A sword is a bladed
weapon, consisting in its most fundamental design of a blade and a handle.
The blade is usually of some metal ground to at least one sharp edge and
often has a pointed tip for thrusting. The handle, called the hilt, can
be made of many materials, but the material most common is wood covered
by leather, fish skin or metal wiring. The parts of a sword are remarkably
consistent between cultures. The basic intent and physics of swordsmanship
is fairly constant. This kind of weapon has been in use from the Bronze Age when the construction
of long metal blades was possible for the first time. Early swords were
made of solid bronze or copper; these were hard, but quite brittle. Not
until iron could be forged did the sword truly become an important weapon.
Soon, smiths learned that with a proper amount of coal (specifically the
carbon in coal) in the iron, another metal (alloy really) could be produced:
Several different ways of swordmaking existed in ancient times. One of
the most reputed is pattern welding. Over time new methods were developed
all over the world. In Pre-Columbian South America and Mesoamerica several cultures made use
of types of swords without developing metallurgy; for example swords with
obsidian "teeth" mounted along the "edges" of a wooden
Having seen use for about five millennia, swords began to lose their military
uses in the late 18th century because of increasing availability and reliability
of gunpowder weapons. Swords were still used although increasingly limited
to officers and ceremonial uniforms. Cavalry sabre charges still occurred
as late as World War II during which Japanese and Pacific Islanders also
occasionally used swords.
Parts of the sword
- Blade - the cutting part of a sword is the blade. In single-edged
swords, the non-cutting edit is the back. The blade may also have grooves
or fullers. The purpose of these fullers is not to act as gutters for
blood (as was once thought), but to lighten the blade while allowing it
to retain its strength.
- Hilt - the handle of a sword, and consists of the guard, the grip,
and the pommel. It may also have a tassel or sword knot.
- Scabbard - the scabbard is the case that the sword is kept in when not in use.
- Ricasso - the short section of blade between the base of the guard
and the grip. The ricasso is not sharpened, which allows a finger to be
wrapped around the guard for better control. On some large weapons, such
as the German Zweihander, the ricasso was covered with leather and might
be gripped in one hand to make the weapon more wieldy in close quarters
- Shoulder - the short section of blade between the hilt and the start
of the sharpened portion of the blade. The maker's mark is normally to
be found on the shoulder.
- Tang - the part of the blade extending from the top of the blade
through the hilt and the grip. The sword is often held together by a nut
screwed onto the tang above the pommel.
- The CoP (Center of Percussion), AKA Sweet Spot - the part of the blade
that can deliver the strongest blow with the least vibration.
Types of Swords
There are hundreds of types of swords. Here are the most
- Rapier - a longer european dueling sword, optimized more for thrusting
than a slashing action
- Small-sword - a very short and light descendant of the rapier.
- Long-sword - a straight, pointed, two edged European sword with a grip
long enough for use with two hands.
- Japanese samurai swords (see also Wakizashi)
- Claymore - either of two types of Scottish sword
- Sabre - (saber) a sword with curved edge intended for slashing or chopping
- Jian - a Chinese double-edged thin sword that is straight
- Dao - a Chinese single-edged curved
sword, sometimes translated as sabre or broadsword in English.
- Gladius - a Roman legionaire's short swordSeveral modern sports and
martial arts have components based upon older principles of swordfighting.
Among these are fencing, kendo, kenjutsu, escrima, aikido and some variants
of kung fu.
Many swords in mythology, literature and history are named by their wielders
or by the person who makes them.
- King Arthur - Excalibur
- Kusanagi (Grasscutter) - The Japanese equivalent to Excalibur
- Sword of Damocles
- El Cid - Tizona
- The Polish kings - Szczerbiec
- Unferth, associate of Beowulf - Hrunting
- Sigurd - Gram (in the Volsung Saga) or Balmung (sometimes in later traditions)
- Tyrfing - a cursed sword from the Elder Edda
- Durandal - the sword belongs to Roland, a hero of the medieval French
epic "The Song of Roland"
- Joyeuse - the sword of Charlemagne (Charles the Great), medieval king
- Grus- the historical sword of Boleslaw Krzywousty (Boleslaus the Wrymouthed),
medieval prince of Poland
Video of Swords in Use
The Middle Ages
The Black Plague