How to do Sword Fighting
Have the stories of knights always captured your imagination? Well, with a partner and some equipment you can have your very own modern day sword fight.
Sword fighting may seem like an archaic hobby to pick up in the modern world, but its rewards are boundless – it’s one of the most exhilarating forms of exercise imagineable. Even better, it’s easy to learn the basics (though the art takes a lifetime to master, and there’s a pun there if you look for it hard enough).
A big cheer for Samantha Swords who won the February 2013 longsword competition at the Harcourt Park World Invitational Jousting Tournament.
Basic Sword Fighting Equipment:
Your swordfighting equipment will accumulate over time, but there are a few things I’d recommend you have before you start sparring, or practice-fighting.
1. A waster, or practice sword. Obviously you can’t fight without a weapon. These can be made from many materials, including wood, latex or foam, but for safety and durability I would suggest you try polypropylene weaponry, such as that made by Cold Steal. In my experience polypropylene is sturdy and hurts less than other alternatives.
2. Gloves. Especially at first, sparring is hard on your hands. Blisters, cuts and scrapes are common. Gloves can help cut down on that. Any thin gloves will do to stop blisters. If you want a bit more protection try lacrosse gloves. The padding will keep pain and bruising to a minimum.
3. Helmet. While you can spar without a helmet if you and your partner both agree not to aim for the face, it is still better to be safe. If possible pick something with a face guard. A fencing mask would work.
4. Other pads. Depending on your fighting style and that of the other person you may need more protection in certain places. Adjust your armour accordingly. Some possibilities include elbow pads, thick belts to cover your ribs, and forearm protection, which can easily be created using the flexible CD holders that strap to car window visors.
5. A partner. You can’t fight alone very effectively.
6. First aid kit. You don’t need anything fancy, just some band aids and antibiotic ointment.
General Sword Fighting Rules:
Adjust these to fit what your group deems appropriate. These are the rules I use.
1. No face, throat, crotch, or knee shots.
2. Don’t use your pommel as a weapon.
We may change these as we get better armour, but so far these rules have served us well.
Basic Sword Fighting Moves:
1. Diagonally from either side. Hold your sword in front of you. Pull it back and to one side. Then swing diagonally across your body.
2. Overhead. Hold you sword in front of you. Lift it up over your head and swing down. This move is best used when both you and your partner have helmets.
3. Thrust. Hold your sword in front of you, pointed at your partner. Step forward and jab directly at them. This move is closer to fencing that the others I’ve mentioned and is also one of my favourites, but a thrust can do a fair bit of damage in the wrong circumstances so be careful when the adrenaline starts to flow.
Sword Fighting Blocks:
Most blocks, except perhaps how to block a thrust, are fairly self-evident.
1. To block a diagonal swing from either side, move your sword so that it crosses your opponent’s in an X.
2. To block an overhead swing, hold your sword over your head. It should be horizontal so that it will catch your opponent’s swing before it can reach you.
3. There are two ways to block a thrust. The basic long sword-style block is to simply bat your opponent’s blade to either side. For a more fencing-style block, cross your sword with theirs. Then, flick your wrist in a circular motion. If this is done with enough force it can cause your opponent to leave themselves open to attack, or even disarm them completely.
Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to start practising. Grab a partner, find some space, and get to it. That’s how you get better. So go! Set forth! Be urban warriors and modern day knights. Find your comrades and your weapons and fight for the simple joy of it.