Making an heavy sport sabre

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Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Carletto » 03 Apr 2014 21:54

Ciao, in my small group we've been using sport sabre blades lately, so that we can spar a lot with the little protection we have.
I do not find it to be the best solution, though, because such light swords promote quick and somewhat random blows, that would not be practical with a proper sword, that favor footwork defence over blade defence (because of their randomness).
I wonder what would be the way to keep the sport sabre safety, while increasing realism. Is there some commercial heavy (top heavy, specifically) hilt we can use? Would 2 or 3 hilts one above the other help? Or maybe there is some metal disk that fits well between the top of the hilt and the ricasso of a sport blade?
Thanks

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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 05 Apr 2014 16:03

Ciao Carlo,
What are your expectations for such a new design?

I mean: the expected total weight (my current Ukrainian dry sabre, from PBT is somewhere 350-360 g) and expected POB (current POB is ~70 mm from the shell).
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby admin » 05 Apr 2014 21:01

Hi Carlo,
Have a look at this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXer6DzL54Y

Note that the later (1907) gymnasium sabre has a disc weight at the base of the blade - just like the old ubershinai lead weights and much like the flared ricasso on a feder. This gives much greater mass to the weapon and because it is placed in front of the hand makes the blade feel heavier. But importantly it keeps the weight away from the part of the blade that you hit people with. I think you could easily fit a weighted disc to any sport sabre and make it feel and behave more like a real sabre.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 06 Apr 2014 08:47

Matt,
Thank you for the informative video. A fascinating training sword (1907) with a very nice shell!

It is good to know the length of the blade (89 cm), total weight (~850 grams). A real beast compared to a modern sport sabre. By your reckoning what is the weight of that solid "disc" at the base of the blade?

When Chris Holzman disassembled his broken antique sabre, he weighted the guard (2 mm thick): 284 g, total hilt: 364 g.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby admin » 07 Apr 2014 10:32

The disc is joined to the guard, so whilst I can unscrew the pommel nut and remove the blade I can only guess the weight of the disc - I'm not even sure what the disc is made of. I think it might be aluminium rather than steel (the grip is aluminium), though it might be steel or perhaps some other alloy like zinc. All I can really say is that the total weight is around 910g and the sword balances approximately 3cm in front of that disc. Maths could certainly tell you how much the hilt weighs from that, but I'll leave someone else to make the calculation :).
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 07 Apr 2014 12:28

Cheers!
It seems that it would be next to impossible to calculate mathematically the weight of that disc (we don't know the material (density), dimensions etc.). But no problems, this ambiguity could lead to some interesting DIY experiments with a sport sabre.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Chris Holzman » 08 Apr 2014 03:11

What are you aiming for? Depending on how heavy you want the guard, you'll eventually reach a point of balance located at the guard or in your fingers somewhere, and that will feel really strange.

I fenced in a little semi-classical outdoor 1 touch sabre event last fall, and I used my Hanwei Radaelli hilt, mounted with an S2000 blade in order to meet the rules (we're going to a requirement next year of at least a hanwei or darkwood weight blade) of the hastily set up event.

The Radaelli hilt weighs 383g: the guard weighs 281g, the backstrap and ferrule account for 46g, the grip 51, and the plastic foil guard cushion I added, in additon to the, nut and washer for 15g. I think substituting a modern sabre grip and pommel would be close to a wash - but I bet you could do a modern sabre grip and just a nut, and get the POB a little more forward.

The sport sabre blade mounted in that guard felt a little silly, quite honestly, but looked pretty nice, which I thought, given the hasty event and location, was more important than being really usable.

You could certainly drill out the rivets on the front spacer/reinforcer disk on a standard stainless steel fencing sabre guard, and get someone to make a much thicker reinforcer and rivet it back in place as suggested, but you're increasing the overall length of the weapon, so make sure you have enough tang to screw everything together.

Regardless, I think the big problem is that it is just such a light blade that the point is always going to be very quick - I'm not sure setting weight just on the other side of the guard is really going to help that much.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Mink » 08 Apr 2014 07:30

Chris Holzman wrote:Regardless, I think the big problem is that it is just such a light blade that the point is always going to be very quick - I'm not sure setting weight just on the other side of the guard is really going to help that much.

Yes, I think that's definitely the problem. The mass at the hilt will slow down some moves but if the hilt does not move much, it has no effect. You end up encouraging cutting from the wrist.

Basically I doubt that you can make a blade that hits light and handles heavy.

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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Andreas Engström » 08 Apr 2014 08:50

Mink wrote:You end up encouraging cutting from the wrist.

You say that as though it were a bad thing :-)

As to the original question I think Matt's solution is the best available but there will still be lots of actions that can be made far too quickly and with the wrong mechanics. I guess drilling solo a lot with a weapon of proper weight might help at least a little with that. At least you would become aware of how it should feel to make those actions.

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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby admin » 08 Apr 2014 10:44

To go against the tide - I actually think that adding a weight onto the outside of the bowl will make the sport sabre far more like an actual proper gymnasium sabre, that feels more like a sword. Just as it does with a feder, ubershinai or.. gymnasium sabre. BUT, I agree that there will be a limit to how much weight you can sensibly add. I'm guessing it will be something like 100g. However, if you can make a sport sabre weigh 500g instead of 400g and handle a bit more like a real sabre, then that can only be a good thing.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Mink » 08 Apr 2014 17:27

Andreas Engström wrote:
Mink wrote:You end up encouraging cutting from the wrist.

You say that as though it were a bad thing :-)

It can be good if that's a feature of the fencing style you want to encourage, but it's important to be aware of that bias in my opinion...

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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Chris Holzman » 08 Apr 2014 20:44

Andreas Engström wrote:
Mink wrote:You end up encouraging cutting from the wrist.

You say that as though it were a bad thing :-)

As to the original question I think Matt's solution is the best available but there will still be lots of actions that can be made far too quickly and with the wrong mechanics. I guess drilling solo a lot with a weapon of proper weight might help at least a little with that. At least you would become aware of how it should feel to make those actions.

-Andreas


If you're practicing Radaellian sabre, for example, it would be a very bad thing. I would suggest the solo drilling with a full weight weapon for whatever you're doing, on occasion. I.e., for Radaellian sabre, the military practice weapon was 750g and intentionally lighter than the troopers sabre at 925g or so, but basically would be the same weight and blade size as an officer's sabre. I think the other thing that needs to be done if you're fencing with something dramatically lighter than your intended weapon, you need to make sure everyone is aware of the deformation of techniques that can result, and everyone needs to resolve to make sure that technique is placed in a position of primacy, given the limitation of the weapon used.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Dave B » 08 Apr 2014 20:51

I hate to be a naysayer, but I've got my little-used S2000 here. The POB is about 70mm as usual .

In a horribly primitive experiment I taped a 200g weight to the blade up against the shell. It's heavier, but the POB is now about 44mm. I guess that a 'real' sabre has a POB more like 125 or 150mm? certainly my test feels just as whippy and easy to turn from the wrist.

If I tape the weight 150mm down the blade it starts to feel more like it - but it wouldn't be much good as a sword.

I suppose you could balance the wieght near the pommel with a very heavy button, but that would really hurt !
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Andreas Engström » 08 Apr 2014 22:47

Chris Holzman wrote:
Andreas Engström wrote:
Mink wrote:You end up encouraging cutting from the wrist.

You say that as though it were a bad thing :-)

If you're practicing Radaellian sabre, for example, it would be a very bad thing.

I know, hence the smiley.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Andreas Engström » 08 Apr 2014 22:55

Dave B wrote:I hate to be a naysayer, but I've got my little-used S2000 here. The POB is about 70mm as usual .

In a horribly primitive experiment I taped a 200g weight to the blade up against the shell. It's heavier, but the POB is now about 44mm. I guess that a 'real' sabre has a POB more like 125 or 150mm? certainly my test feels just as whippy and easy to turn from the wrist.

If I tape the weight 150mm down the blade it starts to feel more like it - but it wouldn't be much good as a sword.

I suppose you could balance the wieght near the pommel with a very heavy button, but that would really hurt !

Perhaps one could use lead flashing strips, wrapped to form a "cone" of lead extending a bit further out, rather than having a flat disc smack on the shell?

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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Carletto » 09 Apr 2014 20:38

Thanks everybody!
As to the weight, I'd say I don't know. I should see how much I can put without altering the nature of the tool, meaning: I do not want all weight in the handle.
The disk on top sounds like an idea.
I'm also pondering on putting a pommel inverted upside down on the ricasso, above the hilt, I would need a hollow pommel to do it, though and I do not know where to find one.
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Postby Ulrich von L...n » 10 Apr 2014 07:27

Chris,
... for Radaellian sabre, the military practice weapon was 750g and intentionally lighter than the troopers sabre at 925g

What was the rationale behind this?
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Re:

Postby admin » 10 Apr 2014 11:25

Ulrich von L...n wrote:Chris,
... for Radaellian sabre, the military practice weapon was 750g and intentionally lighter than the troopers sabre at 925g

What was the rationale behind this?


I'd be interested to know if the Italian sources explain.
There was a similar disparity in British gymnasium sabres in the 1890s with the introduction of the 1892 service blade and the corresponding 1895-99 gymnasium sabres (to be used in Masiello's method) - the practice weapon was notably lighter than the real thing. But then the 1907 gymnasium sabre seems to have been brought out to redress this imbalance - the gymnasium sabre then weighing around 900g; the same as the real sword.
Earlier British gymnasium sabres (ie. the 1864 pattern, which was used until 1895) had in general weighed the same as the infantry officer's sword - around 850-900g. Though Hutton and Allanson-Winn both specify using extra light weight versions - my assumption being that this was for more sporting purposes, to allow longer and more varied practice, perhaps with less protective clothing. In other words, the beginning of sport fencing.
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Chris Holzman » 11 Apr 2014 00:05

In the most pertinent part, from Capt. Del Frate's 1869 introduction to "Instruction for the Use of the Sabre":
We have even more: we know that a percussive blow stands in its effect in relation to the weight of the material that strikes and the velocity that, because of the motive force, is impressed on the same material. The same effect, or lesser or greater, can then be obtained, increasing the intensity of the motive force and diminishing the weight of the material. Now applying this principle to the use of the sabre, we can deduce as a simple consequence that in our method, we employ in the use of the sabre a much greater force than the other system, and then applying much greater velocity to our blade, we can with obtain even with a much lighter sabre, the same effect, and even greater, while with the other system a blade of much greater weight would be necessary; and here is the important advantage to the method of instruction we propose, the soldier can be armed with a sabre that is much lighter than that which would be necessary for the system we fight.


The whole 10 page introduction is here, and is really very, very interesting reading with a lot of commentary on the state of cavalry and sabre fencing at the time. Radaelli and Del Frate were veterans of Monferrato cavalry, and served in the battle of Solferino/San Martino during the 1859 campaign against Austria. The Monferrato was placed with the other Piemontese cavalries and were in the thick of things. https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/747 ... 0Sabre.pdf
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Re: Making an heavy sport sabre

Postby Chris Holzman » 11 Apr 2014 00:24

Later in the book, on pages 2-3, Capt. Del Frate says:

For a sabre that must serve only for use in fencing it is natural that it can be much lighter in all its parts than that intended for the soldier, and through the experience of many years it can be established that with the observation of the weights and measures in the above indicated table (TN: from which I pull the weights in a prior post) an apt sabre can be had for the above indicated use. Also, I need to add that the blade must be from Solingen, and the guard of steel instead of iron, so that you will obtain a weight and blow that is more convenient for easy handling.
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