The Slow Combat


Hi, I’m a historian, so I can tell this guy is a historian. Do you want to be one too? Bam…you just became a historian, congratulations.


Nope, just interested layman.

With longsword varying quite a bit in their overall lenght, there is also quite some variation in weight.
1.5 kg is towards the upper end of the scale but not extreme. And considering that it is essentially a two handed weapon, and that single handed swords tend to hover somewhere around 1 kg, it really isn’t heavy.

Not knowing your specimen, I made the experience, that many replicas simpla are too heavy, and even those with an okay overall weight tend to handle much less well than originals, of which i quite recently had the immeasureable honour of handling a number.

The average 1l can of faxe strong beer weighs more than many single handed swords, soo…




Well not too long ago I been in a medieval fair in Bologna and they were displaying a very good number of melee weapons from 1200 to 1700. Well the medieval swords from 1200 to mid 1500 were heavier that the asian sword (based on the same lenght): from this site ypu can clearly see that asian sword ranged between 800 gr to 1400 gr, and if you check this site too and i’ll quote the sentence "Despite frequent claims to the contrary, Medieval swords were indeed light, manageable, and on average weighed less than four pounds. As leading sword expert Ewart Oakeshott unequivocally stated: “Medieval Swords are neither unwieldably heavy nor all alike - the average weight of any one of normal size is between 2.5 lb. and 3.5 lbs. Even the big hand-and-a-half ‘war’ swords rarely weigh more than 4.5 lbs. Such weights, to men who were trained to use the sword from the age of seven (and who had to be tough specimens to survive that age) , were by no means too great to be practical.” So they wighted from1.5 kg to 1.6 kg and bastard sword up to 3 kg almost.


1.5 - 1.6 kg is on the heavy side already and generally what a longsword could weigh, a bastard sword would be a hand and a half sword, which would make it something in between a single handed arming sword and a longsword. The 3 kg sword would be a 16th century two handed sword and not a medieval weapon at all and thus irrelevant to this discussion.


Just read the articles in the post I mentioned then let’s talk what is relevant or not. Look I’ll quote to you " As another source on arms affirmed: “the sword was, in fact, surprisingly light·.the average weight of swords from the 10th to the 15th centuries was 1.3 kg, while in the 16th century it was 0.9 kg. Even the heavier bastard swords which were used only by second-grade fighting men did not exceed 1.6 kg, while the horse swords known as ‘hand-and-a-half’ swords weighed 1.8 kg on average. When due allowances are made, these surprisingly low figures also hold good for the enormous two-hand sword, which was traditionally only wielded by ‘true Hercules.’ Yet it seldom weighed more than 3 kg.” And we are also speaking by ipotesis, ther’s no accurate measure but just an average value to give you an idea. From mid 1600 onward overall weight for the melee weapons starts to reduce by the improvement of the forging process. Only swords thet weighed more than 5 kilos were the ones made for the parades as they were not intended for combat.


The link to the list of asian sword weights is giving the data of reproductions only. Not of original arms.

And I have, over the years, grown distrustful of reproductions.

Also, you mention a medieval fair. Med-Fairs are notoriously inauthentic as fun as they may be.
It is unlikely the fair displayed original arms, and the reproductions displayed are very likely not only blunt, but also super blunt and very overweight weapons for reenactment battles etc.


Well, I guess I should invite you seing some real fairs, and not the one you are used to see. In Bologna the are lots of museum which display true, authentic, original, genuine call it whatever you like, pieces of medieval history. And at that fair they showed few of them borrowed by the museums and historians graduated explained all the characteristc of those weapons and they are consistent within the weight showcased. And to quote you “The link to the list of asian sword weights is giving the data of reproductions only. Not of original arms” you’re right but those value are indicative but they do not deviate too much by the orioginal one. I have Katana which I bought in Japan forged according to the original recipe and with a certificate licensed and approved by the “Society for the preservation of the Japanese Art Sword” (, and the weight matches the historical one.


One thing that gets me in every forum for every game I follow, such as Skyrim, Chivalry, War oF Roses, For Honor, etc, is the computer nerds are allways comparing the weight of weapons and armor to thier own abilities and strengths. The millitary trained soldiers drafted into the army would be trained in the correct usage of these weapons and over a short time thier bodies get stronger and they move more effeciently. A trick my sensei would do is if anyone complained that their boken was too heavy, he would give them a large hard wood 4x4 in the shape of a sword, it weighed about 8 kilos. Then he would ask them to practice thier kata with it for a few mins. Then he would give them back thier boken and tell them to do it again. Straight away the student is making blinding fast and accurate strikes. They stop complaining about the weight after that.

My father loves researching medieval history and read much literature about the armor they would wear and the weapons they would use. He explained to me that the full set of knights armor was customized and built specifically for that knight, to fit him exactly to his his body and size. The richest knights would have thier own black smith craft thier armor specifically for that knight, and in it it would feel as natural to wear as thier own skin. Soldiers and knights would be wearing this one set of armor for weeks without taking it off as they traveled on thier campaigns so the armor had to be made for comfort and easy to move in.

1.5 KG is nothing, thats as much as a block of cheese, I used to practice boxing with 5kg weights in each hand (got the idea from dragon ball Z) so 1.5 KG is practically weightless to some one who would be trained in medieval warfare. At the museum in my city they have a 2 handed sword on display, it was about 6 feet in length (inc grip) and some other 2 handed swords, but the blades them selves were thin and flexible, they looked nothing like the thick iron swords we see in games.


May be true, but unless seeing real historical specimens weight, all claims of any replica being that weight, are exactly that: claims.


6 ft is well outside ‘bastard sword’ territory, though.


It probably wasnt a bastard sword


But those are not claims, it is what I’m trying to explain. Those results are actual values based on the tests done on real medieval swords at disposal of the museums.


Well, Katanas you posted in the table has blade about of 70cm and weight about 1100gr. So nothing that would strike me like superb lenght/weight ratio. Quite a short blade for two handed weapon.

Where did you get this from?!


Well assuming we are speaking about figthing with full armor suit the main attribute of course is the strenght. Pardon me if I expressed myself not quite accurately as I would. Of course you made a point and if we take another infantry class which don’t wear a full armor suit of course agility takes place in order to move fastly in the battlefield.

As for the Katanas 70 cm is the lenght of the blade without the hilt wich measure 15 - 20 cm and are reference values.


Plate armour and swords? You can achieve little with strength here, you need precision and balance. Mainly achievable through well executed fast technique.

I know and I did mean a blade without the hilt. Katana is two handed arming sword in that perspecive.


Of course that you need technique in order to handle your equipment properly, no doubt about that of course. But a full armor suit with weapon and shield can weigh about 35 kg total and for a short time it’s not a problem at all, but if you have to wear it for longer sessions, well you will agree with me that strenght and endurance are ruler factors.

Katana handling technique requires two hand in order to be effective and apply the maximum possible strength on hit as you already know but none will prevent you using it with just one hand.


you are overestimating the weight of plate armour. Very heavy plate Armour for jousting was a highly specialised gear for a specific sport.

Fighting suits or armour were not as heavy as those. Also, the weight of a full plate armour is less than what many soldiers carry into battle nowaday of have carried throughout history.

And lastly, it is well distributed over the body and supported from many diffrent locations.


As far as moving in armor and managing it’s weight goes:

As far as i know, the consensus is that a plate harness weighs about as much as a modern day soldiers combat load is, except that the weight distribution on plate harness is a lot better.

EDIT: Just noticed i wrote basically the same thing as lutzderlurch :stuck_out_tongue:


That’s called ‘doubling down’ :smiley: