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What is a Sword?

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What Swords Are

Swords are weapons. Weapons, which were designed to cut and/or puncture the flesh and bone of human targets. To a lesser extent, swords can also penetrate light to medium armors, such as padded cloth, leather, and mail. However, if used improperly against even light armor (or equivalent test-cutting media), a sword will suffer minor damage (scratches, nicks, etc.).

Martial artists who will be using their swords for practice cutting should always attempt to follow the proper forms and safety practices prescribed by their organization or school and or instructor. Though most swords are designed to flex rather than bend or break, a cut executed improperly against even a soft target can put tremendous amounts of torsional stress on a blade. This stress can and will under the right circumstances damage your sword. Proper training and form are the only things that will minimize or eliminate this danger.

Though swords are no longer used as weapons today, swords are designed to meet the requirements and attributes of historical blades. However, this fact also means that they must be treated with the same respect and care that swords historically required.

What Swords Are Not …
Swords are not indestructible and cannot cut through everything. Despite legends, stories, and movies to the contrary, swords cannot cut through thick wood, stone, or metal without suffering significant damage.

Real swords are not designed to be used in the blade slapping, edge-on-edge style of “fencing” portrayed in many cinematic, television, and theatrical productions. The thin cutting edge of a sword is fragile and will be damaged if abused in this manner. Historically, swordsmen avoided the direct blocks and parries depicted in today’s movies, striving instead to deflect incoming blows with a different portion of the blade or evade them altogether. If you doubt this fact, take your favorite pair of kitchen knives and bang their edges together to see the type of damage your expensive sword will suffer if you treat it in this way.



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