Wielding tulwars.

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Wielding tulwars.

Postby HW » 21 Apr 2018 12:09

I recently came across a book by the Reverend J.G.Wood, called 'Man and His Handiwork', in which he briefly describes a variety of weapons and their use. The book was published by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in London, in 1886.

One of the weapons described (pp.145/6) is the Indian tulwar, about which the author says: "Perhaps the most beautiful swords in the world are those of India. Some of them are curved nearly as much as the Nubian sword, but have the edge on the outside. The mode of using these weapons will explain the small handle with its very wide hilt. If a European should try to strike a blow with one of these swords, holding it after our usual fashion, he would probably disarm himself, the edge of the hilt coming against his wrist, and so twisting the weapon out of his grasp.

The handle, however, is not 'grasped,' as we understand the word, but is held as daintily in the fingers as a writer holds his pen. No 'slashing blow' is struck, the edge of the weapon being swiftly drawn across the object of attack. So, if a horseman chases and overtakes an enemy, he does not strike at him as we should do, but delivers a sort of thrust, accompanied by a peculiar turn of the wrist, and the man's head falls off as if by magic.

In 'The Talisman,' Scott has exactly described the peculiar action which I have mentioned, Saladin applying the edge of the weapon to the object, and severing it with a turn of the wrist."

Two engravings of Indian swords accompany this. Wood says they "belonged to Sir Hope Grant, G.C.B., who kindly allowed me to have them drawn."

I'd be interested in readers' comments on the above.
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Re: Wielding tulwars.

Postby Thearos » 22 Apr 2018 03:03

Great description of the draw cut; most curious details about the grip necessary to wield the tulwar.
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Re: Wielding tulwars.

Postby swordflasher » 29 Apr 2018 18:13

I'm sure Matt has a video somewhere about wielding tulwars.

I would describe it quite differently from the quote. The arm is kept bent at right angles, the wrist swivelled not bent, and the muscles of the back used, providing the power to lop off body parts. The disc hilt would stop half-way a typical cut made by a Westerner, where we extend the arm like casting with a fishing rod. On foot the tulwar is generally used with a small shield, with the sword arm often forwards and the shield back, like a boxer, unlike our own traditions.
Training can involve rotating one or two staffs/lathi held at the centre to practice the tight circular cuts, with one end of the staff as the sword.

The 'holding a pen' idea might come from a Westerner unfamiliar with the system trying to reason how to use a sword with a very confining hilt, as we also try to do with Viking/migration era swords?

Just my two ānās worth.
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Re: Wielding tulwars.

Postby HW » 02 May 2018 15:06

Thanks, Swordflasher. Do you know of any good videos about this on You Tube, apart from Matt Easton's?

I've just started reading Kinsley's book 'Swordsmen of the British Empire', and I'm astounded that swords - particularly tulwars - were able to do such spectacular damage. Previously, I'd imagined that such incidents only occurred in fiction, like the old Robert E. Howard yarns.

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