Identify Your Objectives
As HEMA/WMA grows in popularity people are interested in not only their first training weapon, they also are looking at upgrading as they improve their skills with practice. When it’s your turn to choose a training sword here are some points to consider. The correct choice for each of us is different. Several factors need to be balanced when making this kind of decision so you get the best choice for you. Not only budget is a consideration, things like the needs of your training environment, availability, physical characteristics and the all-important personal preferences are in the mix. We have a great deal of experience helping folks with these decisions. We can help you create a strategy for your practice weapons that works over time and meets your objective in training.
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.
Training Environment and Rules
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.
How Do You Train
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
(in part 2 we will look at other components of the hilt)