Going the Distance

One of the biggest keys in winning any fight, with swords or without is distance.  At its very simplest, if you cannot reach your opponent you cannot hope to win.  So the tallest swordsman wins, right?  Not remotely.  Oh, height helps to be sure, but a mastery of the sword begins and ends with mastery of distance. The trick seems almost geometrically impossible at first, to enter a distance where you can safely strike your opponent without him being able to reach you in return.  It can be done, although it isn’t easy and the movement involved is actually pretty cool. Continue reading

A Tale of Two Fights

I`m taking classes again.  Sword classes.  It`s good to be on the receiving end of lessons once more and I`m having a blast.  And remember kids, any instructor who can`t see the value of being a student as well should be avoided at all costs.  At the end of last class we had an open sparring session and even though I had more than a few great passes, two fights in particular stood out as being particularly excellent. Continue reading

Sword and Buckler Man

Swashbuckler.  Swashing your buckler.  The term swashbuckler may refer to the sound sword make as young English ruffians bash them against their bucklers as they prowled the streets looking for a fight.  I’m not entirely sure I believe in that origin of the word, but it’s an explanation that, despite being a little too pat for my tastes, works as well as any.  This small, handheld shield was ridiculously popular throughout so very much of history.  But why? Continue reading

That’s Armour

Armour is a great thing.  It keeps people from dying.  The history of combat is in many ways the history of armour.  Looking back it’s a historical arms race between the weapons used and the armour used.  Let’s look back shall we, at the symbiotic relationship between swords and armour and carry it through to the present day. Continue reading

Staff Party

One of the more common and interesting discussions in swordplay is that of which weapon is the “best.”  It seems there are as many opinions as there are weapons.  Some think the rapier is best, because of its reach and preeminence in the a one on one duel.  Some argue for the longsword for its versatility and power.  There is the side that likes the basket hilted broadsword for hand protection and ease of carry.  Some people even say the katana is best because they know nothing about swords.  It’s always a fun conversation. Continue reading

The First Sword

It’s not often these days that you’ll see me practicing Italian Rapier.  Lately, though, I find myself drawn to it and feeling the need to study my Capoferro once again.  A big part of that is that I have been giving much thought to the ideal sword to first pick up.  I often consider what sword style is the best to teach someone who has no previous training and for a multitude of reasons I keep turning to Capoferro’s Rapier.  I have no doubt that there as many opinions on this subject as there are instructors, but I thought I would lay out my reasons for starting new students on this particular brand of swordplay.seclunge Continue reading

Paradoxes of George Silver I: The Sword

The Renaissance was a fascinating time for swordplay.  This is in part because of the fact that so many fencing manuals survive from this era, but also because in the late 16th century we see the first truly civilian swords.  Prior to this time duels were fought only with consent of local rulers and therefore the grievances were primarily of a legal nature.  Due to this fact, the weapons used were generally the same that would be used in battle, complete with full armour. Since these Trials by Combat were set up well in advance, it was alright that plenty of gear was required before fighting could commence.  Once people began to use the duel as a method of settling personal disagreements it became impractical to carry so much equipment and the swords changed to reflect this.  Thus the rapier became the preferred weapon of the civilian classes. Continue reading

A Guide to Historical Fencing

I tell people I am a fencer.  This to them summons the image of those guys in the white suits poking at each other with what looks like car antennae.  So in order to combat this I thought I would provide a brief history of the sword as well as explaining exactly what it is I do. Continue reading

Guarded Statements

There’s something that’s been bothering me about historical fencing for a while.  I’ve been having a lot of problems with the term “guard.”  In theory a guard is any position your body and sword take to defend yourself.  There are complexities within that definition and some people have their own different definitions.  For example, one interpreter of the medieval I.33 system stated that there were no guards present in the style, because you were never supposed to stand stationary to protect yourself in any particular position.  One of my own instructors once made the ridiculous claim that any position you can hold your sword in is a guard, but it is only a “good guard” if it serves to protect you.  Ignoring the fact that if every position is a guard then the entire concept of guard becomes useless, some refining to the term is clearly needed. Continue reading