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Brian Dougherty

Historical left-handed warriors

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I didn't want to hijack Kris Lipinski's thread on his nice left-handed sporting saber in the show and tell section ( https://www.bladesmithsforum.com/index.php?/topic/36793-hussar-saber-17th-century/ ),  so I thought I would post this here.

Kris's sword was made for sporting use for a left-hander, and that made me wonder:  Are there historical examples of swords that were left handed?  Do historical sword fighting manuals talk about left-handed opponents?

I fenced in college, and leftie fencers were typically smug because they had a bit of an advantage over right handers.  Both my coach and one of my sparing partners were left-handed so I felt rather at home against a left-handed opponent, but it is strange for your opponents weapon arm to be on the "Wrong" side.  Are there historical accounts of left-handed warriors? 

I did a bit of google searching on this, but the results make me think that left handers were taught to fight right handed, or just outright banned for being  "in league with the devil".  Somehow I find it hard to believe either of those results.

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In KDF (Kunst Des Fechten, German Longsword and such) sources there are references to left handed fighters.  I am not so well versed in them that I know where exactly, but we have a few lefties in my club, so it comes up every now and then.  Check out Wiktenauer.com for more info on historical treatises.  

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There were certain border Scots families known for being predominately left-handed.  The spiral stairs in their castles went clockwise, giving them an advantage over right-handers trying to come up the stairs.  These were narrow stone spirals with a central solid pillar, treads about three feet wide.  A lefty on top had free use of his blade, while the righties below couldn't get in a good swing.

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Jerrod, thanks for the link.  I didn't know about that wiki...

Alan, I'd say that is some evidence written in stone ;)

 

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Hmmm, sorry Alan. I believe most castle tower stairs in the UK wind clockwise (upwards, seen from above) so that the person above has range for swinging with their right arm (forehand stroke) and have the pillar’s (newel’s) protection. The person from below has their right arm near the central pillar and have to not only use the backhand stroke but have the pillar in the way. Left handed attackers would be at an advantage compared to right handed attackers in this scenario.

D3050AC6-EB30-4496-A5AE-F4FF2101EFD9.jpeg

 

However, just to throw a spanner in the works, check this out.

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D'oh!  I meant counterclockwise.  Or the opposite of that picture, anyway.  Widdershins? I shall read that article with interest, thanks!

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Biblically, Ehud was a left-handed judge over Israel that made a two-edged weapon around 18” long that he used to kill the king of Moab with...  

You can find the part about being a lefty and making the shortsword  in Judges 3:15-16

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Miyamoto Musashi   was thought to be left handed. But there are no left handed samurai or schools of fencing in Japan. His Niten Ichi-Ryu style of two sword fighting is believed to be his adaptation of his left handedness.

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On 2/2/2018 at 10:25 PM, Eric Morgan said:

Biblically, Ehud was a left-handed judge over Israel that made a two-edged weapon around 18” long that he used to kill the king of Moab with...  

You can find the part about being a lefty and making the shortsword  in Judges 3:15-16

I've heard it speculated that a left handed man with his sword bound to his right thigh would have a lot better odds of slipping through a pat-down search than your average right-handed assassin. Appears he had to leave without it!

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