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Man At Arms: Art Of War - Ep7, Blades Of Legend

Last night on the El Rey Network, ″Man At Arms: Art Of War″ examined two ′Blades of Legend′. Danny Trejo and company took us back to the Battle of Valencia in 1094 AD where El Cid and his famous sword, Tizona, achieved victory. We also saw the team recreate the famous Fulfiqar sword, which the Prophet Mohammad, blessings and peace be upon him, gave to his cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, with which he won the Battle of Uhud in 625 AD. Our master bladesmiths once again attempted to recreate these weapons using some traditional methods of those periods of history. By the way, the actual title of this episode is, ″Stuff That Legends Are Made Of″.




For the Tizona, the team at the Baltimore Knife Company invited Master Smelter Jesus Hernandez of Spain to make the low-carbon steel used by sword makers during the mid 11th Century. A museum piece believed to be the actual Tizona sword is marked as having been made in 1040 AD. Hernandez and Emiliano Carrillo work on smelting steel for it. However, they made too much! Ilya Alekseyev chops off a chunk of the hot steel to work with. He folds it repeatedly and after forming a flat bar, cuts it into several pieces to be forge welded later.


Ilya then gets started on the Zulfiqar. For this sword, the team will use the Turkish Twist method to form their Damascus steel. Ilya hammers a billet into a long, thin bar, which is then cut into seven equal lengths. After heating, these are placed in a vise and twisted to together like a cable, then forge welded into a single bar. Next, Ilya and Emiliano work on forming the noted twin-bladed tip of the Zulfiqar, often described as resembling a centipede′s tail. The twin bladed tip allows a user to capture an enemy′s sword, then twist it out of his hands.


The team the returns to work on the Tizona. Ilya hand forges the steel, giving it beveled edges. Matt Stagmer then carefully grinds the blade, taking off as little material as possible. This is done because of the steel′s low amount of carbon. As with quenching iron swords, there is more danger of problems, especially as they will first quench the Tizona in hot water, then in hot oil. The result, however, is a slight curve in the blade. To rectify this error, they quench it again in oil with the sword set in a special jig which allows them to work the sword straight. The method is successful!


Matt then grinds the blade giving it a ′distal taper′, where the steel at the guard is thicker than that at the tip. This includes the shoulder and center fuller, which Matt also grinds in. Next, he polishes the blade while Ilya forges the guard and pummel pieces. Engraver and artist Ellen Durkan adds some tradition decorations to these pieces. Matt then uses a black oxide compound to darken the guard and pummel, which not only highlights the engravings, but also adds some rust protection.


Matt completes the Tizona with a wood handle wrapped with leather. The Tizona is ready for testing! The honor first goes to Ilya, who thrusts, then slices away at a hog carcass. Danny Trejo then takes a whack at another hog, looking to butcher up some bacon. After going through both carcasses, bones and all, the Tizona has no damage on the edges. Well done!


Back at The Forge, Ilya heat treats the Zulfiqar. He first tack welds a strip of steel connecting the two blade tips to prevent them from warping. After quenching in oil, Ilya quickly secures the Zulfiqar, tip-up, in a vise, allowing gravity to prevent any warping as the blade cools. Matt grinds away on the Zulfiqar, adding the T-shaped spine to the blade, then completes the polishing. Next, Matt dips the blade in a chloride acid solution to bring out the pattern of the Damascus steel. Kerry Stagmer casts an eagle shaped pummel out of bronze. Ilya adds gold inlays to the guard and pummel and Matt again darkens the steel to showcase the gold.


Finally, the Zulfiqar is ready for testing. Stuntman and martial artist Marko Zaror has the honor first of using it. He slices away at several sandbags suspended by ropes, then thrusts and tears into a sand-filled, man-shaped target. Then, Ilya slices a tatami mat in half, as well as a sand-filled, ′Princely′ dummy, wrapped in a Persian rug. All of the tests go well, proving the legend of the Zulfiqar. Next week, the season finale looks at ′Weapons of the Rising Sun′! Can you say, katana? Sure ya can!


For more REAL NEWS and views, follow Andrew Zarowny on Facebook and on Twitter @mrcapitalist.


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