Forum: Research Questions

Discussing: Swords and sparring

Swords and sparring

When two warrriors are sparring together, with swords, for practice, would they use their own blades or would they use inferior swords?  In a great household, where there are many soldiers or warriors, would there be swords available for sparring?

I don't know much about swords.  But I do know that warriors would want to work out, practice their moves; and that swords are handled with care, one might not want to risk damage in a practice bout.  On the other hand, I would think one would want to practice with the same weapon one expects to actually slay orcs with; another sword would feel different in one's hand, have a different weight and balance, etc.

And I'm working on a ficlet where two characters spar, so I'd like it to be at least somewhat accurate....




Re: Swords and sparring

In a great household, where there are many soldiers or warriors, would there be swords available for sparring?

Sure. There would be an armory where the regular men-at-arms would get a sword or practice weapon. I doubt if they would be expected to supply their own.

When two warrriors are sparring together, with swords, for practice, would they use their own blades or would they use inferior swords?

Doing a quick google on 'swords "practice weapons"' yields the information that fencing blades were originally the practice weapons for the heavier small sword.

Getting to the Point: The European Art of Fencing

For Roman and medieval training techniques you could look at Arma's "On the Pell" which discusses the use of wooden posts to hit at for training, which would presumably not damage either the blades or the trainees as much as fighting against real blades and each other. It includes an exciting 15th century poem on how to become a warrior that includes the lines:

This fanne & mace, which either doubil wight is

Of shelde & sword in [con]flicte or bataile,

'Using a double weight shield and weapon to exercise with aids warriors in preparing for real fighting. (Interestingly, the wooden sword of double weight is here rendered as "mace", i.e., a club or cudgel, and in other versions as "hevy stavys", heavy staves)."

The whole article has some very interesting things to say about the training process to make a man a swordfighter.

Hope this helps.




Re: Swords and sparring

The fencing foil (originally a wooden dowel with a small round finial at one end to make it not so dangerous) as a stand-in for the small sword didn't really come around until the Rennaissance.  It was also primarily a jabbing weapon, since a small sword has a tip but no blade.  It really is a long metal dowel with a sharp end and little else.  Hence why sport foil has evolved into a jabbing weapon.  But Rennaissance aside, since this is Middle-earth and not Earth, you could have them use that if you wanted to.  It's a very fast and deadly weapon, even if it isn't terribly spectacular to watch.  It's also a very light weapon, so it might be slightly more plausible to see it in the hands of a woman.

 As for larger slashing weapons, such as bastard sword or great sword, practice was often done not with a sword at all, but with wooden practice mock-ups called wasters.  Metal working in a midieval setting is quite an undertaking, particularly if you want to make a sword that is going to hold up in a battle.  The more the blade is struck, the weaker it gets (this is even worse if the blade is "tuned" and makes a ringing sound when it it struck, since harmonic vibrations in the blade add extra stresses) and the less reliable it is in battle.  Adding weaknesses and nicks to blades by striking them during practice sessions just wasn't a very good idea.  They did it every once in a while, since wood and metal are very much not the same feel, but the basics could be left to practice with the wasters to save the actual swords for when they were really needed.

 I've always wanted to do a fan-comic of Aragorn unsheathing Anduril.  He hears it chime, gets a funny look, and adjusts the pommel so it stops ringing...





Re: Swords and sparring

A wonderful wealth of information here, Berz. Thanx much!

SInce my ficlet needs two metal swords used in sparring practice; I'll have to go with unedged metal practice swords. The two warriors I have sparring are not beginners, they need the practice, and I really doubt they'd want to use wooden swords. One of the warriors is good enough to make sure that neither gets hurt. And it takes place in Imladris, which might be old enough to assure that there are at least a few metal practice swords lying around for training purposes...

I'd love to see that fan-comic of Aragorn tuning Anduril....




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