2019-11-28

Testing II

 In a previous post we had an opportunity to compare Russian blade testing methods from the time of Tsar Nicholas I (1827) with the modern ways of doing such tests. Now I would like to share the way that blades were tested in Britain in the 1830s.

Fig. 23

  The description: „As so much is presumed to depend upon the goodness of a sword, every blade is submitted to a series of tests, much more violent than any service to which it is likely it can ever be really submitted. For instance. the point of a stout cavalry sabre, being placed against a pin in a board, containing six or eight spike nails, inserted at distances so as to form the segment of a circle, the blade is bent until it comes in contact with the spikes, when the flexure towards the middle amounts to six or seven inches from a line drawn from the point to the hilt. Fig. 23.

 The point of the sabre is then placed upon a board, from which an upright piece rises, forming together a test-frame somewhat in the shape of an inverted F (thus JL): the hilt is then pressed down until the blade bend away from the upright piece about five inches, the amount of flexure being indicated by a projecting peg in the front of the frame. The sabre is likewise tested by striking it on both sides, as severely as possible, upon a stout table; and, afterwards, by smart strokes of both back and edge upon a block kept for the purpose. A sword that has sustained this fourfold ordeal will not be very likely to give way under any usage to which, as a hand weapon, it may be subjected.

 The test to which the celebrated "Toledo blades" were submitted at the manufactory on the Tagus, when visited by Mr. Inglis, in 1830, is thus described: — "The flexibility and excellent temper of the blades is surprising: there are two trials which every blade must undergo before it be pronounced sound, — the trial of flexibility, and the trial of temper. In the former, it is thrust against a plate in the wall, and bent into an arc at least three parts of a circle: in the second, it is struck edgeways upon a leaden table, with the whole force which can be given by a powerful man holding it with both hands.” (Page 81) [1]
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  1. John Holland: A Treatise on the Progressive Improvement and Present State of the Manufactures in Metal, Vol. 2 (1833) (online)

2019-11-23

Shinai vs plastic II

 Back in March I reviewed a nice video about the elegant encounter between a kendoka and a practitioner of the Bolognese swordsmanship (HEMA). Three days ago I found another really pleasant example of cross-discipline fencing. This time two Canadian fencers -- kendoka Wilson Humphries and Phil Swift, practitioner of Fiore's longsword tradition -- showed us the value of meeting people of different fencing traditions.

0:51 - A decisive thrust. 

1:14 [1]

  A lot of background information is available about the participants. Phil trains at Maritime Sword School (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island), while Wilson teaches kendo at the Rock Kendo Club (St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador), the only kendo dojo of the island. More about this club might be found in this article

2:31 - Just missed by 1-2cm

2:32 - But not this time!

 Also there are some interesting comments below the YT-video [2]:

Wilson Humphries (Kendo) vs Phil Swift

 I have really enjoyed this video, also it has been fun to watch it in slow motion, and try to figure out the exact number of clean hits for both fencers.
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  1. One could argue that Phil's blade hit the kendoka with the flat.
  2. Phil: „Yes Humphries is strictly Kendo, however he is willing to experiment. Problem is we don't have anyone well versed in Kenjitsu here in Newfoundland. Being on an island it's tough to travel and visit experts.” „I felt like it was respectfully even. It wasn't a match to see who wins, it was more of a conversation of blades or technically wood and synthetic lol. We were examining each other's technique and mainly testing the watersWilson: „I was indeed slower than usual, partly because this was only our second time inter-sparring. I hesitated often as I had to concern myself with the false edge of his longsword and how maai and measure would change sometimes dramatically, we were trying to commensurate styles best we could. Though as you saw with the first solid thrust, hesitation got me a good clean thrust to the face. It was really enjoyable to go against such a different style and I learned a lot while doing so.”

2019-11-15

Szótár

  Ami tulajdonképpen nem is szótár, hanem csak egy érdekes szószedet 1890-ből.

A vívás magyar műszavai
   Mióta az olaszos vívás divatossá lett nálunk, mindinkább beférkőznek a magyar vivó-nyelvbe az idegen műszavak. Pedig van nekünk magyar kifejezésünk ezekre a műszavakra. Hentaller Lajos így állította össze a vívás magyar szótárát (Pesti Napló 1890. IV. 14): 

Appel Jelzés, dobbantás. Assaut Ütközés, mérkőzés, összecsapás. Ausfall Kiesés. (Van ezenkívül: Félroham és Egész roham.) Attaque Támadás. Battement Vascsapás. Cavation Kitérés. Cercle Körvágás. Céder Engedni. Changement Átmenet. Coup d'arret Elővágás. Coup de figure. Belső nagy arcvágás. Coup double Kettős találás; egyidejű vágás. Coup de téte Fejvágás. Coup de flanc Oldalvágás. Coupée Lökvágás [!] Croissé Csavarintás. Corps á corps Kéztusa vagy Test-testen. Derangée Lejegyverezni. Distanz Távolság. Engagement Kardérintés, kardnyomás. Feinte vagy finte Cselezés, cselszurás vagy cselvágás. Fintiren Cselezni. Froisse Surlás vagy kötés. Garde Viállás  (Van ezenkívül: Első, második, harmadik, negyedik állás.) Halt! Állj! Los! Rajta! Manchette Karvéd. Manchetter Karvivás. Mask Álarc. Marcher Járás. (Van: Előjárás és visszajárás.) Moulinet Kardforgatás, csuklázás. Plastron Mellvéd. Parade Háritás-védés. Prime Első (Első állás; első vágás; első védés. Quarte Negyedik. Rapier Vitőr [!]. Reprise Ismétlés, vagy ?? Rompre vagy retiriren Visszajárás, visszamenés, visszalépés. Salut Tisztelgés. Seconde Második. Touché, toccato Találva! Volt! Voltam! Érintve! Érintett! Terz Harmadik. Tempó Elővágás. Volté Kanyarulat. Mi magyarok ismerünk vágásokban még mell-, kar-, csukló-, kéz-, nyak-, hónalj-, belsó-, külső-, alsó-, felső-, oldal-, ellen- és fokvágást. Csinálunk kardunkkal oldalnyomást, oldalcsalást, oldalütést és ellenütést. Vágunk éllel és fokkal; vívunk egész testre, az ellen vágásait pedig védjük [kivédjük] vagy hárítjuk.”

  A szószedetet Hentaller Lajos készítette, és a Pesti Naplóban jelent meg 1890-ben, sajnos az ADT csak 1893-tól mutatja a cikkeket, így nem tudtam tanulmányozni az eredeti változatot. Viszont a Magyar Nyelvőr 1912-ben újra lehozta a szöveget. [1] Majd érdemes lesz alaposabban kielemezni.

Summary:
  In 1890 Lajos Hentaller (18521912) proposed a list of Hungarian fencing terms to replace German, French and Italian technical terms, widely used in Hungary at that time.
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  1. Magyar Nyelvőr – 41. évfolyam – 1912. A vívás magyar műszavai.
  2. A szövegben meghagytam az eredeti helyesírást, néhol pedig olvashatatlan az OCR miatt.

2019-11-13

Pringle Green (1812)

 Back in 2016 at our Hungarian forum we discussed at length this source -- Instructions for Training a Ship’s Crew to the use of Arms in Attack and Defence (1812) -- written by Lieutenant William Pringle Green. At that time it was painfully obvious - we had only 2-3 images from this handwritten source, and the text itself was not available at all. [1]

  Fortunately the situation has changed drastically!

 The members of the Academy of Historical Fencing -- Nick Thomas, Alex Timmerman & Esther Gibson -- transcribed the text and put together a really nice book containing the whole source, with all images, and also with a good introduction about W. Pringle Green, weapons relevant to this work (cutlass, pistol, musket, boarding pike). And they made it available online for free, in the true spirit of genuine HEMA research. Well done!!

Plate No. 2

  This drawing is probably the most interesting thing in the whole source, and till now it was not widely available to those who are interested in sabres, cutlasses etc. It shows an ingenious and very practical idea of Pringle, namely how to protect your head against the most common attack. Lieutenant wrote: „...as it has been already noticed, that the only cut an untrained man can make is a downright blow at the head, the Note No.2 will show the manner in which the sword should be held to guard against it; in this instance the pistol is also used as a guard, and is a sufficient guard against any man of the present mode of using the cutlass.” 

  Prior to that he remarked: „To obviate these difficulties, it is proposed, that the men should reserve their pistols in their belts when attacking until they gain the gunwale or deck of the enemies ship using the cutlass for their defence; this leaves the left hand disengaged to assist their movements and to secure a footing. 
   Having gained the deck or a footing, the pistol can be drawn from the belt with the left hand, and being thrown across the arm, as is shown in Plate No.1 letter B. serves as a guard, preserves a formidable weapon in case of any accident depriving a man of his cutlass or right hand, and if attacked by an untrained man it is only for him to receive the blow (aimed at his head) on the pistol, and with the cutlass dispatch his opponent, who has thrown himself quite open to that blow, or thrust.”

  Many other interesting details can be found in this book. Enjoy it!
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  1. One of our members obtained this source as pdf from the Royal Maritime Museum, but he was not too keen to share it with us. How sad!
  2. I came across this new book by AHF on Matt Easton's YT channel: Napoleonic Naval Close Combat with Cutlass, Pistol & Bayonet (12 November 2019).

2019-11-11

Gothic

  A relatively rare, German fencing book -- Säbelfechten: Schule und Kampf -- was published in 1938, printed in Fraktur (Gothic script). Its author was Carl Stritesky, a well known fencing master at the Münich University; he was still active in the 60s in the capital of Bavaria. The following collage provides a general overview of this book.


  The most interesting tidbits are:

  • the type of fencing headgear used around 1938;
  • a German fencing sabre (basically a Glockenschläger), compared to an Italian one;
  • how to hold properly the grip of an Italian fencing sabre [1].

Page 8-9

  On page 9 we can see for example the depiction of a correct and an incorrect way to perform step forward. For those visitors who can read German, it might be interesting to see the indexed content of the book, this gives us an insight which fencing topics (concepts) are covered in this book.



  In 1934 several other fencing masters were active at the Münich University. [3] 
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  1. It is a little difficult to read text (Erfassen der Waffe = holding the weapon), but it is possible to decipher the low-resolution text (upper image: richting = the right way, lower image: falsch).
  2. The last 3 images are from Ebay.
  3. BENEDIKT BARTENSCHLAGER Universitäts-Fechtmeister, Türkenstraße 33, SeItenb. I/I. ---- BRUNO NEY, Universitäts-Fechtmeister, Irschenhauser Straße 14. --- LUDWIG GERNGROSS, Universitäts-Fechtmeister, Schwanthalerstraße 70/2. --- OTTO ALBRECHT d. jung., Universitäts-Fechtmeister, München 13, Türkenstraße 60. --- Diplomfechtmeister CARL STRITESKY, Universitäts-Fechtmeister, München 13, Görresstraße 8/1.” List of the University Personnel (1934)

2019-11-06

Russ Mitchell

  It is always a pleasure to find out that a nice new fencing treatise has been written. I felt this when I came across Russ Mitchell's new book, entitled Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing. [1] There is a really detailed YT review of this book, I'm going to use it as a template for this post. [2]

  From the back cover copy of the book:
Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos Fencing provides a heavily-illustrated, step-by-step guide for how to fence — and how to teach! — Hungarian sabre fencing, as well as how to use the “fokos,” or long-handled axe traditional to Hungary and East-Central Europe.  It covers everything from basic stance work and tactics to complete synoptic tables and how to troubleshoot students who are having difficulty with the material.  The manual also provides translated comparative material in order to demonstrate how the lineage the author learned is — and is not — like other methods of fencing taught in Hungary and at the Wiener-Neustadt cadet school in the mid-to-late 19th century up through World War One.

  Unfortunately I don't have this book at my disposal, nevertheless one could have a rather detailed impression of it from many different sources (YT, other reviews). Probably the most obvious thing about Hussar Sabre & Fokos is the quality of illustrations, and the really nice general layout of the book.

Countercut [3]

  Some additional pages [6]:

Page 15

Page ? [4]

Page ?

   There are some additional drawings shown in the video [sabre: 3:10; 3:31; 3:43; fokosh: 5:02].

  After this general overview of the available images, let's return to the content of the book (~200 pages). It has three main sections: a) older style Hungarian sabre fencing with a heavily curved sword; b) fokosh fencing and c) late Hungarian sabre, the late 19th century [6:42]. The reviewer says that the sabre fencing described in the book is from the 15th or 16th century. [1:07] To be honest I have serious doubt about this claim... He explains that it isn't a recreation of an existing treatise, basically it is a book that Russ Mitchell wrote based on what he learned from Csaba Hidán (1963), a Hungarian archaeologist and historian from the Károli Gáspár University in Budapest.

  A short remark regarding the last section of the book: from the pictures it is obvious that Russ translated the sabre section of a Hungarian book written by Samu Chappon in 1892 (a rough translation of the title: Theory of the Art of Fencing). [5] The drawings were made by Chappon himself, and unfortunately they are not very good. A well known Hungarian HEMA fencer and researcher started to translate part of this book in 2011, and published some  excerpts on his blog.

  It might be that in the future I will expand this post with additional stuff from the book and about the book.
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  1. It is worth noting that fokosh is a more correct version of spelling, because this way you can ensure that foreign readers pronounce this Hungarian word properly.
  2. The book was published in April 2019, and the review was written in August.
  3. Illustrator: Kat Laurange [7]; (New book
  4. I think it is an absolutely nice feature of this book: the head of Csaba Hidán together with some remarks about important issues.
  5. There is a much better version of Chappon's book, the third edition, published in 1911 with the same text, but with photographs. It is available online at the National Library"s site.
  6. https://www.woodenswords.com/Hungarian_Hussar_Sabre_and_Fokos_Fencing_p/book-hun01.htm
  7. Illustrator's post: „Introducing ... THE PROJECT THAT ATE MY LIFE. --- Hungarian Hussar Sabre and Fokos* Fencing is a book by Russ Mitchell, detailing the specific style of sabre fencing he picked up as a student in Hungary, learning from one of the holders of the Hussar Sabre tradition passed down from father to son in a very long line. I've been studying with Russ for several years, and when he said he wanted to write an illustrated book to teach others the style, I agreed to do the illustrations. --- It took A VERY LONG TIME. --- In part because of many things that happened in my personal life (including having a baby right in the middle of when I was supposed to be finishing the work), in another part because this is seriously one of the biggest, and hardest, projects I have taken on as a freelancer. In days to come I'll be sharing some of my favorites of the illustrations, but for now, here's the cover. --- And if it sounds like a book you might be interested in, you're in luck! It's live and on Amazon right now, so gallop on over and have a look-see!” (Source)

2019-11-04

Testing

  In 2016 I found an informative picture showing how Russian bladesmiths tested finished products in 1827 at the famous Zlatoust weapon factory. A short Hungarian post was written about it.


 A few days ago I stumbled across a Russian video on blade testing at a factory in Ivanovo (Russian Federation, ~250 km from Moscow). [1]

A very bad method of testing blade flexibility [2]

The appropriate test [3]

  During this test the tang is fixed, the blade itself is positioned along a straight line, and the position of the tip is marked by a nail, then the tip is moved 100 mm away from the line (a GOST requirement), after this bending it should return to the original position, when the tip is released. At the factory they perform more severe tests than the one required by the relevant state standard, for example they bend the tip almost to 30⁰.

  It was really interesting to see real similarities between the old and contemporary testing methods.
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  1. General description of things that will be shown, then measuring the hardness of a blade (~56-58 HRC) [3:38-5:04], then hitting several times a sturdy table with the flat of the tested blade [5:44], bending the blade [9:39] etc.
  2. As the Russian engineer has explained in the video: this is a really bad method to test the flexibility. It has only one purpose, namely to impress non-specialists. Nevertheless they performed this test to show us that the their blade can withstand even this kind of abuse, without any deformation.
  3. GOST 2002 (State standard): Bladed weapons for Cossacks... [7:51]

2019-10-29

Hej sokoly

 Recently I saw a nicely choreographed YT-video (2016) about Polish sabre fencing. [1]


 The whole fight choreography was very decent and pleasant, but the most enjoyable part of it was the song of a Polish poet-songwriter, Tomasz Padura. His song -- Hej Sokoly -- is still popular in Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus and eastern Czech Republic. (Literally: Hey Falcons.)

Grand finale

  There is another, also very pleasant rendition of this famous song by AnnaLu. 
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  1. While watching the video one would assume that they took somewhere in the Ukraine. In reality it was shot in Siberia by a Russian club of historical fencing in Irkutsk.

2019-10-24

Blaskovich

 Már elég régen tudok erről a kiadványról, és most végre sikerült beleolvasni, mivel az felkerült a Hungaricana gyűjteménybe. Hidán Csaba és Szőllősy Gábor közös, 2008-as munkájáról lesz szó: a tápiószelei Blaskovich Múzeumban található fegyver-gyűjteményről. [1]

  A bemutatott tárgyak között vannak kardok, szablyák (19 db), jatagánok (4 db), kések, szuronyok, fokosok, balták, buzogányok, dzsidák (2 db), alabárdok és még sok minden más. Természetesen mi elsősorban a szablyákkal kívánunk foglalkozni.

  Hidán Csaba nemcsak ismertette a szablya alapvető részeit (penge, fokél, keresztvas stb.), kitérve annak fejlődésre is, részletes leírást adva az egyes fegyverekről, hanem számos fénykép segítségével bemutatta a szablya használatát.

A fokél használata [2]  

A fokél lentről hasítja az ujjakat

 A következő képen a láncinget és sisakot viselő régész-történész egy érdekes kombinációt mutatott be: pengével, annak erősével védi az ellenfele külső arcvágását, utána a bal kezében lévő fokossal elvezeti a megállított fegyvert, megakadályozza annak használatát és visszatámad. (Az érdeklődő további képeket is talál a kiadványban.)

Egy érdekes kombináció

   Kellemes tanulmányozást!

Summary:
   Photos from the following book: Csaba Hidán Weapon Collection in the Blaskovich Museum (2008). The historian provides detailed description of many swords, among them 19 sabres.
   „One of the most beautiful and best side-arms of the Blaskovich collection is an 18th century carabella-type sabre. This weapon with a characteristic bird's head shape handle was popular both in Hungary and East Europe in the 17-18th centuries. The blade of the sabre Inv. No. 67. 7. 1-2. is medium bent and its false edge is slightly widened. Its cross-piece is made of silvered copper and in the centre of one side there is a female portrait while the other side is decorated with foliation...” (Abstract in English | Abstract in German )
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  1. A kiadvány lószerszámokkal is foglalkozik, de az a része teljesen hidegen hagy.
  2. Ráfordítás után az ellenfél csuklóját hasítja. Hidán kézében T-gerinces kilidzs, az ellenfele pedig egy karabelát használ.
  3. A szablya használatát hasonló részletességgel a szerző egy másik könyve mutatja be: Fegyverek magyar kézben (2015).