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Questions and Answers About the Rapier As a trained fencer and a martial artist who has studied swordplay sinceand worked out vigorously against all styles of weapon fighters, I feel confident enough in my understanding to offer qualified opinions on weapons and their use.
I also own an extensive library of books on Renaissance swords in six languages.
As a teacher as well as researcher, I have a good grasp of what students want to know about this subject. What kind of sword is a rapier? The best answer I can give is that the true rapier is a long, narrow, rigid, nearly edgeless single-hand thrusting blade with a thick, tapering cross-section and very narrow and sharp point.
There is no question rapiers vary in their shape, length, and width and especially in their hilt configuration. But rapiers are generally thin, light, fast, and well-balanced thrusting swords intended for unarmored single-combat.
The definition of the rapier as a form of Renaissance sword differs among various authorities on historical arms. The various historical terms for rapier referred to a slender cut-and-thrust sword capable of limited slashing and slicing blows and equally suited to military or civilian use.
Eventually however, it came to mean exclusively a long and slender thrusting sword with virtually no edge. Why is there some misunderstanding about what a rapier is?
There is often some confusion over exactly what kind of sword is really a rapier because classification of swords was never something that was exact, since historical swordmakers and swordsmen didn't go around labeling their weapons for us.
They did not categorize them the way we do today by appearance, but instead defined them more based on their function and capability.
But modern arms collectors and arms curators have typically labeled nearly any blade with a close-hilt that wasn't clearly a cruciform Medieval sword as being a "rapier" even though this was not the case historically.
Modern swordmakers have also followed this habit and it has added to the confusion surrounding the weapon. Change in sword forms over time has been more like a tree with several branches growing out and declining while new branches formed.
This was a process of innovation and adaptation to new circumstances and needs.
What are real rapiers like? While it is difficult to make specific generalizations about any class of swords, and the rapier is no exception, there are certain attributes and qualities about them that I can offer comments on.
Further, I have looked at these weapons from the perspective of a fighter, as a martial artist and fencer familiar with the historical ways and results of using them. I also own about a dozen different makes of historical reproduction swords, and have test-cut extensively with them on raw meat and other materials.
So, I have good basis by which to compare rapiers. How do real rapiers handle?This essay delves deeply into the origins of the Vietnam War, critiques U.S. justifications for intervention, examines the brutal conduct of the war, and discusses the .
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