New synthetic swords
Those of us who have been kicking around the HEMA/WMA community since the "early days" of the '90s are well aware of the issues with sword simulators. Back in the day, we basically had three options; full-weight steel swords that were often replicas of historical weapons, i.e. designed to kill rather than for safe fencing and training; chunky hardwood wasters that were fine for drills but dangerous to spar with; and even chunkier padded simulators.
Over the years, the community has come up with various alternatives including the steel "federschwert" ("Feather-sword"), based on historical models, aluminum stage combat blades and some clever adaptations of Japanese shinai into facsimile single-hand and two-hand European swords. The Holy Grail is to create an inexpensive training/fencing weapon that balances realistic balance and handling with safety.
The latest trend is towards various forms of synthetic plastic/nylon/fiberglass sword simulators, as seen here:
YouTube- Knights Shop Rawlings Synthetic Sparring Range Review
These weapons are part of the new Rawlings range and are currently being developed in the UK, with extensive feedback from local testers and the international community via Sword Forum, the Schola Forum etc.
Full written review, pictures etc. at http://historicalfencing.co.uk/rev/i...4&id=3157#3157
My group started out using wood wasters (they hurt too much), we tried foam (didn't bind right & hurt too little) & shinai (no edges, too light, don't bind right) before going back to wood.
Last year we got a pair of Brian Hunt's nylon wasters & have been quite impressed with them. They hold up well against abuse, they bind & flex more like steel & (thanks to the flex) they hurt slightly less then wood while still stinging enough to keep people honest and cautious. My only complaint is that the wide cross guard may offer too much protection.
I also know people who have purchased the Cold Steel training swords. They are inexpensive, but dangerously stiff/pointy & poorly balanced.
I'm very interested to try some of these new Rawlings wasters as they may offer a good balance of quality & economy.
I believe that Purpleheart Armory will be bringing them to the US market.
Interesting article. I've used pretty much all of the above and I still prefer blunt steel. Nylon is decent but not much better than wood to me and polystyrene is just as dangerous as wood without the benefits. Not to mention steel is just pretty bad ass no matter how you cut it.
oh for **** sake, why do people bother with plastic swords. Complete waste of time wanting to learn swordsmanship and not use a sword.
Going by the discussion on other forums to date, most larger clubs want them as inexpensive starter-level training/fencing weapons. The idea is that a cheaper and relatively safer simulator will be more appealing to newbies (and to their clubs), who won't have to shell out so much money for steel swords and thus more expensive armor/safety gear.
Originally Posted by Polar Bear
I suppose a real purist would insist that anything short of sharp steel is a waste of time ;).
Well butter knife sharp is fine. Gets the weight right and the handling characteristics right.
Originally Posted by DdlR
How many people can you honestly effectively train at once. 2 or 3. More than that and you're wasting their money. If you are teaching a class of 10 - 20 then you need atleast 3-4 assistant instructors.
The thing is, if you have 10 to 20 people in a group it's unlikely that they all started on the exact same day. As a coach, you can demonstrate a technique & set up a drill & observe & offer corrections. If you've been doing your job right then your more experienced students will help out the newer students. There's no need for official assistant instructors. It's a method I've seen work in Judo & Jiu-jitsu & boxing & MMA classes. I see no reason swordplay should be impossible to train in large groups. There's certainly historical evidence of the existence of large schools of defense.
as usual I'm late to the party... That was an awesome video and makes me jealous there doesn't seem to be a decent and conveniently located WMA school for me.
Ah well, I can't split my time any more right now anyway...
DdlR, thanks for the video. I want to buy one of them.
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