This Article is About
thrusts
half a dozen
cavalry
opponent
What Is A Backsword?
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

Have you ever found yourself reading a novel or watching a movie and suddenly out of nowhere the main character is suddenly fighting off half a dozen villainous foes with a backsword? Wait a second, a backsword? What exactly is a backsword anyhow? The term is a very, mind-defying concept which has inspired quite a few fanciful images (at least in this author's mind).

Well as it happens, a backsword is not so mysterious or complex a weapon as the name may imply. It is essentially a single-edged sword that is 'backed' by a thicker, reinforced spine. Thus the term 'backsword'. This is a very broad, general term which actually encapsulates an extremely wide array of swords.

Therefore in the interest of narrowing this term down into a workable definition we shall also add in a time frame. The term 'backsword' did not actually come into common usage until the end of the Renaissance in the 1600's. The term is typically associated with a broad variety of military swords with varying hilt styles, most of them straight, but some curved as well. The English backsword and the saber are both commonly recognized backsword types, although many nations employed backswords throughout Europe and even in the Americas. This type of sword saw service in one form or another clear until the advent of World War I, which brought an end to the era of horse-mounted cavalry (the final surviving military unit to employ sabers at the time).

The backsword proves its worth in combat through its effective, reinforced back that runs the length of the blade. This portion of the blade could be used to effectively parry cuts and thrusts from the opponent while freeing the edge and point to be directly applied to the purpose of striking the opponent. Additionally it prevents edge-on-edge contact, which is very harmful to the sword's blade.

Of course you may consider the lack of two edges to be something of a let down, however many backswords included what is termed a 'false' edge which ran along the back of the blade, starting from the point and continuing 6 to 10 inches down the foible. This 'false edge' assisted with cuts from both thrusts and slashes.

So now we recognize that the backsword actually used to be a widely recognized blade style up to one hundred years ago when the last of those to truly utilize this weapon were made obsolete by the advent of improved modern weaponry. It really isn't so strange that the hero is using a backsword after all. In fact, we would expect him to use one should the novel be set within the Victorian era.


Street Talk

No comments present
You May Also Like
Evolution of Medieval European Sword Combat
The sword is perhaps the most lethal killing weapon ever created. From the time of the Romans up until the late 1500's, medieval swords dominated the battlefield for over a millennium. The weapon itself has gone through many evolutions over the years. It has seen scores shapes and sizes, each…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 05, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Sword Types - How to pick a sword
Most people do not realize how great a variety of swords there are readily available for different preferences. If you've ever entertained the idea of purchasing a sword before and gone to the mall and checked out the sword shop there or browsed through online swords and weapons retailers you…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 02, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Sword Sparring Technique - The Parry
You find yourself suddenly, for no particular reason other than this author's interest in making a point, fighting for your life. Your opponent is armed with a wicked looking sword that appears to be quite sharp and functional. There is no where to run, no choice but to fight. Except…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 10, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Sword Techniques - Proper Distancing
If you have ever watched two opponents face off you may have noticed a pattern of engagement. This pattern involves three stages, closing, engaging, and disengaging, all of which rely heavily on one important skill; proper distancing. Let me break this down: if you do not know when to maintain…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 13, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Sword Types - The Saber
Widely recognized and highly popular during its prime, the saber lives on today as one of the most swashbuckling weapons to roam the earth. While not used on the battlefield any longer, it still plays a role in military parade dress within armies around the world. How did such a…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 06, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Historic Longsword Combat Techniques
There is nothing quite like standing in a rock solid stance gripping a solid, perfectly balanced blade which rises majestically above. One of the most widely recognized medieval weapons and often misrepresented by public media, the longsword served as the knights weapon of choice from the mid-1300's until the mid-1500's.…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 07, 2011  
0
  Likes: 3

How to Thrust - Anatomy Of A Sword Thrust
Throughout history we humans have understood that if you took a sharp enough object and pushed it hard enough at something or someone, it could puncture and severely injure. Witness the worldwide usage of spears just about anywhere man set foot. This article is not so much interested in the…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 24, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Olympic Fencing
One of the more refined and artistic sports in the Olympics is without a doubt fencing. Generally recognized as the closest thing to sword fighting in modern times, Olympic fencing is a world wide sport which readily caters to the imagination of adventure and fancy swordplay. The actual sport is…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 04, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Sparring Tactics - Rapier
What goes into a battle between fencers armed with rapiers? How did one go about engaging an opponent in a duel? The streets of Europe could be unforgiving and throughout the Renaissance knowledge of how to handle a sword was considered fundamental to the development of all gentlemen so as…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 23, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

Olympic Saber Fencing
Watching the Olympics, it is incredible how swiftly fencers move in to strike and riposte within saber fencing. You may be wondering "How do you they do this?" Well you are reading the correct article! We shall be examining the rules and techniques of Olympic saber fencing and even perhaps…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 05, 2011  
0
  Likes: 4

Myths of Medieval European Sword Techniques
The sword is perhaps the most iconic weapon in human history. Cultures throughout the world used it for several thousand years due to its lethal efficiency. However popular culture ironically now looks at the European broad sword, long sword, bastard sword, and greatsword as large, heavy, and awkward weapons often…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 03, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Half-Swording- Techniques and Tactics
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…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 04, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

Sword Types - The Rapier
It is difficult to say how many times people have watched the invigorating swordplay in the Princess Bride, avidly absorbing the theatrical tricks and verbal exchanges throughout. For many this represents the essence of classical rapier combat. Just where exactly did the rapier come from however? Were such duels with…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 21, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

Anatomy Of A Sword: Break Down the Jargon
If you have ever accidentally walked into a roomful of sword enthusiasts you'll doubtless hear all sorts of strange, half-familiar words being thrown back and forth about a sword's 'tang' and the 'unusual fuller shape' and other strange terms of which you have no real understanding. Well if that is…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   May 09, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

German Longsword - Guards And Stances
It is commonly thought that longswords were heavy, bludgeoning weapons, unwieldy to use and requiring brute force rather than finesse. It is this popular misconception that I am working to reverse gradually with time. The longsword is actually an extremely practical weapon, designed to be a multi-purpose weapon. The Germans…
By:  in  Recreation and Sports  >  Fencing   Jun 04, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Article Views: 4153    Report this Article