Wednesday, August 29, 2012

BOXING: The Wisdom of Mike Gibbons.

My deepest thanks to marbleheadmaui of for posting this.

Mike Gibbons was the older and smaller of the legendary Gibbons Brothers. Mike was mostly a middle and fought around the WWI years. How good was he? How about 110+ wins against a dozen losses and he was never knocked out. How good was the competition? Mike went 4-2 against HOFers including a win over a young Harry Greb. In other words Mike Gibbons was the real deal.

He published several books on training and boxing technique the following is taken from his How to Box published in 1925. The book is seventy five pages of instruction with extraordinary demonstration photos showing the Gibbons Brothers using model technique. The book covers every element of the sport and I am going to focus on his commentary on "Ring Generalship." As always the ideas are Gibbons with any comments I might have in parenthesis.

BOXING: The Wisdom of Charley Goldman.

My deepest thanks to marbleheadmaui of for posting this.

Charley Goldman was a pre-WWI bantamweight. He stood 5'1. He had over 130 fights and was by most accounts a competent journeyman though he did get a shot at the bantam crown on one occasion. Goldman retired at 29 due to among other things, terribly brittle hands.

But Goldman is far better known as the trainer of a series of undisputed champions. Middleweight Al McCoy, featherweight Joey Archibald and lightweight king Lou Ambers. Goldman is most well known as the man who shaped Rocky Marciano. In 1957 Goldman, Marciano and a manager, judo expert and writer named Al Bachman published a how to book. The book is just under 200m pages and loaded with insights on every element of the sport. It is clearly designed for the young man just taking up the game and is titled Rocky Marciano's Boy's Book of Boxing and Body Building.

BOXING: The Wisdom of Jack Dempsey.

My deepest thanks to marbleheadmaui of for posting this.

The Jimmy Wilde and Barney Ross books I summarized recently were both useful and insightful. But Jack Dempsey's "Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense" is on another level entirely. It is far longer and absolutely full of insights, thoughtful approaches, sketches and explanations. It is a boxing tour de force. I was very surprised by two things. First, I think of Dempsey as a kind of raw offensive machine. It simply ain't true. The knowledge he imparts here is comprehensive. Secondly, Dempsey and his editor Jack Cuddy make it sounds like Dempsey is actually teaching the reader. Concise declarative sentences. Written in 1950.

BOXING: The Wisdom of Barney Ross.

Photo credit:  Wiki

The greatest Jewish fighter of all time, the second man to be an undisputed three division champion and one of THE fascinating lives ever lived. Father killed in a robbery, worked for Al Capone, degenerate gambler, after he retired he joined the Marines and was a decorated hero on Guadalcanal and later ran guns to Israel. Shortly after he retired he published "The Fundamentals of Boxing." I'll stick to the high points. Except for the parenthetical, the thoughts are those of Barney Ross. This book is more complete and in depth than Wilde's so I am going to stick to major points and boxing tactics.

"Only a small part of a champion's greatness lies in his ability. Far more important is his eagerness to learn, his flair for adding finesse and polish to his style. Most important of all is his love of the game. Every great champion was once a beginner. Without this essential love for the sport, he would always have remained a beginner."

  • The transition from defense to offense is where fights are won. Surprise is a major weapon.
  • All punches should land with a corkscrew motion to maximize power
  • Ross disagrees with Wilde in that he believes the uppercut can be a valuable punch but that it is dangerous if not thrown correctly
  • Jumping or hopping is poor technique as one cannot counter, sidestepping is far better as is the pivot.
  • In footwork, less is more. Move the minimal distance necessary to accomplish the goal. Save the legs.
  • Unorthodox fighters like Tony Canzoneri (the 1930's Roy Jones) should not be imitated
  • A weary fighter is more easily KO'd and KO's are a matter of timing and accuracy more than simple power.

  • Often the best way to begin countering is to take a single short step backward (See Salvador Sanchez or Joe Louis)
  • "A good defensive fighters learns to judge instinctively how hard his foe can punch and where he punches most effectively" (Floyd Mayweather anyone?)
  • Clinching is a skill that must be acquired to be a good defensive fighter
  • The "sliding roll" is taking a short step backward to avoid a punch while at the same time dropping the head underneath the coming punch. Now one is in perfect position to counter (as Mr. Miyagi taught "Best block is no be there.")
  • Parrying blows to the inside is preferable to taking punches on the gloves or forearms
  • Like Wilde, Ross emphasizes the importance of "swaying at the hips." (Think Sweet Pea)
  • Methods of avoiding the jab/hook are slipping, swaying, ducking ( a dangerous method) parrying (four possible directions), sidestepping and the simplest, catching it. (How many guys know these?)
  • The left to the body is best blocked rather than jumped back or sidestepped.
  • A straight right can be parried by the right hand or blocked by hunching the left shoulder (BHOP or James Toney) though a sidestep or a slip can leave one in a better position to counter.
  • No rules for stopping the uppercut. Various blocks or the sway are possible

  • "With a counter you accumulate the power of your own body and the power of the he comes to you."
  • Sidestepping is generally preferable to ducking as a set up.
  • The trick is to catch the foe off balance and coming to you
  • To counter a straight right, side step and throw a very short left hook. If it misses throw up your arms to block the next right hand.
  • Each counter should be a lesson learned. If the foe blocked the hook to the head? Next time counter to the ribcage.
  • The exact counterpunch chosen depends upon the method of defense used to avoid the initial punch. In other words a sway will lead to a different counter than a slip or a duck etc.
  • Quickness is critical in countering
  • Perhaps the most effective countering situation is stepping inside a left hook and delivering a short right to the jaw (Joe Louis anyone?)
  • When a fighter tires the right cross often disappears.

Offensive Strategy
  • "Greatest offensive weapon is a keen mind."
  • One must learn to feint to camouflage one's punches
  • Feints employ every part of the body, the eys, half punches, false steps, rolling a shoulder etc.
  • "Drawing an opponent's lead" is critical. This means showing phony openings so he'll throw the punch you want him to throw (Juan Manuel Marquez wrecked The Baby Bull this way)
  • Of course clever fighters know you are doing this, so be careful
  • Keep on the move, but stay balanced and prepared to hit.

Bodypunching and Infighting
  • Particularly effective against tall fighters
  • The liver, kidney's (then a legal punch) and solar plexus are best spots
  • To get inside foes punches, crouch, try to draw a jab, step inside and crowd him and try to get your head to the opponents left shoulder and let go with short, snappy punches and keep him there until you are done. (That's the way Henry Armstrong retired Barney)
  • When on offensive keep elbows close to hips to stop counters.
  • If on defense, sidestep and jab, if that doesn't work, close guard and throw uppercuts or clinch

  • Three goals-Bring vitality to highest pitch, increase skill and perfect knowledge of strategy (what I call craft)
  • A training schedule must be kept with clocklike perfection.
  • As a general rule a fighter should spend approximately five minutes with the medicine ball and light weights, an hour on calisthenics and 30 minutes each on the heavy bag/speed bag/double end bag, jumping rope, sparring and shadow boxing (that's 3+ hours daily in addition to running)
  • Keep mouth closed while breathing
  • Sparring should be full speed. Anything less is too far away from an actual fight to be of use.
  • Sparring should be done with specific goals regarding specific situations
  • Eat sparingly, Ross typically ate twice a day with proteins, whole grains and vegetables

Here is how Barney Ross closes his book:

Only a small part of a champion's greatness lies in his ability. Far more important is his eagerness to learn, his flair for adding finesse and polish to his style. Most important of all is his love of the game. Every great champion was once a beginner. Without this essential love for the sport, he would always remain a beginner.

For more information, please check out:

For Barney Ross-related entries, please see:

NOTE:  My deepest thanks to marbleheadmaui for posting this distillation from Barney Ross out-of-print book and to Douglas Century, biographer of Barney Ross, for the quote.

BOXING: The Wisdom of Jimmy Wilde.

My deepest thanks to marbleheadmaui of for posting this.

I have been fortunate enough to find a wonderful source for old time boxing books. Mr. Clay Moyle. Moyle is best known for his recent biography of Sam Langford (which I recommend). From time to time I will provide book reports of sorts.

The first is a short 1927 book by the immortal Jimmy Wilde entitled The Art of Boxing. For those unfamiliar with Wilde he is basically the man the flyweight division was created for. A Welshman, Wilde is p4p one of the top ten punchers in history. He was tiny at 5'2 and for much of his career he fought at under 100 pounds. He usually weighed in fully clothed including his shoes and spent his whole career outweighed by 10-20 pounds. Yet somehow he knocked out over 100 men. While fighting in the US he often was forced to put on weight in order to fight legally as many states had laws limiting weight differentials. Catchweights indeed! Gene Tunney called Wilde the finest fighter he ever saw. Here are some of the points he makes in his book I found interesting. All of the below (with the obvious exceptions) are the thoughts of Jimmy Wilde:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

QUOTES: Bruce Lee - "To be rid of ego-consciousness."

To be rid of ego-consciousness. - Because one's self-consciousness or ego-consciousness is too conspicuously present over the entire range of his attention - which fact interferes with a free display of whatever proficiency he has so far acquired or is going to acquire. One should get rid of this obtruding self - or ego-consciousness - and apply himself to the work to be done as if nothing particular were taking place at the moment.

Striking Thoughts
Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living
by Bruce Lee
edited by John Little
pg 55

Yamaoka Tesshu's Shoe "Tell"

Tesshu would tell his disciples, "When someone comes to the dojo for a challenge match, take a look at the bottom of his wooden sandals in the entrance hall while he is changing clothes in the hall. If the teeth on the bottom of the sandals are not worn evenly, you can be sure he is often off balance and not much of a swordsman."

Budo Secrets - Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters
By John Stevens
pg 102

QUOTES: Issai Chozanshi - "Secret things are for the sake of beginners."

Have you ever wondered why there are "secrets" in the Martial Arts? Wonder no more!


Yet another in the group asked, "Swordsmanship is the mysterious function of the mind. Why then are there secret techniques?"

QUOTES: Frank Shamrock - "The ego is garbage."

Frank Shamrock on Ego

"Ego is an evil thing. Confidence is important,  but ego is something false. Humility is the way to build confidence, and ego is hugely dangerous in this sport, because if you're running on ego you aren't running on good clean emotions, or cause and effect. You bypass it to support a false idea. It's all garbage, the ego is garbage."

The Fighter's Mind
By Sam Sheridan
pg 175

Unprofessional Sucker Punch from NYC Bouncer against a drunk

Once they left the bar, the bouncers shouldn't have come out... there is the danger of the head splitting open on the concrete! Very unprofessional bouncer (not like I'm a professional bouncer).


Sunday, August 19, 2012

David Black Mastro - George Silver & The London Masters of Defence - Native 16th/17th century English Fighting Arts

George Silver & The London Masters of Defence - Native 16th/17th century English Fighting Arts

By David Black Mastro

The English of the 16th and 17th centuries had an especially rich martial tradition, focusing on weapons like the "short sword" (actually a basket-hilted broadsword/backsword with a rather long 37"- 40" blade), the "short staff" (aka quarterstaff - not particularly "short" either, being 8’-9’ of ash), and the dreaded "Welsh hook" (aka "forest bill" - a type of bill with a rather light head). English fighting men proved their skill - and the effectiveness of their methods - on numerous occasions against foreign swordsmen, with such obvious examples as:

1. Austin Bagger, who used his sword-and-buckler to defeat Rocco Bonetti, who was armed with a two-handed sword during their encounter. Bagger certainly roughed up Bonetti, but let him live.

2. The mysterious Englishman known only as "Cheese", who pitted his sword-and-dagger against the rapier-and-poinard of Jeronimo (who was Vincentio Saviolo’s assistant at their rapier school in London). "Cheese" killed Jeronimo.

3. The English sailor Richard Peeke, who was shipwrecked in Spain in the early 17th century. Before the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Peeke used a quarterstaff to defeat three Spanish rapier-and-dagger men who attack him at the same time. Peeke killed one of his opponents outright, and disabled the other two.

David Black Mastro - The Spear in Chinese Martial Culture

The Spear in Chinese Martial Culture

By David Black Mastro (aka TrueFightScholar)

The spear has played a huge role in both hunting and fighting arts all over the world, and China, with her vast martial heritage, is no exception. In his excellent article, "The Spear: An Effective Weapon Since Antiquity", author Robert H. Dohrenwend, Ph.D., noted, "The most important weapons in the Chinese military were the bow and arrow and the spear (qiang), and there were specialized bodies of soldiers trained to use each weapon." In our modern age, where so much attention has been given to the more fantastic aspects of the Chinese martial arts, we would do well to remember Dohrenwend's observation. Chinese warriors relied on the fundamental missile and melee weapons of the time, just like everyone else: the bow & arrow, the spear/lance, and the sword & shield.

Another crucial aspect to understanding the reality of Chinese martial arts (or any other martial arts, for that matter) in their proper historical context is knowing just what the term "martial art" means. The word "martial" comes from the Latin term martialis, which literally means "of or belonging to Mars (the Roman god of war)". Thus, a "martial art" is a "war art". The Chinese term wushu is synonymous with "martial art", though when used in the historical sense it should not be confused with the "wushu" of today, which is a type of performance art that was developed during the Cultural Revolution. In their useful text, Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals--A Historical Survey, Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo soberly noted, "For most of China's history, martial arts had one purpose--imposing one's will upon another by force or fear." The simple spear played a major part in this grim task.

According to Robert Dohrenwend, bronze metallurgy originated in the Mediterranean some 5000 years ago, and spread eastwards via Central Asia, and eventually to China. These early bronze-headed spears were effective, but the spear became even more durable and lethal, with the advent of iron working. Dohrenwend wrote that iron metallurgy began with the Hittites some 3500 years ago, and spread around the world from there. Such technology reached China about 2500 years ago.

Unlike the Japanese yari, the qiang of the Chinese most often featured a socketed spearhead, like Central Asian, Middle Eastern, and European spears. While the Japanese preferred their white oak for the shaft of their yari and a composite oaked-cored & bamboo laminated shaft for their nagae-yari (long spear/pike), the Chinese apparently used white wax wood, which is a species of ash. Europeans also generally preferred ash for their polearms, as it is lighter, stronger, and more flexible than oak.

Chinese military practice resembled that of Europe to some degree, in that spearmen often operated in cooperation with troops armed with sword-and-shield, and gave each other mutual support. In the West, this integration of spearmen and swordsmen arguably reached its height with the Spanish colunela (lit., "little column"), which featured pikemen, arquebusiers, and rodeleros aka targetiers (sword-and-shield men), in a ratio of 2:2:1. The pikemen were useful against both cavalry and other pikemen, while the swordsmen provided close support. In the Chinese military, the preferred weapons of the sword-and-shield troops were the single-handed saber (dao) and the round rattan shield (tengpai). At around 29" in diameter, the tengpai was similar in size to European targets (or targes). The saber type used most often was the willow leaf saber or liuyedao, which featured a single-handed grip, a disc-like handguard, and a slightly curved single-edged blade of uniform width. It was a light and handy weapon.

The integration of the spear and sword was manifest in the celebrated "Mandarin Duck Squad" unit/formation, created by the great Ming general, Qi Jiguang. During the mid-16th century AD/CE, the southern Chinese coast was ravaged by Sino-Japanese pirates (wokou in Chinese and wako in Japanese). In Late Imperial Chinese Armies 1520-1840, Chris Peers pointed out that, at that time, the manpower of the wokou was 2/3 Chinese--however, even some of their Chinese warriors used very long Japanese swords (no-dachi, which led to the reintroduction of two-handed dao into the Chinese military) and the corresponding method of kenjutsu. In General Qi's "Mandarin Duck Squad", four men were equipped with long spears, which outranged the no-dachi of the enemy, but they were nevertheless supported by two sword-and-shield men.

The overall impact of the spear on Chinese martial culture can be seen in the legend regarding the origins of the internal art of Xingyiquan; according to the legend, Xingyi was created by General Yue Fei, sometime during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 A.D./C.E.). According to Kennedy and Guo in Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals, Yue Fei based Xingyi "on his mastery of the spear". Even if we question the reality of this story, it reveals much about how highly regarded the spear was, as a weapon.

Chinese spear technique was similiar to that of other cultures, and one of the most noteworthy tactics is the dreaded "slip-thrust", where the weapon is driven by the rear hand, as the shaft slides through the forward hand. As noted in my previous essay on Japanese spears, the "slip-thrust" gives the spearman a tremendous advantage against users of shorter weapons like swords, since it is so difficult to properly gauge distance.

The spear continued to be a primary weapon, into more modern times. In Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts, Draeger and Smith pointed out that, during the Opium Wars, the British acknowledged that the Chinese spear was "far superior" to their bayonets. This should not surprise us--the spear is a purpose-built polearm that is comparatively light and maneuverable, whereas the rifle-and-bayonet is, at best, an improvised polearm that is both shorter and clumsier than the vast majority of spears. The Chinese predilection for spears and sabers might be one reason why American and European military forces retained not only bayonet work, but saber & cutlass drill as well, right into the beginning of the 20th century. One can see old photos of cutlass practice on board American vessels like the armored monitor, U.S.S. Monadnock, which was often stationed in China, and cutlass practice was also carried out on the Australian monitor Cerberus, which was involved in the supression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The retention of bayonet and sword technique in these modern Western militaries was quite likely a functional reaction to unpleasant experiences against Asian foes armed with traditional edged weapons, like the Chinese, the Filipinos, the Moros, etc., and it reveals much about the respect that modern soldiers had, for such warriors and their skills.

For Further Reading:

Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith

Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals--A Historical Survey by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo

Chinese Swordsmanship--The Yang Family Taiji Jian Tradition by Scott M. Rodell

Ancient Chinese Weapons--A Martial Artist's Guide by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming

"The Spear--An Effective Weapon Since Antiquity" by Robert E. Dohrenwend (from the Volume 16 ~ Number 1 ~ 2007 issue of Journal of Asian Martial Arts)

Late Imperial Chinese Armies 1520-1840 by Chris Peers (Osprey Men-At-Arms series)

Warriors of the Steppe--A Military History of Central Asia, 500 B.C. to 1700 A.D. by Erik Hildinger

Pavia 1525 by Angus Konstam (Osprey Campaign series)

A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century by Sir Charles Oman

David Black Mastro - The spear in Japanese martial culture

David Black Mastro - The spear in Japanese martial culture

The spear in Japanese martial culture

By David Black Mastro (aka TrueFightScholar)

In various martial cultures around the world, the sword is held in the utmost esteem--it is a weapon that has transcended its original role as a tool of war, and it is thus also seen as a symbol of power, justice, and so on. As the great European swordsman Sir Richard Francis Burton once wrote, "The history of the sword is the history of humanity".

That being said, the aura of romance surrounding the sword has done much to cloud the fact that there are, in fact, many weapons which are more formidable than the vaunted sword. Among the numerous hand weapons which fighting men have developed over the centuries, the simple spear is perhaps the greatest, and most misunderstood.

The Japanese have always had a very strong martial culture, and they did not ignore the development of the spear. Early Japanese spears were of the hoko type, made with a metal socket which the wooden shaft fitted in--much like Continental Asian and European spears. According to Donn F. Draeger in his classic text Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts, the hoko remained in use from c. 200 B.C./B.C.E., to the late Heian or early Kamakura period (c. late 12th century A.D./C.E.). Then, the Japanese developed their distinctive yari, which featured a spearhead with a very long tang, that was fitted into a hollow-out portion in the shaft of the weapon.

From a purely combative sense, the great advantage of the spear was obviously its superior reach. For a swordsman, facing a spearman is a daunting prospect. Draeger's protege, Hunter B. Armstrong, commented on this in his excellent article, "Owari Kan Ryu Sojutsu--Classical Japanese Spear Arts", which appeared in the February 1998 issue of Exotic Martial Arts Around the World. Armstrong correctly noted that "it was the spear that dominated the battlefield," and, "In a one-on-one combat between a spearman and swordsman, the sword had little chance."

Other martial cultures have noted this truism. In his Paradoxes of Defence from 1599, the great English swordsman George Silver wrote that, "The short staff (quarterstaff) or half pike (spear) have the vantage against the... two hand sword, the sword and target (round shield), and are too hard for two swords and daggers..." In other words, a spearman could safely engage and defeat two men armed with sword-and-dagger, facing him at once!

The great difficulty for the swordsman in facing a spearman lies in the fact that the spearman can make what are generally referred to today as "slip-thrusts"--i.e., a thrust delivered with the rear hand, where the shaft of the spear slides through the loose grip of the forward hand (similar to using a pool stick). The use of slip-thrusts makes it extremely difficult for the swordsman to judge the ma-ai (combative engagement distance, what Western swordsmen refer to as "fencing measure"). The spearman can thus make feints high and low, to the outside and inside lines, and is himself safe from counters, since the swordsman cannot immediately reach him.

The Japanese took the slip-thrust concept & technique to its most extreme, by sometimes making use of a small metal tube (kuda), which fits around the spear shaft, and is held by the forward hand of the spearman. With the kuda, the slip-thrusts can be made with even greater speed, due to the reduced friction. Kan Ryu sojutsu--which makes use of a yari nearly 12 feet long--features the use of the kuda.

Another advantage of the yari--one not featured on all spears around the world--is the fact that it also has functional cutting edges. Yari heads are typically of a stout triangular cross-section, and have two edges. The spearman can therefore make sweeping cuts to various parts of the opponent's body, in addition to thrusts.

Yari were available with a variety of spearheads. In addition to the conventional head described above, there were some yari that featured a crossbar called a hadome at the base of the head (similar to the crossbar or toggle seen on European boar spears), which could be used for parrying and trapping. In addition, there were yari with more elaborate heads, like the magari-yari (also known as the jumonji yari), which side blades more or less perpendicular to the main blade. These side blades apparently could function like the hadome, but they were also sharpened, giving the spearman more cutting options.

During the 16th century, when the Portuguese arquebus (a type of matchlock musket) entered the Japanese arsenal, the nagae-yari or long spear was developed, which, at some 16 feet or more in length, was akin to the European pike. The nagae-yari was used by the ashigaru (lit., "light feet"), the footsoldiers of peasant stock who served as pikemen and arquebusiers. These organized infantrymen represented a Japanese parallel to the rank-and-file Swiss reislaufer and German landsknechts--low-born footsoldiers who could use the reach of the pike and the even greater reach of the arquebus, to down their social betters (the samurai and knights, respectively).

A weapon as devastating as the yari was naturally bound to produce its share of legendary users. Author Anthony Bryant, in his Osprey book, Samurai 1550-1600, noted the great Watanabe Hanzo, who was one of Tokugawa Ieyasu's retainers. He was so skilled in spear-fighting that he ultimately gained the nickname "Yari no Hanzo" (lit., "Hanzo of the Spear"). Another famous spearman was Kato Kiyomasa, one of the commanders in Hideyoshi's army that invaded Korea in 1592. During lulls in the fighting, Kiyomasa was known to hunt tigers, using only a spear. This was yet another example of professional fighting men hunting and/or fighting big, dangerous game using spears, as an adjunct to their military training. Northern Europeans often hunted wild boar with spears, and Spanish knights engaged in bullfighting with swords and lances. While such practices may seem repugnant to the modern mind, they nevertheless require substantial skill, and a great deal of nerve.

Even after the demise of the Feudal bushi in the mid-19th century A.D./C.E., spear technique did not die. Just as European pike and half-pike technique survived in the use of the bayonet, so did Japanese sojutsu contribute to juken-jutsu. And so the spear--one of Man's earliest weapons--tenaciously refuses to be forgotten. Though it lacks the popular mystique of the sword, its sheer effectiveness and practicality cannot be denied.

For further reading:

Comprehensive Asian Fighting Arts by Donn F. Draeger and Robert W. Smith

Classical Bujutsu--The Martial Arts and Ways of Japan Vol. One by Donn F. Draeger

Samurai 1550-1600 by Anthony Bryant (Osprey Warrior Series 7)

Samurai Warfare by Dr. Stephen Turnbull

Samurai--The weapons and spirit of the Japanese warrior by Clive Sinclair

"Owari Kan Ryu Sojutsu--Classical Japanese Spear Arts", by Hunter B. Armstrong (from the February 1998 issue of Exotic Martial Arts Around the World)

Paradoxes of Defence by George Silver

The Book of the Sword by Richard F. Burton

David Black Mastro - The Spear in Chinese Martial Culture

David Black Mastro - The dreaded Roman gladius: the sword that conquered the world

The dreaded Roman gladius: the sword that conquered the world
By David Black Mastro (aka TrueFightScholar)

According to Roman Army expert Peter Connolly in the book "Swords and Hilt Weapons", the gladius Hispaniensis (lit., "Spanish sword") was adopted by the Romans sometime during the First Punic War, when they saw this weapon being used to great effect by Iberian mercenaries in the Carthaginian Army. The Ancient Iberians were among the greatest iron workers & swordsmen of their day, and their genius in edged weapons design is thoroughly manifest in the gladius Hispaniensis -- one of the finest swords ever developed anywhere in the world.

The gladius Hispaniensis had a broad, double-edged blade around 50 cm long. The blade was broad at the base, slightly waisted in the middle, and then swelled at the center of percussion (COP). The point was long and very acute. This brilliant design made the "Spanish sword" brutally effective for both thrusting and cutting -- something that is all-too-often ignored by modern writers, who uncritically typify the gladius Hispanensis as a purely thrusting weapon. Although it was a short sword, the broad blade and swelling at the COP enabled the wielder of this weapon to easily sever limbs. The Ancient author Livy mentioned how the gladius’s chopping power lowered the morale of the Macedonian Army during the Second Macedonian War.


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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps