When you set out to buy a new training sword there are a variety of issues you need to consider, including your budget, how you train and/or compete, what historical schools you study, how you want the piece to handle, and if you want a disposable piece or something that can be repaired when it needs maintenance. Here at Arms and Armor our goal is always to produce historically accurate pieces that are attuned to the needs of our customers. Our swords are not cheap, and they are not something to beat up and throw away. Indeed, many of our training swords have been in use for decades.
All of our products are hand made, by us, in our shop in Minneapolis, MN. USA. In addition to our standard options, we also specialize in custom pieces to meet your requirements, melding our expertise with your particular training needs. As we are primarily makers of sharp replicas of existing historical pieces, our goal in making training swords is that they should behave as close to real, sharp swords as is possible while maintaining relative safety.
A focus on your training goals, safety and competition needs can all be important. We have been modifying pieces for many years to meet these requests and can help you make great choices whether it's your first steel trainer, a generational step up in your art or a sharp to work on mastering your cutting.
School or training group preferences are often the first place people start with in choosing a sword. This is just one element for people’s decisions about their trainer whether the first or the fourth. If your group has certain requirements, that will dictate some of your choices. Also if you are the first to be buying steel it is often good to convince someone else to purchase one as well. This allows steel on steel training from the start, if you are the first with steel in your group. Steel trainers can wear down wood or synthetics pretty quickly if moving at speed. Safety should also be a foremost concern when training longswords.
The next thing to consider is your intended use of the sword. How often do you plan to train daily, weekly, monthly? You want to make an appropriate choice for the sword to meet your expectations with the level of intensity you foresee in your sword use. This extends to tournament and/or practice use. This can be the same piece or possibly two different swords. There has been a trend lately for people to get inexpensive swords to use in tournament, as the wear and tear they may encounter can be unknown. If you have a sword that is tweaked to your preferences or personalized you may choose to not use such a piece in a tournament environment.
Lets now to turn to some of the individual elements of the sword that provides points to consider when making a choice on a sword. The hilt is probably the first place too look to make choices. In the last few years we have seen one area where current safety equipment has influenced people to ask for a modification to the grip length of the swords. The dimensions of the larger safety gauntlets make some hand positions difficult on a historical length grip.
Modern hand protection next to late 15th C original.
The extended grip option on our Fecht trainers, allows you to adjust for this and continue to use proper form with the position of your hands. This is most evident in some of the high wards where having a good position through the action of ochs, zerchau or even striking a nice krumphau relies on having the hands flow around each other smoothly and closely. The added grip length allows this to happen with the larger gauntlets
Check out our full line of training weapons here.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985