I recently ordered a reprint copy of Lessons in sabre, singlestick, sabre & bayonet, and sword feats; how to use a cut-and-thrust sword by J.M. Waite from abebooks.com to add to my HEMA library. Near the end, there is a list of “Sword Feats” that I found very interesting and wanted to share. A saber is used in each of the illustrations and the author states that the sword needs to be sized and balanced for the strength and size of the swordsman.
· Lead Bar Cutting – Cut a triangular bar of lead that is 12 inches in length with 1-inch sides. The bar should have flat ends and be set standing on a four-foot stool. Strike the bar cleanly at the point of percussion of the blade. The blade should cut cleanly through the bar in a single stroke if the cut is clean.
· Cut a Sheep in Two at One Stroke – Similar to the feat above, the challenge is to cut cleanly through the suspended carcass of a sheep in a single cut.
· Cut a Broom Handle or Wand on Two Glasses of Water without Breaking the Glasses or Spilling the Water – Place two glasses of water on 4-foot stools and place a broom handle on top of the glasses, the ends of the handles should extend about an inch past the edge of each glass. To cut the wooden stick in half without damaging the glasses, the cut must be clean and very fast.
· Cut a Silk Cushion in Two at One Stroke – Hang a silk cushion stuffed with feathers or down so that the center is about 4.5 feet above the ground. Cut the cushion cleanly in half with a single stroke. The author notes that due to the mess, this feat is not often performed.
· Cut a Veil in Two at One Stroke – Fold a veil of cambric or silk (the author notes that silk is more difficult) on the edge of the sword blade near the hilt. Take two steps forward and cut upwards quickly. The veil should separate during the cut. The author notes that doing this same technique with four colored ribbons looks very impressive.
· Cut a Sheet of Note Paper Unsupported – Fold a piece of paper and place it over the edge of the sword. I believe the author is stating that the paper should be placed on a horizontal blade with the folded edge hanging over the sharp edge. A horizontal cut should cut the paper in two. The author notes that this feat is not difficult.
· Cut an Orange while Falling – Hang an orange about five feet from the ground by a thin thread. Lightly cut the thread with the sword and then cut the Orange in two as it falls to the ground. This can be done right to left or left to right. The author notes that the sword must be very sharp to perform this Feat.
· Cut an Apple in Two on a Man’s Hand without Injuring Him (Note – please don’t do this, not worth it) – Place an apple on a man’s palm and have him hold very steady with fingers and thumb bent as far back as possible. Cut downward on the apple to split it in in two while stopping before injuring the holder. (Really, don’t do this)
· Cut an Apple in a Handkerchief without Injuring the Latter – Tie the corners of a handkerchief together and hang it five feet off the ground. Place the apple in the center of the handkerchief and cut upwards to split the apple with your sword. The author states that if your cut has any draw, it will also cut the handkerchief.