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A ricasso is an unsharpened length of blade just above the guard or handle on a knife, dagger, sword, or bayonet. Blades designed this way appear at many periods in history in many parts of the world and date back to at least the Bronze Age—essentially, as long as humans have shaped cutting tools from metals.
There were many reasons to make a blade with a ricasso, and in Europe, later longswords, claymores, rapiers and other lengthy swords often had this feature. One very simple influence presently and historically is fashion, which often answers this question for blades where the presence or lack of a ricasso has no effect on how it is used.[ dubious ] Leaving a ricasso can also save the blade maker's time—a section of blade that would not be used given the purpose of the piece does not have to be shaped and sharpened. In many cases however, they are quite functional.
Historically, ricassos were commonly present on medieval and early Renaissance swords. The basic function was to allow the wielder to place their index finger above the crossguard, which potentially allowed for greater grip strength and torque. This technique was a factor in the evolution of compound hilts which are iconic of rapiers and other Renaissance swords, as the compound hilt allows a ricasso grip while still protecting the hand.
Some of the best known historic examples of ricassos are on large European swords used with two hands. When used aggressively with adequate space to build up swinging momentum, the weapon would be held at the end of the grip for the best reach and power. Some experts on historical combat believe this technique of sustained blade swinging was used as a tactic for swordsmen to penetrate pike formations. However, once the pike line was broken, the swordsman then used the ricasso on his sword to shorten his grip, allowing the sword to be more effectively manoeuvred in the tight press within the enemy ranks as well as offering more leverage and ability to thrust. The ricassos of two-handed swords often have a second, smaller set of quillons past the ricasso, effectively creating a secondary grip. This technique is very similar to the half-sword technique which involves gripping the sharpened midsection of the blade to turn the blade into a sort of lever weapon. It is possible even without gauntlets to hold a sharpened blade relatively safely, with proper technique.
Today, many knives seen outside of the kitchen include a bevel section, though the term is seldom used. These ricassos may serve purely decorative purposes; may offer greater blade strength at a high-stress point, or may be intended to be gripped to provide greater control when performing precise cutting.
A sub-hilt (an additional section of guard located along the length of the grip of a blade, rather than up the blade as with a fluke), is a related feature sometimes found on knives instead of a ricasso. Depending on design, it can offer many of the same advantages in versatility but makes the choked up grip more comfortable. Some blades may have both a sub-hilt and a ricasso, thus offering two possible forward grip positions.
A dagger is a knife with a very sharp point and usually two sharp edges, typically designed or capable of being used as a thrusting or stabbing weapon. Daggers have been used throughout human history for close combat confrontations, and many cultures have used adorned daggers in ritual and ceremonial contexts. The distinctive shape and historic usage of the dagger have made it iconic and symbolic. A dagger in the modern sense is a weapon designed for close-proximity combat or self-defense; due to its use in historic weapon assemblages, it has associations with assassination and murders. Double-edged knives, however, play different sorts of roles in different social contexts.
A knife is a tool or weapon with a cutting edge or blade, often attached to a handle or hilt. One of the earliest tools used by humanity, knives appeared at least 2,5 million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools. Originally made of wood, bone, and stone, over the centuries, in step with improvements in both metallurgy and manufacturing, knife blades have been made from copper, bronze, iron, steel, ceramic, and titanium. Most modern knives have either fixed or folding blades; blade patterns and styles vary by maker and country of origin.
A sword is a bladed melee weapon intended for cutting or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.
A rapier or espada ropera is a type of sword with a slender and sharply-pointed two-edged blade that was popular in Western Europe, both for civilian use and as a military side arm, throughout the 16th and 17th centuries.
The hilt of a knife, dagger, sword, or bayonet is its handle, consisting of a guard, grip and pommel. The guard may contain a crossguard or quillons. A tassel or sword knot may be attached to the guard or pommel.
A longsword is a type of European sword characterized as having a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use, a straight double-edged blade of around 85 to 110 cm, and weighing approximately 1 to 1.5 kg.
The jian is a double-edged straight sword used during the last 2,500 years in China. The first Chinese sources that mention the jian date to the 7th century, during the Spring and Autumn period; one of the earliest specimens being the Sword of Goujian. Historical one-handed versions have blades varying from 45 to 80 centimeters in length. The weight of an average sword of 70-centimetre (28-inch) blade-length would be in a range of approximately 700 to 900 grams. There are also larger two-handed versions used for training by many styles of Chinese martial arts.
The small sword or smallsword is a light one-handed sword designed for thrusting which evolved out of the longer and heavier rapier of the late Renaissance. The height of the small sword's popularity was between mid 17th and late 18th century, when any man, civilian or military, with pretensions to gentlemanly status would have worn a small sword on a daily basis.
The French estoc is a type of sword, also called a tuck in English, in use from the 14th to 17th centuries. It is characterized by a cruciform hilt with a grip for two-handed use and a straight, edgeless, but sharply pointed blade of around 0.91 metres (36 in) to 1.32 metres (52 in) in length. It is noted for its ability to pierce mail armor.
A blade is the portion of a tool, weapon, or machine with an edge that is designed to puncture, chop, slice or scrape surfaces or materials. Blades are typically made from materials that are harder than those they are to be used on. Historically, humans have made blades from flaking stones such as flint or obsidian, and from various metal such as copper, bronze and iron. Modern blades are often made of steel or ceramic. Blades are one of humanity's oldest tools, and continue to be used for combat, food preparation, and other purposes.
A flame-bladed sword or wave-bladed sword has a characteristically undulating style of blade. The wave in the blade is often considered to contribute a flame-like quality to the appearance of a sword. The design of the blade is purely decorative. The two most common flame-bladed swords are rapiers or Zweihänders, although there have been other sword types with flame-blades.
A Japanese kitchen knife is a type of a knife used for food preparation. These knives come in many different varieties and are often made using traditional Japanese blacksmithing techniques. They can be made from stainless steel, or hagane, which is the same kind of steel used to make Japanese swords. Most knives are referred to as hōchō or the variation -bōchō in compound words but can have other names including -kiri. There are four general categories used to distinguish the Japanese knife designs: handle, blade grind, steel, and construction.
The English language terminology used in the classification of swords is imprecise and has varied widely over time. There is no historical dictionary for the universal names, classification or terminology of swords; A sword was simply a double edged knife.
In martial arts, a waster is a practice weapon, usually a sword, and usually made out of wood, though nylon (plastic) wasters are also available. The use of wood or nylon instead of metal provides an economic and safe option for initial weapons training and sparring, at some loss of genuine experience. A weighted waster may be used for a sort of strength training, making the movements of using an actual sword comparatively easier and quicker. Wasters as wooden practice weapons have been found in a variety of cultures over a number of centuries, including ancient China, Ireland, Iran, Scotland, Rome, Egypt, medieval and renaissance Europe, Japan, and into the modern era in Europe and the United States. Over the course of time, wasters took a variety of forms not necessarily influenced by chronological succession, ranging from simple sticks to clip-point dowels with leather basket hilts to careful replicas of real swords.
Fencing – family of combat sports using bladed weapons. Fencing is one of four sports which have been featured at every one of the modern Olympic Games. Also known as modern fencing to distinguish it from historical fencing.
The Oakeshott typology is a way to define and catalogue the medieval sword based on physical form. It categorises the swords of the European Middle Ages into 13 main types, labelled X through XXII. The historian and illustrator Ewart Oakeshott introduced it in his 1960 treatise The Archaeology of Weapons: Arms and Armour from Prehistory to the Age of Chivalry.
The Zweihänder, also Doppelhänder ('double-hander'), Beidhänder ('both-hander'), Bihänder or Bidenhänder, is a large two-handed sword primarily in use during the 16th century.
The parrying dagger is a category of small handheld weapons from the European late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. These weapons were used as off-hand weapons in conjunction with a single-handed sword such as a rapier. As the name implies they were designed to parry, or defend, more effectively than a simple dagger form, typically incorporating a wider guard, and often some other defensive features to better protect the hand as well. They may also be used for attack if an opportunity arises. The general category includes two more specific types, the sword breaker and trident dagger.
The basket-hilted sword is a sword type of the early modern era characterised by a basket-shaped guard that protects the hand. The basket hilt is a development of the quillons added to swords' crossguards since the Late Middle Ages. In modern times, this variety of sword is also sometimes referred to as the broadsword.
This is a glossary of terms used in fencing.