Hand weapon consisting of a long metal blade fitted with a handle or hilt. Roman swords had a short, flat blade and a hilt distinct from the blade. Medieval European swords were heavy and equipped with a large hilt and a protective guard, or pommel. The blade was straight, double-edged, and pointed. The introduction of firearms did not eliminate the sword but led to new designs; the discarding of body armour required the swordsman to be able to parry, and the rapier, a double-edged sword with a narrow, pointed blade, came into use. Swords with curved blades were used in India and Persia and were introduced into Europe by the Turks, whose scimitar, with its curved, single-edged blade, was modified in the West to the cavalry sabre. Japanese swords are renowned for their hardness and extreme sharpness; they were the weapon of the samurai. Repeating firearms ended the value of the sword as a military weapon, though its continued use in duels led to the modern sport of fencing. See also kendo.
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