Sunday, March 20, 2011

More Than A Sum Of It's Parts

The Philippines has a wonderfully diverse collection of sword designs - the Pinute, Barong, Kampilan, Tenegre, Kris, and on and on.
Each has a personality all it's own, the blade shape, handle design and weight distribution dictating how it moves in space and the way it should be used.
The primary weapon of our system, and by that I mean the first one students train with, is the Visayan Pinute (also spelled Pinuti) - Sonny's family sword that makes an appearance in the Dog Brothers' documentary is a Pinute - and it comes in both 'long' and 'short' varieties.
Here is a picture of one of Sonny's hand made training versions of a short Pinute:

The use of the tip and the butt end of a sword are similar in a way to the use of a stick, but what really separates a sword from other weapons is it's edge. Edged weapons can slice.
So to use a Pinute, say, to it's potential, one should not think of it as a single unit - it really has 3 distinct parts.
Actually - The flat of the blade can be used too, not just for blocking but also for slapping something out of the way or to recycle. It can also be useful when you want your opponent to see your blade. (Flashing shiny metal in the peripheral vision has a marvelous effect on the unsuspecting.)
And how about the back edge? - The back edge is sharp near the tip, so can be used flicking backwards to gouge. The back edge near the base is not sharp, so can be gripped and pushed on for leverage and scraping.
Oh yeah, and then there are the specific designs in the blade shape itself that play a part in how you use each section - where you trap you opponents weapon with a twist, or turn the edge to let a strike divert off line or around your fingers. Which part you use for 'picking' and which for deep, power strikes.

Some posts back I waxed lyrical about the versatility of a plain, 3ft stick, but the subtleties in blade design could be a lifetime of study.