There was a time when swordplay was considered self defence. Now, if you were to draw a sword in order to protect yourself, there is a great chance that the threat wont be taken seriously. This of course, forces the defender in to using lethal force, a less than ideal situation in my mind.
I am a pacifist at heart, despite my martial training, though I would be willing to fight if the situation called for it. I would argue, in fact, that my martial training gives me a greater freedom to be a pacifist. Having a range of combative options grants greater ability to get myself clear of harm without significantly harming an antagonist. I have heard other, far more strict pacifist argue that they would never fight back in a self defence situation, but I have a hard time understanding that particular point of view.
Wearing swords is no longer in vogue. As is I have no reliable data on the effects of a clearly worn blade keeping a person safe. I carry a knife. This knife is not a weapon, it is a tool. A sword is a weapon. It carries the unique description of being the very first tool designed for ending a human life. Where a sword differs from a modern handgun is a gun makes killing all too easy. I have heard the viewpoint of one too many people for whom the immediate response to feeling even slightly unsafe is to pull their gun. A sword at least allows for time to reconsider.
I am curious as to the effect of carrying a sword in a society where swords are used. I have a suspicion that it would function as something of a deterrent. It’s an interesting point in that I don’t generally believe in using weapons as such. I have a saying: a weapon you are not prepared to use belongs to your enemy. Drawing a weapon that you do not immediately intend to use allows for it to be taken away from you. Again, it’s interesting to me that a big part of properly using a sword is holding your opponent at bay without directly attacking.
Now, I’m not directly arguing for people to start once again carrying swords on dark streets at night. Try it if you like though. In my experience people have lost all respect for swords, sadly. As I mentioned earlier, if you were to attempt to use a sword for self defence (assuming that the police didn’t decide to have a problem with your sword first, a 50-50 chance in my experience) chances are that an antagonist would not take the threat seriously until used.
So, swords are sadly not a terribly useful self defence tool. I feel it’s also important to mention that where I live it’s altogether illegal to carry any weapon even for self defence purposes. Of course here what defines a weapon is it’s intent. When teaching self defence the weapon I focus on is the cane. We’ll talk about that another day, though.