Where does one learn to use a sword?


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goon
December 28, 2005, 01:00 AM
I have been watching the Lord of the Rings movies lately and I would like to learn to use a sword. Where do I start?

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nomadboi
December 28, 2005, 02:33 AM
There's plenty of good books out there now, but like any martial art, you can only learn so much from a book... where do you live? What kind of swordplay are you interested in?

I'd say go visit www.swordforum.com and ask the same question, after giving the above a little more thought. You'll get plenty of good suggestions, and probably a couple mediocre ones too, but that's just the internet for ya.

Valkman
December 28, 2005, 02:49 AM
Martial arts classes - my buddy and his wife are taking them and she's learning how to use a sword.

ecos
December 28, 2005, 03:34 AM
one thing that is fun is to take pvc piping, cut it to length, put pipe insulation over it and wrap it in duct tape. very basic but if you and a buddy make a couple of those and beat on eachother it will help...it wont teach u the technical side of it but it will really help with reflexes.

me and my dad/friends did that for about 15ish years while i grew up. even though i have next to no training i can beat people with much more technical training (not trying to brag...just showing how it helps) never had any serious injuries from it, no broken fingers etc...unlike wooden practice swords.

try it.. great fun for $15 :D

rustymaggot
December 28, 2005, 04:56 AM
my local state university has a fencing club or team or somthing, ive been invited to come check it out a few times by various people ive met. check with your local schools and see if theres a team.

VirgilCaine
December 28, 2005, 07:49 AM
http://www.sca.org/

Society for Creative Anachronism.

hso
December 28, 2005, 09:42 AM
http://www.sca.org/

Society for Creative Anachronism.


If you're looking for sword training like that shown in LOTR then the SCA is probably your best bet just because they are widely scattered across the country and will have members seriously devoted to learning this style of fighting and can make recommendations.

Trainig in sport fencing is an entirely different style from broadsword or shortsword as seen in LOTR. If you are looking for very serious european 15th – 17th centuries style you can look for an ARMA group. They consider themselves a western martial arts group and focus entirely on combat. http://www.thehaca.com/. Also try Swordplay Alliance, http://swordplayalliance.com/

As a fall back, look for a martial arts school teaching FMA, Kali, Arnis with classes in the Barong. Much of what will be taught will serve for short sword training and you woll pick up some pratctical skills as well.

Don Gwinn
December 28, 2005, 10:46 AM
Ginaz.

nomadboi
December 28, 2005, 03:20 PM
Careful with the padded pvc stuff... I've got a scar on my forehead from when we were using those in a martial arts class, practicing evasions... I zigged when I should have zagged, and caught the corner tip of one, where it wasn't as padded. Didn't hurt, but the skin just opened up...

ecos
December 28, 2005, 04:51 PM
i should have specified to sand all edges smooth/round them...and i put a layer of material at the "point" to pad thrusts.

the worst injury ive gotten from them is when i let loose with a battle cry and stepped in for an attack and the guy thrust at my face...went right in my mouth and poked the back of my throat. was more embarrassing than painfull. crotch shots dont feel the best either.

carebear
December 28, 2005, 09:07 PM
Another vote for

http://www.thehaca.com/

Great site, lots of good info and essays.

tellner
December 29, 2005, 01:13 AM
What kind of sword do you want to learn to use? There are many different ones. Each has its peculiarities, and each has traditions which teach its best use.

carolinaman
December 29, 2005, 09:20 AM
Hi all,

I went on the SCA website and found a group near my location!

Now all I have to do is contact them and start shopping for some basic equipment.

Chris

nomadboi
December 29, 2005, 04:31 PM
Just so's you know, these all do different things for you:

SCA- fun, but play. The 'heavies', with the armor and broadswords and such, get to do fun things like have mass battles and whatnot, but it's not too much more sophisticated than just grabbing some boffers and whacking your brother or friend- hit a leg, they go down on one knee, bop them a couple times, they play dead...

Historical armored fighting was much more about finding the spots between the armor and poking a blade in there (against the rules in SCA I think), or bashing in the armor so it wouldn't work, or grappling (banned in most SCA baronies).

Sport fencing- teaches good footwork, but very linear, and also bound by 'right of way' and other artificial rules.

thehaca- really depends on who's in the local chapter. Many instructors of Western martial arts have had problems with the guy who runs it (and I have myself), but there are definitely some good groups out there, and they have a great website.

Also check out http://www.aemma.org for some good stuff, or the Chicago Swordplay Guild, or Christian Tobler's group... there are many good groups out there.

As with all martial arts, every group has to find that balance between safety, speed, and realistic technique - you can't really practice with all three at full, you know. Also in this case between sticking to pure source material (written texts from medieval or rennaisance times, good but often incomplete), interpretations, combining various systems versus keeping them as pure as possible, etc.

trueblue1776
December 29, 2005, 04:32 PM
CHINA, ha ah ha ha ha ha

tellner
December 30, 2005, 01:18 PM
Sport fencing- teaches good footwork, but very linear, and also bound by 'right of way' and other artificial rules.

Even if you go on to do more historical sword work Olympic style fencing is just about the best base you can have. It has some very artificial rules, but it teaches fundamentals very, very well. You learn distance, time, precision, point control, efficiency and a number of other important things. Frankly, most of the so-called reenactors I've met haven't had any of those. If they did it usually came from classical fencing training or something like it.

It's a lot like shooting. If you spend the time internalizing grip, sighting, trigger control, follow through and the rest you will be an infinitely better shooter when you do the less constrained tactical training. If you haven't really learned to shoot the other stuff may actually make you worse.

Back to swords...

The martial arts of the Phillipines have some very good sword work depending on what teacher you end up with. Kendo and the sword work in the older comprehensive systems is excallent for the Japanese sword.

Rockrivr1
January 1, 2006, 10:50 PM
I'd have to agree that taking fencing is probably your best way to learn the basics of swordplay. There are many different forms of fencing, but all have several things in common. You need to learn footwork, balance and strategies before you can become good at it. I've been taking fencing classes for about two years now and I have yet to find a better workout then that.

Yes, there are rules and procedures you need to follow. But if you get into the right class, they mix things up so that you get a variety of different challenges. I particularly like it when we dual with sabres. This is a lot like old fashioned swordplay, but it's fast and you have to have a strategy in your head before you begin or your dead.

If you just looking to beat someone with something hard, fencing isn't for you. But if you want to start from the basics and learn, then I would strongly recommend it.

Sunray
January 2, 2006, 02:11 AM
After 20 years of playing in the SCA I can safely say that SCA fighting has very little to do with sword fighting. It's fighting with clubs that resemble a sword. SCA armour can be expensive to buy and you must take the training and pass a test before you can fight. 18 years old or older only.
Fencing, Olympic or otherwise is a highly organized sport that resembles 16th Century rapier fighting, but not with a broad sword. The SCA does university style fencing too. Lots of rules about what you can wear and what sword you can use when fencing in the SCA.
A lot of the AEMMA guys are SCA fighters too. They wanted to use real swords(aka; live steel) instead of rattan clubs. There are other 'live steel' groups out there though. These groups are closer to the LOTR movies than the SCA. Just remember that movie swords are props that are usually Al or painted wood.

Nematocyst
January 2, 2006, 02:45 AM
Where do I start? In part, that depends on where you are now, and where you're willing to visit.

This school (http://www.northwestacademyofarms.com/) would be my option.

The instructor's name is Sean Hayes.

He's a master of medieval European sword.

Of course, if you're not in his town, then...

CatsDieNow
January 3, 2006, 05:04 PM
Did a lot of traditional western style fencing in my younger days.

The sword that you use or style that you train in really isn't that important. This is true for any martial art. What is important is that you have an instructor who teaches you how make a plan and execute it and also how to quickly react to patterns and situations. The coordination, reflexes, and anaylsis skills don't hurt either.

For swords, I would still choose the sport fencing (or possibly kendo) because the quaility of instructors is much better. Training with European masters (a master's degree in sports training, specializing in fencing) is a big step up from the Purdue intramural fencing club or hobbyists. You can guess how I know this.

The artificialness of the right-of-way rules (epee, of course has no ROW if that concerns you) usually stems from people not completely understanding them and why they are there. I will agree that it is somewhat linear, though.

Rockrivr is right, sport fencing is a great workout - except that it overdevelops one side of your body. Back when I was seriously competing, my right thigh was 1-1/2" bigger around than my left.

ocelot777
January 3, 2006, 08:35 PM
I agree with the preceding poster (despite name) in almost every respect.

Point by point:

My perspective is kendo-based aND THIS IS ONLY MY UNVARNISHED OPINION (SORRY ABOUT CAPS).

I agree with this point but would add that ferocity/determination/zanshin is extremely important (and difficult or impossible to teach).

Definitely agree with this: quality of training is very important and you're more likely to get this in a style with some true and direct martial antecedents and one that actually involves some real, unpredictable violence with actual physical consequences. I suspect that the SCA care more about the look of the thing and that the HACA basically make it up as they go along (and I have met some of these guys, in Oxford, UK -- the best of them were those that were currently or previously 'sport fencers'. I thought, though, that they were sincere in what they were trying to do and some undoubtedly had facility with blades).

Regarding 'artificiality', from what I know, the epee is the most realistic discipline in modern fencing insofar as any part of the whole body is a target (and no ROW apparently). The rules in shiai (fencing in armour with shinai (bamboo swords) -- full contact) are unrealistic in that the targets are the most heavily armoured bits -- the opposite of actual practice with katana. But many things can be learnt by this kind of 'no-risk' practice -- timing, reading your opponent. handling a weapon (sort of thing), etc. plus, it hurts like fwark when you get hit (armour in kendo isn't very efficient and you often get twatted on bare flesh -- ouch!). From my limited experience of modern fencing, it also can be quite painful and, to be fair, some HACA guys (and similar) seem to appreciate the didactic value of pain and risk.

I must say though that I suspect that only very few people in any of these disciplines set out to improve their real-world fighting skills and that still fewer have the attitude to succeed in a real fighting situation with or without weapons -- the word 'romanticism' springs to mind . . .


Lastly, kendo is also a great workout, but it's your left calf (and your arms if you have poor technique) and your 'hara' that get bigger!

ocelot777
January 3, 2006, 08:36 PM
what's your problem with cats?

LawDog
January 3, 2006, 10:10 PM
SCA is to swordfighting as professional paintball is to CQC training.

http://www.thearma.org/

If you are interested in what you saw in The Lord of the Rings, Medieval swordcraft is probably what you're looking for.

There are books to whet your appetite: http://www.thearma.org/medsword.htm

And they'll probably be able to put you in touch with someone to coach you.

LawDog

CatsDieNow
January 4, 2006, 09:40 AM
That zanshin part of kendo was that only thing that stopped me from trying that as well (okay, and the hour drive to Plano).

I hated fencing screamers and bouncers when I was competing. They would make a bunch of noise and jump around before and after the point - attempting to influence the referee's decision. I'd usually fence quietly until the last point and then obnoxiously imitate them when I won. I admit that was mean and probably not the graicious thing to do, but most of the people who did it once, never did it again around me. :evil:

But mainly, I don't believe in telegraphing my intentions to my opponent.

All sports are artificial to some degree. That's to minimize injury and death.

The story behind my screen name is here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=260130&highlight=cat#post260130).

ocelot777
January 4, 2006, 11:03 AM
:) fair enough (about the cats)

Zanshin, though, approximately translates as 'awareness' or 'concentration'.

All the yelling and screaming in kendo is 'kiai' and is meant (officially) to demonstrate spirit (the 'ki' in 'ki-ken-tai no ichi' -- spirit, sword and body as one), but is used to intimidate and/or distract one's opponent.

Cosmoline
January 4, 2006, 11:22 AM
Sport fencing probably offers the best instruction, but it only goes so far. It can teach you footwork but is more sport than martial art at this point. Points are scored for what amount to taps that would do little damage IRL, so you can't count on being able to utilize a real rapier as a lethal weapon from fencing classes. It all depends on how practical you want to be, though. Obviously, the most practical solution of all to a swordfight is:

http://www.se7enty6ix.com/images/CDs/ninja.jpg

goon
January 6, 2006, 01:08 AM
Thanks for all the answers. Sorry I haven't followed up on this but I don't really think to check this part of the forum that often because I generally tend to only post to the firearms related forums. I think fencing would be a cool place to get started anyway. That is something that I might try. I'll have to check into it.

progunner1957
January 8, 2006, 02:28 PM
Look in the yellow pages for a Kendo school.

Soap
January 8, 2006, 02:34 PM
That zanshin part of kendo was that only thing that stopped me from trying that as well (okay, and the hour drive to Plano).

I hated fencing screamers and bouncers when I was competing. They would make a bunch of noise and jump around before and after the point - attempting to influence the referee's decision. I'd usually fence quietly until the last point and then obnoxiously imitate them when I won. I admit that was mean and probably not the graicious thing to do, but most of the people who did it once, never did it again around me. :evil:

But mainly, I don't believe in telegraphing my intentions to my opponent.

I studied Iaido for a while and when I came to Purdue I went to a Kendo club callout...the kiai-ing definitely turned me off. It is funny to hear how you used to fence silently except for mockery. :cool:

carebear
January 8, 2006, 03:51 PM
I studied Iaido for a while and when I came to Purdue I went to a Kendo club callout...the kiai-ing definitely turned me off. It is funny to hear how you used to fence silently except for mockery. :cool:

Completely different school of thought about killing I'd guess.

Personally, I've never understood the fascination with the martial arts of the East.

tellner
January 8, 2006, 08:17 PM
Screaming isn't zanshin. It's a substitute for zanshin or at best a sign of the thing rather than the thing itself. Unfortunately, the ZNKR took leave of its senses in a few important ways somewhere along the line.

As for fencing being "just a sport" I've heard people say the same thing about boxing and Muay Thai. They may be "just sports", but a good boxer or Thai boxer is a pretty fearsome fighter. A well-trained historical fencer may be better in a fight to the death with swords than an FIE-style fencer. The problem is that good historical fencing training is much rarer than good sport fencing. And again, if you want to specialize in older systems that's great. If you already have a solid base in modern fencing you'll be even better.

El Tejon
January 9, 2006, 09:42 AM
The sword fighting man for LOTR was a fencing medalist from the UK. He was also involved in a couple of James Bond movies (the one where the Bond girl is a fencer, maybe 2002 or so).

I would think that fencing would be the most efficient means to learn something about the sword as most martial arts teach weapons only after a foundation in empty hand instruction.

Soap
January 9, 2006, 02:57 PM
Completely different school of thought about killing I'd guess.

Personally, I've never understood the fascination with the martial arts of the East.

I don't really see how they are all that different in their core philosophies but definitely in the application.

For me, Eastern MA is a way to get in touch with the Asian part of my heritage, much like riding horses and hunting gets in touch with my Caucasian side. But for most people, I think the situation is more availability of training than fascination. It is very tough to find a good combatives school. The days of the public perceiving an invincible Karate/Kung Fu/Ninja/etc. master are over with thanks to MMA competitions.

carlrodd
January 9, 2006, 03:05 PM
I have been watching the Lord of the Rings movies lately and I would like to learn to use a sword. Where do I start?

there is a really reputable sword-fighting school for fighters, fighter/thiefs, fighter/mages and bards in the desert town of dunekeep. join us on sunday nites at my friend keith's house.

tellner
January 9, 2006, 03:11 PM
I would think that fencing would be the most efficient means to learn something about the sword as most martial arts teach weapons only after a foundation in empty hand instruction.

Depends which ones. The Filipino and Indonesian traditions usually start off with weapons immediately. Same with the old Japanese martial arts.

Trebor
January 13, 2006, 12:52 AM
A lot depends on what exactly you want to do and how interested you are in historical accuracy vs. brawling. I used to do SCA heavy fighting and the techniques probably bare only a loose resembalance to medieval weapons fighting. SCA fighting does have some neat things though: It's all full contact and full speed. We do both one-on-one tourney fights and multiple fighter melees and larger battles. I've been in battles with upwards of 1,000 people on a side. We also do more weapons than just swords.

I can't really comment on the eastern martial arts or the other swordsmanship schools. I don't have any experience with them. If you are interested in learning "pure" swordsmanship, as close to how they did it as we know, you might want to look into those.

One last thing about the SCA. Sword fighting is only a part of what we do. If you are looking for a hobby that can eat your life, the SCA is a good candidate.

nomadboi
January 13, 2006, 02:02 PM
Bob Anderson, who was only one of many swordmasters working on the Lord of the Rings films, was indeed a fencer... did his first movie work with Erol Flynn on Master of Ballantrae, but that was back when stage combat or film fights weren't really a separate discipline, and people just went to their local fencing coach to stage their shakespeare or latest Basil Rathbone feature.

Times have changed, and there is a lot out there now in the way of stage or film specific fight training, if that's what you're looking for... but that's not fighting, it's more about safely creating the illusion of violence... it's helpful for people studying it to look into the historical or other valid martial arts, but they aren't the same thing.

Heck, Tony Wolf, one of the other guys who worked on LOTR (developing ethnographic fighting styles for the different races, and then teaching stuntmen to be orcs, elves, uruk-hai, etc) has done everything from 19th-century English Bartitsu to Capoeria to dance to professional wrestling (he was the "Canadian Wolverine" in the NZ pro-wrestling circuit in the 80s).

el44vaquero
January 13, 2006, 02:51 PM
Knight School :neener:

carebear
January 13, 2006, 11:54 PM
Knight School :neener:

Get thee to a punnery. :evil:

Silver_Torch
June 7, 2007, 09:06 PM
where could i get information on how to use a sword. and some daggers of the middle ages.:confused::confused::confused:

Geno
June 7, 2007, 09:42 PM
Check into a credible martial arts school.

Doc2005

nrawling
June 7, 2007, 09:43 PM
In case you haven't figured out by now: opinions vary.


Really, all of the mentioned choices are good ones. I fight heavy in the SCA, my neighbor does SCA fencing, and my father in law does Olympic fencing. My wife shoots medieval firearms (hand gonnes) in the SCA.

I think if you really want to perfect the art of the sword, you're going to invest a lot of time and effort in a lot of different disciplines. I think the SCA comes closest to actual medieval warfare (my personal opinion, note). I think Olympic fencing teaches the best footwork and point control. Kendo sounds great, but their rules are more artificial than most and they seem to focus too much on the overhand chop.

One thing that the SCA offers that I haven't see elsewhere is the opportunity to fight in a mob with hundreds of other people. It's definitely exhilarating, and it can be good exercise.

Oh, and real swords are expensive. Many of the swords that are sold through the major warehouses to collectors are nothing like the swords of old due to the nature of their construction. They tend to be far heavier than they should be, in my experience.

carebear
June 7, 2007, 09:54 PM
Perhaps a bit more scholarly and formal in terms of instruction and history than SCA, especially when it comes to working with live steel, would be these folks.

http://www.thearma.org/

nomadboi
June 7, 2007, 10:03 PM
My counter-vote would be for aemma.org, or selohaar.org, the Chicago Swordplay guild... well, in case you haven't figured it out, it depends in large part on where you live, but if you go over to swordforum.com and ask around, it shouldn't take long to get all the answers (and as with anything, don't expect everyone to agree on what's best).

Devonai
June 7, 2007, 10:21 PM
Personally, I've never understood the fascination with the martial arts of the East.

For me, it was simply picking up a bokken as a 13-year-old boy and deciding it was a beautiful piece of wood. I think the desire to learn history from a weapon is well-known on this forum.

Seventeen years later, and I still feel the same emotion from a spectacular sunset as I do a good bokken. If I think a little harder I can also feel the pain of all the bruises, contusions, and chipped knuckles such a weapon has caused me.

As far as "boffing" weapons, I have made many. Some were meant to approximate bastard swords, some katanas, and some gladii. It is always a compromise between realistic handling and adequate padding, but having had my shin opened up by a failure of the padding, I say err on the side of caution.

Boffers are good for sparring beginners, but I strongly prefer bokken for sparring seasoned martial artists. Boffers are too unwieldy and I rarely feel like I am actually learning anything other than dodging and agility when I use them.

Bokken can inflict a serious wound, but they much more closely approximate a live blade, encourage proper technique, and provide better force feedback. When used this way, a good bokken should last for years. If you are destroying them then you are doing it wrong. My friend and I used to go through 5-6 a year until our technique improved. My current bokken is four years old but unfortunately it has started to splinter beyond what sandpaper can repair. Fortunately the white oak variety that I prefer is only $20/per.

Dravur
June 8, 2007, 11:11 AM
Go to Ninja School!

I heard that a guy named Gecko45 is teaching a course down at the mall. Bring your own sword, a wheelbarrows and some .22 ammo and you will be set. Oh yes, bring some duct tape and some trauma plates.

Ninja school, remember it.

Owen
June 8, 2007, 11:48 AM
im a sport fencer that is lucky enough to have an instructor that is into rapier fighting. We spend the summer (the off season for fencing) playing with the old stuff.

I've got this great bruise from a buckler on my ribs right now. I'm dying to show someone so I can brag on it.

carebear
June 8, 2007, 11:21 PM
I've got this great bruise from a buckler on my ribs right now. I'm dying to show someone so I can brag on it.

Better pick the right "someone" to get full cool points...

"Hey, check out my combat bruise."

"Cool, what's it from?"

"A buckler."

"Someone hit you with a bucket?"

:evil:

geim druth
June 9, 2007, 10:53 PM
I agree with Tellner. Take fencing lessons and learn the basics of time and distance before moving into any other sword discipline.

After you have some experience, if you want to train in a more martial tradition, you could consider lessons from Maestro Martinez.

http://www.martinez-destreza.com/

I only know him from his Destreza video, but I do know a good fencer that was impressed by the skill of some of Martinez' students.

.cheese.
June 10, 2007, 12:18 AM
I used to be pretty good at fencing - perhaps that would be a good way to start.

Now that I think about it, I should probably take some lessons again so I remember it all.

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