The term Sword covers a range of hand to hand weapons. From what is basically a big knife to something 7.5 feet long. Can be designed for thrusting, slashing, cutting, hacking, a combination of the above or simply embarrassing the opponent to death.
Effectively have just 3 swords since 1200's based on length...
- Wakizashi: A 2.5 feet long sword. Paired with a Katana to make up the sword set beloved by samurai - called a daisho. Can be wielded in the off hand while Katana is used in normal hand.
- Katana: A 3.5 feet long, slashing weapon. Extremely well made but not the god like weapon that urban myth would have it. (Katana's CANNOT cut through machine gun barrels). Much loved by the Ned/Chav who buys £10 stainless steel ones down the market and then tries to hack his mates up when pished.
- No-Datchi: About 5 feet long, wielded 2 handed and capable of hacking someone in two.
Seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ...
- Jiàn: The sword carried by all heroes in Chinese martial arts movies. A light, 3 foot long weapon with a straight blade often with a tassel attached (as a form of lanyard). Most Chinese martial arts include training with this sword (ie Tai Chi).
Hairy horsemen need a weapon that best fits their wheeling light cavalry.
- Scimitar: A type of sabre (probably originated in Persia where it was called a Shamshīr - translation 'sword' oddly enough!). Basically a light, one handed, extremly sharp curved sword. Used for slashing lightly armoured opponents. Thrusting very hard due to a radical 5-15' curve from hilt to tip.
Europe has evolved a large number of sword types, each having a specific purpose or technique. Once circumstances changed the sword would always evolve into another form till machineguns/barbed wire made them totally obsolete in 1915.
- Roman 100bc-300ad: A Gladius is a short stabbing weapon of fairly poor quality. It is however part of a weapon system - the cohort. A soldiers weapon rather than a warriors. Ranks of infantrymen push forward their shield then stab - push stab - push stab. Basically a flesh cutting chainsaw.
- Roman 300ad-500ad: A Spatha is a longer slashing weapon originally used by cavaly but as most Roman enemies were now cavaly based, even the infantry needed longer reach. Has a point to allow infantry to annoy horses.
- Viking 800ad: A chopping weapon rarely with a point. Wielded one handed, it cost (in relative terms) the same as a modern family car. Quality of craftmanship far higher than most people realise given the 'Dark Ages' reputation.
- Arming Sword 1000ad-1600ad: A single handed sword called arming simply to separate it from all the other 'swords' around at the time. Medieval man had no sense of imagination! Used with a shield by men-at-arms both on horse and on foot during the early medieval period. Sort of became obsolete as armour got heavier but never really went away. Returns in the Renaissance when Spanish types also armed with a buckler start inconweniencing pike formations by unfairly getting under their points and stabbing the front ranks who were busy holding their pikes.
- Long or Bastard or Hand and a Half sword 1200-1500ad: Originally a knightly broadsword with a long hilt for chopping. Evolved into a thrusting sword for dealing with heavy armour. Wielder could use one or two hands or even grip half way down blade and use a form of 'bayonet' drill called half swording.
- Two Handed Sword 1200ad-1745ad: The Two handed sword, Claymore (correct usage) or Zweihander (german) is 5' foot long, wielded with two hands and A LOT faster than you think. Techniques for use involves a form of bayonet drill (where you hold half way down the blade and thrust), hitting with the handle and crosspiece while holding the blade (murderstroke) as well as cutting or thrusting with the blade. Last people to use this sword in combat were the Scots in 1745ad. Very nasty.
- Estoc 1500ad-1600ad: A thrusting sword with no edge - Just a long, straight, rigid diamond or triangular cross-section and a point. Used to defeat heavy armour. Normally about 5 feet from tip to pommel ... but some were 8 feet long! Also called a Tuck.
- Rapier 1500ad-1700adish: A long thin blade with a point but hardly any edge. Used for civilian defense and ned/chav like behavior during the Renaissance.
- Sidesword 1500ad-sort of present: This is a one edged (backsword) or two edged (broadsword), single handed sword intended for fighting wars. A 'basket' of metal protects the hand as little armour is worn at this time. Includes highland broadsword (sometimes called a claymore) and Schiavona. George Silver (an english master of this weapon) challenged italian rapier masters to duels to prove whose weapon was superior but the wops declined. Carried by Highland regiment officers in review to this day.
- Sabre 1200ad-sort of present: A cavalryman's sword designed for slashing. The blade is curved to increase the amount of 'edge' in contact with the opponent when a blow is struck. Wounds are not immediately fatal (French Hussars often lost fingers and ears in skirmishes with other sabre armed cavalry and returned to camp to brag/get stitched up). During the Napoleonic wars, the French actually complained about the British 1796 pattern sabre as 'unfair' due to it being wider at the point thus creating deeper and more disabilitating wounds. Major anorak expansion here.
- Small sword 1650-1800 and beyond: Basically the 'carbine' version of the rapier, worn as male jewelry (and could be exceptionally ornate). Frightenly efficient as a duelling weapon and carried by Victorians as a sword cane. Most sports fencing has its roots with this weapon. Looks a bit gay when compared to other swords. Not at all warry.
- Sword Bayonet Early 19th Century: In the grand Light Infantry tradition, a sword is attached to the front of one's gat, in place of the slightly weaker-sounding bayonet. This is due to the Baker Rifle (yes, just like Sharpe's) having a bloody big bayonet (to balance the shortness of the Baker) and it being called a sword bayonet.
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