There are two types of fencers in the modern day, The Historical Fencer and the Modern Day Competitive or Sports Fencers. Our post relates to The Historical Fencer or a Swordsman. There are many groups around the world that practice LARP and those who practice HEMA. There are some subtle differences in both and none is better or worse than the other. All these groups have put a lot of effort and time into recreating the instructions of the old manuscripts that survived.
Most who buy swords do so for the fantasy of Hollywood, but is Hollywood sword fighting real? The simple answer is No! it isn’t. Historically, a sword was a killing instrument and not to be toyed with. A swordsman would be over indulgent towards his sword. Protect it from damage and constantly train and perfect his methods of swordsmanship. Unlike a lot of Live Action Role Play techniques, as well as reenactment shows, which predominantly follow the bashing of blades and creating sparks, the practice of historical martial arts be it Medieval, Asian, Nordic, Italian, German, etc. all were based on one thing and one thing alone. Self Protection and Defense.
A swordsman religiously practiced cutting, sparring, parrying and defense by themselves or with a partner to ascertain the extent of the blade as well as to become one with the sword. Looking at the asian realms, especially Tai-Chi, the aspects of it are not only for health related but the foundation of it is in the self development of oneself. You might be wondering what does this have to do with the art of sword Fencing, infact it does have to do a lot with it. The influence of the asian arts were very prominent through the european cultures. There are many surviving treaties of swordsmanship that teach the student defense as well as offence, however, they all firstly talk about finding an inner balance. Reason: well if one is not rooted firmly in their gaurds, they can easily be knocked off their balance and tai-chi for one teaches this extremely well as well as teaches the main gaurds while maintaining self composure and tactics.
Here is a video I found that talks about why Historical Fencers need to practice cutting. Remember: Swords are not Toys and must be treated with respect. Follow the rules of The Blade and Enjoy Training. What has your experience been with a sword? Tell us in the comments below.