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Thread: HanweiDirk

  1. #1
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    Hanwei Dirk Rebuild

    Has anyone here ever shorten a Hanwei Dirk? The early style one.. how short were most handles in the 18th century?
    Last edited by Erikm; 3rd August 11 at 12:43 AM.

  2. #2
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    26th March 08
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    I've never shortened a dirk handle, but I do know that the handle should ideally be sized to the hand of the user.

    When you wrap your hand around the handle in an ice pick grip (but with the thumb wrapped around the handle too, rather than on top of the pommel), the pommel should be tight to the thumb side of your hand, and the other side of your hand should go well up onto the haunches at the base of the blade.

    Because the majority of a traditional dirk handle is cilindrical, the haunches (which are oblong in cross section) should be IN your hand to provide a tactile refrence to the angle of the blade.

    All this means that most modern dirk handles (including the commercially produced "18th century style" ones) are over an inch too long... sometimes well over an inch.

    Hope that helps.

  3. #3
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    30th June 10
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    There seem to have been some exceptions, but Ryan is pretty much spot-on. If you look at the one shown at the top of my website -- which has a 13.25-inch blade and was in fact made and sized for my hand -- the "grip" portion of the handle from the top of the haunches to where the pommel begins to flare out is 2.5 inches.

    From an article I wrote about 12 years ago:

    It is difficult to say what should be considered the stereotypical dirk, because there was considerable variation in handle and blade styles. The earliest dirk handles were cylindrical, but they soon became more ovoid in shape. The proportion of grip length to haunches varied greatly as well: In some cases (earlier pieces especially), it was clear that the handle was gripped above the haunches as with the ballock knife, with the haunches acting as a guard; while others had such a short grip that it seems clear that the haunches were considered simply part of the gripping area. Handles might be made from boxwood, ivy root, bog oak, imported ebony, or other wood; horn; bone; brass; even pewter. Wooden handles were typically carved with Celtic interlace patterns.

    The earliest sheaths were leather, often covering the lower part of the haunches. Later, metal reinforcements were added, and it also became popular to carry a bye-knife, or a knife and fork set, in pockets on the sheath.

    Blades were typically 12 to 16 inches in length. While some were forged specifically to be dirk blades, very often a cut-down sword blade was used. This was not just a matter of the famous Scottish thrift, though certainly a sword blade damaged or broken in battle was not something one would want to see wasted. There also was a succession of disarming acts restricting the carry of swords. From the mid-1600s (if not earlier), there also was a general perception that the temper of blades made abroad - especially in Germany - was superior to local production. All these factors combined to popularize the "recycling" of swords into dirks. A fairly reliable way of telling at a glance whether or not an antique dirk is a recycled sword is by the presence or absence of fullers: Blades forged specifically for dirks were generally unfullered. A false edge on either type of blade is common but by no means universal.

    . . .The dirk occupies a unique niche in Highland culture and history. Many Highland Scots were too cash-poor to buy a sword, but virtually every male carried a dirk - and carried it everywhere! If in Japan the katana was the soul of the Samurai, in Scotland the dirk was the heart of the Highlander. In many warrior cultures oaths were sworn on one's sword. Among the Gael, however, binding oaths with the force of a geas (involving dire supernatural penalties for breaking such an oath) were sworn on one's dirk. The English, aware of this, used the custom against the Highlanders after Culloden: When Highland dress was prohibited in 1747 those Gael who could not read or sign an oath were required to swear a verbal oath, "in the Irish tongue and upon the holy iron of their dirks", not to possess any gun, sword, or pistol, or to use tartan: "... and if I do so may I be cursed in my undertakings, family and property, may I be killed in battle as a coward, and lie without burial in a strange land, far from the graves of my forefathers and kindred; may all this come across me if I break my oath."

    The failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745 was more than a defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie's Highland followers, for the Highlanders fighting against him were ultimate losers as well. The English military and political repression, and the economically driven Clearances, which followed destroyed a Gaelic warrior culture which, despite the corrupting influence of Anglo-Norman feudalism, had survived remarkably intact since the days of the Roman Empire. Many Highlanders starved; many more emigrated to the Colonies and to Canada; and others (from both sides of the conflict) were sold into slavery, sometimes by their own clan chiefs. The English cynically allowed Highlanders to retain some of their cultural trappings such as tartan, broadsword, and dirk by joining Highland military regiments in service to the crown. (I say "cynically" because this approach was openly discussed as a sort of "final solution to the Highland problem" of intermittent rebellion: Far better to have these people go off to fight and die against other wogs than against the English.)

    Today, the memory of the Gael as a warrior has been so far lost that, when a person sees someone wearing Highland dress, the first question asked is whether the wearer plays the bagpipes; and people think a dirk is the little knife one wears in one's sock.

    Yet there are still those, however few, who remember the traditional cultural values of valor, honor, independence, self-sufficiency, and love of family, clan, and country; and who hold these things dear. I recall these values anew whenever I hear the ceol mor, the "great music" of the Highland bagpipe... and I swear upon the holy iron of my dirk that I will not forget.

    Saorsa gu brath! (Freedom forever!)
    "It's all the same to me, war or peace,
    I'm killed in the war or hung during peace."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    19th January 08
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    Thanks very much a lot of help not changing the subject I was in Bujinkan for about two years longtime ago in Jackson TN, My teacher was the late Jim Geary.He was a Judan & one of Kurt rittenhouse students...

    I wish we had a school here in Shreveport LA, would love to be apart of that again

    Many thanks for the help guys....

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