Go Easy on the Spikes, Please

It’s often and not without merit said that the point is the most dangerous part of the sword.  Especially with European swords we see a great emphasis put on thrusting attacks.  Now since people had armour as well as swords, attacks could be deflected fairly effectively whether the point or edge were used.  Naturally the knights of old had a solution to this.  They figured out that if you hit the person with the pommel of your sword, the extra force provided by the weight of it would destabilize your heavily armoured opponent enough to win you the fight.DSCF1393

Fiore de’i Liberi, being something of a sadistic bastard, took sword design a step further.  He, in his 15th century manual advocated making your sword with spikes on the pommel and on the end of your crossguard to boot.  There are a few modern practitioners who mention and support this.  I used to think that pointy crossguards especially were a good idea, although now I’m not so sure.  The first reason for that is that I’m not terribly sure it’s necessary, I feel that even a blunted crossguard can still deal a fair amount of punishment and the blunt force trauma of a pommel can be devastating.

The not terribly pointy end

The not terribly pointy end

The real reason extra sharp bits on your sword may not be such a great idea has to do with what happens when your not not wielding your sword.  You see when someone today picks up a sword, chances are that you’re going to be using it right away.  Historically though, the odds are good that you would have to ride for hours or days to get to where you were going to do battle.  While this travel was going on your sword would have to be sheathed and probably worn by your side.  I would wager that as much as 99.9% of the time a knight had a sword with him, it was worn and not wielded.  Incidentally, I’ve heard other Western Martial Artists stating roughly the same thing.  So, since most of the time I have a sword I’m not actively using it to try to hurt someone, I really don’t want to have it hurting me by accident.  So we have a trade off.  Personally, I’m willing to trade some slight ability to harm my opponent in exchange for my sword being more comfortable to carry with me.  Hence, why so few historical swords were quite as spiky as Fiore suggested.

How to properly use a sword (most of the time)

How to properly use a sword (most of the time)

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