Long Sword Usage and History
The long sword is a weapon used during the middle to late medieval period and early renaissance period – and should be distinguished from the standard sword, which is primarily used with one hand only. It is both an offensive and defensive weapon and can be used for cuts and thrusts as well as parries and deflections. Cuts with a long sword are delivered as powerful chopping blows or as slices. The long sword can also deliver deadly thrusts with its point.
Although it is primarily used with two hands, a long sword is still capable of being wielded with a single hand, allowing the off-hand to be used for grappling, punching, and grabbing an opponent or his sword.
Historical sources hint at the importance of the long sword, and many modern Western Martial Arts (WMA) / Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) schools give it a significant prominence.
Given plentiful historical resources on the long sword Sword Academy in our Western Martial Arts (WMA) / Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) curriculum studies both German and Italian traditions and also contrasts medieval sources to renaissance sources thus keeping it interesting for the students.
Use of the long sword in and against opponent in armor is discussed in Armored Sword section.
Long Sword Components and Construction
A long sword consists of a blade, a cross-guard, a handle and a pommel. The blade comes in two basic styles, a straight cutting blade and a tapered thrusting blade with enhanced medial ridge, though both styles can cut and thrust. The cross-guard is generally straight, but it can be curved and its ends may be rounded, spiked or ornate. During the renaissance period elaborate cross-guards incorporating rings for additional protection of the hand or finger have become popular. A handle has enough space for two-handed use; it can be waisted (narrower towards pommel) and has a typically oval cross- section though polygonal handles are also used. The pommel is a counter weight to the blade and comes in many shapes and sizes. Because of this, it can be a formidable weapon in its own right when used to strike hammer-like blows.
Wooden long swords (known as wasters) are known from historical sources, and were used in the Middle Ages for training or even combat. This tradition is a continuation of use of wooden training weapons in European civilization from ancient Greeks, Romans, Franks, Vikings and others.
Due to our philosophy (and its application to training) Sword Academy uses steel weapons exclusively in our Western Martial Arts (WMA) / Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) curriculum as they have many benefits over wooden, synthetic or other materials.
In our curriculum Sword Academy studies medieval techniques of long sword combat inspired by German, Italian and other sources.