Equipment for Classical Fencing Our Gear

When fencing in Classical styles you will want the basic fencing gear and a few other handy pieces of equipment. These are not necessary and some are just nice to have handy.

You will want at least one sword. It could be a foil, saber, epee, musketeer, Shlagger, or rapier. If you go with a foil, get one with an extra strong blade. Regular foils are much easier to break when doing classical fencing because they were not designed to take the high stress that we put on them. Musketeer blades are pretty much just epee blades with the groove filled in, they tend to be very stiff. The Shlagger and the Rapier blades are both reproductions of old time rapier blades. These are the heaviest blades you can get, the only difference between them is that the rapier is more ascetic than the Shlagger. It is a common misconception that an epee blade would break under the stress of fighting against a rapier or Shlagger, that is simply not the case. The epee is plenty strong for the task, even if it were not, they are light years quicker than those heavier swords so contact stresses would be minimal. The only thing that would be damaged is the pride of the fencer with a heavy weapon.

When dealing with multiple opponents (which does happen in classical fencing on occasion), or if substituting Airsoft guns for rubber band guns. You might want to consider a hood. Hoods are large pieces of puncture resistant fabric used to make sure nothing penetrates the openings on the back of your mask. This piece of safety equipment is optional.

Parry daggers are typically used as defensive offhand weapons (indeed, they are the most common in classical bouts), these can have a narrow, thrusting blade or a wide cut and thrust blade. Quillions are necessary to a parry dagger, because they help to trap your opponents blade. These should be gotten from a reputable fencing shop if intended to be used in their offensive capacities, though you could make a boffer version that would be acceptable. If desired you can make your own dagger out of wood or metal, but these are parry only daggers to prevent injury in case of an accident. You don’t have liability insurance, the fencing companies do, let them bear the risk. Fencepac offer best-quality fence supplies in Gold Coast.

Bucklers are small shields held in the hand. They are typically round and no greater than 18” in diameter, but you can use pretty much whatever you want in terms of material, size, and shape. The edge should have some tubing around it to protect the edge and your opponents from accidental strikes. If you intend to strike, include pipe insulation around the edge as well to provide more safety. I discourage striking, because bucklers have some heft and people can get hurt. Use plenty of restraint. You can use a stock pot lid, or there are free plans floating around the Internet. If you make one, be sure to make it strong so it will last, nothing worse than breaking a buckler.

An appropriate length of pvc pipe can function as a scabbard that can also be used as a parry device, just like in the old days of the rapier. If you want to be able to toss it at your opponent when drawing your sword, or if you want to employ strikes, trips, and offensive trapping please put some padding (pipe insulation, covered by duct tape, it needs to be soft) on it. You don’t want to splinter a pipe and get someone cut or stabbed by accident, it is bad for everyone. Learning something about stick fighting could be helpful in learning to use this handy piece of equipment.

A jacket or heavy piece of fabric will suffice as a cloak if you don’t want to get the real thing, I suppose you could use a towel if desired. Thin fabric will rip, and will be harder to sweep and trap blades with due to its lower mass.

Boffers are padded pieces of PVC pipe and cordage used to make swords, staffs, maces, flails, training rifles, knives, or whatever else you fancy as a weapon. These can be added once students (or you) are familiar with the basics to provide new learning opportunities and to provide realish scenarios to test your skills if you wish… or just because they are a boatload of fun. If the weapon is for thrusting, include a tennis ball on the tip so the pipe does not wear through and hurt someone.

Dulled knives or rubber knives can be used to demonstrate or to replace parry daggers under certain circumstances. By experts, sharp knives could be used, but I do not recommend the practice for sparring. Magic markers could be used for dagger training to identify hits, I don’t use this because I never have had people deny hits on them on purpose. It may or may not be a useful practice.

Most of what you need for equipment can be had from: www.zenwarriorarmory.com, your local hardware store or even your house. Keep your eyes open and look actively for equipment to use and you will find it.

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