Chop versus Slash

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Chop versus Slash

Postby Daeruin » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:59 am

This may seem like a pretty basic question, but what is the actual real-world difference between a chop and a slash attack?
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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:58 pm

These terms can be used interchangably in the real world, but in my system I use them semi-arbitrarily to describe two distinct "real world" types of cutting that get described by various terms:

Chop is like a meat cleaver or an axe, what they call a 'percussive' cut. A slash is a 'draw cut'.

So this is a chop

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vleC5-t ... re=mh_lolz

A slash (draw-cut) is where the blade makes contact and then moves horizontally along the target in a slicing motion, either forward or back. Like the way you would cut with a razor. In Japanese fencing all cuts are supposed to be slices of this type, though the difference can be very subtle and difficult to see at high-speed. It's the same with almost all cavalry sabers - a draw cut makes the weapon easier to hold onto when riding by on a horse. I was looking for a good slicing video but most of the japansese sword clips on youtube are high speed tamegshigiri which look like percusive cuts because they are so fast, or else they are crappy amateuer vids where the guys aren't cutting right.

But I think you can understand what i mean.

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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Daeruin » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:38 pm

Yes, I know what you mean. I've heard of a draw cut before and kind of figured that's what you meant, but I wasn't sure. When I've heard it talked about, it seemed like more of a specialist move that needed to be learned, more like an MF instead of something that's available by default. That's part of why I wasn't sure if I was really understanding it correctly.
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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Daeruin » Fri Jan 06, 2012 5:39 pm

Also, I couldn't remember the term "draw cut" and didn't want to make an idiot out of myself!
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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Galloglaich » Sun Jan 08, 2012 5:40 pm

In German fencing, the slice ("schnitt") is one of the 'Three Wounders' (pierce, chop, slice.. haw, stich, schnitt) which everyone is supposed to know.

In Japanese fencing, almost all cuts, as I said, are slices.

In saber fencing, again most cuts are supposed to be slicing cuts rather than percussive cuts.

And it's the same in rapier fencing where the thrust is paramount but the slice is a dangerous tool (such as in the infamous 'coup de Jarnac, the hamstringing slice to the thigh)

I think it's a little harder to do these with a strait sword than with a curved sword, and a little harder to do with a two-handed sword than a single handed sword.... with a curved single-handed saber it's easier. But it's also fairly hard to make effective percussive cuts until you have practiced a little.

So I would say from my experience, draw-cutting isn't any more difficult than cutting period. Where my game breaks down is that it doesn't let you combine draw cuts with percussive cuts, but I don't get to that level of granularity. Outside of martial arts contexts, the distinction between chopping, cutting, slashing, slicing and so on are seldom noted by say, military historians and other academics, so that is another point of confusion.

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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Daeruin » Sun Jan 08, 2012 10:17 pm

Thanks, that's very helpful. I didn't realize draw-cutting was so common.

When you mention combining draw cuts with percussive cuts, do you mean a single strike that starts out as a percussive cut but then turns into a draw cut? Sounds nasty.
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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:54 am

yes, I think that is what you often see in the tameshigiri videos. Either way, a cut requires precision, but when you are cutting a soft target like a tatami mat you want a little slice in there, and that is definitely what the Japanese fencing arts teach.

By contrast cutting say, green bamboo you want an almost totally percussive cut. Either way you still have to master edge alignment, follow-through, control, and cutting in a plane. Cutting effectively requires about the same concentration as target shooting.

There is an anecdote from the Crusades, almost certainly apocryphal, of a meeting between Richard Lionheart and Saladin. Richard supposedly demonstrates how good his sword is by hacking through an iron bar; Saladin responds but cutting a floating silk scarf in two with his saif.

The story may not be genuine but it kind of illustrates the difference between two types of cut the two types of weapons were optimized for.


In fact I have an (unsubstantiated) theory that the reason why the pointy Oakeshott type XV, XVa, XVIIIa and so on, seem to cut so well is that the blade shape helps create a slicing effect along with the percussive cut effect.

Until realistic replicas of these came out and were 'played with' by enthusiasts and martial artists a lot, it was almost a universal consensus among so called experts that the pointy later Medieval swords were almost exclusively for thrusting; but I'm pretty sure to date the best performing Albion sword in terms of cutting ability is their Brescia Spadona; partly no doubt because it was one of the most painstakingly accurate designs (measured from the original centimeter by centimeter by Peter Johnnson) but partly due to the pointy and subtly curved (toward the middle / point) shape of the blade. From every test I've seen the Albion seems to out-cut every other sword replica by a factor of 3 or 4 (in terms of say, layers cut through and so on). It also seems to stab a lot better than almost all of them though that is no big surprise.


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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Daeruin » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:27 am

Is there really such a big difference in terms of damage between a draw cut and a percussive cut?
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Re: Chop versus Slash

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:34 pm

It depends on the target, but on the soft targets the draw cuts seem to have the potential to be more devastating.

Imagine say, a pillow. Chop it with an axe, slice it with a strait razor. Or if you have ever seen a flensing pole at work on whales.

Of course for a human, if you are cut in say, the neck, it doesn't matter that much of it's a slice or a chop, you are going to die.

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