an interesting fact about the armenian genocide is that the word ‘genocide’ itself was literally invented specifically to describe the armenian genocide and yet everyone’s a bit waffley about whether ‘genocide’ is the right term to talk about the systematic extermination of millions of people for explicit reasons of ethnic cleansing

I don’t know if people are reading that link but it says that the word was coined to describe the Nazi’s actions against Jews in the Holocaust. I know that wiktionary can be changed and everything but that’s what it says right now. so

not that the armenian genocide wasn’t a genocide but… that’s not what the word comes from. at least not according to that link.

My god, this is the second blogger to do this today. What the fuck are you doing?

Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide, was moved by the annihilation of Armenians. The Armenian Genocide began in April of 1915. Lemkin bears witness to both the Armenian and Jewish Holocausts. We know that he coined the word with Armenians in mind. He said as much. It’s a fact.

When you stupidly apply dictionary definitions for words as arguments you are bound to make mistakes that illustrate a lack of knowledge. In this case, it’s clear you don’t know the history.

Why would you speak up when you don’t know what you’re talking about? Why not ask a question and make it clear you don’t know?
Nothing wrong with not knowing, but it’s irresponsible to muddy the discourse with half-truths and misinformation.

quoms and dagwolf are correct. I’ve done research on the Lemkin papers at the American Jewish Historical Society and was one of the Archivists who worked at Lemkin’s papers that are at the Columbia University Law Library (where I worked on other collections related to war crimes as well). I can tell you with certainty that Lemkin first coined the phrase when he sought to describe the Armenian genocide. Perhaps also of note is that Lemkin campaigned tirelessly to have Genocide accepted as a Crime Against Humanity. Unfortunately, he did not live to see the treaty asserting this accepted mostly because of the United States stood in the way of ratifying it…

In his lifetime, and for long after, the country that gave him succor [the United States] never signed the treaty, although almost 100 others did. For almost 40 years lawyers fought it on technical grounds, Senate racists fought it out of fear that blacks might use it. Some senators worried that making mass murder a Federal crime would diminish state rights.

Now: What windsroad is saying is that wiktionary is claiming, on that page, that the term “genocide” was coined in reference to the Jewish Holocaust. Windsroad is right in saying that this is what the wiktionary page says. However, Wiktionary is incorrect. If you follow the reference given at the Wiktionary page it will bring you to a website for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum which also makes the same erroneous claim.

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.






A video made for the Museum of Cluny, and its “The Sword: Uses, Myths and Symbols” exhibit. It tries to dispel some of the beliefs that are still prevalent today about the weight and mobility of fighters in plate armor and show some of the techniques used in combat against armored opponents

I’m always pleased to see videos like this. It’s as if people won’t believe unless they’re shown (and there are always some who go “ah, yes, well, in aluminium stage armour it’s easy.”)

Well, the Museum Cluny video, like the Royal Armoury demo team, uses real steel armour: those two pictures at the start show the originals; the video uses reproductions because no curator will let someone take two exhibits from his museum and roll them around on flagstones. Mike Loades in the UK has been doing similar armour demonstrations for years, as has Tobias Capwell of the Wallace Collection. Eventually the old “clunky, immobile, in with a wrench, out with a can-opener” image of plate armour will go away – but I won’t hold my breath. (That shade of purple isn’t a good complexion anyway…)

Even the faster demonstrations of these combat techniques are still dialled back to about half speed. Try to visualise how much quicker and more brutal this would be if the two fighters meant business, when the first rule was Do It To Him As Quickly As Possible Before He Does It To You.

Writer and swordsman Guy Windsor writes about doing motion-capture work for a computer game; his completely authentic techniques couldn’t be used because they were so small, fast and economical. The game needed big swashing movements because the real thing looked unrealistic, too insignificant to be effective…

You won’t see a “killing fight” (full speed, full power, full intent) recreated very often, either on documentaries or in museum exhibitions, because it’s very, very dangerous for (when you think about it) obvious reasons. These techniques from 600-year-old fight manuals were how men in armour maimed and killed other men in armour - and since they’re the original material, not a re-interpretation after 600 years of being diluted down to sport-safe levels, the techniques will still maim and kill men in armour. Even a blunt “safe” sword is pointed enough (first demo on the video, 1:54-59) to go into a helmet’s eye-slot and through the skull inside…

But if you’re lucky enough to see a full-speed demo between fighters in real armour using wasters (wooden practice swords), be prepared to pick your jaw up from the floor. It is awesome. And also as scary as hell.

Comments on comments:

"Pretty much proof positive that the people who claim that skimpy female fantasy armor is for increased maneuverability don’t know what they’re talking about."

They know exactly what they’re talking about. They want to see T&A on fantasy game and book covers, and since they don’t have the balls to be honest about it, this is their excuse.

It amazes me that the old saws about Western armour and techniques are still going about, because surely two minutes’ thought would let you know that of course knights had to be able to get up off the ground…  Europeans were wearing armour for centuries, why wouldn’t they develop techniques of fighting in it?

It’s easier to laugh (do the same people laugh about samurai?) and repeat what “everyone knows about armour" than it is to waste that two minutes thought. Thinking might reveal something to mess with set opinions, and that would be annoying…

Biggest pet peeve: People commenting on the weight and shape of armour restricting mobility…

As before - “everybody knows" that European armour is massive and clunky because that’s what "everybody knows.” God forbid they should ever apply the “if it was so useless then why was it used" logic to anything. Because then they might realise that what "everybody knows" is wrong.

I’m going off to (not) hold my breath for a while… :-P

I saw this video in the fascinating special exhibit at Cluny last time we were in Paris. So pleased to be able to have it on tap, because it was most excellent.


As previously mentioned, the most important factors in considering armor design for a character are:

  • What does it have to protect them against?
  • What do they have to be able to do?
  • What is available?

These suits are show casing some great armor made for a person who needs to protect themselves against swords and arrows, fight and lead troops on the battlefield and had access to a lot of money and an skilled armorer.  Unsurprisingly, they are super practical for their intended purpose.

The argument that they might wanted to trade off protection for a little more speed doesn’t hold up because once these guys got into battle it was simply ridiculous to think they’d be able to keep track everywhere an attack might come from.

Basically if you want to survive a battle, you want to be as well protected as possible, and as that video shows: The upper limit to how well protected you can be and still move freely is pretty damn high!

- wincenworks



The Clear Voice of a Sharp Sword

This demonstration shows the different behaviour of sharp swords binding as opposed to blunt training swords, and why it is important to explore this when reconstructing historical European swordsmanship.

Source: Copyright © 2014 Dimicator

i find this stuff endlessly fascinating. martial arts, swords, History and investigation. Also very interested in dispelling the myths (or whatever is taken for granted) in martial arts.



Reality Check Series-

There are many widely-held misconceptions about Chinese swords. I have selected five of the most commonly repeated. I will attempt to dispel them.

Most of the stories have been passed down from generation-to-generation by the Chinese themselves. These stories are based on “fairy-tales”. Indeed, frequently these stories are repeated by people who have never handled an antique sword and who know nothing about Chinese swords, or about metallurgy or about the art of the swordsmith.

Misconception 1: The Chinese carried “Belt Swords” which they wore around their waists
Tales of whip-like ‘belt’ swords are nonsense and show an ignorance of metallurgy and battlefield combat. Whatever “belt swords” may have existed (and the collecting and museum community have yet to see a single authentic one) would have only been useful as an assassin’s weapon used to slash an unsuspecting victim. There is no way to combine the three important sword qualities in a flimsy, whip-like blade. An overly flexible sword would lack the structural integrity to thrust or cut with accuracy and control or to effectively deflect a blow from even a stick, never mind a larger weapon like a spear, halberd, glaive, or fauchard. Only a fool of a swordsman would want to meet an irate farmer swinging a chunk of 2X4 with a thin, flimsy jian.

Misconception 2: There is a special taiji jian designed specifically for this art
Today jian are commonly referred to as “taiji swords” in martial arts equipment catalogs and by the general public. This implies there is a jian tailored especially for the art of taiji jian. Aside from the fact that what makes a good sword tends to apply universally to everyone, the principles discussed above allow for only slight variations in possible serviceable variations. Historically in China, there were just never enough taiji jian practitioners to form a market to which sword smiths could cater. Before Yang Luchan brought taijiquan to Guangping and then Beijing in the mid-nineteenth century, it was limited to just one small place, the Chen Family Village (Chenjiagou).

Taijiquan practitioners required swords with the same characteristics as any other fencing system. They were (are) also constrained in the same way any other martial art was, by the laws of metallurgy. Nineteenth century taiji jian swordsmen adopted existing sword types, rather than inventing new ones.

Misconception 3: Every Chinese would have owned his own sword
The only steady market for sword smiths consisted of the aristocracy, the elite ‘gentry’ and the military. Nobility, ‘gentry,’ and all grades of the civil and military hierarchy are estimated to have made up no more than 2 or 3 of the total population.* These men needed arms to protect themselves and their estates, and as part of their official regalia. During the Qing dynasty, all officials had to supply all their own regalia including personal armaments. The ranks of the enlisted men in the military were largely equipped by artisans in the government run arsenals. Today we focus on the “art” of swordplay and development of the individual. Swords are viewed as tools aiding us in this process of personal refinement and as works of art, which indeed they are. However, in imperial China they were looked upon by society at large as we look at assault weapons today. Those training with swords were either in the military or were expected to need their weapon to protect their lives, family and property.

Swords were also a luxury item few could afford. The majority of the population, about 90, were farmers and artisans. Most of these barely had enough income to buy a second set of clothes. Those who were successful had other priorities, such as buying more land or mules, or expanding their businesses. Most people then could afford a fine sword about as much as today’s small shop keeper or blue-collar worker could afford a new Rolls Royce. Any sword a family might have come to own was passed down as a valuable heirloom. In addition, there were legal and social restrictions. Throughout practically all China’s imperial history, there were laws and customs regulating what each social class could wear, carry, display, or use in public. These covered not only weapons, but other items as well, from clothing to carriages, to the design and color of the gateway to one’s house. Everyone was expected to “keep his place” and it would have been folly for a person to invest a great sum of money on a sword that he was not entitled to carry.

Misconception 4: Every Chinese sword was custom made for its owner
It is commonly stated by martial artists that swords were usually made to order. This does not seem to be generally true, although there were always exceptions. Even a quick survey of antique jian or dao shows that they only vary a couple of inches in length. Although blade decoration and fittings do come in different styles, they tend to fall within a certain number of distinct variations, of which many examples were made over several generations. Given the Han people’s great variety of shapes, weights and heights between North, South, East and West China, we should expect a greater variation among the swords if they had been made to order.

Misconception 5: Chinese Swords are historically of poor quality
This notion has arisen from the prevalence of low quality new swords made for martial arts training. It is commonly believed that these iterations are a reflection of historical reality.

The steel of Chinese swords all share common characteristics that fall into a fairly narrow range of possible hardness and resilience. These functional elements are no mystery and are what any good sword smith can recognize and control. A sword must have three qualities in order to be effective in combat. The weapon must have sufficient mass and proper balance in order to deliver a powerful blow; the edge must be sufficiently hard to take and hold an edge that will perform effectively (i.e., cut through clothing, possibly armor, flesh and bone); and, the body of the blade must be resilient enough to withstand the stress of cutting and deflecting. Chinese smiths answered these requirements by constructing swords that are composites of various types of steel.

Aside from having practiced jian for more than a decade and a half, I have collected and studied swords since high school. As a dealer in antique swords and an active researcher in the field of Chinese arms and armor, I have handled over 2000 Chinese swords ranging in age from the early Ming dynasty (late 1300s) to the early Republic (1920s). The majority of the Chinese swords that my colleagues and I have encountered are of extremely fine lamellar steel. That is, they are pattern-welded of alternating layers of hard and softer steel. They also have a hardened edge. To put this edge in perspective for the layman, a hardened edge means that this steel can cut into iron or regular steel. I have seen an unsharpened jian used to shave ribbons of steel off a heavy security grate. This particular jian was forged circa 1900, and was left undamaged by this demonstration. I also have iron rods (Chinese striking weapons) in my collection that have deep cuts in them from a sword.

There are a number of ways this hardened edge is incorporated into the blades of Chinese swords. One of the most frequently encountered in single edge dao (sabers) is qiangang - literally “inserted steel”. This edge is a separate piece of steel that is inserted into a folded-over “jacket” of layered pattern welded steel. The edge plate is of steel with a higher carbon content. When the blade is forged and ground, it protrudes and forms the cutting portion of the blade. The somewhat softer “jacket” serves as a support medium and “shock absorber.”

Jian, being double-edged, are usually made of sanmei or three-plate construction (as are also some dao). In this case, the piece of hardened steel that is used to form the edge runs all the way through the body of the sword, appearing on both edges. This core is sandwiched between walls of somewhat softer layered steel which serves as a support medium for the harder and more brittle central core.

A method of heat treating used to produce blades with hard edges and softer, more resilient backs or centers was the differential hardening of a blade edge by using refractory clay mixtures. This technique (popularly known as clay tempering), made famous by Japanese sword smiths, originated in China in the early Tang dynasty (seventh century AD). This method was adapted by the Japanese during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD).* This differential hardening method involves using the refractory clay to insulate the back of the blade (thus changing the rate at which the steel cools), while exposing the edge during the quenching and hardening process. The radical temperature change at the edge produces a thorough crystallization of the carbon in the steel to make a hard edge while keeping the rest of the blade from becoming brittle. When done properly, this method produces a very hard cutting edge backed by a softer blade body, which retains the resilience to absorb shock. Though some Chinese sword smiths continued to use this refractory clay method well into the nineteenth century, it generally fell out of use by the Song dynasty (960-1280 AD). Henceforth, other methods of hardening were adopted, possibly due to Central Asian and Middle Eastern influences during the Yuan dynasty.

The nature of steel is that it cannot be made to both extremes of hardness and flexibility. Its a matter of trade offs. Constructing a jian out of different types of steel meets the requirements of hardness and resilience. The blades of jian, like those of dao, must be carefully heat treated. However, even those with the most “springy” temper cannot be bent in a complete circle, or very far beyond a gentle arc. Chinese swords, as discussed above, are laminates composed of hundreds of layers of steel. The nature of any laminate, like plywood for example, is that it can flex under stress and return to its original shape. The hardened high carbon steel that composes the edge is brittle and does not want to flex. In fact, this edge would break or shatter if bent too far or hit very hard. This is why the entire sword is not made of this type of hardened steel. Its edge has to be protected by “cheeks” of more flexible steel of somewhat lower carbon content. The whole sword cannot likewise be made of the more flexible “milder” steel with lower carbon content. Though more shock resistant than hardened steel, lower carbon steel will not take and hold an edge well enough to be serviceable in cutting.

Photos above: Patterns in Chinese blades.

and of course there is also this: China was much like Europe in that it was a region of warring states, conquest, and re-conquest for centuries. To think that there was/is a sword culture, legitimate fencing styles, and advanced metallurgy and sword making in Europe and not China is just idiotic and probably racist.