Posts Tagged ‘British’

A Sleek (Non)Arthurian Sword…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

So, once again, I find myself confronted by a sword which, while absolutely beautiful, also appears to have aesthetics that run counter to it’s supposed origins. I present to you, the magical sword of King Arthur of the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur:

King Arthur of the Round Table Excalibur Sword

King Arthur of the Round Table Excalibur Sword

Ooookaaayyy… So does anyone else notice something fishy here? And I’m not referring to the smell the sword must have picked up from being stored in a lake, by the Lady of the Lake, for so many centuries. No, I am referring to the fact that this sword does not appear to match the aesthetics we would expect to see from a sword made in the era of the Crusades.

The swords of the Crusaders were generally more… Cross shaped. They tended to have straight cross guards, which made their swords look like crosses, a physical symbol, a reminder, if you will, for the knightly Crusaders, that they were the Swords of God. Yeah. Uh huh.

Anyway, These swords also carried a round medallion pommel, and tended to sport much a more wedge shaped blade, with the blade narrowing significantly from hilt to tip. The grips were also much more likely to be mildly tapered, with  a leather wrap.

Now the sword above. This wretched pretender, does not match any of those traits.

This sword has, instead of a medallion, a stubby cross pommel. Yes, it does have a cross emblazoned on the center on said cross, but still. And then the grip… Wire wrapped. No leather. Which brings us to the guard. Which starts off straight, but then curves up towards the point with an almost dragon scale like motif. Definitely not the kind of thing a Knight of the Cross should carry!! And that blade… Long, straight and narrow… No wedge.

So. I can guess what your thinking at this juncture. And it probably sounds a little like “Pardon my French, but… YOU, GOOD STEEL MADAME, are an IMPOSTER!! You HEATHENOUS WRETCH!!! How DARE you claim to be EXCALIBUR!!!  >: (  ”

OK, ok, easy now. Let’s not be hasty. She’s a fine lass, and, truth be told, I like her. The slim lithe blade, the mild curve and pattern on the guard, it’s down to earth overall simplicity…  Let me play devils advocate for a bit.  >: }

First of all, Excalibur was not forged of man… but of ancient magic. So it does not have to look exactly like every other sword. In fact, it was a magic sword, so it should most likely *not* look like any other sword, so we really should not judge it just because it looks different.

And then of course there is the somewhat minor detail that stories of King Arthur seem to appear a few hundred years before the Crusades start, so the whole cross sword motif may not have started back then. Of course that would also invalidate the whole King Arthur legend as we currently know it, so I’m going to pretend that inconsistency does not exist. 🙂

Truth is, regardless of her heritage, she’s a beautiful sword. Who cares if she doesn’t look like all the other girls. She’s sharp, she’s got a great personality, she sweet, she’s smart, honest, and upfront, likes to get to the point and says what’s on her mind, ie, I don’t have to guess what she really means when she’s got her edge to my throat, has a great sense of humor, and, most importantly, she’s magical! None of the others can say that. So I don’t care. If you don’t like it, you can just sod off…  She’s mine. :p

Wait… What? Did I…? What just happened?

Doggone magical swords…

King Arthurs Excalibur Sword – [Saber and Sword]

Far East Meets Middle East Meets Left Field…

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Today I have a set of yet more crossover blades. Like most of the others, these knives feature qualities from different cultures, melded together to form beautiful harmoniously wicked looking blades. I refer to the work of Wally Hayes, of Hayes Knives. I suppose I ought to stop flappin’ mah trap, and show you a few pics:

Damascus Dagger - Broad Spear Point

Damascus Dagger - Broad Spear Point

Now this is what I am talking about. The astute among you may have noticed that this little dagger bears traits from three separate cultures. OK, so let’s play a little sleuthing game. Who wants to take a stab at guessing which ones?… Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

*whistling*…

*taps hooves*…

*facepalm*

OOOOK, that’s about enough of the waiting thing.

I’m sure many of you guessed Asia, as the first culture, and you would be correct. The tsuka, guard and habaki  are all Asian in origin. However the other two flavors are a little harder… Actually that’s not entirely true. This here dagger has a damascus blade. That one should be easy… Yeah. really…. Oh, come on… Ok, ok. The damascus betrays the  Middle Eastern genes in this blade. Right? From Damascus…? Got it?  Good. 🙂

Now, last but not least, the shape of the blade itself is neither traditionally Japanese, nor Middle Eastern. Both far and middle eastern blades generally feature curved blades. This blade, carries European lines. And there is our trilogy of genes. And a beautiful child it is too…

If you got all three, you may proceed to pat yourself on the back. Yes, you may sprain your arm in order to do so if necessary. I’ll allow it. Just this once. Feel the burn? Good. Here’s another example:

Damascus Dagger - Fine Spear Point

Damascus Dagger - Fine Spear Point

How about we up the ante. Eh? Try and be a little more specific? What do you think…? This one should be easy, it’s pretty much almost the same as the other… Ok, well here’s my take…

The Tsuka and Guard are almost definitely Asian. Japanese, to be precise. No habaki, like the other one, but these are all hybrid knives, so I’m gonna let that slide. The blade is, again, Damascus, can’t really be precise about it’s origin without a metallurgical analysis, so i’ll leave it at that. The blade shape on the other hand, almost definitely European. I’d guess late British, if I were a betting creature… 🙂

Now here’s another interesting piece:

The Predater

The Predater

Talk about mixed messages! This knife looks like a cross between a Ka-bar, and a tanto. A hybrid westernized tanto at that. The grip features a simple tsuka-maki, running up to a simple stubby upturned guard, and on into a polished, rather beefy looking straight blade, with what looks like it could be a false back edge all running into a hybrid clip tanto point.

Hard to tell from the pic. But it certainly looks like it means “bidness”.

Finally, here’s another quite interesting short sword, for obvious reasons called the “Waki”:

The Waki

The Waki

For those of you wondering why the name is obvious, it may help to know that the japanese have a short sword called the Wakizashi, that is traditionally worn as a pair with a full size Katana. This sword is just the right size, so I presume that is why it was given a contracted form of the name.

Lacking a guard and habaki, this blade might be troublesome to wield in combat, however from an aesthetic standpoint… Whoa… I think it just got a little hot in here… 🙂

I have but one concern though. I don’t rightly know if the “Waki” was really the most dignified name to give this particular blade. But to be fair, a curvy blade of dark swirling damascus would, by any other name, would still look just as beautiful…

What more can I say… It’s a thing of beauty… 😀

The Waki and friends – [Hayes Knives]

The Contemporary Light Fighting Knife.

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

In a recent post I did about the Altairs retractable blade from Assassins Creed, I made mention of the the characteristics of the ideal fighting knife. While any knife will only be at it’s best when used in manner and environment it was the designed for, most small, fast fighting knives have very similar properties.

Today, I thought I’d talk about a classic example of one of the best engineered fighting knives of the last century or so. The British Commando knife, AKA the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife:

Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives

British Commando Knife British Commando Knife Special Edition
[view full size] [view full size]

Fighting knives have been around since the beginning of man. Blades such as daggers, dirks and stilettos have always been popular fighting tools, due to their speed and flexibility. However the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife is a knife that has had a very profound influence of modern day combat fighting knife design. Developed in China, just prior to WWII, it was based on a design called the Shangai Knife:

The Shanghai Knife

The Shanghai Knife
[view full size]

This basic design was developed specifically for closed quarters knife fighting speed, agility and effectiveness. In contrast to the many other fighting knife designs, this was focused on very specific things. This fighting knife was designed to meet a very specific set of criteria. For instance, it had to be slim enough to be thrust between the ribs of an opponent. It had to be long enough to penetrate several layers of heavy clothing (like winter greatcoats and such,) and still strike vital internal organs. It had to be relatively small and easy to conceal. And it needed to be light, fast, and well balanced. But it also had to have excellent thrusting and slashing ability.

The FS (Fairbairn-Sykes) fighting knife design was the end result. Featuring a strong but narrow tapering double edged blade, it was one of the most well designed fighting blades of it’s time. After being adopted by the British army, and later variants of it by American, many other armies, it has had a significant influence on numerous combat blade designs since. Even your common boot knife and push dagger share roots with the FS design:

Boot Knives

Bodyguard Knife Bodyguard Boot Knife
[view full size] [View full size]

<^>

USARA Dagger

USARA Dagger
[view full size]

To be fair, the basic FS design is a revamp of a very old one. The idea of a strong, but slender, pointed, double edged blade has been around for a long time. However the FS design really brought it to the forefront of combat fighting knife design.

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