Cut, Hack, or Stab?

A sword is a sword right? You use a sword differently from an axe right? You use all axes like you use all other axes, and you use all swords like all other swords right? Dead wrong.

Different swords are used differently. The ways you use a sword and the basic swords can be categorized into:

  • Stabbing
  • Cutting
  • Hacking

There are swords that sometimes combine two of the above, but the three basic motions can be categorized into three basic swords, the Katana, Kopis (or Falcata), and Rapier.

English: Rapier

English: Rapier (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Level 0, Iberian, Phoenician and Punic culture...

Falcata. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katana signed by Masamune with an inscription ...

Katana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Enhanced by ZemantaThe Rapier was developed around 1500 AD, and was kept for a self-defense weapon that was not too heavy to carry around everywhere, yet beautiful and simple. It was a fast stabbing weapon, and required a good amount of skill to use. These swords were normally about half an inch wide, and around 3+ feet long. The blade was also very thin, and very flexible, which required a high quality steel. The edges were normally not sharp. If a rapier-wielder went up against an enemy with a heavier sword, the rapier-wielder would be able to stick his enemy full of hulls and withdraw before he even managed to swing his weapon. However, in a heavy charge in the middle of battle, one cannot withdraw or have fancy dodging moves in all the turmoil, and would fail against a heavy charging onslaught. The long, tapered and thin point of the rapier was perfect for stabbing, and practically useless for anything else.

The Katana Was long, fairly thin, and curved Japanese weapon, highly prized by the Samurai. Both the Katana and the Kopis dealed damage by the edge, not the point. However, the Katana slashed while the Kopis hacked. When the Katana was swung correctly, the curve of the blade followed the circular path the arm made around its body, which means almost the entire length of the Katana’s cutting edge is slid across the limb. This is cutting: where the blade is slid across the limb. This is normally a cleaner, faster, and more precise way to kill. There is practically no sparring or long-term dueling, just slash slash slash and off goes a head. It took quite a bit of skill and drilling to use a Katana to its full potential, to train the muscles to always slash in the same basic strokes.

The Kopis, or Falcata, was a short, heavy, single-edged chopping weapon, basically a limb-chopping machete. Unlike the Katana, the Kopis did not slash, it hacked. The Kopis did not need particular skill to use; in needed muscle. Wide area of swing + incredible weight = Incredible hacking power. It could hack through limbs, necks, and even if it didn’t puncture armor, it would sure darn decimate the bone underneath. The Kopis was basically a version of an axe. Rather than slashing, or cutting, where the blade is drawn across the limb, the Kopis hacked or chopped, aiming a heavy, straightforward blow that was pressed directly against the limb; no sawing motion or clean cutting. This enabled the user not to worry about slashing the right way or watching out to deflect the opponent’s move, so that he could just focus on creating more force behind the blow.

These are the three general types of swords. Many blades have variations of the swords, so one could say, have the stabbing power of the Rapier and yet have the slashing of the Katana, like a

Picture of Chinese "Dao" Saber

Picture of Chinese “Dao” Saber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

leaf blade. Or, be slightly curved yet with a good deal of weight, so there would be the power of the Kopis with the slashing capability (the fastest and cleanest way to cut) of the Katana, like the Chinese Dao.

Which type of sword would you prefer? Are you a quick person, not with much strength, but with good reflexes? Do you like precision, efficiency, and speed, mixed with a sense of flow and fluid motion? Or do you prefer the focus of raw power, something you could swing mercilessly? Comment below and let me know!


1 thought on “Cut, Hack, or Stab?

  1. Isaac Humber

    Some interesting content here. To answer your question, I would choose a thrusting weapon,should I be facing a single opponent. After all, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. This simple principle makes a thrust oriented weapon superior,unless you are speaking in context of the melee of battle. Also, I would encourage you to avoid downplaying the rapier’s ability to cut. At least the first third (the foible) of historical rapier blades were indeed sharp, and could perform very effective draw and push cuts. Perhaps you are thiking of the smallsword.

    In regards to the Falcata, I am curious about the claim that it had “incredible weight” . What would lead you to believe it was significantly heavier than any other sword during that period? I certainly agree that it must have been an extremely effective cutting weapon, but largely because of blade shape and mass distribution ,not simply the weight of the weapon. There is an extensive discussion about this weapon here ,if you want to check it out:


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