Round sword and knife grips and indexing the weapon

Rounds grips on swords are actually fairly unusual. Right across the world, most cultures have found ways to make sure that grips encourage you to cut properly …

38 thoughts on “Round sword and knife grips and indexing the weapon

  1. Pavel Musiol says:

    Just speculating, but could be be because it needs an expert to wield the round-hilted sword? Which pretty much ensures that only a specific caste of people are any good at using the weapon. Which would prevent it from being used by peasant rebels and other "unauthorised" people.

  2. MsDjessa says:

    Now I really want you to talk about Sudanese kaskara, as it has both cylindrical grip (or at least all examples I've seen pictures of) and a straight blade. Oh right but they do have a cross guard. And when you said the dha doesn't have a blade curved enough to feel the alignment I remembered some dha also have completely straight blade.

  3. Guru Chaz says:

    I teach silat, and my goloks and keris have handles that are contoured to fit the hand and I haven't noticed a problem with edge alignment. Also, many Indonesian and Filipino swords have an ornate projection on the pommel that is in line with the blade. I am not immediately aware of an edged weapon in silat that has a completely cylindrical handle, My keris does, but it is contoured to fit my hand and primarily a thrusting weapon in Indonesian silat rather than a cutting sword. Also, kerambits have a ring to fit the finger which locks the blade in position relative to the hand. My monteng, or silat cutting polearm, had a semi-rectangular handle before it was replaced. I will have to go through my Draeger manual to see if there are edged weapons in silat that have a cylindrical handle.

  4. Daniel Hambraeus says:

    A cylindrical grip should make the weapon easier to rotate which allows for different types of cuts. Do they have a tradition of unorthodox angles of cutting and rotating the weapon in your hand?

  5. Brandon MacDonald says:

    Perhaps the reason is more simple than we're looking for. Perhaps, overall they were intended more for decorative/ceremonial primary purposes and combat as a secondary purpose. In which case, a round grip might just simply look nicer.

  6. Robert Palatchi says:

    Could it be that people tried to kill each other so often in southeast Asia that sword makers had a humanitarian and monetary interest in making swords which were effective at wounding people, but had a decent chance of not killing them?

  7. Josh Roberts says:

    I practice Chinese martial arts one of my instructors told me it made the weapon harder to use, so other people can't use your blades as easily against you. I don't entirely by that answer, it doesn't really make sense to me.

  8. albinoasesino says:

    Aha! Sculpted end == sword for religious/ceremonial purposes!
    Just kidding. If I were to consider that the scabbard is of that shape and you can hang if off your arm (or around your armpits as I think I saw in one of your videos, not around the waist), having a crossguard could be a pain (then again why round and not oval question pops up)

    Or it could be just that everyone's sword or tools back then in the smaller specific area, had that kind of grip?

    I don't know why but when looking at banshay videos in 0.25 speed on youtube, the practitioners doesn't seem to have an issue with needing to index with each strike

    But really, I'm inclined to think that it's ascetically pleasing to look at a completely circular sword grip from someone's arm. And then everyone starts slicing each other with death grips (incidentally, did the regular Burmese have armor?)

  9. Anders Engman says:

    I bet the not-so-curved blades with cylindrical grips developed from more curved ones, where the curvature of the blade acts like a wind vane, so there wasn't as much evolutionary pressure to develop a grip more suited to help with edge alignment, and for some reason — probably aesthetics and/or tradition — they kept the hilt design, even though it's less useful, especially with an almost straight blade. Perhaps the swords were mostly ceremonial, or maybe they carried some symbolical significance precisely for being difficult to handle. Either that, or the curvature was still enough to produce some degree of wind vane effect. Otherwise it's down to bad design.

  10. Ron Hudson says:

    Granted, I have no experience what so ever, but my question is this: you mentioned a shield used with such weapons. Could you not rest the blade against the edge of the shield and realign the blade in hand at every beat or moments rest?

  11. Prince Sheogorath says:

    I have a question, is it practical to have a strapped grip on a center gripped shield? Like if a shield has a boss and a grip but you add two straps like a strapped shield and since the one in the middle is more "forward" than the other ones, you can have the choice of either grip types. Is this plausible? And does it give any benefits?

  12. Tim1000064 says:

    From what I've seen online Krabi Krabong practitioners tend to hold the sword very high up on the hilt right next to the blade, sometimes putting their closed thumb on the flat of the blade itself. I imagine this would help with edge alignment. It's still unusual not to have an oval or rectangular grip but if they found other ways to manage edge alignment then I suppose they felt it wasn't necessary.

  13. theeddorian says:

    What cross-section does the scabbard have? I have a dha whose scabbard, wooden, has a diamond section. I've seen others with oval sections. Grasping the scabbard to draw the blade allows the blade to be oriented properly as it is drawn.

  14. xingselang says:

    My idea is, that they're cylindrical, because they are not for cutting per se. Maybe they're for dancing/demonstrations/cultural stuff? Or (another thought) they are for less-deadly form of duel?

  15. Tim Pruitt says:

    also could it be that a lot of these are sometimes paired in one sheath so each sword would share half of the full round hilt and therefore have some indexing. then the style of hilt just got carried over to one bladed versions?

  16. Tim Pruitt says:

    I do a lot of stick work and find the grip on my Paul Chen Banchee, which is a similar sword to the one you show, a familiar feel when i do cutting? though the hilt does get a bit more ovoid toward the blade?

  17. Xavier says:

    Only thing I can think is that it looks cool. Oval grips aren't exactly the most mind blowing idea, but completely cylindrical grips, and intricate ivory carved 'pommels' are indictive of people that like pretty stuff and are good at making it.

    Couldn't make a guess beyond that. It doesn't really make any kind of sense

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