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Thread: Grabbing (as opposed to parrying) a rapier?

  1. #1

    Grabbing (as opposed to parrying) a rapier?

    Greetings friendly forumites. I have a question for the more knowledgeable members on Swordforums.

    I've seen various demonstrations for various different types of swordsmanship that demonstrate the use of the left hand to actively grab an opponents blade. I understand that this wasn't common and seems to be a "last ditch" type of thing, however I'm curious about the viability of this technique with a rapier? I know that chain mail parrying gloves existed, but is grabbing a rapier blade without one of these on your off-hand demonstrated by any of the masters in any texts anywhere?

  2. Christopher,

    Is your question (a) is it possible to grab a rapier blade without incurring damage, or (b) is it effective technique to grab a rapier blade?

    If (a), then yes, you can, especially if you have armored your off hand.
    If (b), then no - with qualifications. There are off-hand parrying techniques and there are off-hand entering techniques. Both allow you to control, in varying degrees, the enemy's blade with your off-hand. In most cases my personal preference is to "grab" (i.e. lock or pin) the enemy's wrist rather than their blade or hilt.

    Unfortunately, I have watched too many times as the guy in front of me reaches with his off-hand to try and grab my blade - as a first action! This is bad fencing. All of the off-hand techniques that we train in derive from a parry position which is to say in defensive response to the enemy's attack. I think that preference for fighting style determines whether you seek effective control at the weapon or the wrist. Some systems consider one or the other bad form or less effective. As mentioned above, I prefer going to the body because it yields control over both weapon and enemy.

    I have never witnessed a successful first action attempt to merely reach out and grab a blade. When attempted against me I can attack that offending hand or ignore it.

    D
    Trovare Di Spada

    higher good is like water: the good in water benefits all, and does so without contention

  3. #3
    Many thanks for your reply David. My question was more regarding is it possible to do so, particularly with an un-armoured hand, and what damage would be incurred (loss of fingers? A bad cut? Nothing if done firmly?) Rather than is it an effective technique, but that was very interesting to read and it's certainly food for thought. So effectively it's possible, but certainly not recommended because there are far better things to be doing with your off-hand. Makes perfect sense.

  4. #4
    I don't have the quotes handy, but I know that some authors made observations to the fact that the forte was frequently less sharp (unsharpened, perhaps?) than the debole. Gripping the guard, of course, is rather low risk, besides the possibility of having your fingers broken if you do it particularly incorrectly.

    That said, I know there's video somewhere of Roland Warzecha (Hammaborg) playing tug of war with a sharp arming sword, so it is possible to get a good grip on a sword without losing fingers. And he was cutting with it immediately beforehand, so it was definitely not dull.
    Last edited by Roland Cooper; 05-16-2012 at 02:51 PM. Reason: Brainfart

  5. #5
    I suppose it would matter not only how sharp the blade is, but also the direction the sword is going? I wonder if we expand the question to include single edged swords, because it seems to me that one could more easily avoid being cut on those.

  6. True, in our un-sharp blade experience, you can be cut. There is a type of "friction cut" caused by dull blades that can be painful and damaging. I have one on the inside of my right bicep caused this way with a sabre blade.

    The best grip would be a stable one effectively reducing the blade's movement within the hand to near zero.
    Trovare Di Spada

    higher good is like water: the good in water benefits all, and does so without contention

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Roland Cooper View Post
    That said, I know there's video somewhere of Roland Warzecha (Hammaborg) playing tug of war with a sharp arming sword, so it is possible to get a good grip on a sword without losing fingers. And he was cutting with it immediately beforehand, so it was definitely not dull.
    Found the tug-of-war video. The disarms, I'm sure, have a certain amount of complacency (intended or otherwise), but they look like they're hauling at each other pretty good towards the end.

    http://youtu.be/-E4aSlLyBTo
    Last edited by Roland Cooper; 05-17-2012 at 04:06 PM. Reason: Broken Link

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Achilleus View Post
    Christopher,



    Unfortunately, I have watched too many times as the guy in front of me reaches with his off-hand to try and grab my blade - as a first action! This is bad fencing.
    ....

    I have never witnessed a successful first action attempt to merely reach out and grab a blade.

    D

    This.

    As McBane sagely states "Do not be overly fond of disarming".

    Re: Commanding the wrist as opposed to the blade. Made me think of this counter from Girard. Perhaps, though this is something of a peculiarity of the much shorter smallsword. But it alludes to what Mr. Cooper had said about the forte of point-oriented weapons not being sharpened, this being the area of most blade contact i.e. parries and so a damage-prone sharp (thin) egde would be a liability or simply invite undue wear & tear.
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    Last edited by Ian Brackley; 05-21-2012 at 10:56 PM.
    How may I confuse you further?

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