How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

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How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby Snap » 10 Jul 2015 01:50

Various suits of plate provide varying amounts of cover but most of them had some exposed areas around the joints. While plate armour is largely impervious to sword attacks going for these areas is often cited as a viable way to use a sword to defeated someone in this armour. Thinking about this scenario from an amateur perspective these gaps, say the back of the knees for example, seem like very small areas to aim for on a moving target. This is made even harder when we assume the guy wearing it is no less aware of the vulnerabilities in his armour than you are. If he he sees that you're prepared to use a sword to fight him he's probably aware that you will go for these areas and has a plan to counter it. Even if you get him off his feet focusing on that small area leaves you open to his counter. At the moment is seems to me your only realistic shot at doing this is to get him off his feet and have someone else hold him still.
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Re: How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby tea » 10 Jul 2015 08:22

Perfectly realistic.

The important thing to remember is that if you're fighting someone in plate armour, you should also be in plate armour (and you should ideally have a pollaxe, but sometimes life isn't fair).

This means that both of you need to attack the gaps - and so when e.g. going for the face or the armpit, you're much less exposed when getting that close to attack it.

In general, it's quite standard for (at least 1 on 1) armoured combat to involve wrestling down to the ground and stabbing through a gap at that point. But that's just because it's one of the most effective ways to get past their armour.
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Re: How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby Snap » 10 Jul 2015 12:32

tea wrote:Perfectly realistic.

The important thing to remember is that if you're fighting someone in plate armour, you should also be in plate armour (and you should ideally have a pollaxe, but sometimes life isn't fair).

This means that both of you need to attack the gaps - and so when e.g. going for the face or the armpit, you're much less exposed when getting that close to attack it.

In general, it's quite standard for (at least 1 on 1) armoured combat to involve wrestling down to the ground and stabbing through a gap at that point. But that's just because it's one of the most effective ways to get past their armour.
But with similarly armed and armoured as you mentioned wouldn't your advantages and vulnerabilities mirror your opponents with regards to range? (Ignoring any factor of height difference between the opponents)
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Re: How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby Dave B » 10 Jul 2015 15:19

But that's no different to any other fight - In shirtsleeves with a sharp sword it's very difficult to hit a skilled opponent too, because he's trying to stick his sharp sword in you.
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Re: How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby Sean M » 11 Jul 2015 08:24

Snap wrote:Various suits of plate provide varying amounts of cover but most of them had some exposed areas around the joints. While plate armour is largely impervious to sword attacks going for these areas is often cited as a viable way to use a sword to defeated someone in this armour. Thinking about this scenario from an amateur perspective these gaps, say the back of the knees for example, seem like very small areas to aim for on a moving target. This is made even harder when we assume the guy wearing it is no less aware of the vulnerabilities in his armour than you are. If he he sees that you're prepared to use a sword to fight him he's probably aware that you will go for these areas and has a plan to counter it. Even if you get him off his feet focusing on that small area leaves you open to his counter. At the moment is seems to me your only realistic shot at doing this is to get him off his feet and have someone else hold him still.

This is something which is easiest to understand by experience (or at least by watching people skilled in this art fight in armour). But we have hundreds of descriptions of combat in armour in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and Will McLean has been so kind as to translate and collect some of them here.
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Re: How realistic is getting a sword into plate armour gaps?

Postby Thearos » 11 Jul 2015 19:40

I suppose it might be worth saying that you're not stabbing at armour gaps from far away, "fencing" as it were, but using the sword with two hands (one on the hilt, one of the blade) for close in work, where you're trying to batter your opponent's sword out of the way or pry it loose, and, when there's an opening, drive the tool home (the point is optimized for this exercise: slim and diamond-shaped). Naturally, the opponent is trying to do the same thing to you, and you're both trying to knock each other off your feet or achieve a throw or a jiu-jitsu-style joint lock, or simply aiming for a moment when you can bash each other with the pommel. Cheers !
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