Decoding the 'murderstroke'

Normally, I do not care about weapons fighting; my martial arts path is all bare hands.

Still, sometimes I watch old weapons fighting videos just to relax; and I came across this:

It seems they have problem with 'murderstroke'; a strike with the hilt of the sword depicted in old manuals, but seeming (to them) not to be all that practical.


Now, I am not a weapons expert; but I am quite adept at decoding old fighting systems and have quite a good understanding of animal archetypes. (link)

Thus I know that when some old technique does not work as it should, there might be two reasons:

1)the technique was wrong to begin with (this happens, but not that often; old martial arts masters were not stupid)
2)modern people do not understand the technique properly, ie it only looks wrong and stupid to them

(2) is very often the case; and it is probable the case also with murderstroke.


If you look at the way 'moderns' swing the sword, you can see they use Eagle archetype:

But, in the old manuals, even though the illustrations are not that clear, it can be seen they use Lion archetype for the stroke:

Now what difference might Eagle vs Lion mechanics make, you might ask? If you read my works, you know the answer - it can make heaven or earth difference in effectivity.

We already know what happens when you use the Eagle mechanics from the videos above - you grip the sword like a polearm, and you cut your own hands.

But what if you use Lion mechanics?


First, the grip changes. Your hands create Lion claws, with the palm of your hand pressing against one flat side of the sword; and the bellies of your fingers pressing against the other flat side.

So you are not supposed to grip the sword like a pole! This Lion claw hold protects your hands from the sharp edges of the sword naturally.

Not only that; the whole hold does not resemble the way you hold a pole. It looks more like holding a ball, for lack of better term; pressed against your body with the palms of your hands.

This protects your hands in even another way: When you hit using this 'ball hold', the sword descends with the flat side facing you, not the edge; so the rebound energy never goes through the edge into your hands.

Not only that; Lion archetype leads your hands in such a way it avoid the problem of the tip of your blade pointing against your own body; as it ends up to your left side.


Then, the 'stroke' itself. Done using Eagle, it is just a physical strike. But done using Lion, it creates a special penetrating energy that kills the opponent with a nerve shock (which is a speciality of Lion archetype).

So what the man says in the video - that the helmet would protect the opponent from the energy of the murderstroke because it is designed to do just that - is wrong. Murderstroke is not a physical strike that aims to crack opponent's skull and that can be stopped with a helmet; instead, it creates penetrating energy that goes through the helmet and kills the opponent with a nerve shock. (See my book "Decoding Chinto" for discussion of nerve shock killers).

I believe that was the original design of the murderstroke. It was not a physical strike that was used because you desperately needed something to bash the opponent over his head with.

Instead, it was a sophisticated strike that created special penetrating energy that killed the opponent even through a helmet - without physically injuring him, just using a nerve shock!

I believe this gave it its name - murderstroke - because done right, it kills in one strike even through helmet and without physically injuring the opponent. (Otherwise, the name would be stupid - all strikes with swords 'murder' the opponent, so only a fool would call that the least threatening one done with the pommel - unless it was not in some way especially murderous).



So this was the original, proper murderstroke - done using Lion archetype and a special grip, it created penetrating energy that killed the enemy through the armor with a nerve shock. Boom! In one stroke.

It was not a desperation technique, but a technique of highest mastery; light years beyond any physical sword strike; taking advantage of understanding of animal archetypes and energy generation.

This is why it was shown in the old manuals: Because it was a masterstroke.

And now look what modern people do instead: They hold their swords like an old pole and bash it down using Eagle archetype; only receiving cut hands as a result.

This happens when you do not understand old techniques: They are doing a completely different technique than the one in the manuals; and then they complain it is stupid and does not work.


Excursus - trying out the nerve shock killer:

The 'nerve shock killer' part of murderstroke is of course difficult to test; but it can be done. Have somebody protect his hand with an iron gauntled or similar protection and smash his hand normally using Eagle mechanics. He does not feel a thing.

Then smash his hand using proper murderstroke, ie using Lion mechanics. He should feel the energy penetrate throught the 'armor' into his hand this time, feeling the vibration inside his arm. Now imagine this going into your head.

However, be careful. My training partner hit my forearm (through protection) a little too hard and I felt the shock spreading from my arm to my body, a highly unpleasant feeling. It should not kill a person when you hit just hit his hand; but I believe too much energy might knock him out, which is better to avoid. So hit just lightly.




If you know any people who do HEMA (historic European martial arts), please forward them this article; as they might be interested in it.

If you do HEMA and need any clarification, just email me, my email is on the main page.























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