Towards the end of last year, I posted on my FB page how much I was looking forward to resuming my sword training post-COVID-19 pandemic. My previous experience had been Olympic foil fencing for about four years and a smattering of some sabre up until I was sixteen. I have studied Filipino Martial Arts and the Thai art of Krabi Krabong from the mid-eighties, but I was mostly interested in stick fighting. So really, I only have five years of formal sword training, mostly related to sports fencing.
Over the last couple of years, I have developed an interest in sword work, and am lucky enough to have an instructor. Struggling to get past my thirty-plus years of whacking people with sticks and poles, but slowly getting there, getting used to stabbing and slashing correctly. The issue is my fault as my main interest has been full contact stick fighting.
When I posted about my new hobby, I got a few people questioning the value of sword training in the current age, after all as one genus noted you couldn’t walk down the street with a sword in open carry in the UK (nor would you want to).
To understand why I get real value from sword training, we have to look at the sword and its place in history because it is somewhat unique. After all, unlike a knife, the swords sole use is for combat and designed as such. Someone went out of their way to create something that was an efficient killer when wielded correctly.
I would guess that not long after the sword was invented and used, the opposition also acquired them, and people noticed that both combatants would often die or be injured, which probably meant a slight delay in death. Dead is dead, and that is not a win-win. Far too easy to walk in to successfully score, only to be struck down on the way out. Taking shields and armour out of the combat equation, someone smart (a genuine genius) noticed that standing square on with everyone slashing and stabbing resulted in both sides failing. Probably via trial and error in the practice room, systems developed to take into account the use of footwork, angles and control of the other person’s actions to gain an advantage. The skillset and ability to win in a sudden-death match via guile and skill is the process and art that fascinates me.
The other major bonus is that I can take the concepts, such as a hit without being hit and apply it into my dagger, different weapons and empty hand skill sets. Any form of study is always a growth experience, but this art has some fantastic genuine crossovers, and best of all, it’s a lot of fun.
I got the attached photo from the La Verdadera Destreza in History and Practice group on FB. A great group to be part of if you are interested in the sword.