guard, and it comes naturally onto the back of his neck with 180 degrees of movement.  This will be a kill.  To make this strike work, you MUST move your left foot back and you MUST withdraw your hand. 

This withdrawal technique was a development of the shoulder twist takedown which we have been teaching for many years.  The only difference being that the guy being taken down ends up on his face.  The unlocking of the knee and the push straight downwards with the left hand is the same....but you are less likely to drop your opponent on your leg by dropping him in front of you.  But you DO have to watch out for that elbow...grin!

The above picture shows a drag backwards so it doesn't "quite" illustrate the technique I just described, but the samurai has his left knee placed in the back of my right knee, and there is not a lot I can do about it.

At this point in the picture, the samurai pulled me down.  He could have dropped me in front of him, or he could step forward and drop me on my back.  These pictures show me on the way onto my back. 


Further development work on this techique can be derived from plate 188, 182, 177, and plate 32.
All show work you can do when you are tight in like this. 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New class

Advanced Chivalrous Swordhandling

Hi Bill,
The above-mentioned course is a "GO".  Currently there are 6 students registered however there may be a few more by the time the course starts.  Your course is scheduled on Wednesday October 31 - December 12 from 7 - 9:15 p.m. except on December 12 where your class is scheduled from 7 - 9:30 p.m.

 Well, that it then!
See you all there.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The number five strike

One of the most popular strikes is the one which comes in from over head.  Me, I don't like it quite as much as some others, but I do have to admit that it is good in tight places, shield walls and such.  My biggest problem is that my arm is always exposed right out there.  Below, I have extended my arm a little too much for the strike, and the Samurai is happily bringing the flat of his sword up against the blade, and stepping out from under the strike.  Note that the strike does not come straight down on my opponent....but rather directly towards his face. 

As the Samurai stepped to his left, my sword slides down his sword.  The samurai lets it slide all it wants, right to the ground if need be.  If he brings it back into play too soon, my sword "might" slide under his swords tip, and go into his leg or foot. 

 Below you can see the same move as the Samurai moves off to his right. 

above...move to the right.  point the handle to the right and follow the handle.  Below, move to the left, point the handle to the left and follow the handle.

Normally of course, both our arms would not be out there as much as in the pictures.  I like to keep my elbows in more tightly in the attack and step in a little closer.  But as you can see, it is very hazardous to be this one sword length away.  In the last picture, the red knight's sword is prepared to slide under my sword and throw it away, or perhaps simpy open my belly.

Mr. Talhoffer shows in his book 7 different strikes to do with your sword over there on the left. 
     As ususal, the fight is not won by the strike but by the counter strike.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Envy and Distain

"One should not be envious of someone who has prospered by unjust deeds. Nor should he disdain someone who has fallen while adhering to the path of righteousness." -- Imagawa Sadayo (1325-1420)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

bog finds

An entire army sacrificed in a bog

August 22, 2012 - 06:11

Archaeologists have found skeletal remains of an entire army in an ancient mass grave in Denmark. The bones confirm reports from written sources of shocking Teutonic massacres.

The excavation revealed a very special object – and axe, complete with a shaft, which is very rare. (Photo: Moesgård Museum and Aarhus University)
A Danish bog has been harbouring a terrifying secret for thousands of years.
Archaeologists have spent all summer excavating a small sample of what has turned out to be a mass grave containing skeletal remains from more than 1,000 warriors, who were killed in battle some 2,000 years ago.
“We found a lot more human bones than we had expected,” says Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum.
The discovery of the many Iron Age bones has attracted international attention, partly because the body parts are macabre per se, but also because the bones are surprisingly well preserved. Furthermore, the find confirms a Roman source’s description of the Teutons’ atrocious war practices.
The site is located in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø on the Jutland peninsula.
Bones reveal wounds from weapons
Some 2,000 years ago, the Alken warriors are thought to have been sacrificed to some gods, which we’re not very familiar with today.
At this early stage, we can see that the bones have bite marks on them, and parts of the joints have been gnawed off. So there’s no doubt that predators have been in contact with the body parts.”
Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum
The bones ended up in the bog at a time when it wasn’t a bog; rather, it was a small basin by Lake Mossø, created by a tongue of land jutting into the lake.
The archaeologists have so far only excavated an area of 80-90 square metres, although the site stretches over an area of 3,600 square metres.
Excavations in wetlands are very expensive, since water needs to be constantly pumped out. Also, the finds are so densely concentrated that it takes a long time to get through all the layers.
The area that has so far been excavated contained bone fragments from around 240 men aged between 13 and 45. The men’s bones are marked by melee weapons such as swords and axes.
Meadow filled with dead warriors
The unexcavated basin in the bog stretches over a huge area covering almost 40 hectare and is believed to contain the remains of more than 1,000 warriors.
When asked how the archaeologists can tell that this many warriors are buried there, Hertz says: “We know that people who cut peat here in the 19th and 20th centuries found bone fragments. We’ve also made test excavations in the basin.”
This is the first time that something like this has been found in northern Europe.
Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum
The archaeologists did not find complete skeletons, only skeletal parts. They can see that the bog contains many different individuals, since humans have, for instance, only one left thighbone.
Dead warriors were left to rot on the battlefield
The army beneath the bog may have been defeated and killed in a battlefield located far away from Alken Wetlands.
Hertz says that if this were the case, it must have been a massive logistical task for Iron Age people to transport the bones to the lake.
The researchers cannot say how this may have come about or where the battle took place. Many of the archaeological finds in the area stem from armies that came from afar.
But in principle, the battlefield may have been located right next to the sacrificial site. The sacrifice, however, occurred long after the battle.
“The bones have been sacrificed months or even years after the warriors were killed. We won’t know until the bones have been carefully analysed,” says the curator.
The bones are completely fresh. Some DNA has been preserved, so we can get a good profile of what Iron Age man looked like. An anthropological analysis of the bones will provide us with a picture of their diet and their physical appearance.
Ejvind Hertz, curator at Skanderborg Museum
“At this early stage, we can see that the bones have bite marks on them, and parts of the joints have been gnawed off. So there’s no doubt that predators have been in contact with the body parts.”
Finds confirm tales of brutal warfare
The marks from the predators’ bite indicate that the dead warriors were left to die and rot on the battlefield, without anyone bothering to bury or even remove the bodies.
This confirms parts of what a Roman source wrote about war practices among Northern Europeans in the period around the time of the birth of Christ.
One of the greatest historians of the Roman Empire, Tacitus (56 AD – 120 AD) described the aftermath of the Roman’s famous defeat in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.
“In the middle of the plain, bones lay either spread out or heaped, depending on whether they had fled or resisted. Next to the bones lay bits of spears and horse limbs, and there were also human heads nailed to trees. In the nearby groves were barbarian altars in which they had sacrificed tribunes and centurions of the first rank,” Tacitus wrote in his Annals.
We also know from sources that when the Teutons won a battle, they killed off all the surviving enemies, except for the few who managed to run back to their home and tell of their defeat.
Very few weapons found in the grave


The sacrificed army was discovered in an area which has turned out to be brimming with archaeological treasures.
Here archaeologists have found around 15,000 objects – mainly weapons sacrifices from the Iron Age. But carbon 14 analyses have revealed that none of these finds could have been weapons belonging to the sacrificed army in Alken.
The archaeologists cannot determine the nationality of the slain warriors because they have found very few remains of weapons in the grave.
Among the numerous bone fragments, they have only found a few arrowheads, the remains of a shield and a very well preserved axe, complete with a shaft, which is very rare.
An invaluable source of info about Iron Age man
The bones are nevertheless invaluable: “This is the first time that something like this has been found in northern Europe,” says Hertz.
The conditions for preservation in the Alken wetlands have been optimal, i.e. the atmosphere has been oxygen-free.
“The bones are completely fresh,” he says. “Some DNA has been preserved, so we can get a good profile of what Iron Age man looked like. An anthropological analysis of the bones will provide us with a picture of their diet and their physical appearance.”
The researchers are nearing the completion of the current excavation project. In the coming months, they will be analysing the many bones together with international experts,
The project, titled ‘The army and post-war rituals in the Iron Age – warriors sacrificed in the bog at Alken Enge in Illerup Ådal’ is a collaboration between archaeologists and geologists at Skanderborg Museum, Moesgård Museum and Aarhus University.
Read the Danish version of this article at
Translated by
Dann Vinther

Read the rest of the article at Science Nordic.

 So what do we learn from disturbing the graves of bold and great warriors?  Well, they still have a role to play in the modern world.  By examining the cut marks on the bones, we learn a LOT about techniques, styles and what kind of armour they would have worn.  Also, the battle wounds can tell us a lot about how well trained and what effect that training may have had on their eventual demise.  (thats what interests me of course)  How would one go about doing that?
      Well, it is possible for instance to tell the difference between a cut made when the warrior was alive as opposed to an indignity after death.  You can tell if it was sawn or chopped for instance...a saw would likely be after the fight, and a surgeon might have been involved.   The direction of the cut on the bone is easily determined.  A preponderance of broken and cut left collar bones would mean an army is a sucker for overhead strikes for would be able to know whether the weapon was an axe, a pole axe, a club or a sword.   You would also if you were VERY good, might be able to tell if the blow happened after the weapon had glanced off a helmet.  The battle of Townton, for instance, has many skeletons with almost no chest wounds.  Heavy padded leather jacks (what we still call "jackets") and helmets would have prevented the arrow storm from being effective, though the helmets didn't seem to slow a battle axe much.  At Townton, the just kept on hitting the guy in the face.  Makes one wonder if the professionals at Townton were like the terminator, they just kept on coming and coming.  At Wisby, they were more workmanlike...leg shot first, then come back a little later and finish him off with an axe to the head.  (we know they were professionals at Townton by the healed sword wounds they all had and we know the Wisby crew were amatures because the wounds were all "beginner's mistakes".)

Anyway, I left you all with about two hours of links to peruse.  What is important about these links is that this is science...archaeology and forensics.  This is not what we surmise, or think happened....this is what actually happened. 
       From this we can learn a lot.  Why are there no arrow wounds in the Townton skeleteons, though the battle site is covered with them?  Why were the ears and noses brutally hacked off?  What role did the Marshal (the guy with the hammer pick) play in the drama? These links go a long way to answer these questions.

bibliography...not linked above.
written in bone...Smithsonian
soft tissue analysis 
skeletal analysis of Townton

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Battlefield Detectives...Agincourt

Ransom and heraldry...choosing the lucrative target over the proper military target...the English never won Agincourt, but rather the French lost it.

How the heck did it happen?

Battlefield detectives...

The archers did not follow ettiquette, and were prepared to bash knights with their hammers and climbed up onto the horses and stabbed the knights in the neck.  Sure they did....
    And I'm Mahatmah Ghandi.   Excuses, excuses, excuses. 
This episode of battlefield detectives is remarkable for covering previously unconsidered factors.  Crowd control, too many people in too little space, stamping around in the mud. 

Nah, it wasn't the archers.  It was the idiots running the show.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


So you see...nothing to it.
    So how long can you follow those rules Bill?
        Ummmm....the rest of your life....

Any of the guys in this engraving actually FOLLOWING those rules? 

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Measure is nothing more than the distance you are from your opponent.  It is in the top five most important things when fighting with swords.   We use phrases every day like "taking his measure" or to "measure him on the ground".  These terms come from sword handling.  Here I am causing Jean to sway to his left to avoid my sword.  He counters with a number five strike from above.  A murderous strike with lots of power.

In the above pic, I am well within a sword length of my opponent.  This is probably the most dangerous possible place to stand.  Fortunately, as you can see by the position of my leading foot, that I am in the process of moving off the line of attack. I can go either way.  Jean (in the red armour) is focused on moving his entire attack towards me.

But instead of staying put, I brought left foot foward, moved my right foot to the left,  my sword up and to my left, and in one beat (1/4 of a second), I ended up behind Jean. This requires some pretty fancy footwork, but certainly do-able even in full armour. The fencing world calls this an "en passant".  I call it a gentle glide to the left forward corner as I ducked under his sword.  It is safe providing I have cleverly protected myself the whole time with the flat of my own sword.

Once I get behind Jean, I want to keep behind him.  The easiest way to stay behind is to shove his shoulder. 
      Lets change the camera angle to the back, and you can see how to properly shove a prepared and heavily armoured opponent.  You can't just shove his shoulder with your wil probably just slide off, and you will be worse off.  You have to prevent your opponent from moving clockwise to face you.  So you are in a "situation".

As we look to the pic below, I have stepped a wee step forward to put my knee in behind Jean's right knee.  A quick bend of my knee will unlock his leg.  (which would be useful if I was pulling him towards me, but all it serves to do is to prevent him from stepping back with his right leg. 

At the same time, I brought my elbow down into his tricep.  And drove my left hip forward which we all know results in an explosion of power.  You can also see a crush of my abs, and pecs along with the hip movement....this provides enough power to shift the Titanic

And at no time should you ever fall off balance when performing this manoevre.

And thats the way they did it in the fifteenth century.  I see no reason to not do it this way....grin!  What Talhoffer fails to do is to explain how you can cleverly end up in this position.  And here, in this series,  I have just shown you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Osgoode Fighting Pictures

Above is Dan G. driving Dimitri back.  Clearly Dimitri (on the right) is having none of it, and has stepped in with a beautiful body shot to Dan's chest.  (That cute little move is right out of Talhoffer!!!)

Turnabout is fair play.  And below, the inevitable results as they join each other in that long walk over the Bifrost Bridge into Valhalla.  The chain mail not all that heavy...some thirty pounds or so, but the padded gambesons in this overwhelming heat slowed some of the action.  Below, I am asking if they really have collapsed from heat prostration or if they were just acting for the crowd.  Their reply was something along the line of..."well, we started by acting, but it kind of felt good to just lie there for awhile..."

 Mark, on the left is amazingly light on his feet, particularly when you consider the massive steel boots he is wearing.  Dmitri, on the right right, below, is very nearly as graceful.  This fight was a joy to watch.  In fact, the Lord Mayor of Ottawa was there, and was more than a little fascinated by the fighting. 

Below, Dmitri has stepped in to deliver a thrust.  It stuck, so it counted.  Unfortunately for him, Mark dropped his swords onto Dmitiri's neck, so in a real battle, Dmitiri would have died right away, and Mark in a couple of weeks from a perforated bowel.  Not a lot of glory in this...but I have to admit, some VERY good fighting. 

And so it goes...Dmitri in a later fight returns the favor. Their heavy chain mail does not do them any favors but at least it is fairly easy to move in. 

And Below are the guys.  Burning out in the hot sun. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The above plates are examples which are normally put forward to support the use of a strike which I call "sniping".  I personally do not think that sniping has much use in a real combat.  There are several types of strike which are pretty much useless when a real sword is used.  Those plates do NOT support the use of sniping.  And here is why....
     1.  It depends on a strike with the foible of the sword.  Tests done here at the forge have proven that the vast majority of strikes which use the foible simply dissipate the energy of the strike among five or six mini strikes which result from the normal vibration of the sword.  Is it possible to hit hard enough for that dissipation to not matter?  Well, of course.  But it requires a very crisp "crunch" of energy.  Just snapping the sword out quickly and "touching" or "pinking" is not sword fighting...its just speed bagging an opponent with back handed jabs in boxing.
     If you examine the first and second plates above, the swordsmen are hitting one another with the upper harmonic...NOT the foibles.  

     2.  The sniping shot can work beautifully when you have a scoring system.  For instance, in the game of Kendo, a snap strike to the wrist is considered a very good way to gain points.  Is it that effective in a real fight?  Well, one often overlooked (by people on the outside) component to Kendo is the "wind up" and explosive release of power.  One way to ensure that power is to demand a sword travel more than ninety degrees before it can be considered "good".  Another is to demand that the sword move at least ninety degrees to even count AS a strike.  Pretty artificial IMHO, but then, you DO have to have SOME way to score!  I have proven to my satisfaction that a Kendo style wrist strike with the foible will fail against an armoured opponent nine times out of ten, so I do not teach it. So as loathe as I am to throw out a third of the strikes in a popular sword art, I reluctantly must point out that a wrist is a moving target, it gets knocked away very easily, that the creation of the power to make it effective takes the sword out of the close area, leaving you exposed to a counter cut. 
    Again, a good look at the first two plates above illustrate the stepping in, the delivery of explosive power under control.   Compare to 0.39 in this link...
and note that the professionals on that field did not even count it.  Why didn't they do you suppose? (the answer has to do with the scoring method actually...)

3. Plates 223, 228, and 229 are often used to support the whole concept of single strikes.  Actually, they show the exact opposite...why you should not do them.  The fellow on the left has decided to completely throw away any advantage of height and guard, and gambled it all upon a strike onto his opponent's head.  The shortened measure and upward strike into the wrist is shown in graphic detail. 

4.  The final plate illustrates another result.  The fellow on the right stepped back, got his guard up, and the gentleman on the left has to overextend to get the shot in.  This will not end well.

      What do we think works then?  Well, if I may put aside (for the moment)  the VERY controversial idea that you simply cannot kill a trained armoured man with a sword, I believe that using draw cuts, joint locks, planted thrusts, half sword work, wrestling and cuts of wrath would have a good chance to work in real life.  Its what they taught back in Talhoffer's day, and they must have taught it for a reason.  Therefore, if we are going to score this as a game, we should score the above techniques, not the ones which we think don't work or the ones which we think only work one time in ten. 
        A strike with the foible simply has no effectivity, and so it garners no points.  A strike to the head has no effect due to the good armour...there is no way that a sword strike to the head with a real sword can possibly injure an opponent, so it garners no points either.   Again, Kendo strikes are reluctantly set aside as ineffective....A single strike will be turned away by the armour, so it must be backed up over and over again for it to count. 
     There is not a single example of the number one strike to the head, (plate 229 above?  Plate 240?  two VERY extreme cases don't you think?)  nor a single example of a foible strike to the hand or wrist in any plate in Talhoffer's book.  If any of my readers can find it in any other medieval text, I will persue this further.  Until then, in order to further THIS game,  we assume that it takes three fairly committed strikes to break through steel armour, two fair strikes against chain mail to open it up and be effective, and if you have no armour at all,  you pretty much take any committed fair strike.  I recognize that this is pretty artificial...and is subject to modification at need. (One sword group of my aquaintance demanded five strikes against armour instead of three.  Well, same idea....)
    The glass sword technique has always been taught...the only difference is the scoring.  Go ahead and do the strike to the "men", just drop it on the shoulder and draw it out.  Go ahead and target the hand and wrist...teach the guy to keep his hands moving, but make sure you hit with the upper harmonic if you expect it to count. 

As always, I invite comments. I will delete the rude ones....

Friday, June 8, 2012

powder steel

what IS powder steel? 

I was asked once why a katana was so solid compared to, say, a leaf spring of the same width.  The answer is NOT the material.  Not the prayers.  Not what your game designer says it is.    The reason for the solididity, the "stiffness"  is the tension/compression created by the uneven shrinking during the differential tempering.   Imagine lifting up a shelf of books by squeezing the stack of books together.  You have a beam.  If you really really squeezed that pile of books, you would have a beam strong enough to sit on.  That's the physics behind it.  If you were to go to the same trouble to heat treat a tool steel sword the same way the national treasures of Japan treat their folded swords, you would get similar results.  I can't even imagine how many ways there are to screw it up though.  My hat is off to the people who do this for a living!

Karl says it better....
(Karl is a regular member of the "sword forum", and is worth following ON the sword forum.  Below is the nicest explanation I have ever seen of Powder Steel.  And why it is a "little" better than folded steel for some purposes.)

Karl --->   I believe I read something once that said there is a difference between powdered steel, and particle steel (CPM steels). This link:

is a post by a fellow who describes the CMP process very well. He says the CPM process is a powdered metal process. If I recall, there is a difference between powder and particle methods, but it isn't significant for a person wanting a general idea of what is going on.

Advantages of the powdered methods is that you get perfectly homogeneous steel. Think of steel as a chocolate chip cookie. The dough is the regu;ar steel parts, and the chips are the carbodes. Carbides are very hard aloyed bits that can really make a nice toothy edge in a knife. Mr. Larman said that Howard Clark's 1086 blades take longer to burnish than "regula" blades, and they wear his burnishing tools faster. This is because of the vanadium carbides in the steel. There are all kinds of carbides. In stainless steel you'll get chromium carbides. Some carbon steels have chromium in them too (not at levels to make them stainless), forming chromium carbides. As you cut with yopur blade, you are going to wear away the steel. As you sharpen, you wear away the steel. Imagine if your chogolate chip cookie had clusters of chips with lots of dough spaces in it. you can pictire the dough crumbling away and leaving these odd clumps of chips, that now have little dough support and such. In regular steel, you can get clumping of carbides nad such because of migration of the carbides as the steel cools. With particle metallurgy, you start with a bunch of tiny particles of the perfect elemental make-up, and then you press them all together into a solid billet. No migration, nothing. Just a perfect chocolate chip cookie!

Oh, I think that another advantage of this method is that you can make alloyes that you can't make by traditional methods. Crucible (the company, the makers od the CPM steels among others) has steels with crazy amounts of vanadium, and amounts of carbon exceeding 2%!!!

The above was shamelessly ripped off from Karl's post on the Sword Forum.

  Karl Rejman's Avatar Karl Rejman

Karl is a regular member of the "sword forum", and is worth following ON the sword forum.  The above is the nicest explanation I have ever seen of Powder Steel.  And why it is a "little" better than folded steel for some purposes.  


Thursday, June 7, 2012


Above is Mr. Talhoffer's method of dealing with a thrust.  The thrust is a funny comes along the "wrath" line, delivered from over the head.  Why would anybody do that? would go neatly over the other guy's shield hmmmm?   I like how Talhoffer shows the consequences of not getting off the line of attack.

 The trust is coming in on the fellow in red.  He sways off the line of attack.  He "could" have taken a step forward and to the right with his right foot, and knowing him, he will do so right ...  about... now.

and here he has put a wall of steel between my sword and his sword.

What will he do now?  Well, lots of things come to mind.  However the fact that he has stepped in to well within my comfort zone means I should do something about that.  Step back with my right foot...bring my sword up to a number two ox guard will keep me alive until I think of something else.
       What do you think would happen if I slammed forward, bringing my left foot forward and my sword up into an over the shoulder hanging (number two ox) guard?  All I would really need to do would be to bring my sword handle straight up.

I have given you two options.  Do I have others?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Musashi's rules

Fluidity is the way to life.

The person who runs away from the thrust has already lost

Be aware of your opponent's sword

Borrow the battlefield. 

Be careful even in small matters.

Fix the vision.

Never more than three times.

Push multiple opponents into line like fishes.

When I fight I have only my sword.

The teacher is the needle and the deciple is the thread.

Use your surroundings.

You will know your man when you know his sword.

Try not to blink.

The journey of a thousand miles is made one step at a time.