Sword Usage and History
The sword is a weapon used with one hand (usually dominant hand). It is both an offensive and defensive weapon, and can be used for deflections and parries, as well as cuts and thrusts. Cuts are delivered either as slices or powerful chopping blows, while thrusts against unarmored opponents are deadly.
Although it is primarily used with one hand only, some swords can still be used with both hands, allowing for more powerful strikes and blocks.
Sword has adopted many forms in Europe through history starting with bronze weapons. Early sword forms were blades capable of cutting with wide profiles and with some ability to thrust. Some of the medieval falchions were heavy, cleaver like weapons with a single edge capable of inflicting significant damage to a variety of targets. In the renaissance period, some of the swords become lighter and thrusting ability of the sword gained importance – later to lead to s weapons primarily used for thrusting: rapiers and small swords. We also train with saber – which is a curved single edged weapon known from early Medieval times into 20th century.
Sabre was a very popular weapon in central Europe – especially Croatia, but also Hungary and Poland.
Sword Components and Construction
A sword consists of a blade, a guard, a handle and a pommel. The blade comes in many styles: straight and curved, wide and narrow, cutting and tapered (for thrusting). Earlier guards are simple and shaped like a cross, while later Renaissance guards are complex and protect the hand well through side rings and ornate cages. A sword handle has enough space for one hand, and sometimes (though not often) little extra space for the second hand. 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 it’s own right, when used to strike hammer-like blows.
Wooden 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.
Some practitioners today use aluminum, synthetic or padded swords.
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 both medieval and renaissance techniques of sword combat inspired by Croatian, German, Italian and other sources.