A big hurdle for folks starting out in HEMA is that their first real exposure to how a sword ought to feel is through their training feder. Most people are not able to sample a variety of sharp swords to find one that fits their build and preferences. Feders are really just simulations of sharp swords that make a bunch of compromises to be relatively safe for today's standards. HEMA practitioners usually get a training sword long before purchasing a high quality sharp longsword, which can be a substantial investment. Swordmakers are then challenged by folks looking for a sharp longsword and wanting it to match the handling dynamics, reach, grip length, and weight of their feder, in essence re-interpreting the sword back into a sharp, which can magnify some of the alterations made for trainers.
This "putting the cart before the horse" aspect of the modern marketplace is something we think can be adjusted for those who are really interested in the martial art. Your feder can replicate as closely as possible the handling dynamics of the sharp longsword with which you are training to fight. If you are primarily interested in competitions then you may have some additional concerns that we would address in different ways.
There are several aspects involved in matching your feder to your sharp longsword. First is to match the basic stats of length and balance, POB etc. The second is to replicate the overall form and aesthetics, for example, using the same hilt components on both weapons. We can do this and frequently produce custom feders using hilt hardware from our sharp swords. The third and most complex aspect is matching the handling dynamics and physics of your trainer to your sharp with fine tuning and adjustments. This is what requires real skill and understanding because, if a trainer has exactly the same weight, dynamics and dimensions as a sharp sword, it will just be a sharp sword. Many things have to change to make it safe while staying as true to the dynamics of the sharp as possible.
For a training sword to be relatively safe it must have edges that are far thicker than those on a sharp, and it also needs to be reasonably flexible despite this thickness. To accomplish this training swords are usually more narrow than the sharp swords that they seek to approximate. There are also many more tweaks and changes needed, to make a blunt feder move like a sharp sword, without killing your training partner. For example, varying the rate of distal and profile taper, the weight and durability of the cross and pommel, and the inclusion or exclusion of a schilt all impact the handling and dynamics of a trainer.
Here we have crafted a Trainer that has the hilt and dynamics of the Schloss Erbach Sword.
The grip of the original Schloss Erbach Sword in The Oakeshott Collection compared to the grip for the same sword done as a custom Trainer.
You can rely on our expertise in creating top quality, historically accurate swords for over 40 years to make your sharp or trainer right for you. We can create a training sword to closely approximate the sharp you like to cut with in a variety of training forms. Whether you are looking for a daily contact training blade or a nearly sharp blade for controlled sparring, we have an unparalleled store of expertise and experience to make it happen.
Producing sharps and trainers that are paired is done on a per case basis. We quote each job independently on what will be involved in matching another sword or crafting both as a pair from the start. If you would be interested in such a project please drop us a note 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.