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Half-Swording- Techniques And Tactics
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There are many more ways of using a longsword than most people realize. Within the martial arts manuals of German swordmasters we see illustrations of knights and warriors gripping the blade with one hand and thrusting with their one hand on the blade and the other on the back of the pommel. In some illustrations soldiers are seen with both hands gripping the blade and bludgeoning an opponent with the hilt of the sword. Were these outlandish techniques really employed by true warriors and to what purpose?

In order to understand the reason for half-swording, we must first examine the background in which it evolved. The longsword, the primary half-swording weapon, became popular within Europe during the late medieval era during the rapid development of arms and armor. Prior to the deployment of guns upon the battlefield, those who were able to afford quality armor were the heavy shock troops and quintessential tanks of the medieval battlefield. Due to the development of plated armor, the typical slashing attacks and even thrusting attacks became increasingly less effective when facing a fully armored warrior.

To overcome this handicap and exploit weaknesses within the opponent's armor, precise thrusts were necessary in order to pinpoint the creases and small gaps between armor pieces. Naturally, but placing one's hand upon the blade, it could be guided more precisely into the desired target with force. This essentially turned the longsword into a short spear like weapon.

In addition to thrusting, half-swordsmen could use their sword to grapple, seeking to throw, pin, or get a debilitating lock upon their opponent. A man who is thrown while wearing a full suit of armor is in a very disadvantageous position especially should his opponent choose to follow up his assault with a thrust to an exposed joint from the fall.

Now of course not all of the readers may be convinced of the effectiveness of half-swording. "Would the blade slice up their hands?" is the question that is undoubtedly running through your mind at the moment. Actually longswords and greatswords do not have razor sharp blades. These weapons were especially tempered to be sharp, but not so sharp that they could not be handled at close quarters with half-sword techniques. Additionally warriors would have worn hard leather or mail gloves into combat to protect their hands from being severely injured. So half-swording techniques are actually quite feasible.

Unfortunately not a ton is generally known about half-sword techniques and it is not portrayed in movies and popular culture, therefore remaining largely unknown and unheard of. However you are now one of the proud few who will not only recognize, but also understand what is meant by the term 'half-swording'.


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