We’ve seen it all, in movies, books, exaggerated but unhistoric illustrations and oftentimes our imaginations. But the question is, did swordsmen ever really pull a sword from a back scabbard, and how practical would it have been to carry your weapon out of your view – and potentially out of your reach?
- You cannot hang a longsword on your back
The average European longsword would be too long for your arm to pull it out of a back scabbard.
Imagine having to reach behind and stretch your arm up to full length and some more complicated manoeuvres to release your weapon; frankly, it’s a stupid concept.
The only way around it is to hang it lower, and that cancels out the whole “comfort” and “awesomeness” aspect that is essentially the focus of the back draw.
In fact, the whole movement of carefully lifting it out is slow, cumbersome and somewhat pathetic.
Moreover, if you even attempt to pull it quick, you’ll only end up hurting yourself, which has the possibility of seriously damaging your abilities in battle.
After all, you’re pulling a sword to swing it and thrust it, and the very idea of an exercise of the arm before combat has even started should put you off!
- No, it is no more practical than a hip draw
What do you achieve my slinging your sword over your back?
Comfort, freedom of movement and an epic look. But it’s an empty promise. A back scabbard isn’t any more comfortable than a hip scabbard, and in many cases, the increased contact of the metal/leather against your body just makes it a frustration.
And no, you don’t get both freedom of movement and an epic look. To prevent the sword from poking out from your sides and bumping into things, you’ll have to hang it vertically from your head downwards. Do you really think stretching your hand over your head to grab your weapon is practical, viable or even possible?
You can place the scabbard lower down your back, but then you’re just resorting to the “inverse” of a hip daw (basically a hip draw on the back). Explained simply, it leaves you an open target as you turn around and reach for your sword. What is the point?
- You are not going to die in style!
Sorry, but it’s better to use a trusty and practical hip draw to grab your weapon and not look as cool as a back draw.
If you’re wearing a sword over your back, you’ll place yourself in a vulnerable condition virtually every time you want to draw. You cannot pull a sword from your back quickly – as you’re pulling it, your arm is a sitting duck for a foot or mounted sword man.
Frankly, if you get your limb chopped while attempting to grab a sword from behind, you’ll look like a fool.
They’re a pain in the back for curved sabres
Just stop and imagine the situation.
Your army has lost, and you’ll have to flee the battlefield. This requires your sabre or curved sword to be placed back in its sheath. As you try and twist that curve through the banana shaped scabbard, you are chopped down by the enemy.
Sheathing a curved weapon is already difficult enough, but on your back without any ability to see it? Come on now.