Rondel daggers

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Joolz
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Rondel daggers

Postby Joolz » Sun Jul 18, 2010 11:10 am

I recently upgraded my training kit, and thought you guys may be interested in this little project.

For years, I've had a wooden training rondel at the bottom of my kit bag, the kind that is turned in one piece with a ball end. I never use it, because it's just so unlike the real thing (and more like a dibber you'd find in the garden shed!). So I had a little time on my hands and I made myself and my mates some with proper tapered triangular 'blades' (see below).

These have 12" beech blades which go straight through to the pommel, and oak rondels (2.5" dia) with a 4.5" stainless steel grip (for added heft and strength). They feel right and I find myself more 'aware' of the true/false edge alignment which is an integral part of dagger training.

I'll eventually work my way through all my kit, tweaking things here and there to make them better. It makes for busy, but enjoyable, weekends!

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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby wulfenganck » Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:30 pm

They look nice.
Just for the sake of information: wooden daggers with rounded points are historically correct - at least for the 16th century. There should be some illustrations in Joachim Meyers fencing book from 1570 that show them.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Joolz » Mon Jul 19, 2010 10:19 pm

The turned wooden daggers with ball end points are certainly depicted in period fencing treatises. My quarrel with them, is that they teach poor technique, as there is no true or false edge on them - you may as well use a length of dowel or a rolled up magazine covered in duct tape. For most, this is perfectly adequate, but these daggers are an upgrade that, in my opinion as a practitioner of WMA, have real value added to them in the salle. Plus, I like my personal kit to be that bit special, and I have the necessary skills and equipment to make it happen.

Each to their own....

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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jul 20, 2010 12:42 pm

Can't imagine why you'd not be aware of the 'direction' of the dagger. Is that just because I've been fighting with them a while BEFORE I started learning to use them in WMAs?


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Joolz » Tue Jul 20, 2010 11:04 pm

Colin,

I don't understand what you mean by 'direction'. Turned wooden training rondels, such as those illustrated in some treatises, are completely symmetrical along their entire length. They have no front 'edge' or 'back' to the blade - it is simply a tapered dowel. It is important (in my opinion) to know, when fighting an opponent in WMA, which is the 'sharp' side and which is the 'blunt' side of the weapon you are holding. You cannot learn about this using a training weapon which has no blunt or sharp edge and which effectively resembles a drumstick. This is why I have upgraded my kit from said 'drumstick'. Like I said, each to their own.

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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Jul 21, 2010 12:50 pm

Sorry Joolz, When I say 'direction' I mean...

Joolz wrote:to know, when fighting an opponent in WMA, which is the 'sharp' side and which is the 'blunt' side of the weapon you are holding.


I just didn't want to type it out in full.

You're making me question how aware I am now of where the true edge of my weapon is...


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Frances Perry » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:38 am

Hi Joolz,

The idea of a true edge and false edge is very important, but only with the relevant shape of the weapon.

What I mean to say is that there is no true or false edge on a rondel dagger as the weapon was used for stabbing and not cutting or drawing along the flesh. The blade is often quite long and was often triangulated in the blade to reinforce it for downward stabbing.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:02 am

Frances Perry wrote:What I mean to say is that there is no true or false edge on a rondel dagger as the weapon was used for stabbing and not cutting or drawing along the flesh. The blade is often quite long and was often triangulated in the blade to reinforce it for downward stabbing.

Screwdriver fighting. 8-) :D



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby wulfenganck » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:36 pm

Fox wrote:
Frances Perry wrote:What I mean to say is that there is no true or false edge on a rondel dagger as the weapon was used for stabbing and not cutting or drawing along the flesh. The blade is often quite long and was often triangulated in the blade to reinforce it for downward stabbing.

Screwdriver fighting. 8-) :D
Sort of - only rather looong screwdrivers. Apart from that it of course hurts as hell when you have one of the three edges in triangular-shaped rondel drawn across the back of yoor hand - so there is some reason to have your dagger adjusted in a way to hurt the opponent even more.....
But the german fencing books of the 15th century obviously emphasize on the thrust and scarcely mention cuts. So does FIore if I remeber correctly, but I might be mistaken there as it is not my prime source.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:05 pm

wulfenganck wrote:So does FIore if I remeber correctly, but I might be mistaken there as it is not my prime source.

But Fiore is my prime source of [limited] study, and you do [as I understand it] recall correctly.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Matt Easton » Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:31 pm

I'm actually with Joolz on this, but not for the precise reason he describes :).
I think that having planes to the blade is better for the defender to practice against - especially in disarms. In disarms and most arm blocks in Fiore or any other medieval treatise you want to try and oppose the flat of the blade as much as possible, especially because whilst some rondel daggers were triangular, at least as many in museums have two rather sharp edges. In Fiore it is a counter to an attempted disarm to crunch the edge of the blade against the defender's arm, and in Paulus Kal he actually cuts with the rondel dagger.
Put another way, it certainly can't hurt to have a training weapon which is a little bit more like the real thing, whilst still being a lot safer than the real thing.
I like Joolz's daggers.

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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:51 pm

Matt Easton wrote:at least as many in museums have two rather sharp edges.

Indeed I own a replica of just such an animal, which I use as my posh-kit dagger for re-enactment.

But I've often thought that I wouldn't fancy doing some of the Fiore techniques against just such an item, as you say especially in some the disarms.

This may be a limitation of my ability to understand, or how far I've got with being taught, or limitation of some of the techniques.

I just assumed that the type of dagger prevelent in Italy in 1400 wasn't bladed, since edges don't seem to feature.
I think my dagger is taken from one that is mid/late 15th and English/NW European.

Matt Easton wrote:In Fiore it is a counter to an attempted disarm to crunch the edge of the blade against the defender's arm

...and if I'm thinking of the same play (and it's possible I'm not) I assumed that was simply using the blade as a rigid bar across the arm.

This might not be the best medium, but if you can push my understand on any further, I'd appreciate it.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Joolz » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:15 am

It is my understanding that the majority of rondel daggers were edged, whether single, double or triple. They weren't simple square or triangular section icepicks, and they certainly weren't round spikes or screwdriver tipped! (like, for instance, the enfield or the folding AK bayonet, pure stabbing weapons)

If the originals were, indeed, edged, why not recreate a training weapon that simulates this? If the edge has no value or purpose, why have it there in the first place (and we're back to using screwdrivers)? Form follows function: the form of these daggers is well documented, and I am sure did not come about purely because of knifemaking convention or habit. One way of finding out why these daggers were edged instead of just being screwdrivers, is to play around with a simulator that is edged and see where it takes you.......

You can't do that with a drumstick!

Joolz
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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Matt Easton » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:50 am

First I'd say that I think the primary purpose of the edges on rondel dagger is displayed in at least one German treatise - to cut the straps/points of armour when grappling, to enable you to stab the person under the armour.
I don't think edges on rondel daggers were generally for slashing or chopping, although they are shown used to cut in both Paulus Kal (once) and Codex Wallerstein (once).

In terms of disarms against edged daggers and knives - you have to be mindful of the edges always, as basically any dagger or knife that someone tries to stab you will will have edges. You can't change your technique or system just to account for a slightly different kind of knife/dagger. Fiore's disarms should work fine against all dagger and knives, as they concentrate on either blocking the arm, or grabbing the arm, therefore making the edges of the dagger fairly harmless (or as harmless as the edge of a dagger can ever be!).
The other thing to bear in mind is that all medieval men had long sleeves. :)

The last thing I'd like to say is that Fiore makes is absolutely clear that fighting against a dagger is incredibly dangerous. He inplies that it is the most dangerous type of fight and he devotes more techniques and pictures to it than any other weapon.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:51 pm

Matt Easton wrote:The other thing to bear in mind is that all medieval men had long sleeves. :)


Derailing this discussion a bit (feel free to tell me to 'sod off' if you're unhappy with it), but why do people think that so little description was given to defending yourself against cutting attacks in the manuals?

Many thanks


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Matt Easton » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:11 pm

This is a fair question.

I think (as with most things) that is comes down to a range of factors.

For examples:
1) Clothing - long sleeves an layers make slashes less effective with short weapons. Stabs go easily through most clothes.
2) Killing rather than wounding - in fights to the death with knives, stabs are generally quicker to kill. Even in modern street fights people hardly ever die from cuts, whereas they often die from stabs.
3) Human nature - in situations where people have 'gone psycho' or are scared for their lives (eg. in a battle) people tend to stab downwards repeatedly.

Generally speaking, slashes with knives only work on uncovered or thinly clothed areas (more popular in hot countries) and do not generally result in quick kills (unless a cut to the throat, which is usually a stealth attack from behind).

If we look at the Commando manuals from WW2, whether they be British, American or German, they are dominated by stabbing and techniques that look very very similar (often exactly the same) to what you find in medieval and renaissance treatises. The British Commando dagger was only used to stab - even to the throat! (though you could argue that was a semi-slash as well) The theory was that the edges were there simply to make it harder for the opponent grab onto the dagger and disarm you.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:26 am

Thanks Matt,

Your answer would tend imply that medieval styles, on the whole, do tend to treat rondels as if they had no edges [for a variety of practical reasons, as you describe].

That would certainly explain why Meyer's daggers look the way they do. And if I recall correctly they are not the only example.

It will certainly be interesting to find out whether using daggers with edges adds to the sum of knowledge.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Aug 09, 2010 12:57 pm

Matt Easton wrote:1) Clothing - long sleeves an layers make slashes less effective with short weapons. Stabs go easily through most clothes.


Thanks for that, it does make sense. I was particularly of the oppinion of point 1, after reading in the Paston Letters how Paston's 'well made' doublet preserved him from serious injury when he was stabbed. It started me wondering if doublets are made of even more layers than we expect (expecially those for the wealthy) and start to function a bit more like stab vests.

Again, many thanks.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Dave B » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:03 pm

Sure. We know that doublets were generaly interlined, and a couple of layers of linen canvas would be pretty cut resistant.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Mon Aug 09, 2010 4:34 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:It started me wondering if doublets are made of even more layers than we expect (expecially those for the wealthy) and start to function a bit more like stab vests.


I believe there was a garment that I've heard called a "doublet of defence", although whether that's a period name or not I couldn't say, designed specifically as normal doublet, but with some additional layers for self defence.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Sir Thomas Hylton » Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:06 pm

Fox wrote:
Colin Middleton wrote:It started me wondering if doublets are made of even more layers than we expect (expecially those for the wealthy) and start to function a bit more like stab vests.


I believe there was a garment that I've heard called a "doublet of defence", although whether that's a period name or not I couldn't say, designed specifically as normal doublet, but with some additional layers for self defence.

So just as well we were going through a bit of a Mini Ice-age at the time.



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:41 pm

Fox wrote:I believe there was a garment that I've heard called a "doublet of defence", although whether that's a period name or not I couldn't say, designed specifically as normal doublet, but with some additional layers for self defence.


Howard accounts list an order for a "doublet de' fence", with details of what was needed to make it. I think that it was about 18 layers of fustian and linnen on the front, a bit thinner on the back and even thinner on the arms.

The fact that Paston's isn't described as anything special is what got me thinking that either doublet defences are worn very often (by the nobles), of that a 'simple doublet' had more protective value than we might expect.


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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Fox » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:57 pm

I would guess both [or possibley either, depending on how you think question is phrased].



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Re: Rondel daggers

Postby Colin Middleton » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:46 pm

I guess I need a new type of doublet then....


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