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Damjan Mozetic

Location: Slovenia
Joined: 26 May 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 26 May, 2013 11:44 pm    Post subject: Buying my first sword         Reply with quote

Hi everybody!

This is my first post on this fine forum although I have been reading it for a while. I am 33 years old but my fascination with the middle ages and swords comes far back from my childhood (like most of you, I guess). I am currently studying Liechtenauer's longsword (this DVD), but I'd like to get a proper sword for practice. If money permits in the next couple of months I may purchase my first sword. Right now my attention is on Albion's Liechtenauer, although I am still more attracted towards a proper "sharp" sword like The Late 13th C Great Sword Mk II. The nearest club where I could spar with others is over 100km away otherwise I will be practicing all by myself.

The question is, should I get a blunt sparring sword or a "proper" sharp one, which I couldn't use for sparring?

Best regards!
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Julian Behle

Location: Germany
Joined: 10 May 2012
Reading list: 22 books

Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 1:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I am by far not the experienced swordsman on this forum, I will try to give you my opinion on how to start.

I do remember how I started five years back pretty well. It was with a wooden sword because it was quite dificult to get your hands on a true sword here in Germany when you are under age. So I began my personal training with a well shaped twig and was quite fortunate to be gifted a proper sword after a short term. It was the Liechtenhauer and I was really glad - well, exulted should be the more fitting word - to lay my hands arround the grip the first time. It is an amazing blade hence for studies it is the best production sword you can get. Having only access to the wooden one offered me some time to spend on research which is the best blade out there to go on with. Such research takes its time though it is of course necessary and saves you a lot of time and money. As you are having an eye on the Liechtenhauer or perhaps a sharp sword, wou are at the right point.
I trained with the Liechtenhauer for several years and I do so currently but after some months I felt the time had come to advance on the subject, meaning to buy a sharp sword. It's somewhat like the grass on the distand meadow is always greener.
You do approuch a sharp sword quite differently the first time than you do with a training sword. It is literally awesome. My epee du guerre is close to half a pound lighter than the Liechtenhauer (I think it's at 1580g compared to my 1300g epee). This makes a difference. For the start, the heavier Lichtenhauer intensifies precision and the feeling for the weapon is strengthened as are your arms. It is not that speedy ( but not clumsy at all) which is good for techniques and you will have quick results by not being tempted to play the great knight before you even learned the basics. I would recommend to climb up the ladder step by step but don't wait to long for the real thing because it offers a great boost to your process of training.
There are a few more aspects to consider as you linked those two swords. I mentioned before that the Liechtenhauer is an excellent choice. I handled some other and it outstripped them all. I am not that sure about the other one. Albion produces formidable swords and they are highly esteemed for it in the community. I own some Next Generation blades myself. Although, I figured out in the last months that they are, as good as they might be, not unique. The next step on the ladder is to me to go for a truly unique hand forged blade. There are some very talented craftsmen who are not even more expensive than Albion and provide at least the same quality. Sadly, they do not get as much attention as Albion does but you should give them a chance at some point if you like.
As I told you now how my develoment in search for the perfect, final sword has been (well it will be stil going on for a while), you may choose for yourself were you want to "jump on the ladder".
Personally, I do hesitate to buy another Albion sword at the time because waiting times are especially long with the Maestro Line. If you want a sword as quick as possible, you may break ground with a sharp sword as well and then work coevally with the Liechtenhauer though you should not underestimate the difference in performance and perception.
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Damjan Mozetic

Location: Slovenia
Joined: 26 May 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Julian for the insight, that was precious! As money is tight, I may as well go with a sharp sword this time.

Care to share some of those underexposed craftsmen? I love the presentation that Albion has, they really look professional, that's why I am currently considering them.
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Alen L

Location: Ljubljana, SLovenia
Joined: 20 May 2010

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote


Firstly, where are you from? This'll effect which swords you can buy. Happy Europe or the USA?

And I'd say forget Albion. They make good sharps, and good swords all around, but are overpriced. Get yourself a good federschwert, so that you can practice on pells and that you can stab some targets without fearing for the blade. Plus, once you actually start training with a group, I would warn against stiff blunts (sharps are a definite no-no), since they are dangerous. The difference in handling a sharp and a feder also isn't that large, since the feder is thinner in the blade to compensate for the lack of a sharp edge.

So my advice would be, buy a feder (currently the best choice is regenyei, I think), do solo drills, build a pell. if possible, find a friend also interested in this, and start training!
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Julian Behle

Location: Germany
Joined: 10 May 2012
Reading list: 22 books

Posts: 35

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 8:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As you say money is limited to you ( well it is to everybody i guess) have a look at Gael Fabre from France. He is mostly the one I considered by saying underexposed and unkwown but inexpensive with great quality. I place the link at the bottom. There are Castle Keep or Tods Stuff from the UK but I did not handle one of their swords so far. And from Germany I can recommend the Seelenschmiede and the Traumschmiede though they are too expensive for me as well.

Alen is right about Albion. They are somewhat overpriced, especially the Museum Line and the Next generation line to some extant too. Due to their fame they sell a good bunch of swords - every year more I would suspect. It is great quality but the point is that you notice them pretty quickly in the market and many people do not notice what lies beyond production swords. So if you like, go ahead.

About sharp swords. Firstly, you truly should be aware of their sharpness. You don't need to draw blood at the beginning for you are not that hesitant to try some techniques with a blut sword of course. As far as you are on your own and steady in the basics (don't drop it or hurl it arrond when someone is close by) you can have a go for it. Halfswording is a bit tricky because it affects the surface of your gauntlets after some time and you should start not at a 120% right from the beginning because even an advanced swordsman should know his weapon if its lethal.
Secondly, it has a very special feeling ( especially if you know that it is your own, unique weapon). Going through the guards and strikes with Your sword is really relaxing ( and a blunt one is not the same). Some cutting does the rest and you have a nice exercise.
Lastly, I do not have a steadfast opinion about feders because I am more interested in 14th/early15th century fighting and switched rather quick to concentrating as much as possible on swordsmanship and equipment. A feder definetly reduces weight but I prefer my Epee du Guerre and am jolly good satisfied with it. Alen might give you some information about later periods, as I am not really well-read, experienced and concerned about it.
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P. Schontzler

Location: WA, USA
Joined: 15 Apr 2013

Posts: 99

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another thing to consider is, if you get a proper practice sword, not a sharp, you may be more motivated to go and join a group. With a sharp you don't really have that option.

On the other hand, if you get a sharp, you have a more "real" sword, no matter if you learn to use it or not, I feel like there is something special about that.
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Josh Wilson

Location: WV
Joined: 01 Nov 2010
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Mon 27 May, 2013 4:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would personally save up and purchase a sharp sword. Even if I never used it, and it only hung on a wall, at least I know I could use it... And while I was saving up, I'd purchase or make a wooden or poly sword to practice with. I'm sure you can find others with a poly or wooden sword to spar with. Just my .02c...

I'd also say do your research. Read and re-read, and look at everything, so you ensure you end up with a sword that's as awesome in real life after you purchase it, as it was in your imagination before you purchased it. If you get with the club before your purchase, there may be members with swords you are looking at purchasing that will let you check them out.
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Damjan Mozetic

Location: Slovenia
Joined: 26 May 2013

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 12:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks everybody for the info.

I guess I will get me a simple federschwert for sparring as Alen suggested (I also need to buy protection equipment, which doesn't come cheap) and later a decent sharp sword for my ego Wink

Julian, that Gael Fabre's swords surely look good and the price is right. I will keep an eye on him.
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Christopher B Lellis

Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: 01 Dec 2012

Posts: 268

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 12:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd get a sharp. I find that when I practice by myself, I much prefer handling a sharp sword than the training sword.
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Craig Peters

PostPosted: Tue 28 May, 2013 5:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd also put in for a sharp. I really like my Liechtenauers and they are great swords for sparring against opponents. However, one of the keys to truly being able to fight with a longsword is to develop good edge alignment for all of the funff hau or meisterhau. The rounded edges on a blunt sword make it difficult to do this; with a sharp sword, edge alignment becomes much better.

Also, I would absolutely buy Albion. The fact of the matter is that Albions are superb quality and they are really the best swords you can purchase save for having a custom made sword that closely follows the specifications of a specific antique weapon (and here, the Museum Line from Albion does a very good job). There are some things in life where it is better to spend more for the quality and have something that will last and that performs and functions outstandingly well, and swords are one of these items. Even if you later decide that you are no longer interested in swords, Albions will hold their resale value better than almost any other retail sword. Go Albion. You won't regret it.
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Kalle Kylmänen

Joined: 18 Jul 2010

Posts: 29

PostPosted: Wed 19 Nov, 2014 2:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What are you looking for when starting to study German longsword? I've been called a skilled and technical fencer, and I don't own a sharp sword. I'm planning on getting one once my budget allows me to afford enough tatami etc. to cut with some regularity. (Even more than that I'd prefer getting a sharp (not razor) sword with a rolled tip for controlled drilling with the feedback from a sharp edge, but less risk of poking through someone.) Learning to execute the techniques, understanding, learning and using the concepts of any tradition or manuscript has a value of it's own, like learning a specific language or dialect, to quote someone wiser than me. Then again some people pick up the sword just wishing to learn to hau people in the head. These aren't mutually exclusive, and the absolute middle road might be the most challenging. Also, like each master, we are all different people, and some might have better success leaning on different sources tahn others.

Imho you're better off getting something blunt that you feel comfortable striking with full force against a potential training partner. To properly execute the strikes, thrusts & winds etc. you will need someone who is actually trying to work against you. To drop some buzzwords, fencing doesn't and didn't exist in a vacuum. If you can't find a training partner, you can still practice the some initial techniques, try picking a target and attaching some kind of a stick/whatever to simulate their sword and try to hit the target while covering/controlling their "sword." Work on your speed and strength, while standing in the guards you should be able to resist pushing against your body and/or sword, even more importantly in the ending postures of your strikes, which are the guards (not all of them.) If you want to cut something, clay is reusable and can be "cut" with a blunt sword. The feedback isn't optimal though. Instead of me writing a huge article on solo practice, I think you should search for a lot of material online along with yout training DVD here's a few to start off. Now be wary, some of the interpretations and stuff online are worse than others, if the fencers look stiff, or you think they leave themselves open demonstrating their techniques, try to google who's behind those interpretations and consider if their teachings are any good. the audio is a bit low, and not all of Axel's instructions got recorded. Still very relevant, to beginners especially. He's basing a lot of the stuff on Döbringer if I remember correctly. haven't read all of this, but Roger is a skilled martial artist and knows what he's talking about. If you haven't already, contact some local hema groups, they'd probably love to help you out and possibly arrange some private lessons. In the end, nothings stopping you from grabbing some friends, swords and primary sources and starting your own group.

I've been taught about 5 different variations of zornhau and the one I settled for is the one I can pull off consistently in sparring. That doesn't mean that it would be the closest interpretation, something that ol' Johann would nod over and say "that's exactly how it's done;" but it works. And people wouldn't have been talking about the same guy and same techniques for over 200 years if the stuff didn't work. The "stuff" however was reinterpreted and commented during those 200 years, and survived to an age were the same terms were used for stuff done with blunt swords. My preferred variation is an interpretation from Meyer Wink Maybe one day I'll start drilling with a sharpened sword and adopt a slightly different skillset for that. Meanwhile, if you can't execute a technique from a source with efficiency, question your interpretation, the teacher's interpretation, your equipment etc. Question also the source, some are just better than others, but that should be saved to be the last. There are no Masters alive on these subjects, look for different points of view.

In my opinion (and opinions are like feet, everyone has them and they stink) swordsmanship is about being efficient in killing/hitting people with a tool and not getting hit. So far, the german tradition has seemed to me the most effective way to achieve this, with a straight, double edged sword with a crossguard, weighing between roughly 1,7 kg +/- a lot and with a length of... I'm not even trying to define that. Oh and about swords, I recommend a regenyei feder. If it's not something you wanted, there's a lot of people who will gladly buy it from you, they're value for money.
Eastern europe is full of great blacksmiths, ask what people use around your location. Imho the looks of a practice sword shouldn't be considered heavily, but having something that looks inspiring in your hand helps. I just recenty got myself a gorgeous Pavel Moc feder and it's pretty sexy AND it handles really well and suits my fencing style.

Best of luck to you Damjan, hopefully I'll get to fence with you someday Happy

E: when practicing by myself, (in my apartment) I use an Mblades swing, but that's not even trying to be a sword... emphasis on the apartment.

tl;dr: For practicing kdf, get a feder or atleast a blunt, cut clay if you need to, and find a training partner. Then masks and gloves, contact your local groups and ask for help
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Mark Griffin

Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 802

PostPosted: Thu 20 Nov, 2014 2:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My main bit of advice is try before you buy.

'Pick it up and wave it about. They are meant to be handled'

The wise words of Ewart Oakeshot

and if it doesn't say 'hello, take me home' then its not right for you. Difficult when buying at distance but try if you can.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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