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DdlR
3/03/2010 11:34am,
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 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2knwdZYXotY)

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/index.php?option=com_kunena&Itemid=53&func=view&catid=4&id=3157#3157

SBG-ape
3/03/2010 1:23pm,
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.

DdlR
3/03/2010 1:40pm,
I believe that Purpleheart Armory will be bringing them to the US market.

Mordschlag
3/03/2010 2:42pm,
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.

Polar Bear
3/04/2010 4:40am,
oh for **** sake, why do people bother with plastic swords. Complete waste of time wanting to learn swordsmanship and not use a sword.

DdlR
3/04/2010 5:03am,
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.

I suppose a real purist would insist that anything short of sharp steel is a waste of time ;).

Polar Bear
3/04/2010 6:50am,
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.

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.
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.

SBG-ape
3/04/2010 1:27pm,
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.

Styygens
3/04/2010 1:36pm,
Ddlr;

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...

MGM
3/06/2010 1:36pm,
DdlR, thanks for the video. I want to buy one of them.

Polar Bear
3/06/2010 1:56pm,
There's certainly historical evidence of the existence of large schools of defense.

Indeed but we don't know how many of them lived pass their first encounter. Maybe that's the reason for the large numbers :laughing1

GenericUnique
3/06/2010 2:01pm,
Ddlr;

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...

I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic to be very useful, but what's wrong with the groups in this list (http://www.paravoid.se/hema/organisations-and-clubs-north-america.html)?

Grimnir69
3/06/2010 2:07pm,
Oops, didn't realize that I had those pages up under my company domain still. Please use the proper domain instead: http://www.hroarr.com/index.html and the page is of course here: http://www.hroarr.com/organisations-and-clubs-north-america.html

Styygens
3/06/2010 7:50pm,
I'm on the wrong side of the Atlantic to be very useful, but what's wrong with the groups in this list (http://www.paravoid.se/hema/organisations-and-clubs-north-america.html)?

With the Internet, you can be anyway and still be somewhat useful.:lol:

This was a list I was unaware of.

However, let me be candid about a few things... First, my interest runs either to earlier Sword and Shield techniques (e.g. I'd already discovered and researched the Hurstwic group trying to reconstruct Viking Age techniques at the Higgins Armory in Massachusetts -- I have been thinking about flying in for one of their seminars) or Elizabethan technique such as George Silver. I recognize that German and Italian Longsword is supposed to be accessible, but the High Middle Ages isn't really my passion.

While none of the Maryland groups on the list are right around the block for me, the closest club is admittedly close enough if I was interested in the material, and willing to make the ongoing commitment. Which brings me to...

Second, and more importantly, I recently commited to improving my BJJ-game (not hard, as I'm a mere white belt). Combine that with my work and family responsibilities, and I just don't have the time right now. (Ok, Mrs. Styygens would kill me if I told her I was taking up yet another martial art. :5football)

It really would take a perfect storm of circumstances to get me into a WMA club right now. I'm content to dabble for the time being. I have found that all things come in their own way and time.

Grimnir69
3/07/2010 1:12am,
In case you change your mind in the future, here's another more detailed list I have put online: http://www.hroarr.com/survey/worldwide/practitioners/ Use the arrows on the bottom left to navigate to the US. There are little more details on what each group practices. But the list is currently only half complete.

willaume
3/13/2010 8:39am,
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.

I suppose a real purist would insist that anything short of sharp steel is a waste of time ;).

hello
Well I think it is more a matter of what you want to achieve.

For me ideally and that does not go further that being my opinion
You need a sharp to slice mister piggy
A blunt for co-operative drill
A modified shinai for pressure testing and sparing

I have tried blunt steel sword, wooden waster, early and late nylon waster feder, padded weapon, shinai, modified shinai, and rattan.
At the end of the day, it is possible to spare safely with sharp. Now there is only a select few people that I would trust enough and that are good enough to do it with.

At the end of the day, we are doing bloss fecheten. I.e. un-armoured. So there is an inherent compromise between the simulator, the intensity and the protection.
One will always, pay the price for the other. So there is really no right or wrong way.

For me, and it is just an opinion, being hit need to be bearable but painful to much armour or padding invariably leads to bad habits. For example people that train with heavy glove have a tendency not to care about their hands and tend to stick then out early.

Bunt steel there is no way to pressure test, safely with serious protection but they are excellent for compliant drills.
Feder= fencing jaquet, helmet and gauntlets/heavy gloves are fine and it is quite good in the bind but there are really too flimsy.

All the waster wood, new and old nylon, the daves waster being by far the best of the lot, need a level of protection that I think is too heavy for naked fencing. as well the less like a jo they behave the more flimsy they are

Padded weapons, the best being the one used by ACT, are too cumbersome, are lacking in tip control and feel heavy. The one used by ACT do bind all right.

Rattan,shinai, modified shinai. The best being modified shinai (ie so that the weight and the balance is right) are the best of the lot.
As PB pointed out in the krump post, they lack edge alignment and are bouncy.
But a 3 weapon fencing helmet/kendo helmet and a throat protector is all you need protection wise.

Now regardless of the simulator, if you have understood what you are doing, it will not be a problem to make a technique happens, it may take a few tries but you will eventually get there.