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Self Defense/Question about Armour defense


OK this is multiple questions in one inspired by a quote you made in an earlier AllExpert post.

"The best summation I EVER heard about armour (BTW armor is what you ride around in (tanks, Bradlies, etc), armour is what you wear) comes from a conversation at the armoury booth at RenFaire.
"If all these things can get through armour, what good is it?"
"It covers your mistakes."

See overwhelmingly armour was not designed to take direct hits -- especially you standing there. Movement, deflection, blocking/shielding and slowing methods are what kept you safe from incoming attacks. When those 'failed,' the now reduced (in power and danger) attacks -- hopefully -- bounced off your final line of defense. Your armour. This is why the "covers your mistakes" comment is so important. You had to be moving, shielding, deflecting and blocking for armour to work. (The only exception is specially designed jousting armour.)

European armour eventually got to the point where swords were pretty ineffective against it (Renaissance and beyond). Hence all the other weapons on the battlefield. But even then prior to that, when you dig up skeleton's from  Middle Age and earlier battlefields you find most of the fatal wounds were working around the armour. (Legs were particularly common targets among Vikings, striking below the maille.)"

As you said, armour is only merely meant to be a last resort to cover up mistakes. However I note not just movies a la A Knight's Tale and idiotic TV shows such as Deadliest Warriors portray people cockily thinking their armour will defend them but in Academia and to my shock HEMA  often treat armour as a "I'm immune to the blow" type of thing.

Hell beyond Deadliest Warrior type shows, I seen academicans, medieval scholars, and even modern blacksmiths try to test the armour by hitting it with a sword and even going as far as testing it on a live person.

I know I'm talking in circles since you already stated your answers but I'm confused since even Academics are treating armour like its a sci fi force field that simply bounces off and leaving you in no pain and thus conduct tests  by directly whacking at the breast plate area and other methods that assume you'll just stand there and avoid getting hurt by weapons.

I mean if armour is only meant to be last resort, how come even professional historians make the assumption of testing its effectiveness by hitting a person wearing it?

Now going hand in hand.  Its already bad enough that earlier armour such as chainmail are treated like an invincible suite provided your weak points aren't hit. As you mentioned European style swords can seriously dent earlier armours. However I am curious about plate armour. Plate armour gotten such a reputation to the point even real life experts describe  the weakpoints as being practically invulnerable to all but the most dedicated weapons (eg swords designed to fight plate, daggers so thin they can enter the smallest gap, etc).

I mean even you said that Plate basically became immune to swords. So does that mean if I use a generic European longsword, just hitting the weakpoints won't work? I'm not kidding thats how much plate is being seen as synonymous to a sci fi force field That surrounding your whole body to the point many experts boast the weak points of the armour is covered enough by metallic elements that act like shields (even if it is weaker than the rest of the armour).

Sorry for the stupid questions but to see even professional academics treat armour as though you don't have to worry even if you get hit in the  chest area and even create tests to reinforce it is really scratching my head. This is especially true for plate armour.

>I mean if armour is only meant to be last resort, how come even professional historians make the assumption of testing its effectiveness by hitting a person wearing it?

How many of these 'demos' do you see with a person wearing it while someone hits them with an ax, mace or warhammer?

I've driven those through even plate armor and chopped/crushed my way through malle. I have a spiked battleax that no suit of armour I've ever hit with it has stopped it. (The trick is a real weapon, not a cheap replica.)

So what you're seeing are very special circumstances and set up demos. Kind of like the Polish cop who bought a supposedly knife proof vest that he'd seen demonstrated on a table. I told him it was a trick and that the table is what stopped the knife, not the vest. When he objected I laid the vest on the sand (more like his body) and drove a knife through it.

The first time you see a spike go through amror or a mace crush it, you realize why you don't want to be standing still regardless of what you see on TV.

The question to ask all these people pontificating about what armor does and doesn't do is "Have you ever hit it with an ax, mace, or hammer?"

It doesn't have to be a historical one either, go to Home Depot and get a framing hammer or hatchet. One hard swing and you all of a sudden understand why you DON'T want to be standing there relying on it to stop an attack alone. (The reason most people don't do this is because armour is expensive and it wrecks it.)

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Marc MacYoung


Street self-defense, crime avoidance and personal safety


I grew up in the streets of Los Angeles in 'situational poverty.' I have dealt with criminals and violent people all my life -- both personally and professionally. I have written 15 books and 6 videos on surviving street violence. I was originally published under the name Marc Animal MacYoung. (Animal was my street name). I've taught police and military both internationally and within the US. I've lectured at universities, academies and done countless TV, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews. I'm a professional speaker on crime avoidance and personal safety. And I am an expert witness recognized by the US court system. My bio is at My abridged CV (Curriculum Vitae) is at

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