Half-swording – Why grabbing a sharp blade in a sword fight is not crazy

This is a technique from the historical fencing manuals that may seem very odd at first. Many people say “why would you grab a sharp blade with bare hands, …

44 thoughts on “Half-swording – Why grabbing a sharp blade in a sword fight is not crazy

  1. Skallagrim says:

    Because 500 people have already asked about it… No, this does not work with a katana. You can't grip a curved blade securely, and a katana does not have a pommel or crossguard to effectively strike with.

    Not to mention the fact that this technique is from European fighting manuals design to use European straight swords against European plate armor. :p

  2. octopi8 says:

    A potential small problem with this experiment, at least the pommel strike part: the tire, despite being steel reinforced, is a big shock absorption device that dampens the impact of the blow to the tire, and the tire is not connected to anything with the mass of a human body. In the video, the tire moves away from Skallagrim (because floating) and compresses upon impact (because rubber), dampening the effect of the attacks. Although this primarily prevents damage to the tire, in the pommel swings it may allow Skallagrim's hands and blade to all move at about the same rates of deceleration and acceleration through the impacts because the deceleration period of the collision is prolonged — the tire is absorbing much of the impact and giving way by moving backward. A better experiment would involve Skallagrim hitting something much harder and less moveable with the pommel, such as a piece metal fixed to a fleshy object with the weight of a person (as full plate would be), or simply against a much heavier object which is less likely (as a person would be) to give way upon impact. I suspect this might increase the stress on the attacker's hands because the blade is going to be stopped by the object under attack much more quickly. (A close analogy: take an aluminium baseball bat and hit some water. Then a tire. Then hit a heavy metal object like a fence pole. You'll feel the difference). In case this makes a big difference, perhaps best to do it with gloves…

  3. X Critic says:

    This doesnt seem smart, all your opponent has to do is grab your sword by the handle, and then by the time you have gotten it back your already dead. Or even worse, if they can pull hard enough to get it away from you.

  4. Kurtys Mulay says:

    Does everyone forget we have bones? Just like a helmet it can only protect you to a certain amount of force. Grab a sword when some beast swings that at you trying to cut you in two lmao. This was in a European fighting manual you say?? And how long ago were these "new" techniques made and how effective was it. Lol your dumb and and your life is weird. You would break your fucking hand trying to grab that at full force. Especially if someone is 6 foot 3 with muscles born to kill.

  5. russian russia says:

    I'm in a reenactment group, and I watched one of the other knights do this trick, but he caught the sword from his enemy, via under his arm, and then used the half sword technique, as in the fight, he had been disarmed

  6. Johan Beyens says:

    Good video but I would like to know if hitting a helmet like that really does more damage than bashing (not slicing) it with a sword held normally. Enough to justify the switch in grip during a fight. I guess there would be somewhat more mass behind the strike but still. You're using it in an awkward manner and hitting a helmeted head with a sword normally could easily do damage to the neck or skull. My question is not "can you do it without hurting your hands?" but "Is it worth it?"

  7. Pomponivs Archibald says:

    I think this is the medieval equivalent of today's "disarming a gunman" techniques: It is a thing that can physically be done, but it's not something you'd like to experience ever. If you're in a situation where you can possibly encounter an enemy in armor and you can afford a sword, you'd sure as hell want to equip yourself with a polearm or blunt weapon.

  8. NoahB1489 says:

    I assume half-swording would be easier with gauntlets/gloves (which I assume most soilders used) as it would eliminate any possibility of getting cut so you could swing as hard as you want without dear of getting cut.

  9. Stéphane Grenier says:

    Those who are saying half-swording wasn't performed with the katana are wrong. Half-swording WAS used with the katana, and yes it does work even if you exist in the 21st century 🙂 I tried it, it's different, but it works very well. Unsharpened spine is also interesting for some techniques. Now… I do prefer its application on a longsword or an arming sword, but HEMA knowledge does not strictly apply to weapons of European origins, I can't believe the close mindedness that is starting to afflict our community.

    Be careful with those attitudes guys 😉 A person who asks a question about a weapon you don't like is not a weaboo, or a retard, or whatever you wanna call it. Especially when… the answer to their question was actually yes. In that case, you're the moron.


  10. hauntedxxshadow says:

    I kinda thought they could do it because chain gloves obviously don't let a cut through, and the blade wasn't that sharp. I really thought that (more so with greatswords rather than these short/shorter swords) the things were more used like a club having the blade of it just acting a thinner edge for more concentrated force rather than much of a cutting tool.

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