Thursday, January 12, 2017

Armor and Chainmail Maintenance 101



Congratulations! If you're reading this article you almost certainly have just entered the exciting world of ancient armor; perhaps your first chainmail purchase from SwordNArmory.com is sitting before you right now, begging to be opened.
In the Good Old Days

Of course, most of us who like to imagine ourselves fighting in armor on the battlefields of the good old days do not think we will have to maintain our own equipment. We like to think that we will have squires or pages or some kind of dedicated helper to manage such details while we concern ourselves with battle and courtly manners. However, self-maintenance or not, the process of olden times was neither complex nor technical.

Sand mixed with some grease or oil was used to clean armor and chainmail. Lucky armor maintainers had sand tumblers available to clean their chain mail and would hand-clean sheet armor with this sand/oil mixture.

Maintaining your own Armor and Chainmail
Moisture is the enemy of armor and chain-mail. To prevent rust, remove any moisture as soon as you possibly can using entirely dry paper towels or rags or the strong, bright, warming sun. Being conscious of preventing moisture from remaining on your armor will save you hours of maintenance.

When you open your armor, you may be overwhelmed by the smell of grease. To rust-proof your purchase, the owner probably saturated it in oil.

Degreasing: Fussy Rather than Difficult
The best way to have an uncomplicated, successful degreasing is to schedule your degreasing for a day on which you have ample amounts of strong, warm sunlight to assist the process.

Fully submerge your chain-mail in a degreasing product and use your hands to agitate the metal in the solution; it’s actually a kind of fun activity; the links make an attractive sound as you move them.

Spot check the metal for grease. When you think you have removed all of the oil, take it outside and lay it on a concrete or other rust-resistant surface to dry. Reposition the mail at intervals to allow the sun to completely dry the metal.

For plate armor, rather than immersing, use a rag to liberally apply the degreaser, drying each section as your complete it. Concentrate on any areas that have rivets or overlapping metal to ensure complete drying.

A good sun substitute is a hair dryer or heat gun, though they are time-consuming.

Apply a Protective Coating
Once your armor is completely dry, use a dry rag or paper towels to apply a coating of wax or similar – there are many products from which to choose. Try not to expose the metal to water while you work; for example, do not use a rag that is already wet.

At the conclusion of this phase, you will be storing your armor until its next use. Many people designate an old towel or large rag to act as the foundation on which you apply the coating and the covering in which you store it. Cover and store your clean armor in a dry place.

However you choose to store your armor and chainmail, check it at intervals to ensure it is still dry and rust-free. This is certainly a case where prevention is the absolutely best way to fight the enemy: rust.

Finally...Polishing Your Armor
Unless your armor is for display only, don’t polish it to a mirror-like shine. To achieve that look, you would have to compromise its usefulness through buffing and polishes. Super-shiny armor is ahistorical and you can only achieve that finish through copious amounts of elbow grease that would be better applied to battling rust.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Medieval Helms and Helmets: A History and the Importance of a Knight's Headgear


Take just a moment to imagine the scene; you're a medieval knight caught in an intense and violent scrimmage to protect the stronghold of your king. Several enemy soldiers have made it over the walls brandishing spears, swords, and axes. You make your way toward one of them as the occasional arrow tings from your Armet, making you thankful for your helm. Suddenly, something hits you hard in the head sending you flying to the ground. It's an enemy axe. Momentarily you think you're dead. When the ringing in your ears goes away, however, the dented side of the Armet and a small trickle of blood at your cheek are your only injuries. Ultimately, you're unharmed and still able to defend your kingdom.

Essentially, this was the greatest and most critical need of helms, helmets, and headgear for knights in medieval warfare. Though a proper blow could puncture a helmet, many times arrows fired en masse at a distance simply were not powerful enough to puncture the metal many knight's headgear was constructed of in the late period of the medieval era, and a sword or axe would need a monumental amount of strength to do more than give the wearer a bad headache. The Armet type helm, as mentioned above, is the most renowned type of knight's headgear, the classic full facial covering helmet with lift visor. However, this helmet took years of refining to develop and didn't show up on medieval battlefields until the 14th century.

As warfare progressed in the middle ages so did the technology that allowed knights to survive to do battle longer. This progression led to the ongoing evolution of the helmet over the course of the early, high, and late medieval periods. In the early medieval period open faced 'nasal' helmets, so named for their ability to protect the nose in combat, were popular, but by the high era had been replaced by closed faced helms. Though closed helmets allotted for disadvantageous mobility issues, they were much safer and sturdier than open faced helmets that came before. By the late age closed helmets, like the Armet, had become popular as they offered visors which could be opened or closed to allow the knight to be cooled or get more air flow and protected the full head, as well as the lower face and nape of the neck. Below we'll look at a few different helmet options from the early to the late medieval period and there advantages and disadvantages.
Originally developed by Viking clans, the Spangenhelm saw wide use in Europe by knights and other warriors in the early period of the middle ages. Sporting an open face design, the Spangenhelm allowed for a free range of movement in the wearer, but ultimately little in protection if struck in the face or by applied strength. The most common of the 'nasal' helmets, these helms are often seen with a nose protecting appendage.

A cross between the Spangenhelm and the Armet, Bascinet helmets were crafted in various ways throughout all three eras of medieval history. Originally starting their evolution as simple leather head coverings, Bascinets had evolved by the middle and late periods and would be made from iron or steel. Bascinets with visors were dubbed Great Bascinets and, while sacrificing some stability, were a light alternative to Armets while still providing facial protection.

Armet
As mentioned above, Armets are the headgear most people think of when considering helmets worn by knights. With their origins in Italy in the late medieval period, Armets would become the signature protective headgear of many knights. Not only did Armets provide facial protection, they also covered the lower face and neck for sword and axe swipes and spear thrusts. Unfortunately, what Armets possessed in strength, they lacked in mobility and were heavy, uncomfortable, and unwieldy, even by helmet standards.

In medieval combat, when arrows were flying and every enemy was out for your head, it's easy to see why a knight's headgear was of such prominent importance. Though they may have been heavy and uncomfortable, it was obviously better than receiving an arrow through the skull or a pike through the throat. Now considered a knight's trademarked piece of armor, the medieval helms, helmets, and headgear most certainly had their place alongside the spear, sword, and shield in defending lives and assuring that king and country were upheld.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

SNA END OF THE MONTH SPOTLIGHT: Leonardo Dual Ninja Swords w/ Back Carrying Scabbard


These are Leonardo's Ninja Swords with Back Scabbard. The blades of the swords have been constructed from 440 Stainless Steel and come unsharpened. They end in an oval solid steel hand guard.  A wood hand guard is wrapped in synthetic cord with steel fittings at each end, allowing you to have better grip.

What adds the additional layer of awesomeness to these dual ninja swords would be the dual sheath that sits on the wearer’s back and holds the swords at an angle behind the shoulders. To translate: It comes with black leather dual sword back scabbard that features adjustable straps.

Features and Specifications:

- Overall Length: 36"
Blade Length: 25.5"
Handle Length: 9.5"
Blade: Unsharpened
Blade Material: 440 Stainless Steel
Guard: Solid Steel in a Simple Oval Shape
Handle Material: Wood Wrapped in a Synthetic Cord with Steel Fittings at Each End. The Steel Itself is 440 Stainless Steel.
Accessories: Comes with Black Leather Dual Sword Back Scabbard that features Adjustable Straps.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

How Effective Were Medieval Gloves & Gauntlets?


Almost anyone familiar with the legends or tales of the Middle Ages, remembers seeing in some painting or illustration a piece of clothing covering the hands of a warrior or a knight. However, on further observation, one sees that the piece of glove-like accessory turns into an important part of offensive weaponry or a defensive device; moreover, in many instances, a matter of life or death.

Protection Of The Hand

Although the use of gloves go back to antiquity, usually as a means of protection from the elements, or even from the thorns of certain plant life, it was actually during the Medieval times that gloves and gauntlets became almost synonymous with weaponry.

While a protective glove generally covered the entire area of the hand, front and back and beginning at the wrist, a gauntlet was in reality a flared cuff for the hand that began at the wrist and extended upwards over a man's forearm and elbow.

While sometimes used as a part of dress clothing for the knights and the nobility, and were many times made of flexible fabric or even leather, gloves and gauntlets were also made from mail or even actual plate armor which rendered the best overall protection. Over time, the use of this wear came to be used by the common infantry soldier in battle as well.

Other Forms Of Gloves And Gauntlets

Sometimes used instead of full sets of gauntlets were demi-gauntlets which meant "short." Basically a plate armor gauntlet that protected only the back of the hand and the wrist, and left the rest of the arm unprotected, demi-gauntlets were made with a stronger material such as mail or mail reinforced and padded with several layers of leather. While allowing greater flexibility and range of motion, the fingers remained practically open to serious wounds or even amputation in battle.

All this being said, there did come a time during battles that swords could be lost, and men had to resort to built-in knuckle busters to attack or defend themselves. If it came to blows and punches in a mêlée encounter, then a user could use the knuckle buster to offer damaging blows to their opponent's exposed body parts, such as to the head, the underarms or to the groin area.

However, against an armed warrior with a sword, spear, firearm or other form of weapon, the effectiveness of a knuckle buster was truly of none effect whatsoever.

With the arrival of re-loadable weapons such as pistols, rifles and evolving forms of artillery units, the use of gloves and gauntlets declined even further as a primary mode of defense protection or as an offensive weapon. As military technology and strategies evolve, gloves and gauntlets serve today as a mere reminder of another age in military history.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Carbon Steel Functional Kung Fu Chinese Tai Chi Sword Jian (Sharp Edge)


The Jian is 2,500 years old and it even dates back before the “Three Kingdoms Era”, thus, making these kinds of swords one of the oldest and continuously used weapons (even though they continue to be modified) in history. It’s known as the “hero's sword” and often referenced as the "The Gentleman's Weapon", due its elegant design.

For all the history buffs out there, it’s fascinating to note that for 2,000 years, the Jian has been present at the bloodiest conflicts in China. And yet, in present day society, the Jian is most closely associated with Tai Chi.

Presenting the Carbon Steel Functional Kung Fu Chinese Tai Chi Sword Jian Sharp Edge. The blade of the sword has been constructed from Carbon Steel and is sharp and strong enough to cut tatami mats. The guard of the Jian is steel with a yin yang symbol. Overall, the fit and finish on this one is what you would expect, as the blade is sharp enough to cut and strong enough to do it without bending. This is truly a handsome sword for sure and is worth every penny at SwordNArmory.com.

Features and Attributes of the Weapon:
  • Blade: The blade of the sword has been constructed from Carbon Steel and is sharp and strong enough to cut tatami mats.

  • Scabbard: The scabbard of the sword is wooden with a black matte finish. The drag of the sword and the scabbard throat are polished steel. The carrying cord is chemical fiber.

  • Guard: The guard of the Jian is steel with a yin yang symbol.

  • Handle: The handle of the sword is wooden with a black matte finish. In the center of the handle is an ornate steel fitting. The tang of the of the sword is secured by a bolt. The pommel features a red tassel.

Monday, December 12, 2016

3 Most Common Ceremonies That Feature Using Swords


For centuries, the weapon of choice for the Knights and fighting men of the world was the sword. Today, they are still in use, however not in the same vein. Now they are highly collectible, with a very colorful history behind them. We do still have ceremonies today, that use swords in their rites, and most are military ceremonies that have been kept alive.

In the early 12th and 13th centuries, a sword was forged called the Szczerbiec in Poland by one Radziwill. This was forged as a ceremonial sword and was never used in combat, unlike the original Szczerbiec which was a fighting weapon. The sword made by Radziwill was originally a sword of justice or the badge of office of the reigning local duke of that area’s judicial powers during the Age of Fragmentation in Poland. 

Later this sword was used as a coronation sword that was specifically made mention of in an account of the crowning of King Casimier who reigned in Poland during the 1400’s. 
It became a part of the Polish Crown Jewels and was used as the principal ceremonial sword in the coronations of almost all Polish kings until 1764.

The sword is now owned and displayed by the Wawel Royal Castle National Art Collection in Krakow. It is the only preserved article of the Polish medieval coronation insignia and holds a very prominent position of the museum’s Treasury and Armory permanent exhibition.

Swords are used by the military, in several of their ceremonies. The ceremony of the Change of Responsibility is one. The participants of this ritual are the Outgoing and the Incoming First Sargent’s. During the ceremony, each face each other, the Senior Platoon Sergeant draws the sword about 2” out of the scabbard and presents it to the Outgoing Fist Sergeant. He then passes the sword to the Company Commander, who in turn passes it to the New First Sergeant. It is a long ceremony with all the pomp and circumstance due it.

The Order of the Sword, which has been recorded as being use for the first time in 1860 when it was presented to General Robert E. Lee by his command. The ceremony was updated and adopted by the Air Force in 1967. The keeper of the sword is the chief master sergeant of the Air Force and is displayed at the U.S. Air Force Headquarters in the Pentagon. There are only 16 persons to ever receive the honor to date, the latest in July 2016 at Robbins AFB to Lt. General James F. Jackson when he relinquished his command of the Air Force Reserve Command after 25 years. Every major command center has its own Master Sword which is displayed at the MAJCOM headquarters. The Order of the Sword ceremony was meant to recognize and honor military senior officers from colonel and above also to the civilians who are their equivalents. Given for significant and conspicuous contribution to the welfare of the Air Force enlisted forces missions effectiveness.

As you can see, the sword is still very much a part of our history, both past and present and will no doubt remain so for many years to come. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How Athletic Do You Need To Be To Fence?


Fencing (the act of dueling in competition with a thinner fencing-type sword) has a long tradition as a sport and active hobby throughout the world for many centuries. Many excellent fencers become active on the tournament circuit. A very select few even reach the grand stage of the Olympics. Not everyone enjoys the sport of fencing for the glory of competition. Many sign up with fencing clubs just because they enjoy the fun of training. Others may be wondering about taking up the hobby, but they are not sure if they possess the athleticism to be good at fencing.

Does someone have to be a "top" athlete in order to be a good fencer? Fencing is a sporting endeavor, which means athletic skill is necessary. A would-be fencer does not, however, have to be an elite athlete. Simply developing average or above-average athletic skill would be beneficial to get the most out of fencing classes.

A decent level of cardiovascular conditioning is required to get the most out of fencing. Fencing is hardly a sport that is static. Fencers are constantly moving around. Movement, a sense of timing, distance, fighting measure, and manipulating the other fencer's ability to move play major parts is winning. Getting tired out too quickly is going to undermine the chance of winning and will take all the fun out of the endeavor. Plus poor cardio makes striking with the foil/saber slow. A slow attack is going to be a failed attack.

Hitting the gym and exercising the leg muscles is an absolute must. Otherwise, all the footwork necessary to attain solid fencing skill will be lacking. Basic exercises working the quads, hamstrings, and calves absolutely would help.

Plyometric (jumping) exercises would be a huge help as well. Explosive lunges are necessary in order to hit a target once opened. Plyometric exercises enhance such athletic abilities tremendously.

Flexibility is another attribute worth having. Flexibility in the wrist is beneficial since the hand holding the foil must perform circular motions smoothly and efficiently. This is needed for both offensive and defensive tactics.

To a degree, athleticism is rooted in natural ability. Being able to increase one's athletic ability is possible even for those who may be awkward or out of condition. Taking things slowly and working at building up attributes will enhance athletic performance over time. Those not interested in rushing into competition should not feel stressed about their training. With the right attitude and consistent training, even a rank beginner can become a skilled and effective fencer.