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Author Topic: Blade Lore  (Read 3013 times)

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Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #50 on: May 26, 2018, 11:57:27 AM »
They actually call it a 'bite handle'?  That's amusing.  I knew someone in college who had one of those (and a couple of shuriken) on campus - not that any weapons were supposed to be on campus, but there's always someone who has to act like a bad-ass.

I am a loss as to where the bite name comes from. Maybe it is somewhat similar to the biting part of a horses's tack?

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #51 on: May 26, 2018, 01:44:20 PM »
One of the most popularized groups of cultural weapons are the blades of feudal Japan.  Comics and movies and animated movies eagerly display the tools of the trade for shoguns, samurais, geishas, ninjas, ronin and the occasional gaijin. This includes bows, muskets, throwing weapons, tools of subterfuge, large scare warfare weapons and simple weaponized farming weapons, but the striking blades have enough in common to warrant a comprehensive overview. Later posts might look further at specific types.



Key element to understanding Japanese blades is that they mostly originate in far older weapons developed on the main continent; Korea, China and the Mongol empire ruled much of the known world for century after century and had ample opportunity to explore the efficiency of many weapon types. Japan, ruled by the descendents of these great empires, did not fail to bring this information with them to the islands. But some things changed, and not all for good. Horseback warfare, cavalry, eventually almost vanished - a horse was now something owned only by the very rich and powerful and their most trusted soldiers. And iron became expensive and hard to come by, just like wood and coal. Leather is also a product that becomes scarce with limited access to livestock. Japanese military outfitters responded by learning to making strong armor in new and inventive ways; lacquer and bamboo combines to remarkable strength with the job is done right. But weapons can't be made that way.

So Japanese blades essentially had to make do with less than optimal steel (unless, again, you were very rich) and this is the key to the cut off shape of them and the fairly wide blade diameters. It creates a very powerful slash and a powerful thrust, while reducing the risk of breaking the tip right off. That does not mean that these oldtimer swords were bad. Swordmaking quality in Japan went up and down over the centuries, as close combat went in and out of favor and warfare went from small scale elite combat to vast battles full of barely-equipped auxiliaries. At their best they were very, very good and each sword blade could be a whole sandwich of metal types.

The abrupt sword tip is more complicated than it seems. Variations go from long to inverse tip, and the tip isn't normally cut straight but is in itself curved. On a lot of wallhangers and copies the tip is straight; it is a lot faster to manufacture.



The typical Japanese sword was curved, which is in some ways a better shape than the straight sword. It invites to a slashing movement, and the blow reverberates better through the steel.



An very incomplete list of Japanese blades, going downward by size:

Naginaka (polearm with a curved blade on top)
Yari (spear with a straight blade on top)
Tachi (longer than the katana)
Katana (about 2-2.5 foot long)
Wakizashi (1-2 feet long)
Tanto (knife)

With swords being the property of the upper classes (and the samurais were definitely upper) a lot of swords were doubtlessly crafted to fit exactly the customer and considering how similar they were in design, I would not be too eager to measure a sample with too fine a metering device. What look like a wakizashi to you may well have been a katana to the original owner.

A samurai would carry both a katana and a wakizashi in his belt. Other citizens might carry a wakizashi but the peasants would be forbidden to carry weapons as such, hence the tendency to carry around farming tools. And the peasants weren't even the lowest of the castes.



One interesting point about Japanese blade grips is that they are possible to disassemble; this is highly irregular by western blade standards. It is an elegant concept and makes repairs easier. It also makes for a lot of 'reassembled' swords who might not have much in common from part to part, even if it is supposed to have been untouched since the first Shogun. One intriguing but to me not appealing element of this is that the sword handguards, the tsubas, are often ornate and have become collectibles in themselves.



As probably everyone knows the last heyday of the katana was as late as WW2, where Japanese officers and NCOs would carry one into battle. Considering how bad the Japanese officer pistols were in that conflict, I might have wanted something more substantial to hold on to too. Even if the quality of many of these swords were pretty inferior too. They were literally the last scream of a bygone era, but do hold the distinction of being afaik the last infantry swords used in combat.

There is no way I can give justice the entire subject in one brief post. But I do own a cute set of three blades on a wooden display thing. probably Tachi-Katana-Wakizashi. The sheaths and grips are beautiful, the blades heavy and sharp, and the whole shebang cost me less than 40 dollars included shipping. They are probably not worth more but looking at them makes me happy. It's not as if they will ever see combat.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2018, 01:47:47 PM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #52 on: May 27, 2018, 08:47:46 AM »
Today's object is not a weapon but a tool, and an old one. Time to be a lumberjack, old style.



There was a time when lumber was a job that did not involve chain saws, tractors, winches or timber trucks or close-to-science fiction machines on steel belts. Instead the tools of the trade were axes, timber tongs, two man saws, horses with pulling chains and lumber sleds. If the road to the sawmill was a river you'd also need a number of further tools like bill hooks

And the trade was as follows. First you go to your typical 60 year old pine. Chop off the lowest branches; most pines have branches all the way down. Now you can calculate which direction to fell the tree in. If the tree is 2/3 foot or so wide you can chop it down with your axe, which is sure going to get the sweat going. At some point, depending on the trunk's angle and the terrain, you will also chop in a slice on the other side exactly where you want the tree to fall. If the tree is any bigger you'll be chopping all day which does not pay well, so you will get your buddy and the two-handled saw and get on with sawing. Ke-rash, and maybe 40 feet of pine will fall where you planned and you can now get on with the next job. All the branches must off or that tree will be going nowhere. So up comes your axe. Seeing how some of the branches will be 6 feet long they will also be an inch and an half thick where you need to axe them, which is exactly where they protrude from the trunk for several reasons. And you will be standing in the middle of the sea of branches while working, unless you draw them all away as you chop them off.

50 branches later and the tree top chopped off, you now have yourself a trunk. That's a lot of wood, especially when you have to move it. With a pair of tongs and some reasonable beef you can budge it a bit if the ground is flat, but a few meters isn't much if you want to get it all the way to the road or river. With a couple of buddies and a not too heavy trunk it is still a massive job. So you get the horse over, tie on a rope to the trunk and tow it a few meters until it gets to the horse trail. There it eventually gets chained to the towing sled with 1-2 other trunks and the horse will get it to the road. There you get the saw out, and cut the trunk into the minimum/maximum dimensions decreed by the lumber company. Depending on the size this sawing task may already have happened right after the tree was felled; the fewer trunks to transport the better, but your horse can only pull so much weight even when the branches have been cut away perfectly.



And here we get to the point of this post. Back in the good old days the timber truck (or column of timber horse sleds) didn't show up on any given day, and certainly not unless there was a lot of timber to get. Timber doesn't like to wait, not once it has been felled. All the natural decomposing processes kick in, bugs are having  a party, and water seeps in from both above and below to be in particular retained in the bark. You can't have put in all this backbreaking work just to see the result and the money rot away. One more task needed doing: barking. The removal of all bark from the trunk. All the rest of the work was hard but this was also a task with a time limit. Right after felling the sap in the pine is still juicy and the innermost bark is almost soapy. Every day the trunk lies on the groud this sap dries. Also the inner wood will dry faster with the bark removed and a lot of tree boring beetles will lose interest. Plus a lot of smaller planks saws back in the day required bark free trunks; also any lumber cabin will require clean trunks for building.



The above are two barking spades from Norway; I am very familiar with the lower version. Since it is literally designed to be chipping in at an angle the curious head has been given a strong wooden tip to be plugged into.


These are other variations known just in Norway. Doubtlessly USA, Canada, Russia, Germany etc will also have local variations.

If the bark has dried, this is hard work. If the spade is chipped, this is hard work. If not all the branches have been chopped off at the best point, this is hard work.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 08:49:52 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #53 on: May 28, 2018, 06:58:41 AM »
Some knife types are more recent than others. And concepts too. The concept 'survival knife' would have been ridiculous only a few generations ago, since most knives were being made exactly to be a handy tool to use in any situation where a sharp edge could make a difference. Your average fisher, hunter, soldier, adventurer and tribesman all carried a knife to deal with the expected tasks of the day - and the unexpected ones.

The whole 'survival' concept is in fact fairly new. For people living by the sweat off their backs a cross country trip was work, a job they had trained on since being small children and it was pretty hard work to be so lost in the wilderness that they had to behave differently from a controlled journey. Yes, you could be shipwrecked somewhere, but this was an extremely rare event because the chances of surviving even just the few first interesting minutes were pretty small.

To the best of my knowledge, survival really only became a term with the advent of planes and plane combat. Finally a city slicker could end up deep in the wilderness and not have a lifetime of practical skills to lean on to make it out of there or live long enough to be rescued. When you have only so much time to train a pilot and the enemy is trying to bomb the crap out of you at the same time, bushcraft might not get that much class attention.

Airforces don't like to lose their aviators. For one thing it is bad for morale especially among the other pilots and aircrews, for another training replacements takes time, and for a third airplanes in war go down all the time and for many reasons. Mechanical failure, light combat damage, running out of fuel. Even when the plane goes down in a giant fireball there is still a chance that someone could have survived by bailing out in time.

Since training (in wartime in particular; peacetime aircrews get extensive survival training) was a limited resource, at least the aircrews could have some tools to help them. A knife is pretty obvious. But space in a plane is very limited too, and considering the chances of a crash landing the most essential gear should be on a pilot's body. So you get survival rations that are little more than sugar and tea, survival rifles that are little more than barrel and trigger. and knives sprouting functions. Some airforces issued folding knives but with sturdiness being a very high priority the rigid blades were mostly used.


The various US flying elements went early for a shorter version of the classic US combat knife. USN type above. It wasn't bad but further development added a hollow grip rather than the leather-plate one, which provided a little space inside where there now was room for a few potentially useful items. The saw edge on top of the blade was added to provide a tool to saw out of the thin metal skin of the plane fuselage. The pommel did have room for a compass. Some extra paracord could be wrapped around the handle.This didn't happen all at once or by one single knife company.



And then, boom, came "Rambo" and what had been an obscure specialist tool was added to at least one Xmas gift list in every home in America. And where there's a want, there is a market to deliver to both high, middle and low end. It made 'survival knives' intensely popular, scared the crap out of some people who did not realize that their kitchen knives were far more lethal, and especially the low end products almost ruined the reputation of the idea.



I own one of these low end, low price survival knives. It looks identical to the one above, but might not be the same. Brand is unknown and so is the steel. The only marking is "Taiwan". It is not entirely, but mostly crap.
Good:
- regular combat knife sized
- carbon steel blade, rather than stainless. Many will call this bad but I like it. Makes honing faster.
- clip point tip.
- small string on the sheath end. For tying the sheath to your thigh it is crap, but having some string is always good.
- a whetstone is included. It's the size of an eraser but you can do a little emergency sharpening on it.

Bad:
- plastic grip. Again, some will like the imperviousness and weight of the material. I don't like it feeling like a toy.
- the grip tube, which IS plastic, is just screwed on to a quarter inch metal screw acting as tang. You can't feel it but you better not put any weight on it either.
- inbuilt compass. Having a compass is good. A weak round plastic dome is just asking for damage.
- bottle cap opener built deep into the blade, taking away a third of the width of the blade - and when did you last see a bottle cap that could be popped open?
- saw teeth. You can't saw your way out of planes any more anyway and these teeth are way too big and dull for any practical purpose, like cutting a rope.
- soft leather sheath. It has press button closed straps for the whetstone pocket and the grip. They will be ripped open the moment you go through a few bushes.

The grip hollow has:
- about 16 matches and one paper striking surface
- a couple of fishing hooks, maybe one foot of line and a little lead sinker. Provided you can produce a throwing line and some bait and a rod otherwise, that's a good start
- a needle and a few inches of sewing thread
- a couple of safety pins
- a couple of key rings placed around the grip
- and the aforementioned compass

Just about every other knife I own would be better for a survival situation in my opinion. The highly dubious quality of this is one thing; I assume that modern pilots get better stuff. But the whole design reeks of coming from the hands of people who never worked a day in the field in their life.

There are good survival knives, of course. They are solid, sturdy and simple. We usually call them 'knives'.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 07:09:48 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #54 on: May 28, 2018, 01:11:19 PM »
I have found a few bottles (mostly niche sodas and craft beers) that need a church-key opener.  However, I'm unlikely to be in a situation where opening one of these is a matter of survival.  There's probably a puddle around that I can boil first.  And there are other ways to open a glass container in an emergency.

I'd also much prefer 'strike-anywhere' matches, instead of something that needs a special surface with limited lifespan.  (Could go really old-school and chuck a flint in there.  You have the steel already.)

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #55 on: May 28, 2018, 01:22:49 PM »
I have found a few bottles (mostly niche sodas and craft beers) that need a church-key opener.  However, I'm unlikely to be in a situation where opening one of these is a matter of survival.  There's probably a puddle around that I can boil first.  And there are other ways to open a glass container in an emergency.

I'd also much prefer 'strike-anywhere' matches, instead of something that needs a special surface with limited lifespan.  (Could go really old-school and chuck a flint in there.  You have the steel already.)

Replacing the cheapo matches with storm matches is a great idea; a flint or striker is even better. In the case of my sample I am not even convinced the grip tube is waterproof.

Offline Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #56 on: May 28, 2018, 02:30:54 PM »
Replacing the cheapo matches with storm matches is a great idea; a flint or striker is even better. In the case of my sample I am not even convinced the grip tube is waterproof.

I'd almost forgotten strikers.  Definitely something useful for the kit.  (Used to be the only way I could light a gas flame in chemistry class - I've gotten better with matches since then.)

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #57 on: May 28, 2018, 04:29:58 PM »
I have found a few bottles (mostly niche sodas and craft beers) that need a church-key opener.  However, I'm unlikely to be in a situation where opening one of these is a matter of survival.  There's probably a puddle around that I can boil first.  And there are other ways to open a glass container in an emergency.


I normally open a pop cap bottle with a knife in the following way. I grip the bottle neck in my left hand, with the cap barely protruding. I hold the knife in my right hand with the sharp edge out and the flat edge in, essentially resting the blade on the base of my left hand thumb and on the knuckle of my left hand pointing finger while resting against the bottle neck right under the cap. Then I just lever the knife against the knuckle and pop goes the cap.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #58 on: May 29, 2018, 04:35:17 AM »
Another obscure blade from India. Well, it would still have been obscure if "Xena:Warrior Princess" had not picked it up.



The chakram is essentially a flat metal ring with a sharp outer edge and is known from Indian literature as far back as 2400 years ago. Especially the Sikh culture of India would put this weapon to extensive use. Its primary use is as a throwing weapon but a skilled fighter can also use it as a hand weapon. As throwing weapons go this is a terror; the range might be limited but the weight combined with the all around edge guarantees a deep slash. Sikh warriors would bring a considerable number of them in varying sizes into battle on their headwear, their arms and even their necks, which also adds a certain bonus armor value. Some chakrams would be spiked making them the equivalents of ninja throwing stars.



Incidentally, Xena is holding and wielding the damn thing wrong. Holding it like this would make the razor edge to terrible things to her palm. And carrying the uncovered circle in her belt on a daily basis... can you even imagine falling or sitting a bit awkward one day... "oh, what is this? My kidney? How peculiar."



The real deal; 18th century museum sample.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2018, 04:38:35 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #59 on: May 30, 2018, 07:30:02 AM »
Among the more useful military field craft blades of the last century and a half, is the KA-BAR "combat knife". This was was actually a civilian knife of the 1920s filling much the same niche as the by then ubiqutous Bowie knife; a simple and reliable rigid blade knife with a clip point tip and a leather stacked-ring grip. It's not a big stretch to guesstimate that at the time there were probably a hundred other small brands with a similar product.



But a couple of decades later, US military forces were at war. Again. And while the military tactics of using bayonets and rifles as spears were falling out of favor (well, nobody told the Japanese) the long bayonet was still what American soldiers were issued with at the start. This was a decent stabbing implement but not very useful for anything else, and there's only so much other gear available in the jungle for the thousand non-combat tasks a soldier has to deal with. Leadership, reacting to the complaints about the bayonets and WW1-era dagger variation the men had been issued with, started to finally toy around with the novel concept of making a knife that could be used like a knife, and several types were tested out. In the meanwhile the deployed marines and soldiers took matters into their own hand and started buying suitable allrounder knives themselves. Something you could kill with if you had to, and butter your bread with afterwards. Preferably after cleaning it.



The US military caught up eventually; they made a broad spec, called in civilian companies to make a working version and the Ka-Bar company won the design competion. As with everything else military an number of companies were then called upon for the actual manufacture. For the collector this means that a 'Ka-Bar' is not necessarily actually made by Ka-Bar, but it may still be a war time manufactured original.



To the best of my knowledge, US military forces is issued with this knife to this day. And it is of course also available for civilian purchases. Incidentally I had a cheap knockoff copy of this knife in my belt for my entire military service whenever we were in the field, and I never once stood there holding it and wishing I had something more practical at hand.

Offline MisledBloodshed

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Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #60 on: May 31, 2018, 01:32:05 AM »
I am a loss as to where the bite name comes from. Maybe it is somewhat similar to the biting part of a horses's tack?

Real late to the party on this one 'cos i've been away from the computer for a few days but I imagine the name comes from the fact that if you hold the bite handle and do tricks you'll get - not to make a pun - 'bitten.' A lot of tricks rely on the dull side of the blade coming into contact with your fingers or the back of your hand, so if you're holding the wrong handle you absolutely 100% will get cut.

I've learned a few, though never had to worry much about that particular safety precaution. The real ones are illegal where I live too, but the training blades (with these holes in em so you can't sharpen them) are fine to own. Technically you're allowed to own an actual blade, too, but you are never allowed to assemble it, so I don't really understand why that loophole exists.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #61 on: May 31, 2018, 02:51:46 AM »
Real late to the party on this one 'cos i've been away from the computer for a few days but I imagine the name comes from the fact that if you hold the bite handle and do tricks you'll get - not to make a pun - 'bitten.' A lot of tricks rely on the dull side of the blade coming into contact with your fingers or the back of your hand, so if you're holding the wrong handle you absolutely 100% will get cut.

I've learned a few, though never had to worry much about that particular safety precaution. The real ones are illegal where I live too, but the training blades (with these holes in em so you can't sharpen them) are fine to own. Technically you're allowed to own an actual blade, too, but you are never allowed to assemble it, so I don't really understand why that loophole exists.

*snerks* "pain side here". That is funny.

Offline MisledBloodshed

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Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #62 on: May 31, 2018, 03:00:49 AM »
*snerks* "pain side here". That is funny.

It is, though given how hard you can whack yourself with the metal doing some of the tricks I wouldn't exactly say either side is pain free

*is definitely speaking from experience*

Offline MisledBloodshed

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Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #63 on: May 31, 2018, 03:27:09 AM »
Actually, found a bit more insight on the matter watching a tutorial for a trick - it's called the bite handle because if you're holding that handle and the knife closes down on your fingers, it's like being 'bitten' - because your fingers will be between the handle and the sharp side of the blade when it happens.

Chomp, there go your fingers

Offline Oniya

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #64 on: May 31, 2018, 03:37:37 AM »
Actually, found a bit more insight on the matter watching a tutorial for a trick - it's called the bite handle because if you're holding that handle and the knife closes down on your fingers, it's like being 'bitten' - because your fingers will be between the handle and the sharp side of the blade when it happens.

Chomp, there go your fingers

So - pretty much exactly why I found the name funny.  XD

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #65 on: May 31, 2018, 03:49:42 AM »
Time to look at axes. Now, what is an axe? I suppose at some bright day in the far past someone were whacking someone or something with a rock and noticed that they were doing more damage than usual. Then figured that it might be because one side of the rock happened by sheer coincidence to be kinda sharp. Hmm. Sharp whacking stone GOOD. This ushered in the Stone Age and we have not had a peaceful day since.



Joke aside, that really is the basic idea of an axe: considerable mass plus acceleration concentrated on a narrow strike area. Honing the edge sufficiently that it didn't get stuck or break on impact, and adding a handle for more leverage, were also details probably worked out quite early. Notice that I am saying 'sufficiently sharp', because axes are made for cleaving and hacking and if they are anywhere near as sharp as a knife or sword there will be unintended consequences. One is that the strike is much heavier than a sword strike, it will cut deeper and the chance of getting stuck is that much bigger It doesn't help that there is a distinct lack of blood grooves. Another bad consequence is that an axe edge, if it hit something hard, will break and splinter and then resharpening the much thicker edge than on a sword will take all day.



Axes come in the following categories.
- Wood cleaving tools. Big or small, they have the same function - forcing fibres apart. Almost always have a flat backside, allowing it to be used as a hammer as well. The backside can also be used to be struck with a secondary tool like a sledge if need be.
- emergency axes. Includes fireman axes, boarding axes etc. Frequently has a spike on the other side and extra reinforcements along the shaft.
- poleaxes. A long combination weapon that had considerable value against horsed riders. Could be used to swing, thrust, and hook, or to keep fast in defense. Some of these axe heads were fairly long in height but they still had the same function. Halberds and glaives come within this.
- combat axes. Wider blades than the other types which made for better slashing. Made for one hand or two. Usually with only one blade or 'beard' but also found with two.
- throwing axes. These are fairly short and the blade is meant for slashing, not chopping although that is an option.



There are also a plethora of other variations, both in culture and function.. Arguably the axe has always been humanity's most used and most useful tool. Until the arrival of Google, that is.




Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #66 on: June 01, 2018, 04:49:14 AM »
Today's blade may look like a joke. It isn't. But you don't see this often in use any more.

The above is known under several names. Splitting knife, kindling knife, and it can also be labeled as a plane.

More precise than a knife since the grip is optimal, this is a tool for the weaved basket maker, as well as for the boat builder making ribs.





Offline Nadir

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #67 on: June 02, 2018, 03:23:26 AM »
I found this blog and I thought you would appreciate it!

Peashooter/Lock Stock and History

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #68 on: June 02, 2018, 07:47:16 AM »
I found this blog and I thought you would appreciate it!

Peashooter/Lock Stock and History

That's interesting stuff Nadir. I might use some of it in later posts!

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #69 on: June 02, 2018, 08:44:21 AM »
Far north in South Asia, sandwiched in between China and India, lies a distant and exotic little country that actually isn't that small. Nepal is however a country with many contrasts, from lush forests to the mountains capped by Himalaya. Their population is a tough one, which is proved by the sherpas that carry huge loads with all the equipment and food for the mountain climbers who go the same route emptyhanded. A certain irony there. Nepal has also fostered some of the most renowned soldiers known to the world for the last few centuries; the gurkhas. It would take a much longer post to tell how the gurkhas have proven themselves in battle, for their own country, and all over the world in British service.


The famous symbol of the gurkhas is however the kukri. This is a blade that steals a little from the basic machete design, a little from the old broad swords, and a little from the just as old, Asian curved broadswords right back to the heyday of the Mongols. That does not mean that this is exclusively a weapon; the kukri is the traditional bladed tool of the Nepalese and is used for all sorts of farming, butchering, farm work and bush craft. The heavy fore of the blade makes it very suitable for chopping work and it is capable of deep stabs as well . Not so much a fine work tool; the kukris are pretty big as knives go.


You will notice that there are two small knives here as well, which are part of the standard kukri set. The bigger is a karda which is for that above mentioned fine work, and the smaller a chakmak which is used for sharpening. A lot of secondhand kukri sets are missing these, or may have been entirely omitted in the cheapest made tourist knockoffs.

There is an odd little notch near the handle, and a number of reasons have been provided for its existence but it may well have been just a local custom that others copied while the story behind got lost.



A great original is bound to be copied, and there are a number of decent copies also from well known brands. This one is an Ontario.



Gurkha soldiers may not be the very best trained or equipped soldiers in our modern world and the old kukri is an anachronism, but they still have the kind of reputation that makes enemies withdraw from their positions at the mere RUMOR that the gurkhas are coming. I am glad we are on the same side.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 08:46:49 AM by Captain Maltese »

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #70 on: June 03, 2018, 06:14:46 AM »
Here's one blade type you can't buy in a store. The shank, or shiv, is an improvised weapon you will only (and hopefully never) encounter in prisons. Basically anything you can put an edge and some sort of grip on is a shank, and every shank is a result of what that particular prisoner was able to lay his hands on. Pure spikes appear to be less popular since they can't cut, and cutting being the ultimate threat between two prisoners. You might think getting killed would be worse but think twice - the kind of people ending up in bad prisons are the kind who do not fear death all that much. Having to live without your nose, eyes or balls can quickly seem worse.


COnfiscated from prisoners in Milhaven Penitentiary, Canada.

Shivs can be put in two major categories; improvised weapons made more or less on the moment, and weapons made secretly but with access to some amount of tools. I admire the inventiveness and resourcefulness in combining a toothbrush and a razor blade into a weapon, but I also admire the skill it takes to produce a nice Bowie knife while you are supposed to be under close surveillance.





I guess some people really do have too much time on their hands.

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #71 on: June 04, 2018, 06:07:43 AM »
In the 19th century European powers were once more expanding their empires and this time the march order was due south into the African continent. This was not particularly welcomed by the local population but the Europeans were dead set on exchanging bibles for strategic power, massive natural resources, farming land and cows. Since the Europeans also brought rifles and cannons the argument was bound to be fairly one sided. Except that there was yet another empire in play, and these were local: the Zulu empire.


The Zulus were a big and growing warrior tribe that had already fought a number of other tribes by the time the English Empire showed up in the southern Africa. As African tribes go these were remarkably well led, organized and trained by the military well-above-average general Shaka, utilizing tactics and weapons and aggression on a level that could eventually have gained them control over a large swathe of the continent. They would however have the bad luck of running into English forces, who were lacking in numbers but not in modern weapons.


The Zulu weapon of choice was new and an invention of their own. Assegais, spears, were familiar enough in Africa but were fairly long and meant for throwing. The Zulu redesigned the concept into the Iklwa, a shorter spear with a much heavier and bigger spear tip capable of a terrifying stab from close up. Combined with the thick shield and the superior tactics they were a daunting foe to any other African tribe, and more than a little reminiscent of the armies of Old Greece.


(They also had war clubs and throwing spears. And a small number of guns, but the Zulus saw guns as a weakling's weapon and tended to disregard them in battle. Famous bad decisions through history...)

The Zulus and the English met in several battles. The first, at Isandlwana in 1879, was a disaster for the British and a complete annihilation of their forces there. The second battle was the famous battle at Rorke's Drift where a small force of just 140 British managed to repeal the attack of several thousand Zulus. There were a number of small following battles where the British gained the upper hand, and while the British never defeated the Zulus properly the young Zulu nation fragmented. The British on their hand would soon have to deal with the Boers instead, and a mighty war with the other Colonial powers was just starting to get warm.


But if you think there is something familiar about the Iklwa, take a look at a rifle with a bayonet on. I'd say the concept had something for it.

Offline Liam Dale

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #72 on: June 04, 2018, 05:21:49 PM »
So many new weapons to read about!


Incidentally, Xena is holding and wielding the damn thing wrong. Holding it like this would make the razor edge to terrible things to her palm. And carrying the uncovered circle in her belt on a daily basis... can you even imagine falling or sitting a bit awkward one day... "oh, what is this? My kidney? How peculiar."

This also made think about some videogames that design huge chakrams that look more like hula hoops.

Like Tira's from Soul Calibur

or Kingdoms of Amalur

Offline Captain MalteseTopic starter

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #73 on: June 04, 2018, 06:09:59 PM »
So many new weapons to read about!


This also made think about some videogames that design huge chakrams that look more like hula hoops.

Like Tira's from Soul Calibur

or Kingdoms of Amalur

Bwahahaha! Very impressive. And they better be magical, because they look like they weigh about 20 pounds each. I can honestly say that I have never heard of a real weapon designed like a hulahoop. Now I want to see one.

Offline Love And Submission

Re: Blade Lore
« Reply #74 on: June 04, 2018, 06:20:23 PM »
Time to look at axes. Now, what is an axe? I suppose at some bright day in the far past someone were whacking someone or something with a rock and noticed that they were doing more damage than usual. Then figured that it might be because one side of the rock happened by sheer coincidence to be kinda sharp. Hmm. Sharp whacking stone GOOD. This ushered in the Stone Age and we have not had a peaceful day since.



Joke aside, that really is the basic idea of an axe: considerable mass plus acceleration concentrated on a narrow strike area. Honing the edge sufficiently that it didn't get stuck or break on impact, and adding a handle for more leverage, were also details probably worked out quite early. Notice that I am saying 'sufficiently sharp', because axes are made for cleaving and hacking and if they are anywhere near as sharp as a knife or sword there will be unintended consequences. One is that the strike is much heavier than a sword strike, it will cut deeper and the chance of getting stuck is that much bigger It doesn't help that there is a distinct lack of blood grooves. Another bad consequence is that an axe edge, if it hit something hard, will break and splinter and then resharpening the much thicker edge than on a sword will take all day.



Oh no. You've angered the HEMA gods.