Let’s discuss parrying daggers. It came up recently in an interesting discussion about female arms and armor, so it’s been on my mind. I’m not going to go into all the various sundry how-to of sword-and-dagger combinations that can be used, as there is no real definitive conclusion on the subject. Simply put, parrying daggers add an offensive/defensive character to a combat style in many of the same ways that shield or buckler might, while at the same time removing the added force and control of two hands on a sword or spear—also in the same ways a shield or buckler might.
This will just be a quick description of three of the most common (though not exhaustive) types of parrying-daggers from the 16th century in Europe, when this style of fighting was at its peak when paired with a saber or rapier: swordbreakers, trident daggers and main gauche.
Despite its name, the “swordbreaker” was not intended to actually break swords.
This has to be one of my personal favorites mostly because this is a case, much to my
French for “left hand” this is a category for literally any dagger used to parry or thrust
Two-sword fighting probably needs a good, bleach-based debunking (and perhaps we’ll get to that someday), but dagger-and-sword fighting generally doesn’t. The dagger, opposite its sword counterpart (usually a rapier), was studied and developed as a style of fighting, most specifically during the Renaissance period. This wasn’t unique to European sword fighting, as illustrated by other cultures like the Japanese daisho with a matched pair consisting of a long katana and short wakizashi (although other variations existed).