View Single Post
Old December 25th, 2005, 12:59   #28
Brian McIlmoyle
Brian McIlmoyle's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Toronto
Why swords are curved

Has to do with the forging process..

a bar of iron\steel if forged to a edge on one side will induce a curve in the bar as one side gets squished flat it lengthens that edge.

In the heat treating process this curve can increase slightly.. but the curve of a one edged sword is established long before the heat treating.

People have proposed all kinds of **theories** as to why swords are curved, many of these theories are even presented by so called "experts".

the curve has nothing to do with being easier to draw, better cutting, deeper cutting... all of these are simply not true. They belong to the world of "fantasy" and mystery surrounding swords. Which unfortunatly many of the "experts" have served to perpetuate rather than destroy.

Deeply curved swords do present some advandages in fencing with them.. as they can be very deceiving in the transition between a cut and a thrust and can force an opponent to overcommit to a defense. This is well illustrated in both the Polish and Italian dueling saber traditions. But Japanese swords are not curved enough to take full advantage of this property.

And finally to abolish the myth that the Katana is the "best cutting weapon devised by man" The techniques of forging the Katana and its shape and properties is a direct result of the very poor quality of iron ores to be found on the island of Japan. The Katana is without a doubt a very effective cutting sword.. and it is the best cutting weapon that could be devised on Japan from the materials extant. **However**
Katanas as a class of sword are heavy, unweildy and poorly balanced and prone to bending (and staying bent) in comparison to European swords forged hundereds of years earlier. In Europe there was no shortage of very high quality iron ore, and in fact European smiths had abandoned in the 11th century the process to make blades still in use in Japan in the 17th century.
In Japan.. because the quality of raw materials did not improve over time.. neither did the methods to manufacture weapons from them. This coupled with the cultural predisposition to venerate tradition kept the Japanize Katana frozen in time in both form and function.

Europe by contrast developed advanced metalurgy and steel making centers early in the middle ages. by the 10th century many swords were forged of high quality carbon steel.. a material that simply did not exist on Japan in any significant quantity. and this trend expanded as time progressed.. by the 14th century steel manufacture in Europe was highly advanced and consequently the edged weapons created by sword smiths standing on a thousand years of sword making tradition reached a peak of design and function unparalleled anywhere else on the planet. Directly after the 14th century the "age ofthe sword" deminished replaced by the "age of the Gun" that is even today still dominating our culture.
Brian McIlmoyle
TTAC3 Director
CAPS Range Officer
Toronto Downtown Age Verifier


If the tongue could cut as the sword does, the dead would be infinite
Brian McIlmoyle is offline   Reply With Quote