Click to Subscribe
▶  More from Modern Combat The Man Cave The Combat Space
Welsh Trench Sword
A Man Question from Big Ron

What do you make of this weapon, James?

-Big Ron

Ron, the Welsh trench sword has a deep history itself and is only the latest in a long line of leaf-shaped heavy blades.

The Filipino Dagga is a heavy dagger of similar design, and the Flip insurgents of the 1903 insurrection were armed with crude versions of the leaf-shape sword in the form of a nasty machete.

A man who served in the U.S. Army Signal Corp in New Guinea during WWII once showed me a military “bush knife” of essentially the same design.

As early as the 100 Years War, when the English invaders of France employed Welsh “Knife men” as skirmishers, tunnel rats, foragers and looters, there is a record of this distinctive knife seeming to a French chronicler “like a tail” as the Welsh wore their blade hanging down from a scabbard belted at the terminus of their spine. This made running more efficient and permitted a draw from either hand, an important consideration for foraging troops.

In Burton’s Book of the sword he singles out this weapon in its classical Hellenic form, the Phasgonan, which Windlass Steel Crafts produced about ten years ago as the “Laconian” since this was the design favored by Spartan hoplites.

The classic Hellenic sword designs were:

-The kopesh, “chopper,” ancestor of the kukri

-The machaera, “cleaver,” ancestor of the machete

-The aor, a broad-based, double-edged thrusting sword with a blade 4 inches wide at the hilt tapering to a needle point.

-The xiphos, or “reaper,” with a blade narrow at the hilt and widening at the sweet spot, then tapering to a point, identical to the Cold Steel machete.

-The phasgonan [ and the miniature phasgonian] which is for close cleave and thrust, better balanced then all other types save the aor, and more suited for thrusting than the xiphos. The leaf shape protects against the shield rim while stabbing round, under or over and allows the closest hacking arc. This sword design is ideal for home defense, battling hoodrats in sewers and crack houses, cleaving pigs when they kick in your door to steal your baseball card collection and otherwise remaining a dismembering threat at grappling range.

Happy New Years, Big Ron.

Being a Bad Man in a Worse World

Fighting Smart: Boxing, Agonistics & Survival

Add Comment
Jeremy BenthamJanuary 10, 2018 2:55 PM UTC

“The psychological reaction of any man, when he first takes the smatchet in his hand is full justification for its recommendation as a fighting weapon. He will immediately register all the essential qualities of good soldier - confidence, determination, and aggressiveness. Its balance, weight and killing power, with the point, edge or pommel, combined with the extremely simple training necessary to become efficient in its use, make it the ideal personal weapon for all those not armed with a rifle and bayonet.’’

- Capt. William E. Fairbairn
PRJanuary 3, 2018 11:36 PM UTC

It looks like a gladius but rounder. Cold Steel makes one for $30.
responds:January 4, 2018 9:24 AM UTC

the crucial deference is the spine or rizor, combined with the bellied blade. The leaf sword is for hacking a shield and then bulling your way in as you pry it from the rim and stab, while the gladius is for stabbing around, over and under the shield with enough mass to avoid being broken by a shield beat.

they are among the best close quarter swords I history.

The Cold Steel version is excellent.
BobJanuary 2, 2018 11:13 PM UTC

Fairbairn's version:
responds:January 3, 2018 5:02 AM UTC

This is a serious, man-killing thread in blade design through the ages. Thanks, Bob.