An Interesting Experiment in Draw Cuts
Originally published in Punta Dritta June/July AS XXXVI (2001)
I would like to share with everyone the results of the cutting test I performed at Valhalla this weekend. The test cutting subject was a 40 lbs. room temperature pork hind quarter, which was then covered with one (1) layer of 100% cotton and two (2) layers of natural fiber brocade.
The blade used was a sharpened 42" Del Tin rapier blade.
The first attack were tip cuts delivered from both mandritto tonda and reversa tonda. Attacks with brocade on the subject resulted in very little damage, no wounds at all. I then removed the brocade and left the cotton in place, then applied the same tip cuts. This time on the first cut, I cut through a 5/8" diameter bone with a small cut following. The next cut I delivered to the reverse side resulted in a deep laceration approximately 9" long and 2" deep. This wound if delivered to the abdomen would have easily killed an opponent stopping a fight. At this time I decided that tip cuts on the bare flesh were not necessary.
The next attacks were to be push/draw cuts, I reapplied the layers of material and applied a push cut. The first thing I found was that the tip has a tendency to catch in the material and deliver a puncture wound just below the skin. A draw cut had no effect what so ever on the material. I then removed the 2 layers of brocade, and proceeded again with the push/draw cuts. These had the same effects as before, I then removed all layers of cloth and applied a push/draw cut. To simulate skin I used plastic wrap as I felt that pig skin is to thick to accurately represent human skin. Both cuts resulted in cutting the skin and delivering an 1/8" wound. In my opinion these are ineffective cuts and are a wasted effort.
Percussion cuts were next, these were delivered with a slicing motion from the shoulder. After several tries the only effect was pushing the cloth approx. 1/2" into the meat. I then removed the brocade and proceeded with several more cuts, the results were the same, only the material was pushed into the meat 3/4". I removed all the material and applied a cut to the skin only. This stressed the skin to break and pushed apart the meat but did not cut. This attack is also ineffective.
The last attack with the rapier was the thrust. Thrusts needed only minimal pressure to completely penetrate the subject. In the case of hitting bone, the tip was deflected and continued on its course, still completely penetrating the subject.
The next sword that I used was a one hand arming sword. Again I applied the cloth to the subject, with a straight down cutting motion I was unable to cut through the material. I tried a cutting motion combined with a slicing motion, and still I was unable to cut through the material. It should be noted that the material was pushed 1" into the subject. I then removed the brocade and repeated the process, and I received the same result. The only difference being the cotton was pushed in approx. 1 1/2". I now removed all material, and repeated the same cutting motions. This time I was able to cleave almost completely through the subject. The 1 3/4" diameter bone offered no resistance and was sheared completely through.
This completed my cutting test and led to a very tasty feast.
I will have pictures of this test on the net soon and will provide the site address when I have it up. Thanks for reading a rather lengthy post. This test was very educational for me and everyone that attended. I hope the results I have provided have dispelled any myths or reinforced any shaky facts that may be out there.
Yours In Service
Lord Fergus MacTighearnain
Provost Royal Guild of Fence Kingdom of the West
Cynagua Rapier Marshal