You can say that swords were among the first real weapons that were not made for hunting, for example.

A sword has the same shape as a knife, is naturally larger, and has been a combat weapon for many centuries. The blade is quite large and often has a counterweight so that it remains easy to handle. Weapons have been developed on all continents and that makes it more complex to clearly define the definition of the sword.

You can say that it is an elongated weapon with which you can stab and cut with a metal blade and handle. To handle you can hold it with one or two hands.

The forging of swords by the blacksmith and its users have always had a high status. The blacksmith was at the top of metalworking at the time and his swords gave status and strength to the owner. Many swords that have been found are also richly decorated and this went beyond their purely functional use.

There has always been a wide selection of weapons, including chopping knives, throwing knives, spears, halberds and daggers, but these are not included.

You use a sword especially in body-to-body combat or on horseback. It is striking that, in addition to the large sword, a shorter sword was often developed as a reserve weapon. A good example of this is the wakizashi (short sword) in the Japanese development of these weapons. You also often see extremely long swords that were intended to defend themselves against the cavalry. Holding this was of course with two hands.

In addition to the spatha, the equestrian sword, the Romans also used the gladius, a short and broad broadsword, which together were extremely effective.

To handle the sword well, training was often done with wooden practice weapons, which also had the purpose of increasing your strength.

You usually carried the sword on your hips or sometimes with your back and then it was safely stored away as a sheath. The advantages were, of course, that the blade became wet less quickly with oxidation as a result and the chance of damaging the leaf was reduced. The blades were also often very sharp and the chance of an injury in the sheath was of course to prevent you from accidentally injuring someone with it.

The European sheath was usually made of leather or fabric and was worn on the hip with a belt. In Japan the saya was in obi and was often made of wood and was stuck with the sageo. The advantage of wearing on the hip was that pulling the sword was quick and easy.

Sword parts

Swords consist of different parts. With European swords you can often distinguish these in the following sections.

You can call that handle what you call hold, this includes the handle and the guard or baffle plate.

With European swords, you call the metal rod between the handle and the blade the counter guard and with this you can catch the opponent's sword. In the early Middle Ages, this was not large and this mainly had the function that your hand did not slide towards the sharp blade. In the late Middle Ages, a shield was often used and these rods were often slightly larger and therefore had a defensive purpose.

At the bottom of the handle is the pommel, which ensures balance, prevents your hand from sliding off the handle and also ensures that you can hold the sword with two hands.

With a Japanese katana you speak of a tsuba, which also provided balance and gave protection to your hands. The tsubas were also put together in all kinds of beautiful motifs that matched the rest of the katana.

It is important to have a sword with a good balance. A good blacksmith could achieve this by thinking about weight distribution during forging. The balance point close to the handle ensures that it is easy to handle and that it costs less energy. By bringing the point of balance more to the fore, it will develop a greater force with striking and this is more dangerous for the opponent. Every practitioner seeks a perfect balance that matches his fighting style.

The blade is made of a metal, steel is usually used for this because these can reach the right hardness as the blade could be made sharp. Copper used to be used to make a sword, the oldest were found in Turkey and date from 3300 BC.

Most swords in Europe stood during the Bronze Age and were often extended daggers. In the course of the Bronze Age, the form changed so that they were used more as a battle and stab weapon.

In the Iron Age, most of the weapons were made of iron and these were of a dubious level at the start. These were often used on horseback during this time.

The quality varied greatly per region and per blacksmith. In the Roman period, high and low carbon steel was often forged together to create a strong and flexible sword that often leafed a beautiful motif into the blade

 The blades usually had a nice pattern of stripes through the light and darker (more carbon) steel. This is also called damask. One way is to often forge the iron and let it pick up some carbon from the fire, this is then often folded and forged again. It may be clear that this became a labor-intensive and expensive sheet of damask steel.

To harden the steel well, a relatively high carbon content of +/- 0.5% is required. The blade was then heated to high temperature and then rapidly cooled, so that the steel was shocked and obtained the most optimum properties with good hardness.

In Japan, the steel was forged and folded so that the steel had the same properties throughout the blade. Tamahagane was often used for this, chunks of steel that were manufactured in a tatara or traditional clay oven. The core and back were forged from softer steel and portion of the cut was often folded and forged from high carbon content. This was then avoided around the section with relatively softer steel. The folding pattern on the Japanese katana is called hada.

Most swords have a point with which you can stab. This is of course the upper part. The part that you can use is the cut, this can be single-sided like a Japanese sword or double-sided like for example the Chinese Jian.

Many swords also have a groove, this serves for weight reduction so that the sword is faster and easier to handle. You will find swords without groove, half groove, whole groove or even two. Often a groove does not even cause the blade to become weaker. With Japanese swords you call that a length groove a bo-hi.

The tang also called angel is the invisible part of the blade that is anchored in the handle or hilt. A good sword has full tang, which means that the part of the blade extends into the handle and therefore consists of one part.

In the development of societies and man, it was often accompanied by a sword and this is evident in many mythologies. Here are many examples such as the famous Japanese katana, Prik van Frodo the sword of Gryffindor from the goats of Harry Potter, the sword of Attila, the sword of King Artur, the Excalibur. The sword of Napoleon, Sword of Goujian and of course the enormous Norimitsu Odachi.

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