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Krist Martens




Location: Belgium, Bruges
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 2:28 pm    Post subject: Modern day protection         Reply with quote

Hello

I'm a member of a local swordfighting guild. We practice with steel swords (mostly albion liechtenauer or meyer's).

I was wondering if any of you could give me some advice on protective gear for sparring sessions. I own a sallet, mitten gauntlets and a gambeson for protection.

I especially find the gauntlet mittens very cumbersome. Is there a alternative which offers more manoeuverability and a good protection of the hand. I learned from the agilitas dvd's that hockey gloves work well. Sadly hockey isn't a popular sport in my country so I haven't had any luck finding a pair.

Additionally, I see a lot of people wearing a fencingmask for head protection. I understand that this gives a great faceprotection, but doesn't it leave the back/side of the head unprotected ?

Thanks for the info.

Regards
Krist
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Jared Smith




Location: Tennessee
Joined: 10 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've been interested in the idea of an escrima helmet (padded, face grill, and has a back flap that I think is padded) for padded waster sparing. For live steel blunts, you should probably use a real helm. (Some SCA types with fixed bar grill and regulation openings not larger than 1/2 inch can be found for less than $200, which is in the neighborhood of expense of better three weapons fencing masks.)
Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Alex Spreier




Location: Central Oregon
Joined: 21 Nov 2006
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Posts: 82

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 3:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Modern day protection         Reply with quote

Krist Martens wrote:

We practice with steel swords (mostly albion liechtenauer or meyer's).

I especially find the gauntlet mittens very cumbersome. Is there a alternative which offers more manoeuverability and a good protection of the hand. I learned from the agilitas dvd's that hockey gloves work well. Sadly hockey isn't a popular sport in my country so I haven't had any luck finding a pair.

Additionally, I see a lot of people wearing a fencingmask for head protection. I understand that this gives a great faceprotection, but doesn't it leave the back/side of the head unprotected ?


As a person who has received many nasty bruises and had the tip of my pinky broken during sparring sessions while wearing hockey gloves I will EMPHATICALLY tell you that they DO NOT WORK. Especially not against steel. My suggestion for hand protection is to either get better mittens (don't know the quality of your mittens) or get a nice pair of steel finger gauntlets. Heavy padded gloves, like hockey gloves, work decently against weapons with thick edges, such as shinai, but all that padding does nothing to stop a steel blade.

As far as head-gear goes, a 3-weapon fencing mask is not up to the task of sparring with steel. Even a half-committed blow with longsword will crush a 3-weapon mask; they are simply not designed to deal with the amount of force it can generate. A good steel helm or one the Tindill helms http://www.thatguysproducts.com/ is ideal.

Of course, no protective gear is complete without the cheapest piece of all : Control.

Just my 2 cents.

Compagno, Northwest Fencing Academy

http://bunkaijuju.blogspot.com/
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Dustin R. Reagan





Joined: 09 May 2006

Posts: 264

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't entirely agree with Alex.

Of course, as he said, the number one factor in sparring safety is control!

I have had great success with a specific type of lacrosse glove. Please see this great hammaborg video for a list of the safety equipment they rely on. I found it very useful. I understand that in this video they are showing their sword and buckler gear, but they have successfully used the exact same gear for longsword and even polearm sparring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqY6Imy5K0Q&am...annel_page

Dustin
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
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Posts: 385

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Honest question. has anyone tried (or, alternately, know why it is not worth trying) motercycle armour? it seems to me that the types of impacts it is designed to stop are not unrelated to what would occour in sparing, and the armoured portions would seem to be similar. Thoughts?
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 8:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nat Lamb wrote:
Honest question. has anyone tried (or, alternately, know why it is not worth trying) motercycle armour? it seems to me that the types of impacts it is designed to stop are not unrelated to what would occour in sparing, and the armoured portions would seem to be similar. Thoughts?


The motor cycle armour that I've seen has gaps between parts. Gaps far to small to fit a road but more than large enough to fit a sword point.

That being said I know two guys who use pieces of motorcycle armour and like them. They're certainly better than nothing.

On helmets-
SCA helm makers can do perf plate instead of bars so that it'll work fine with steel. Also they're more makers of them. And they're well tested to high tolerances (SCAdians hit plenty hard). All in all not a bad choice.

Perhaps not ideal but the ideal is custom gear, really. And that's worth it but not cheap.

Cheers,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Alex Spreier




Location: Central Oregon
Joined: 21 Nov 2006
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Posts: 82

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dustin R. Reagan wrote:
I don't entirely agree with Alex.

Of course, as he said, the number one factor in sparring safety is control!

I have had great success with a specific type of lacrosse glove. Please see this great hammaborg video for a list of the safety equipment they rely on. I found it very useful. I understand that in this video they are showing their sword and buckler gear, but they have successfully used the exact same gear for longsword and even polearm sparring.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqY6Imy5K0Q&am...annel_page

Dustin


Hi Dustin!

I honestly have never tried lacrosse gloves. I might have to look into them, but I am a little gun-shy of non-metallic hand protection at the moment (for good reason - 3 hours in urgent care and being out of training for 4 months sucked). How is the protection on the side of the hand? Most hockey gloves I've seen have thick padding on the top of the hand and fingers but nothing on the sides but mesh - which is exactly where I got hit.

Compagno, Northwest Fencing Academy

http://bunkaijuju.blogspot.com/
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Ed S.




Location: San Diego
Joined: 08 Apr 2009

Posts: 86

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I use a pair of Lacrosse gloves myself and like them more than anything else I've used so far (which isn't that much). They do have padding on the outer side of the hand, but not the inner. That said, I do not use metal weapons, all wood and nylon.
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Hendrik De Coster




Location: Belgium
Joined: 20 Jan 2007

Posts: 115

PostPosted: Mon 18 May, 2009 11:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

steel fingered gloves for me, works just fine on the training court,aswell as on the battlefield
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2009 12:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Krist.

I think you already realize that YOU and only YOU are responsible for your own protection. Most WMA groups use very light controlled hits, but that does not mean a hard hit never slips in or is off target. You can not control what anyone else is doing. Furthermore, your own actions may effect what someone else does. For example, a controlled thrust will feel much, much harder if you step into it. Jumping into one will feel that much harder.

You mentioned the back of the fencing mask is open. For this reason, it is not a good idea to turn your head to your opponent. There are certain shots that are designed to reach to the back of the head too. They are not commonly used in WMA groups but at some point someone might come to visit your group who does know how to use it. All in all, the back of the head is a low risk in the WMA world because the mask does extend back and it also has flap that extends down to keep the mask in place. If you still do not feel comfortable you can easily rig a hard cover for the back of the head.

What you should probably be more concerned about is getting a good gorget to wear around your throat. The bib on the fencing mask provides very minimum protection and I once got jacked good enough with a RSW padded sword in the throat that I turned blue. This is a high risk area in WMA sparring.

Wear a cup. This is a high risk area. You don't want to catch a good thrust there.

Wear elbow pads. Preferably hardshell ones. Your elbows are out there and exposed as you make cuts and move from guard to guard. Even a light shot hurts like hell! I hard one can break bone. I consider elbows a high risk area.

Knees are a medium risk area because legs are mostly out of range in WMA, but hits do happen. I would wear hardshell kneepads for any serious sparring.

The biggest risk to the body is a thrust. I have rubber tips on my blunts with a washer on the inside. If everyone else would follow this practice, the risk to the body would be minimum. Gambsons offer very little protection. I own a gambeson and I find it more useful for regulating body temperature and using as an arming coat rather then protection in itself. A coat of plate would be better suited for serious sparring. I once had one of those blunt tips piece thought the leather suede that was holding the plates together. If at all possible get your partners to put rubber tips on their blades. The gamebson is a good place to attach shoulder pauldrons, elbow cops and vambraces so they stay in place.

Hands are very high risk. Protection is probably the most debatable subject. Fingers break easily and when they break you can't do much with your hands. Thick padded gloves are common in WMA. The are about $60 but I don't trust them for serious sparring, especially against people I do not know. Hardshell plastic mitten gauntlets that are sawed into gloves offer the best protection, but limit agility somewhat. They cost about $150 and you will probably need swords with longer handles to accommodate them. You will also have to settle for keeping your fingers more fixed on the sword. Good finger gauntlets will cost upwards of $1,000. They pretty much need to be custom made to your hand. Off the shelf finger gauntlets rarely fit right because peoples hands are so different. You will likely need a longer handles on your swords. It is up to you to decide how much risk you want to take and how much money you will spend.

Hokey gloves (as stated by Alex) give a very false sense of security. The protect a lot in some area, but leave the others very exposes. Particularly the pinky and index finger. Alex also made a good point that 3 weapon masks are not designed for realistic blows. If your group plays hard, follow Steven's advice and look into SCA armor. You can get helms with preferably eye slots that will protect your eyes and you will be able to see. If you are interested PM me and I will tell you who to contact to have one made to order.

I use padded street hockey gloves for light drilling. They are cheap ($35). My only complaint is that the finger tips are exposed as the padding pulls back. The easy solution for this is to buy them a size larger. For serious sparring, I have plastic clamshell gauntlets. As I mentioned earlier, they do limit finger agility somewhat, but that is the compromise I make to assure I don't break my fingers.

The point still stands that YOU and only YOU are responsible for your own protection.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Krist Martens




Location: Belgium, Bruges
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2009 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the responses, they're really informative.

I think I'm going to order a pair of lacrosse gloves. Some models indeed seem to offer sideprotection for the fingers. I'll use them for our 1 on 1 training drills. For sparring I'll stay with my gauntlet's and accept the lesser manoeuverability.

The fencing mask is a definite no go. For now I'll stay with my sallet and bevor. I never conscidered the troath as a vulnerable area, just as the elbows and crotch WTF?!

Indeed control is very important, but medieval fencing requires two combatants and sometimes fatique and enthousiasme takes over. And I speak from experience, a thrust from a sword through the open visor in the face, is no laughing matter. In time I'll consider a 14th century klapvisor with aventail which seems very protective for the head and throath.

again, thanks for the responses, this is a great forum
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Krist Martens




Location: Belgium, Bruges
Joined: 01 Jan 2008

Posts: 13

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

@ hendrik De Coster,

I see you're from Belgium to. Where are you from ? I'm from bruges and we train weekly in a medieval gothic building "de kruispoort"
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Steven H




Location: Boston
Joined: 10 May 2006

Posts: 545

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:

The biggest risk to the body is a thrust. I have rubber tips on my blunts with a washer on the inside. If everyone else would follow this practice, the risk to the body would be minimum. Gambsons offer very little protection. I own a gambeson and I find it more useful for regulating body temperature and using as an arming coat rather then protection in itself. A coat of plate would be better suited for serious sparring. I once had one of those blunt tips piece thought the leather suede that was holding the plates together. If at all possible get your partners to put rubber tips on their blades. The gamebson is a good place to attach shoulder pauldrons, elbow cops and vambraces so they stay in place.


Hello Vassilis,

What do you do for your thrusting tips? I'd like to make my own but my experiments so far haven't worked out well.

I gotta agree with you about the utility of gambesons.

Thanks,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Tue 19 May, 2009 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:

The biggest risk to the body is a thrust. I have rubber tips on my blunts with a washer on the inside. If everyone else would follow this practice, the risk to the body would be minimum. Gambsons offer very little protection. I own a gambeson and I find it more useful for regulating body temperature and using as an arming coat rather then protection in itself. A coat of plate would be better suited for serious sparring. I once had one of those blunt tips piece thought the leather suede that was holding the plates together. If at all possible get your partners to put rubber tips on their blades. The gamebson is a good place to attach shoulder pauldrons, elbow cops and vambraces so they stay in place.


Hello Vassilis,

What do you do for your thrusting tips? I'd like to make my own but my experiments so far haven't worked out well.

I gotta agree with you about the utility of gambesons.

Thanks,
Steven


Unless the blunt comes with a rounded knob, I put a small washer or nut inside the tip so the blade does not punch through. Then I apply one piece of strapping tape over the top of the blunt so that it catches the flat of the blade for about 2 inches on both sides. I then wrap sideways from the rubber tip down 2 inches on the blade. I do two passes where the tip ends. The same tip has been on my Alchem Longsword blunt for over a year with the same tape.

Here is a link to a close up so you can see what I mean. The basket hilt near the bottom shows a close up of the method I just described.

http://mysite.verizon.net/tsafa1/rapier/alchemlongsword.html

On rapiers keeping the tip on is less of an issue because the blades normally don't slide as much off each other as they do cut and thrust work. I would estimate that the rubber tips catch 1 in 25 times during drilling for a split second as you try to slide out of a bind. It only lasts for a split second when it does. I find that an acceptable level of interference. Minimal interference with large safety gains in return is training smart.

If anyone needs to order schlager rubber tips, they can get them here:

http://www.zenwarriorarmory.com/catalog.php?category=60

For really large blade tips like the Hanwei Federschwert, I have seen people use the rubber tips that normally go on chairlegs with great success.


edit:
Here is how the Hanwei Hand & Half looks with a Zen Warrior schlager tip. Its took a little bit of a stretch, but it got on there fine.

http://mysite.verizon.net/tsafa1/rapier/hanwei.JPG

http://mysite.verizon.net/tsafa1/rapier/hanwei4.JPG

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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