Swords are awe-soooome.
There are lots of sword-geeks out there. Some unknown place inside the soul yearns for a solid piece of steel at the side, in the hands. It's not a matter of violent intentions or control issues. In fact, sword-geeks are often the most pacifist in a given group. Practicing swordplay for stage or martial technique is just plain fun. It's a noble pursuit.
I am one of those sword-geeks. But there are degrees of geekitude, and it is easy to get all caught up in how beautiful a well-made sword can be. It is easy to forget that we are dealing with instruments of death: these are razor blades ranging from 3 inches to 4 feet long! Is a stage blade with no edge safe? Anyone who has to ask that has no business getting near one. Though a sword may be dressed in a beautiful way, if you think about it for what it is ... it's about as cute as a stomach pump. And likewise should only be handled by a trained professional.
But really - swords can be so pretty! With passionate and talented people such as Denny Graves making high-end handmade quality functional pieces of art, it is easy to appreciate what a true sword should be.
A sword is like a car; using either carries mortal responsibility. It might look really cool or it might be a beater - its function is up to the user. No matter how great it looks, any time it is put into use, it poses a very high likelihood that someone will be hurt or killed. Even in controlled situations.
We need scholarly research to help us respect and understand the sword. It's all well and good to know the proper historical period for using a particular sword, to know its evolutionary history, to know its construction. It's important to know how to move and strike and parry with a sword. But are the true consequences of drawing a blade fully comprehended?
Most anybody can learn how to fight with a sword. Many more can learn to act like they can fight with a sword. Rare is the one who goes beyond cutting and bashing and the whole ego ride to discover the true depths of sword technique.
My question and challenge to all other sword-geeks out there:
Using a sword, are you able to restrain an unarmed opponent without cutting or killing them?
If not, please put down the books and go find a good teacher who can.
Peace, and stay healthy. ~Jason
Images: the other MSCD swept hilt from Denny's; an ornate cup hilt, also made by Denny