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Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 10:49 AM ( #1 )
Ok maybe a dumb question but, after doing some web research on western dagger techniques I'm left confused. Many of the techniques make it look like many of the blades may have been dulled and only used for thrusting. The reason I'm thinking this is the older styles show a lot of trapping by grabbing the blade. When compared to knife fighting there are very few cutting strokes involved. I know that the dagger was a "backup" but why wouldn't they be kept sharp? Have I missed something here??? Any help?
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 11:26 AM ( #2 )
Possibly for the same reason that bayonets weren't and still aren't sharp.  The wound is nastier and won't heal well.  
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 1:19 PM ( #3 )
Thanks guys, the techniques I saw were from some medieval drawings rather than video footage. I saw several traps where the blade was grabbed along with the handle, sort of like using a long sword when doing a 2 handed thrust. I guess that I always figured that doing this would result in some serious damage to your self if the blade edge was kept sharp. I've been looking into western fighting styles and am coming up short in bowie style fighting. There seems to be very little in short sword fighting as well (I'd like to see if I could use my machetes for this). Where should I turn? 
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 2:58 PM ( #4 )
Are you looking at manuals that use a rondel dagger?
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 3:44 PM ( #5 )
merc with a mouth


Are you looking at manuals that use a rondel dagger?


That's what it sounds like.
 
Equip, were you looking at something like this: http://www.mlecin.com/dss/a-dagger/2HTwistOut.html
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 3:53 PM ( #6 )
Yeah it's all about the stabbing when it comes to daggers. Quick death vs superficial wounds.

I think they're not sharp because they are used so much to parry and block, so an edge would just get destroyed anyway. And the destroyed edge would probably make it not slide into the flesh as smooth and easily when thrusting. More likely to snag on clothing, armor, or bone.
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 4:08 PM ( #7 )
It does sound a lot like a rondel dagger to me. To be fair a lot of people who attempt half swording today, are very scared to do it without gauntlets. Which I will point out that in manuals, most people were able to pull off half swording techniques without gauntlets. I assume its because of the hard work that everyone went through, compared to people in our time period who are pampered by comparison. Our hands are nice and smooth, versus rugged manly hands! The rondel was one of the most common daggers to use against a heavily armored opponent. It had a cruciform profile. Because of this, its very bad at cutting targets. But one of the best for thrusting. It was a very advanced dagger to use against heavily armored opponents, because it could fit in the joints of a knight's armor easier then other daggers. Master Talhoffer even designed some techniques for it to be used on people who are not wearing armor. Unarmored combat. As a member of HEMA, the knife techniques used with rondels are very unique and interesting. I can even mention a training drill that you and a partner can do. I don't remember the name and I don't have the manual on me so bear with me. We have 2 people. Thing 1 and thing 2. Thing 1 has a rondel dagger. Thing 2 does not have any weapons. I'm right handed so if your left, your gonna have to work at it. Take your left foot and imagine your foot is on a clock. Point it to 1. Take your right foot and point it to 3. Your feet should be a little over shoulder width apart. Thing 1 should have the rondel in the reverse grip. Now obviously when thing 1 comes in to stab, this should not be considered a horror movie, where the arm is over extended above the head, and the knife comes crashing down. It should be like a punch. Make sure when thing 1 stabs, his arm is not over extended, but it maintains a little bend. Thing 1 is in the same position. Thing 1 comes in for a stab. Thing 2 will then take his left foot and side step towards 11. Thing 2 will take both of his hands to disarm his opponent. Thing 2 will take his left hand, and grab thing 1's wrist. Thing 2 will take his right hand, and grab his opponents elbow. Thing 2 will then take his right foot and bring it together with his left foot to have a stable stance. While thing 2 is bringing his right foot towards his left, he will uncoil his hands. You should now be at a position where thing 1 is bent over with his right arm behind his back. Thing 2 should maintain a lot of pressure on his opponent and bring him as close to the ground as possible. This will mean trying to put thing 1's shoulders as close to the ground as possible, so long as thing 2 can maintain a stable stance with about shoulder width apart. If your doing the technique correctly, thing 2 should be able to take his hand, and easily grab the knife out of thing 1's hands, while maintaining the hold. Thing 2 now has a number of options. Taking the knife and perfecting the lock. If your doing the lock correctly, thing 1 should have his right hand palm facing up. Take the knife and stab thing 1 through his hand. He will now not be able to move his arm, and will now most likely be flopping around like a fish out of water. Another possible outcome is to take the knife and stab him until he cant resist anymore. I believe it was master Talhoffer that invented this technique. There is a very funny story behind it. So Master Talhoffer was walking down the street while out of no where someone runs at him with a knife hoping to mug him. Master talhoffer used this technique, but with a slight twist. He was able to maintain the lock, bring his opponent to the ground, and then use him as a chair while he played backgammon for several hours in the street. He turned the mugger into a chair. After several hours, he let the mugger run away. You could recreate this with a partner. Just make sure to use common sense, and some safe training equipment. Have fun. Also sorry about my post, for some reason I can't use my enter key here on the forums anymore.
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 4:29 PM ( #8 )
Hmmm...my link doesn't seem to be working atm.  Anyway, it shows a technique like what Equip described from Talhoffer's Fechtbuch.  It also shows the accompanying plate from the manual.  In the plate it's hard to tell because of the stylized nature of these old drawing, but the daggers depicted are definitely rondels. 
 
edit: looks like the link works now.  What is it with me and links at this forum?
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 6:42 PM ( #9 )
The technique you are talking about came about armor went to plate over mail. A cutting edge was next to useless at that point. Therefore, daggers and Misericords, and even up to Zwei Handers were all about thrusting into weak spots in the armor, such as eye holes, and joints. To accomplish this, fighters used brute force, and choked way up on the blade to penetrate the armor.Some weapons got to looking like a big nail with two circular hand guards
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 9:00 PM ( #10 )
OK, probably was looking at something more with rondels, makes sense anyway. So does the same go for daggers used with rapiers? Are Main Gauche mostly dull as well? Sorry to sound a tad dense but this is all news to me. Guess I've been around all these great knives so long I never looked into the historical ones.
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Friday, December 30, 2011 9:06 PM ( #11 )
A relatively sharp or even sharp blade can be safely grabbed with the bare hand.  It's like the old trick of walking on a razor sharp sword.  It's not the pressing motion that cuts but the sliding motion.  Many of the manuals show techniques where the blade is grabbed to be disarmed by not allowing time for the opponent to draw the blade backward.  If gripped hard enough the blade can't be pulled, therefor the cut can't be made.  Yes, being the science teacher this does work, the physics and biomechanics plays out.  HOWEVER, there is no way I want to try it ever.
     also as was pointed out the stab was generally more lethal and therefore far preferred.  Even in modern combat I teach stabbing for people who are in military service.  It's a quicker more shore way to end a life.  For non-military and military alike slashing offers more options.  Military should know both attacks if looking at modern knife fighting but should favor stabbing vitals.  Civilians will need to make a moral decision in this but should be versed in both, you will need to take the shot you have when you have it.

     More over as has already been covered stabbing was more likely to find weak points in armor.  Very similar today.  A slash down the chest may be useless against modern kevlar armor but a stab to the subclavian artery will often slip through.  A slash across full modern face armor could possibly again be useless but an upward stab under the chin or a lunge through the ocular cavity are probably going to be lethal.  This was similar with ancient armor as well giving rise to the preference of the point over the edge.  In many ways firearms are responsible for the resurgance of slashing attacks.  Someone on here even pointed out one time that there used to be different laws for stabbing vs. slashing knife attacks as the stabbing ones were seen as more serious attempts on a person's life.

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Re:Medieval Daggers - Saturday, December 31, 2011 9:47 AM ( #12 )
  I gotta admit up front I skimmed this and didn't read the entire thread so I may be saying something that is already said and even deviating from the topic but I just wanna throw my opinion down that I can not understand (Yes I do know Bowies have many advantages over many other blade shapes and styles)Why anyone other than someone in a cowboy film would take a "Western style" knife over any old fantastic looking medieval daggers(Im a dagger guy lol) on the looks of them,

I would like to see less than a gross of new styles of cutlasses  and sabers in the new line up that I am damn near positive less than 2% of the population has ANY use for aside from fun backyard ruin something expensive chop up stuff fun ... im not sure when the last battle requiring people to ride off on a horse with a sword in hand was but I think it may have been quite some time ago,if I were to spend my money on old timie looking stuff just cause its awesome I probably have no practical use for,please hand the daggers over
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:19 AM ( #13 )
On grabbing.  I ran across stuff indicating that scared left hands were a common mark of a duelist.  Sorry, I can't begin to find the source.   But there was a modern fencer talking about it.  He liked to use it to confound other fencers and when they protested he would prove it was a historical technique.  Of course he was 'cheating' in the sense he knew the other guys blade would not be sharp.  But in a life or death situation, or for him to score a point, you need only restrain his blade for a moment.  He gets dead, you get to live.  For the price of a cut hand---even a maimed hand.  Good trade. 
I frequently grind on the tang of a knife while holding the sharp blade.  (it gets quite sharp just by grinding it to shape--a 'zero edge' before the real edge is formed.)  As Fox said--the trick is to grip it HARD so it doesn't move in your hand.  (Not the same as grabbing a moving blade, I agree)

And you know Sir James--I agree.  I have several Bowies, and none of the daggers,  but  so far as looks go, I love the medieval daggers. 
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Saturday, December 31, 2011 10:20 AM ( #14 )
I'll just point out one thing about the whole half swording thing. The medievals did not keep their swords razor sharp. This is why half swording works. It was more like a chisel sharpness. You can still hack off an arm with a sword this sharp because of the physics and force behind it. I would not try half swording with a razor sharp sword. Another thing that apparently helps is if you have gauntlets where the leather on the hands is wet (from sweat, blood, whatever).
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Saturday, December 31, 2011 1:28 PM ( #15 )
Ok Cool! Got some answers and thats why I'm here. Thanks guys. And don't get me wrong I LOVE the way old daggers look, I was just cruising the net looking for ways to use them. While indonesian and oriental arts are very good for knife applications I was looking for some thing more "western". There is little in the way of bowie fighting and daggers pretty much went out with the rapier so when looking to the "fighting knife" all I have been able to find is the standard eastern way. Is there some place I haven't looked or are "we" just undocumented in this area?
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Re:Medieval Daggers - Saturday, December 31, 2011 8:17 PM ( #16 )
Just a side comment.  During WW I the multiple layers of wool everyone wore made knife --and even sword--slashing ineffective.  Swords would break bones and cause blunt trauma, but not cut through wool longjohns, wool shirt, jacket and overcoat.  It amounted to accidental armor.  This made people emphesize the point.  You got those needle point bayonets and slim triangular daggers.  And in a museum there is a display of a typical French soldier in full kit.  He wears a dagger which is simply a sharpened butchers sharpening steel.   A version of that "big nail" Fudo mentions. 
Its all part of that eternal 'arms vs armor' struggle.  The "best" weapon depends on the other guy.  What is his range ?  What is he wearing ? Other things like style ?  Berserker or duelist ?  Skill level  ?  Solo or melee ?  
A game I have proposed.   Choose your weapon.  Whichever you choose, your opponant will get the other.  Then you will discover conditions of engagement AFTER you make your choice.  
.45 1911 or  single shot varment rifle ?

You will begin engagement at 200 Meters.

Gunsite Folder or12 ga goose gun ?

You will be handcuffed to your opponant.

Medieval dagger or machete ?

You will be in full plate armor.

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Re:Medieval Daggers - Sunday, January 01, 2012 10:57 AM ( #17 )
If you really want sources for double edge knife fighting (especially western based) look at Applegate and Fairborn and Sykes.  Kill or get killed, Get tough and for a short but informitive read, "Combat use of the Double Edge Fighting Knife".  They are very good old world (WWII) knife fighters.  The other thing about their books is they are based on a warfare around killing your opponent.  Not restraining and wrestling with them.  Kill and move on, battlefield expedient.  Plus almost every picture the bad guy looks like a Nazi getting killed.
     I want to add there is some debate over the idea that medieval knights didn't keep razor sharp edges on their blades.  I'm not saying one way or another but over the MANY years of history it would make sense to me that multiple ideas were employed.  It would seem that much of that idea came from finding blades that weren't sharpened.  However since many of these blades were also badly rusted and many times actually falling appart how much of an edge would you think they have?  From many drawings and engravings it appears that perhaps the lower 1/2 or 1/3 was dull(er) to allow better blocking (much like the saber) while the upper half was still sharpened.  Other experts believe the entire blade would have been sharpened on a daily basis but possibly not worried about on the battle field.  Still more beleive that it depends on the time period and the armor being faced.  Much like DLyn said.  Against mail armor a sharp edge was preferred against plate armor a duller edge with a larger sword and mass behind it.
     I'm not saying which of these is right or wrong simply that there is a debate over it and it's not as cut and dry as saying they only grabbed a blade because they knew it was dull.

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Re:Medieval Daggers - Monday, January 02, 2012 4:01 PM ( #18 )
There's just too much we don't know about really old weapons.  From a modern perspective, it seems logical that swords would be given fairly obtuse edges that would be moderately sharp, since they would have to be durable enough to retain some function after a few bashes at a metal-edged shield or piece of armor (chain or plate).  A razor edge seems unlikely, as they wouldn't last very long at all (soft steel for the most part by today's standards running into hard objects).  The trouble is we don't know the mindset of people at the time with regard to what they believed was the best compromise between durability and cutting power, or even how much thought the average soldier would have given to such matters in the first place.  I'm sure there were at least a few people who experimented with these things just as we do today, the problem is their experiments and results were not recorded for posterity.  It is a lot of fun to theorize about and discuss, however.
 
As an additional thought, it's also possible that soldiers used more obtuse and duller blades for the reasons I mentioned above, while civilians may have used shallower and/or sharper edges, since they wouldn't be as likely to encounter hard objects in a non-military personal defense/fight situation.  Again, just theory. 
 
I could talk about this stuff for hours, so I'll move on to another thread now.
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