Sword Fighting?

Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
edited May 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I would like to learn how to use a sword, leaning more towards a straight European style then anything Asian. Problem being I have No idea how to go about finding an instructor. I am currently in Cumberland Maryland a smaller town but in a few months I'll be in Baltimore for school so I am thinking maybe finding something down there.

Would I have to buy my own sword? I don't think I'd be able to keep it on campus and if I do How do I find a well made one? How do you find a reputable instructor as well? I just need anyhelp I can get on this one.

Ziac45 on
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Posts

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2010
    Fencing?

    Doc on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    See if there is a stage combat group that you can join.

    Improvolone on
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  • Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Less fencing more actual instruction on using a real sword.

    Ziac45 on
  • mastmanmastman Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    fencing is "the" way to train in sword fighting. It is what you are looking for. Specifically saber fencing if you are into slashes. You're not going to find much in the way of Lancelot style sword fighting. If you can fence, you can do that stuff.

    mastman on
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  • Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I actually know a stage combat instructor but isn't that more looking like you know what you are doing instead of actually knowing?

    Ziac45 on
  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'm guessing you'll have an easier time finding a fencing instructor/team than a... broadsword-fighting instructor.

    Plus if you ever get into a scrap, the dude with the rapier is going to take the dude with the broadsword to school.

    KalTorak on
  • FerrusFerrus Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    "Real" swordfighting courses are exceedingly rare it appears. They exist, however. I can not speak for the situation in America but here in Germany I know of exactly one "historical fencing society" that trains you to kill, not just to show off.

    Ferrus on
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  • Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well I certainly don't plan on using the skill as I value my limbs and my life, It's just something that interests me.

    Ziac45 on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Ziac45 wrote: »
    Less fencing more actual instruction on using a real sword.

    Isn't a saber a real sword?

    Guessing you're looking for medieval/broad sword fighting. That's going to be extremely hard to find, specially in Maryland.

    Kyougu on
  • RendRend Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Ziac45 wrote: »
    Less fencing more actual instruction on using a real sword.

    I'm going to echo here that fencing is training on how to use a real sword.

    Foil gets you ready for epee, which is basically a short sword OR a rapier. Saber is a saber. It's a sword you slash with.

    You're good to go. It will teach you how to use it. You will be discouraged by the fact that there are rules in those sports, but you will learn to live with it precisely because those rules were designed by medieval fencing instructors who DESIGNED THOSE RULES INITIALLY in order to teach their students good habits that would make them win in REAL DUELS.

    Fencing. Go do it. It's awesome.

    Rend on
  • Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'll look into fencing then, are these groups normally open to people with absolutely 0 idea of what they are doing?

    Ziac45 on
  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Rend wrote: »
    Fencing. Go do it. It's awesome.

    This.

    Also, foil is for fly-fishing pussies who can't protect their wrists, saber is for screaming psychos, and epee is for gentlemen of education and breeding.

    This is the objective truth.

    KalTorak on
  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited April 2010
    Ziac45 wrote: »
    I'll look into fencing then, are these groups normally open to people with absolutely 0 idea of what they are doing?

    yes.

    Doc on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Ziac45 wrote: »
    I actually know a stage combat instructor but isn't that more looking like you know what you are doing instead of actually knowing?

    Choreographed != not knowing

    Improvolone on
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  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'll just chime in, after 8 years of competitive fencing in high school and college, take a fencing class. If nothing else very very intro level fencing will teach you how to move, how to stand, and expose you to a bunch of different concepts that you would use in "real swordfighting." Plus its really fun and a fantastic workout.

    My understanding from looking into it in the past is stage combat is generally going to teach you how to create a realistic looking swordfight, but not necessarily how to swordfight, if that makes sense. I'm not sure I've ever heard of an actual swordfighting class, I'm sure they exist somewhere too.

    There is Kendo as well, Japanese(?) martrial art that involves bamboo(?) swords and probably a bit closer to real swordfighting than fencing. I don't know too much about it.

    Happy to answer any further fencing questions by PM if you have any.

    Orestus on
  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Foil fencers talk about the art of fencing.
    Epee fencers talk about the mechanics of fencing.
    Sabre fencers talk about themselves.

    I fence Sabre :)

    Orestus on
  • RendRend Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    Rend wrote: »
    Fencing. Go do it. It's awesome.

    This.

    Also, foil is for fly-fishing pussies who can't protect their wrists, saber is for screaming psychos, and epee is for gentlemen of education and breeding.

    This is the objective truth.

    I will not allow such an insult.

    We shall duel at dawn.
    I really like right-of-way rules, I've never actually tried saber but I enjoy foil more than epee

    Rend on
  • Draco_AuricDraco_Auric Registered User
    edited April 2010
    The Society for Creative Anachronism does sword fighting. You can also check out Kali, the stick fighting there is meant to simulate machete fighting.

    Draco_Auric on
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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The Society for Creative Anachronism does sword fighting. You can also check out Kali, the stick fighting there is meant to simulate machete fighting.

    SCA does not do live steel, but some groups do.

    Improvolone on
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  • RendRend Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    The Society for Creative Anachronism does sword fighting. You can also check out Kali, the stick fighting there is meant to simulate machete fighting.

    SCA does not do live steel, but some groups do.

    The Adrian Empire does, but they are not as widespread or large.

    Rend on
  • ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Orestus wrote: »
    Foil fencers talk about the art of fencing.
    Epee fencers talk about the mechanics of fencing.
    Sabre fencers talk about themselves.

    I fence Sabre :)

    I fenced Sabre as well but I never heard that expression. OP I did fencing for over a year at my local university. The club provided me with everything I needed and I think I paid a $50 dues once. I did end up buying my own sabre, but they are still pretty cheap. Look into it!

    Shogun on
  • PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Most of the ancient fighting styles have been lost to time. Modern fencing and its predecessors have their roots in the Late Middle Ages. It may look less martial than Kendo, but this was the style preferred by most European armies in the early modern era.

    Platy on
  • TavataarTavataar Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    There is a very good fencing club in Timonium, for when you are in Baltimore: http://www.baltimorefencing.com/ the head coach is fantastic.

    They also have a satellite club in Columbia, MD.

    They have plenty of intro level courses for new people who have never fenced before. Let me know if you have any questions, as I grew up around Baltimore and fenced here for six years.

    Tavataar on
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  • Ziac45Ziac45 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Thanks for the help all, after a little googling I found no clubs or classes in my current area so it looks like I'll wait to get to Baltimore to get in on this.

    Ziac45 on
  • DaypigeonDaypigeon Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    It would be a bit out of the way, but if the fencing doesn't work out VAF has a few courses that might be more in line with your original goal: http://www.vafinc.com/programs/hist.htm

    I took fencing there way back when, and the coaches seemed pretty good, although I still find it dubious that they're the "world's largest fencing school"

    Daypigeon on
  • HyperAquaBlastHyperAquaBlast Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    There was this documentary on swords I watched on netflix.

    Apparently real Euro-Middle Age sword fighting is like UFC in that you don't try to block and parry much and just viciously take down the guy. Grabbing your own blade was not uncommon.

    And I'd say go more for that style rather then the "gentlemanly" fencing with epees and rapiers.

    HyperAquaBlast on
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  • PlatyPlaty Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well, I guess they didn't have to block and parry that much because they wore heavy armour and, in most cases, also shields.

    Platy on
  • NoffNoff Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    http://www.thearma.org/


    Renaissance period martial arts group, there's a forum listed under the resources tab, and I know there's a DC area study group at least.

    Noff on
  • PirateJonPirateJon Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    DC arma stuff was weirdly political when I checked it out (splinter groups and drama) and there's almost a cultist thing in ARMA for promising to use your powers for good or something.

    Besides that, there's the SCA (larp sword fighting with padded sticks)
    http://storvik.atlantia.sca.org/

    There's kendo (japanese traditional sword style with wooden swords)
    http://www.capitalareabudokai.org/kendo.html

    There's also Olympic fencing:
    http://www.meetup.com/The-DC-Metro-Fencing-Meetup-Group/

    PirateJon on
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  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    There was this documentary on swords I watched on netflix.

    Apparently real Euro-Middle Age sword fighting is like UFC in that you don't try to block and parry much and just viciously take down the guy. Grabbing your own blade was not uncommon.

    And I'd say go more for that style rather then the "gentlemanly" fencing with epees and rapiers.

    You don't know much about the UFC do you?

    Cabezone on
  • Garret DoriganGarret Dorigan Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    If you are looking into this from an intellectual perspective (As in, it interests you, so let's learn!) any sword style from stage to LARP or whatever, will teach you the basics in what you are wanting to know.

    If you are looking at it from a pragmatic intellectual perspective (It's cool and might save my life one day.) you need to look at fencing, if you're only wanting European sword styles. I speak from experience, the upper half of a pool cue is quite applicable to saber forms.

    Garret Dorigan on
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  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    If you want to learn to actually sword fight European style, with say a longsword, you should see if you can hook up with THESE Guys
    HEMA - Historica European Martial Arts

    I just started learning how to fight with a longsword. They actually use Steel training swords, but you can also get wooden, and Nylon practice blades.

    They also Teach:

    Short sword

    Sword and Buckler

    Sword and Dagger

    Unarmed Combat

    And others - that is just the ones that my instructor teaches.

    Their website leaves me wanting, but they are a great group. You can also find links to some of their Tourney's which is what got me interested - these guys fight at full speed. I can't link a video because I am at work, and my access to anything cool is restricted.

    Reverend_Chaos on
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  • HyperAquaBlastHyperAquaBlast Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Cabezone wrote: »
    There was this documentary on swords I watched on netflix.

    Apparently real Euro-Middle Age sword fighting is like UFC in that you don't try to block and parry much and just viciously take down the guy. Grabbing your own blade was not uncommon.

    And I'd say go more for that style rather then the "gentlemanly" fencing with epees and rapiers.

    You don't know much about the UFC do you?

    kickkicking.jpg

    As far as I know. I'm not into watching men pummel each other.

    Anyways rough and tumble sword fighting rather then Errol Flynn type stuff is what I was getting at.

    HyperAquaBlast on
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  • The NescientThe Nescient Registered User
    edited May 2010
    if its the rough and tumble stuff your after, then your best bet is the SCA or similar groups. Find out what groups do the Ren Fair near you and hook up with them. These groups rarely have anything resembling formal instruction. Its mostly grabbing a sword and bashing away at other guys until you get the hang of it.

    like everyone else, I'll recommend fencing, it is really fun.

    The Nescient on
  • VeritasVRVeritasVR Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    It's kind of cool to see people here that fence competitively. If you were anywhere on the mid-Atlantic region from 99 to 04, I probably saw you once or twice (and maybe even got you in a DE!) That Baltimore fencing club was indeed fantastic; produced a lot of decent fencers and had some great competitions.

    Unfortunately, sport fencing and SCA fencing have a lot of bad blood between each other. Try not to step in the bullshit.

    Edit: Sport fencing (foil, epee, saber) has little basis on real combat. History is combat. This is sport.

    VeritasVR on
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  • Game_TheoryGame_Theory Registered User
    edited May 2010
    Ok, so there's a lot of good and terrible information here that requires some clarification... I may be repeating what some of you may said, so apologies to people who have already offered good advice.

    First, you need to ask yourself exactly what you're looking for. Swords come in many shapes and sizes, and were used in a variety of different combative situations. Both the shapes and use change dramatically through time.

    To begin, if you're looking to learn how to use swords as they were originally used in the Medieval and Renaissance periods (based on actual historical source material), then you're looking at a community that goes by one of several names: HEMA, RMA, WMA (historical european/renaissance/western martial arts). There are many many groups under this heading, and a number of forums where you can find them. I would strongly suggest going to the following forums and posting again about people in the Baltimore area:

    http://www.thearma.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=1
    http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/phpBB3/
    http://www.swordforum.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=15

    Caveat Emptor: the HEMA/RMA/WMA community is rife with internal politics and bickering. In particular you'll see a lot of verbal blasting back and forth between ARMA and, well, everyone else. None of these groups are really "crazy" or filled with dogmatic cultists, despite what some other groups may lead you to believe. There are, however, differences in opinion in how a HEMA/RMA/WMA organization should be run, and how source material should be interpreted. The best thing to do, especially for someone entering the field, is to simply ignore the petty infighting and focus on what you're really there for: swordplay.

    Bear in mind that the historical use of the sword is not just a matter of physical exercise, but scholarship. You're not just "doing what seems like it works", you're trying to understand what the original masters had to say. None of us are really ever likely to witness or be involved in an actual lethal sword fight. Modern society is so far removed from swordplay that few people will automatically understand the context under which sword fighting even occurred without really digging deep into the source material. Naturally, different masters and different schools had very different opinions on what was the "correct" way of doing things. Most of them will focus on one or two weapon sub-types, but some focus on several. There is a big difference between those who exclusively look at historical rapier fencing vs those who look to single or two-handed Medieval/Early Renaissance swordplay. You don't actually need to be associated with a group to start doing the scholarly legwork yourself. If anything, the first thing you should do before picking up a sword (or sword simulator) is to start reading what the people who lived and died by their sword had to say about their instrument. Below is a list of some masters and their nationalities, along with links to webpages and/or books discussing them. The German masters tend to skew earlier (late Medieval/early Renaissance), the British ones tend to skew later (Renaissance/Early Modern), and the Italians sit somewhere in the middle, with most of their later material being on rapier and smallsword:

    German
    Italian
    • Fiore Dei Liberi - a very high profile pre-rapier Italian swordsman who wrote a very extensive treatise on the use of various weapons. A predigested book on Fiore can be found here.
    • Marozzo - book here
    • Salvator Fabris - book here
      Italian (Rapier)
    • Vincentio Saviolo - an Italian fencer who set up shop in London during Shakespeare's time

    British
    • George Silver - a very unusual author of British swordplay, but philosophically covers a lot of ground. He acts as a "rosetta" stone between the Medieval English authors and the Renaissance ones. Full works here or here. Predigested material here and a discussion of Silver and his place in the swordplay community/Elizabethan society here.
    • Harleian/Ledall/Cotton Titus - three fairly short, very cryptic treatises on English swordplay. Full texts can be found here. Books are pending.
    • Joseph Swetnam - full text here
    • Zach Wylde - full text here
    • Thomas Page - full text here

    I am not necessarily recommending all of the aforementioned books. However, I will recommend this one. It won't teach you how to fight with a sword, but it'll give you context on the subject in general, and is very well written. The above list of masters and books is by no means comprehensive. Many of the original source material or copies can be found online, especially the English sources. Most groups focus on the German two-handed sword (aka Longsword) sources, due to their plentiful and detailed nature. I encourage you to look around, and read, read, read. When you do purchase books on the technical aspects of swordplay, I would start with things I've labeled as "predigested". Eventually you'll want to come to your own conclusions about the source material, but just to get your feet wet there's no harm in relying on other people's interpretations. It's a very big subject, and it's very hard to initially penetrate on one's own.

    For actual instruments, I would start by getting a wooden waster (the western analog to a bokken) from here if you're interested in non-rapier play. The "Longsword" is a two-handed weapon, and the "shortsword" (misnomer) is a single-handed weapon. Wait on purchasing an actual sword until you know what you're doing, since it'll be a pretty big investment, and your state may require that you register it. Also note that blunted metal swords may be considered weapons in some states (such as Mass.) Read up on local weapon laws in your area.

    The relationship between HEMA/RMA/WMA and the SCA is, well, strange. the HEMA/RMA/WMA people generally snub their noses at the SCA for not being true to the historical source material. In general it's true. The "standard" form of SCA Heavy List combat is not in any way associated with actual historical methods, and is better categorized as a martial sport of modern invention. However... There are a number of people in the SCA community who avidly read historical source material and modern interpretations thereof. So could you learn historical forms of swordplay with the SCA? Maybe; it completely depends on the group. If nothing else, there's no harm in asking around to see what the Baltimore SCA Heavy List people tend to read.

    Olympic Fencing and Kendo are not, I repeat, NOT places to go if you want to learn about the historical use of weapons. The weapon simulators used by both groups do not come even remotely close to simulating the actual weapons originally used, and even though they're based in historical swordplay methods, they've deviated so far from their origins and follow so many "unrealistic" rules that you're more likely to get an unrealistic sense of the speed and safety of armed combat. Just to name a few more specific reasons: concepts like "right of way", limited target areas, a lack of grappling and disarms, special rules for "valid" attacks, "flicking" in olympic fencing, and the general lightness of touches considered valid hits all trend to making these forms more akin to games of tag than exercises in martial practice. That being said, both Kendo and Olympic Fencing are perfectly valid martial sports that will still give you a good sense of balance, proper footwork, and an understanding of when you can and cannot be hit (which is very very important if you're interested in swordplay!!!). Overall, though, if your intention is to learn how to use an actual sword, Kendo and Olympic Fencing are better as cross-training, rather than the main event. It should also be noted that Epee is not too far from the historical Smallsword in weight and use.

    If you're more interested in martial sport than the history. The SCA, Kendo, or Olympic Fencing will do you just fine.

    If you're interested in swordplay for the explicit purpose of stage combat, then please disregard my gratuitous wall of text! I don't know nearly enough about that to say anything useful there!

    If you or anyone else would like me to go into further detail on anything I've stated, I'd be more than happy to. Alternately, if anyone disagrees with anything I've said, I would certainly be willing to discuss it in more detail.

    Also, my apologies to anyone who is in the SCA or does Kendo/Olympic Fencing. I'm not trying to start a flame war, I swear!

    Game_Theory on
  • nescientistnescientist Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    The line between combat and sport has always been blurred, and not just for sports where you swing a sword around. I'd be willing to bet, though, that there are some people somewhere who are still learning and teaching combat-oriented sword use. It just seems like the sort of thing that would have a market. But even so, perhaps the OP would do well to observe that the popularity of the sport of fencing vastly exceeds that of my hypothetical combat instruction. There are tons of people who compete in that sport, and therefore I imagine that the forms and styles continue to evolve and develop as fencers strive to improve their abilities. There are no longer any battles where combat swordsmanship is tested in this day and age; the skills which would be necessary for such battles, then, are much less in demand - perhaps even lost to us entirely.

    Kendo, as described to me, is very much in the same boat as fencing (on the sport vs. combat front) if not worse. It is similarly theatrical, if not more so, with scoring occasionally judged as much on zanshin as actual touches. I don't actually know anything about Kendo, though. This could be just the one disgruntled ex-kendo student I know (and Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash) leading me on, so if anyone with actual experience pipes up I'll retract this instantly.

    nescientist on
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  • JubehJubeh Registered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Asked my friend who takes kendo about the sport.
    Um. Well in kendo you wear that outfit, like the kendogi and the hakama and everything and you wear the armour... and there's the bamboo sword which is probably most different from real sword fighting. And you only go for four points to hit the person: The head, throat, wrist and chest. That's sort of it, really.
    Though with the katas, you use bokkens which are more like real swords, only they're made out of wood. You go through different motions with a partner which is more like real moves sort of. It's kind of hard to describe. Like it sort of acts out real situations... I dunno. You could find a video on youtube probably. Also, a sister sport to kendo is iaido or however it's spelled. It's basically the art of drawing the sword from the sheath. Like, you'll be kneeling in seiza and then you'll have to draw the sword out and perfrom a few moves like cuts and stuff and then you put the sword back in the sheath. You have to treat the sword with a lot of respect with that one.... Uhhh Yeah I dunno.

    Kind of a lame description, but I did look up some videos and there are some neat ones where they go in slo-mo because the action happens so fast.

    I went on to ask him if kendo would be practical in a real sword fight and he said something along the lines of "it would probably help" and then told me if I was trying to becoming a vigilante I should reconsider it. Man my friends know me so well. But he really stressed that it is a sport and not a martial art used to defend yourself.

    Jubeh on
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    edited May 2010
    Were you in Vancouver, I saw this place profiled on the news a while back:

    http://www.academieduello.com/

    Corvus on
    :so_raven:
  • LegionnairedLegionnaired Registered User
    edited May 2010
    I fenced for a while.

    Awesome workout, and once you learn proper technique in all the weapons, believe me, the pit-fighting nature of it will come naturally if you ever need it - read - want to take down one of the guys from arma.

    Legionnaired on
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