Table of contents:

12 myths about melee weapons and swordsmanship that wander from film to film
12 myths about melee weapons and swordsmanship that wander from film to film

We tell you why a bloodstream is needed, what a flamberg and a glaive really are, and how much a rapier weighs.

12 myths about melee weapons and swordsmanship that wander from film to film
12 myths about melee weapons and swordsmanship that wander from film to film

You liked the previous analysis of sword fighting myths. Therefore, we decided to collect a number of common misconceptions about them.

1. Growth in fencing is not important

Melee weapons and related myths: growth in fencing is not important
Melee weapons and related myths: growth in fencing is not important

In many works of fiction, the plot "David vs. Goliath" is popular. A short, but extremely agile, agile and trained fighter defeats a stronger, but slower giant.

In the same "Game of Thrones" Oberyn Martell practically defeated the giant Grigor Clegan (if not for showing off). And the Faceless Arya Stark defeated the two-meter tall Brienne of Tart, dressed in full armor and armed with a lorry.

Size is not important, the main thing is skill? No matter how it is.

Growth in sword fighting is extremely important, since a tall person maneuvers faster due to the length of the legs. It is also more convenient for him to keep the enemy at a distance.

This is stated by Keith Farrell, one of the senior lecturers at the Academy of Historical Martial Arts in Scotland, a professional HEMA swordsman and historian. He refutes the notion that short fighters are always faster than tall ones, and argues that mobility is not directly related to height.

In one of his sparring matches, Farrell demonstrates confirmation of this fact. The short (168 cm) Keith, despite his great experience, ultimately loses to his opponent William Bowills (195 cm). The latter simply had an advantage in distance.

So in a real fight, Brienne would have hacked Arya to death. First, her arms and sword are longer. And secondly, Arya's attempts to deliver chopping blows with her stabbing Needle betray her as an amateur. What else can you expect from a girl who doesn't even know how to properly hold her own sword?

2. Rapier - light and graceful weapon

Melee weapons and related myths: the rapier is a light and graceful weapon
Melee weapons and related myths: the rapier is a light and graceful weapon

Since we remembered about the needle of Arya, which is quite a typical small sword, let's talk about her sister rapier. In films and books, it is the favorite weapon of the musketeers: light, fast and flexible like wire, it is used in graceful swordsmanship.

However, in fact, the rapier weighs about 1.5 kg, that is, the same as a regular bastard sword.

At the same time, if a bastard-one-and-a-half could easily swing with both hands, then the rapier should be held in one. However, most of the weight was concentrated in the protective guard, which made the grip of the weapon quite comfortable. And the rapier was strong enough to deflect the blows of a real bastard sword.

Rapiers, swords, estoks and other thrusting swords arose with the development of armor. To cut through or cut through the armor with them is a dubious undertaking and harmful to the blade. But to pierce it, especially in vulnerable places, is more than realistic.

The myth of the lightness of the rapier arose because they are confused with modern sports options weighing no more than 500 g.

3. Bloodstream helps to do more damage

Melee weapons and related myths: blood flow allows you to inflict more damage
Melee weapons and related myths: blood flow allows you to inflict more damage

See the indentation in the blade? This gutter is sometimes called a blood drain. Those who call it that believe that it allows more dangerous wounds to be inflicted on the victim. You thrust your sword into the enemy, blood gushes through the depression, the enemy dies.

Apparently, while the blood flows through the bloodstream, the fighter must stand next to the pierced enemy and wait for him to finally give his soul to God.

In fact, this gutter does not increase blood loss in any way. It is enough just to pull out the sword so that it stops plugging the wound, and the victim will bleed out. No blood drains are needed.

The real purpose of the groove is to lighten the weight of the blade and increase its strength. Therefore, it is correct to call it not bloodstream, but dol. This is a special hollow with stiffening ribs.

4. Cutting a person in half is as easy as shelling pears

Melee weapons and related myths: chopping a person in half is not easy
Melee weapons and related myths: chopping a person in half is not easy

Cutting a victim in half is a fairly popular technique in various films, TV shows and games. A quick blow, the victim freezes for a second, and then falls apart. You've seen this in works like Underworld, Equilibrium, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and many others.

But what is really there, if you are a fan of "The Witcher" - remember how many times in the games Geralt cut opponents into two parts.

However, in reality, this is an extremely difficult, if not impossible, task at all.

The Japanese have a martial art called tameshigiri Kapp, Leon. The Craft of the Japanese Sword - chopping straw sheaves, mattresses, and in the past - human corpses and convicted criminals with a katana. The Chinese also indulged in similar ones.

But the subjects Tameshigiri on a convicted criminal (illustration from a 1927 book), on which the samurai honed their sword skills, were naked and bound. In addition, the blades were often damaged when chopping bones and required a new sharpening. Or they could even become unusable. And even in ideal conditions - when the victim is naked, tied and does not move - it was not always possible to cut it.

In this experiment, a professional kendo master attempts to cut a ballistic dummy in half. Spoiler alert: It didn't work. Although hardly anyone would want to be in the doll's place, of course.

The sword cuts through tissue well, but it is not easy for them to cut through bones: it gets stuck in them and gets stuck. So you will not be able to cut enemies in the waist area or even across it, especially if they are dressed and at least somehow move. But to demolish heads or limbs is quite. Not as easy as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, though.

5. Flamberge is such a sword

Flamberg-type two-handed sword
Flamberg-type two-handed sword

The weapon in the photo is often called Flamberg - Flamberge, from the German Flamme - "flame", "flaming". The blade got its name because of its specific shape. The wavy blade reduced the area of contact with the enemy's flesh, significantly increasing the damage from slashing blows. It often made not one, but several cuts.

It is not an easy task to heal such injuries even now, and even more so with medieval medicine. Unsurprisingly, some have called the flambergs "poisoned."

If you were a little interested in the history of melee weapons, played Dark Souls or Mordhau, or, what good, are a fan of Nick Perumov, then you might get the impression that the flamberg is such a two-handed sword. A huge colossus, designed to shred all the unfortunate ones that get in the way.

However, in fact, the flamberg is not a sword, but the shape of a blade.

One-handed short swords, rapiers, and even daggers had such a blade. A kind of hybrids of bladed weapons and saws. Look at these exhibits and you will understand that a flamberg is by no means just a two-handed man.

Parry dagger with "flamberg" blade
Parry dagger with "flamberg" blade

And yes, flambergs tried not to use armor for battles with enemies, because this type of blade was very expensive and difficult to execute, and damaging a sword on chain mail was as easy as shelling pears. Therefore, the opinion that they should have cut the armor is another delusion.

6. A sword with two blades is twice as effective as a model with one blade

Melee weapons and related myths: a sword with two blades is more effective
Melee weapons and related myths: a sword with two blades is more effective

This is not true. Darth Maul in "Star Wars" is extremely clever with his double lightsaber, but he is a Sith, he can. A real swordsman would find a sword with two blades on both ends of the hilt extremely impractical.

You will not be able to effectively cut with such a weapon, because the second blade will interfere a lot. They will not be able to prick normally either - it is wiser then to take a spear, at least it is safer to hold it.

In general, Darth Maul's sword is more suited to destroying the owner, rather than opponents.

This explains the fact that in history swords with two blades practically did not meet (except as a ceremonial weapon). An exception is lances or metal counterweights at the end of a halberd or poleaxe, which were sometimes placed there.

7. And a decent glaive of a blade also has two

By the way, one more thing for fans of Nick Perumov's work. The protagonist of his books, Fess, brandishes a weapon that he calls a glaive - a stick with wide blades at both ends. At the same time, he demonstrates incredible skills of filigree fencing with this contraption, exterminating extras on an industrial scale.

Well, the glaive is not like that. She's like that.

Melee weapons and related myths: a glaive has two blades
Melee weapons and related myths: a glaive has two blades

The length of the shaft was approximately 1.5 m, the blade reached 60 cm in length. The glaive was intended mainly for fighting cavalry and weighed under 4 kg. A ridiculous figure if we are talking about dumbbells, and quite serious if we are talking about weapons: it will not work to twist them gracefully in battle.

But the glaive could kill or maim the horse, on which the knight waving a sword sits. Well, or pull it off the saddle with a sharp hook or a thorn on the butt.

Of the real weapons, Holmes Welch, The Practice of Chinese Buddhism, the “shovel of a monk”, or “Zen staff,” worn by Shaolin monks, is more or less similar to the Fess Glaive. But this is not a weapon, but really a shovel - it was used to bury the dead according to Buddhist customs, and sometimes drive away stray dogs and hooligans. The metal parts weren't even sharpened.

8. A poisoned sword is good

Shot from the series "Game of Thrones"
Shot from the series "Game of Thrones"

Many paid much more for their first orc slain. You were wounded with a clean blade. Orcs often smear scimitars with very strong and harmful poisons. We will quickly heal this wound.

John Tolkien "The Lord of the Rings"

Regardless of what the authors of fantasy may write, poisoned swords are not very effective weapons. Therefore, in reality, they are unlikely to be applied. There are several reasons.

Smearing the blade with something other than lubricant increases the likelihood of corrosion. In the Middle Ages, stainless steel was not yet invented, and a sword was not a cheap thing. Therefore, the blade had to be protected. In addition, the sword kills a person quite quickly, and the poison is banal is not needed - unless it is some kind of fast-acting curare, which cannot be found in Europe.

Transmitting a lethal dose of poison from the blade into the victim's circulatory system with a glancing blow is also not the most trivial task. You have to stick it in and hold it, which is also not very rational. And finally, the poisoned sword will be dangerous for the wearer as well.

What did sometimes get poisoned is arrows, because they stick out in the wound longer than a sword, and the chances are higher in this case. Also, arrows and sharpened stakes were often smeared with feces or simply stuck into the ground to cause blood poisoning or tetanus.

If the universe of "Game of Thrones" was really dark fantasy, Oberin would not smear his spear with poison at all.

9. The most terrible dagger is the one that spreads in a pierced body

Melee weapons and related myths: spreading daggers are much more dangerous
Melee weapons and related myths: spreading daggers are much more dangerous

It is possible that you have seen pictures of such blades on the Internet. This is a rare German or French variation of the Spanish dagger-dagi - man-gosh (fr. Main gauche, "left hand"). It was invented in the 16th century.

Some believe that the purpose of such a dagger is to open in a wound. This way it will not be possible to reach it, and it will remain in the body of the enemy.

However, this is complete nonsense. Sticking a weapon into the enemy and leaving it there is stupid: firstly, you will be left without a dagger, and secondly, this will only help your opponent not bleed longer, as the blade will plug the wound. And the men-gosh could not open up inside the body.

The dagger could have a spring that opens additional blades, turning it into a kind of trident. Alternatively, additional blades were removed manually. But this was done in order to catch the enemy's sword, because the main purpose of dagi is to parry,, blows. And yes, she could not close, grabbing the blade - after the battle she had to fold her hands.

10. Mercury blades always hit the target

Throwing knives
Throwing knives

Since we are talking about various cunning daggers, here is another myth - mercury blades. These are supposedly special throwing knives with blades that are hollow inside and half filled with mercury. When thrown, mercury flows into the front of the blade, so that such a knife always sticks into the target.

Similar models are allegedly in service with special forces, airborne troops and other classified guys.

But in reality, it's just a bike. Firstly, mercury will not make the knife convenient for throwing, so you can not dream of a "homing" blade. But the hollow blade will be less durable. Secondly, the photographs of mercury knives allegedly created in the USSR on the Internet are fakes.

And thirdly, special forces instructors do not teach soldiers to throw knives - only enthusiasts do this at their own request. This is because in battle this is a rather useless undertaking, which in most cases will lead to a simple loss of weapons. It is much easier to stab the enemy with this very knife in close combat. Better to shoot.

11. The war hammer is a very heavy weapon

Melee weapons and related myths: the war hammer is very heavy
Melee weapons and related myths: the war hammer is very heavy

If, hearing the phrase "war hammer", you imagine a sledgehammer or Mjolnir Thor from "The Avengers" - be prepared to be disappointed. A real war hammer had a longer handle (1–2 m) and a small Detail of the head of a war hammer and weighed up to 1.7 kg.

Do you think this is not enough? Try swinging a modern 15kg sledgehammer from side to side and see if you can get enough of it.

And doing it in the heat of battle is a completely hopeless undertaking. Compare the weapon of the Marvel god of thunder with the historical prototype.

War hammer
War hammer

And in general, the severity of medieval weapons is a myth. It was much easier than commonly believed, otherwise it would be inconvenient to use.

12. Sword duels last a long time

Any Hollywood fight involving swords, axes, spears and other edged weapons drags on for ages. Fighters strike without stopping, and their rivals repel them over and over again.

But if you look at real HEMA tournaments, you will notice that they are all fleeting and not so spectacular. A real fight of fencers looks much more boring than staged ones. The reason is simple: a single thrust or blow that reaches the target will cripple the enemy or kill him.

The statistics of injuries collected by historians during the study of the remains of those killed in the Battle of Visby in 1361 show that mostly 2-3 blows were spent on killing. One on the limbs to incapacitate, the next on the head to finish off.

A prolonged sword fight was possible only in duels of honor, when neither side wanted the death of the enemy, but it was necessary to fight for the sake of decency - to the first blood.