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The Guard - Parts of the European Sword

The guard on a European style sword also called a cross guard or quillons is located between the blade and grip of the sword. The guard normally meets the blade at a 90 degree angle and can be many shapes. The most common found on a knight's sword or a crusader sword would be a long straight guard. If you were to stand the sword upright with the tip to the ground the sword will resemble a cross; hence the term “cross-guard”. Today the term quillons is often used when referring to later period rapier styled swords but is also correct when referring to the crossguard other period swords.

Defensive Guard

The purpose of the guard was to protect the wielders hand. When blocking a sword strike it is very common for the opponents swords to continue sliding down your blade. The guard creates a solid stopping point saving the wielders hands and fingers from injury or amputation. In some swords the bottom guard will extend sweeping back towards the pommel and closing over the fist for further protection as well as being useful for striking.

Shocking Thunder Stroke

There are also some sword techniques that would use the guard for the offensive. The wielder would invert the sword gripping the blade with both hands striking the opponent with the guard and pommel, using it like a hammer or an axe. This strike is documented in the German “combat manual” Fechtbuch. It is know under several names Mordhau, alternatively Mordstreich or Mordschlag translating to "murder stroke" or "murder strike" or "murder blow". This technique has also been referred to as the "thunder stroke". This was a unique strike that was normally used during full armored combat and if you catch your opponent by surprise you could knock him off his feet or even knock him out.

Guard Photos

These are some photo's of several different Guard found on the European swords that we offer.

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