Was it often in the historical dueling with rapiers and small swords, that after receiving the fatal thrust, the mortally wounded swordsman would step further and deliberately impale himself deeper on the opponent’s blade, in order to close the distance, fix the hostile sword in his own chest, and deliver after blow in the last effort?

I would underline: I do not consider here the mutual kill ("ai uchi") attitude adopted from the start, but a reaction of the wounded fencer, who wants to return blow before bleeding death.

Did many fencers adopt such a tactic, when they realised they were already dying? I read about the similar case in Dubious quick kill - three, where the mortally wounded Duke continued fighting with the hostile blade in his chest, and finally he impaled his opponent, so both were transfixed by each other swords.

The desperate struggle of these fencers may seem odd. However sometimes such reation makes sense: If you are already mortally hit, you do not need to be afraid of your opponent's sword any more, so you can charge at him without any reservation. You do not care about any hurt. The adrenaline help you to cope with pain, and let you boldly take a step forward when cold steel is piercing deeply your chest, but at this cost you can hit your adversary in turn.

Was it difficult for the wounded fencer to block the opponent's sword in his chest? And then, was it easy for him to return blow if he was not taking aslo a dagger? On which factors the success of such tictic could depend on?

  • 2
    The last paragraph invites discussion which we do not do -- see help center, tour. Otherwise, it is a good question. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 13:29
  • I understand, so I abbreviated the 3. paragraph. The primarily sources refering to the example quoted in the 2. paragraph are quoted by Millingen. If you can give other similar examples I would appreciate it...
    – Wit
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 13:41
  • 1
    Sounds like you've been watching a lot of movies. Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 14:10
  • The duel between the Lord B and the Duke mentioned above is referred in the book: "Memoir of his own Life" by Roger Lamb, Dublin 1811, pp. 54-56, books.google.pl/books?id=oMQEAAAAYAAJ
    – Wit
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 13:05
  • R. Lamb quoted the relation of R. Deerhurst, the Duke's second
    – Wit
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


I can't answer this is in the realm of dueling and fencing, but the experience of the US military fighting Moro rebels in the Philippines is relevant.

In the Moro Rebellion, Moro Muslim Juramentados in suicide attacks continued to charge against American soldiers even after being shot.

Soldiers would shoot the Moros and mortally wound them, but this would not stop them from attacking with kris (knives) and other short range weapons. This prompted the US to develop a new pistol with greater stopping power. Mortally wounding the attacker is not enough against the highly motivated; weapons need to physically stop the attacker.

As for how often this happens: it tells you something that weapons with high stopping power were not considered necessary until encountering certain opponents, but that experience changed the US standard issue pistols.

I have met one veteran who carries around a table of expected time to bleed out from different wounds, which he considered useful knowledge on either the giving or receiving end of wounds. I think it was an US Army table, but I don't know enough about it to locate it right now.

Literary license aside, this is a real phenomenon.

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