Martial Arts/Hiltless Sword


QUESTION: Hello there.  Not entirely sure if this is the correct category for this question, so if it is not, I apologize in advance.

Anyway, there is a video game I play in which you can acquire a sword without a hilt, that damages the player upon use.  My question is: was such a style of sword ever used, and if so, why/how could it possibly have been able to be used effectively?

Thank you for your time.

ANSWER: Hello Kyle,

I'll do my best to answer your question.

Historically, there many examples of swords without hilts.  (if we take "hilt" to mean the guard or crosspiece which protects the hand and fingers.  sometimes these are akin to "long knives" rather than swords, although the exact definition varies.  in japan and various parts of Asia we see simple swords and concealed swords with wooden handles but no finger guards.  some swords used crosspieces as a grappling tool, especially in midhieval europe, while others used hilts as simple proteection.

As for why the sword in your video game damages the user....  I'm not quite sure about that.
Certainly in many video games and or tabletop games,there are mechanics in place from a necromantic or death magic point of view which force the user to use their own life as a resource in exchange for great power.  'sacrifice' and the like...

There were a number of tricks, gimmicks and traditions in real life which were designed to force sword users to practice self-discipline, and not to draw their swords lightly/frivolously.  The samurai tradition of "once a sword is drawn, it MUST taste blood before it can be put away, even if it is the wielder's" --> was designed as an honorable way to make the swordsman think twice before drawing his blade.

I hope this is somewhat useful to you. Please let me know if you have any followup questions.

Kind Regards,


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QUESTION: First of all, my apologies for such a late follow-up.  Haven't gotten around to replying to all of my emails and such yet.  Second, thank you for the information.

Now my understanding of a hilt was the entire handle of the sword.  The sword I am speaking of in the game is literally just a blade.  No handle, guard, etc.  Again, I cannot think of any scenario in which this would be at all useful.  Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Hello again Kyle,

Ok, I think I understand now.  I think that a sword with a sharpened handle which cuts the hands of the user / damages the player, fits with my previous analogy about "sacrifice and damage in exchange for temporary boosts to power..."

As for real life, did such a weapon ever exist?  Is there a practical use for such a weapon?
The short answer is: "No."  The long answer is:  "Hell No...!" ;)

Historically, swords were very practical tools.  There would have been no place for a weapon like this in a world where even the slightest of cuts could become infected and kill you....

All the best,


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Grant Baldwin


I can answer questions about the technique, theory, and history of Haidong Gumdo, which is a traditional Korean sword martial art. I am also knowledgable about Chinese Wushu, and Shaolin Kung-Fu . I also have some experience with Kendo and Iaido. So if you have questions related to asian swordsmanship, I`d love to hear them!


I have a 3rd degree black belt in Haidong Gumdo, and I have been practicing since 2000. I have studied Kung Fu since 2003.

Honors undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from Queen's University.

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