Katanas, claymores, rapiers, bat’leths and more! We look at man’s once-favorite tool for killing each other, its history, science, and variations. Also swords used in home defense, swords in the news and pop culture.

MUSIC: “Sabre Dance” by Aram Khatchaturian

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Showing 16 comments
  • banks!

    Please credit your music. Jerks.

    The difference between daggers and swords is primarily size and use. There are no set measurements where a dagger becomes a sword and vice versa.

    A dagger is typically smaller than a sword though this may not always have been the case. Daggers have decreased in size over the ages. When compared to a short sword, an older dagger may have been comparable in size.

    Also, a dagger is used primarily as a thrusting weapon whereas a sword is primarily used as a slashing weapon.

    A dagger is also typically thought of as a secondary weapon in battle where a sword is typically considered a primary weapon.

    This video may help illustrate some of my points. Enjoy…

  • banks!

    Please credit your music. Jerks.

    The difference between daggers and swords is primarily size and use. There are no set measurements where a dagger becomes a sword and vice versa.

    A dagger is typically smaller than a sword though this may not always have been the case. Daggers have decreased in size over the ages. When compared to a short sword, an older dagger may have been comparable in size.

    Also, a dagger is used primarily as a thrusting weapon whereas a sword is primarily used as a slashing weapon.

    A dagger is also typically thought of as a secondary weapon in battle where a sword is typically considered a primary weapon.

    This video may help illustrate some of my points. Enjoy…

  • Lucas "Bullpup" Black

    SWORDS –

    Several reasons why a baseball bat can’t cut a human in half:

    The sword has point focus with all the weight directly behind the blade edge.
    The bat has the weight distributed so the focus ends up at the impact point, but not directly.

    The bat has an initial small surface contact area, but once it starts to embed into the soft tissue you will experience a lack of compressibility in the body. This is due to the human body having a high water content (around 65% water, but up to 80% in tissue/flesh areas) – and as you might know, water is as near as damn it incompressible. This gives the human body being impacted similar properties to a block of concrete (belly flop into a swimming pool to see just how compressible water isn’t!).

    Due to this, the bat would collapse forward around either the grip area and fold around the body, or bend backwards was the grip carries on the swing (depending on point and area of impact.

    Take away the bats tensile strength and the lack of compressibility of the human body and yes… it may just cut through…..

    Geek out!

  • Toren

    MUSIC: “Sabre Dance” by Khatchaturian. A classic!

  • spookyparadigm

    There was a New World sword, the macuahitl.

    Wiki page on it

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

    In essence, it was a cricket bat ranging from 1 – 2 meters in length, with the narrow long edges lined semicontinuously with obsidian blades. The blades, prismatic in cross-section and produced through pressure flaking, would have been sharper than steel (hence the occasional use of obsidian blades in some eye and other surgery), but far more brittle. This would be a slashing sword, and could not be used for stabbing. While it was fearsome against unarmored flesh, it would have been no match for Spanish armor or swords during the sixteenth century.

    The conventional wisdom is that these were primarily a Mexican weapon, and one of the Postclassic era (after about 1000 AD). However, there is some resemblance in the “club” carried by a Teotihuacan-style warrior (specifically, Smoking Frog, something of an overlord of Teotihuacan-affiliated efforts in the Maya region) on Waxaktun Stela 5,

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Ixc1xIxRABU/R6C4ZDqKASI/AAAAAAAAAh0/bo09KDGEmlQ/s1600-h/MacawWarriorUaxactun.jpg

    commemorating the victory of Mutul (better known as Tikal) over Waxaktun in 378 AD, and possibly also commemorating a takeover of Tikal by Mexican warriors days earlier. But it is not the true macuahutil.

    As far as I am aware, this is the only sword in the Pre-European New World. Metal weapons were rare, with the best examples being in the Andes and coastal Peru. Mace heads could be metal or stone, and sacrifices or executions were conducted with metal arc-shaped knives called the tumi. While not usually thought of as a weapon, Moche iconography depicts ritual combatants (sometimes supernaturals) armed with tumis, in addition to actual execution.

  • spookyparadigm

    There was a New World sword, the macuahitl.

    Wiki page on it

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

    In essence, it was a cricket bat ranging from 1 – 2 meters in length, with the narrow long edges lined semicontinuously with obsidian blades. The blades, prismatic in cross-section and produced through pressure flaking, would have been sharper than steel (hence the occasional use of obsidian blades in some eye and other surgery), but far more brittle. This would be a slashing sword, and could not be used for stabbing. While it was fearsome against unarmored flesh, it would have been no match for Spanish armor or swords during the sixteenth century.

    The conventional wisdom is that these were primarily a Mexican weapon, and one of the Postclassic era (after about 1000 AD). However, there is some resemblance in the “club” carried by a Teotihuacan-style warrior (specifically, Smoking Frog, something of an overlord of Teotihuacan-affiliated efforts in the Maya region) on Waxaktun Stela 5,

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Ixc1xIxRABU/R6C4ZDqKASI/AAAAAAAAAh0/bo09KDGEmlQ/s1600-h/MacawWarriorUaxactun.jpg

    commemorating the victory of Mutul (better known as Tikal) over Waxaktun in 378 AD, and possibly also commemorating a takeover of Tikal by Mexican warriors days earlier. But it is not the true macuahutil.

    As far as I am aware, this is the only sword in the Pre-European New World. Metal weapons were rare, with the best examples being in the Andes and coastal Peru. Mace heads could be metal or stone, and sacrifices or executions were conducted with metal arc-shaped knives called the tumi. While not usually thought of as a weapon, Moche iconography depicts ritual combatants (sometimes supernaturals) armed with tumis, in addition to actual execution.

  • spookyparadigm

    PS: Spanish chronicles do tell of the use of the macuahuitl. It could supposedly decapitate a horse with one blow, or cut a man in half. The most famous tale may well be apocryphal myth, but it involves the war leader of the Kiche Maya, Tecum Uman, going up against Pedro de Alvarado (the brutal conquistador of Guatemala). Tecum Uman slices off the head of Alvarado’s horse, thinking it and the armored rider are one creature, and is then in turn stabbed to death with a lance by the very much alive Alvarado. In some versions of the story, Tecum Uman’s blood then is responsible for the red breast of the quetzal bird, etc. etc.. While Mesoamericans linguistically thought of horses as giant deer, the notion that the horses and men were one creature fell apart quickly after Cortes’ landing, and by the time of the battle with the Kiche, Cortes and his army had been operating in Mesoamerica for five years, and we know written/drawn accounts of the invaders were circulating soon after their arrival.

  • Phoenix

    There is a version of Kill Bill edited together into one film (with a few longer scenes, like the animated sequence of Vol 1, and the Bride and Sophie’s conversation, etc)- it’s called Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. It’s what it sounds like- the whole bloody affair, in one go- but it’s worth checking out. I think it’s a “third-party mod”, but it’s on quite a few torrent sites.

  • Phoenix

    There is a version of Kill Bill edited together into one film (with a few longer scenes, like the animated sequence of Vol 1, and the Bride and Sophie’s conversation, etc)- it’s called Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. It’s what it sounds like- the whole bloody affair, in one go- but it’s worth checking out. I think it’s a “third-party mod”, but it’s on quite a few torrent sites.

  • Chew

    Clancy Brown’s greatest role was Eugene Krabs in Spongebob Squarepants.

  • Angel

    I’m surprised this video (and the others like it) slipped by you… fluoroscope/x-ray video of sword swallowing.

  • Angel

    I’m surprised this video (and the others like it) slipped by you… fluoroscope/x-ray video of sword swallowing.

  • Jan Pospisil

    This was painful to listen to. The podcast is entertaining only when I know little of the subject matter, this particular episode I was just frowning all the time at the many falsehoods and inaccurate statements. Gah.

    1) “Folding” steel in sword making is NOT exclusive to Japanese swords, the Celts were doing this several centuries BC. The reason why medieval swords weren’t made this way was better materials available. (which didn’t require the iron purifying process)

    2) the fuller IS ground or hammered into the blade to make it lighter, the blood pressure thing is a myth.

    3) Swords are not bludgeoning objects, European swords were not heavier than any other swords.

    4) Knights knocked off their horses were NOT turtles on their back, armour allows the wearer very good mobility and isn’t heavier than modern military armour.

    This episode is repeating ALL the worst sword and armour myths. *facepalm*

    • Toren

      Lousy season one shows. Once we get through our list of episode topics, we’ll have to come back and redo them all. Or maybe we’ll get a sword expert on for a Follow-Ups episode and address these.

  • Mark

    That biting duel…. I can only assume it ended in a gnaw.