Typology of DAAB
Thai swords (DAAB) are worldwide unique and not related to any other sword type. They belong to the arm-length, one-handed and one-side-sharpened edged weapons and are divided into three sections of equal length.
The first is the so-called sword face (weakness), which measures about one third of the blade length from the tip of the blade. It is mainly used for attack. The lower blade area (strength) is called the sword catch and is used for defense. While the sharp side of the blade is used for chopping, cutting or tearing, the blunt back of the sword can be used to defend against attacks and to shatter bones. Some swords have an engraved writing or symbols on the blade, which are said to have a magical effect.
Due to the low purity and quality of Southeast Asian steel, these swords have always been prone to relatively heavy wear. Aggressive clashing of the blades is therefore avoided. A Thai sword is not a hammer – therefore the power of the opponent’s attack is preferably used to reposition one’s own blade and to gain power for counter attacks. In times of war, sword blades were occasionally pulled through decomposing corpses or excrement to increase the blade’s effectiveness through the cadaveric poison and bacterial infections.
Image: Daab (Daab Ayutthaya)
Between the blade and the hilt there is sometimes a very small guard. A hand protection is not provided for Free-Warrior swords (Daab), because it would impair the guiding of the sword. Unlike other sword fighting styles, between a DAAB swordsman and the blade of his opponent lies solely the fighting ability and skill of the one who wields the sword.
The sword hilt covers another third of the sword and serves for balance. Traditionally Thai swords have a round handle, which allows a secure hold and a smooth change of the grip (blade up or down).
The end of the hilt (pommel) is sometimes reinforced with a solid steel knob. Stabbing with the point of the sword (Ort) are rather unusual because of the curvature of most swords and the often wide bladed tip. Instead, it is preferable to stab or strike with the end of the handle. It is said that in the course of time more people have died by the pommel than by the blade of such a sword.
The sword hull (scabbard) is usually made of hardwood and can be used for defense and attack due to its high stability. The original form of fighting with the double sword is performed with the scabbard in one hand and the sword in the other. The rope attached to the scabbard is mainly used for transport purposes and to secure the sword hull. In the case of teacher’s swords, the transverse bands or stripes can be an indication of the years of teachership already completed.
Thai swords are not top-heavy but balanced. They are held close to the balance point of the sword. This allows a high rotation speed and enables complex movement patterns by changing direction. The thumb, the base of the index finger and the forefinger act as the axis of rotation, while the opening and closing of the hand creates the rotary swing. Sword strokes can thus be produced not only from the arm or body rotation, but also from the hand or wrist.
An experienced DAAB-Warrior knows how to handle both one and two swords (or a sword hull). Fighting with only one sword is generally preferred and is considered the highest form of sword fighting. He also masters the fight with arm-length objects (e.g. baseball clubs, batons and cudgels) and the fight against one or more opponents with the same or different armament.
A DAAB-Warrior integrates bodily weapons (fist, foot, elbow and knee) as well as ground fighting and grip techniques into his fighting style. He has a considerable repertoire of pommel attacks and handling techniques. This enables him to manipulate the opponent’s weapon (Winden im Band) and to operate with deadly precision in very close environments (e.g. in the jungle or on the battlefield).