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Christopher Franklin




Location: VA
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 11:09 am    Post subject: Training on a Budget         Reply with quote

It doesn't need to be said, but sword collection and training is an expensive hobby. One can't always afford the best equipment or training tools in the time such things are needed. And if you're just starting out in a particular weapon/style, it makes NO sense to spend hundreds of dollars on that "perfect" steel trainer before you're sure its one you want to continue pursuing.

Because of this, I think that cheaper "budget" trainers have a place, and it can be a disservice to hobbyists of all kinds to ignore that. Yes, logic would state that the cheaper the tool, the more dangerous, inaccurate, or ineffective a tool it is, and that is a very important point to consider... Knowing what is good and what to avoid - for reasons spanning from safety to insuring development of proper form - is vital. So, with that in mind, I'd like to open up discussion (if a thread doesn't already exist), on these budget weapons.

There's numerous types of cheap(er) sparring weapons: Cold Steel's polypropylene swords, Rawlings' Xtreme Synthetic line of weapons, countless brands of wooden wasters and shinai...What do you or your class/group use? How does X synthetic sword hold up against Y wooden waster? Have an anecdote about the time you made the (amazingly entertaining) mistake of using a Cold Steel polypropylene sword against an Albion Meyer? Maybe you've made your own wooden waster...how'd it go?

Friendly note: "Don't be cheap! Get a steel trainer!" is unhelpful in this type of discussion. We all obviously want the best, most accurate tools, but its not always an option when we want it to be. So let's keep the discussion on how to get the most out less expensive options. Unless, of course, you have a link to an Albion selling for pennies on the dollar! Happy

I look forward to the discussion! Happy sparring! Big Grin
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Mike O'Hara




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
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Posts: 110

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 11:33 am    Post subject: Training on a budget         Reply with quote

Hi Christopher

Actually it is a really good question you have raised. It is expensive either for existing clubs or potential new members to start buying a ton of gear, especially when it may not be for them.

I'll declare a prejudice (and am happy to be challenged for it) - i don't like the polyprop or similar material wasters. They just don't feel right in a bind.

So wooden wasters - why not make your own? I have made about 20 or so for our club, learning a lot with each generation. I'd happily stack up the last set against anything commercial and I've got to the point where I can customise these for club members - it doesn't take long.

As a bare minimum of tools, you'll need a good plane, a saw, a coping saw and a drill. If you, or a friend has access to them, with a table router and a thicknesser you can turn out quite a few relatively quickly. Oak is readily available in the US (not so much here) and works great.

cheers
mike

MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We use Rawlings Wasters if we use wasters at all because they are just excellent.
The modular nature makes replacing parts very easy and if you get a one-handed blade - for example a basket-hilt sword -, a guard and an extended pommel you basically have two weapons in one.
(Plus you can get them in "glow-in-the-dark" which is just awesome :P)

But mainly we use steel and encourage new fencers to get steel as well.
Wasters are fine, but soon you find yourself wanting the real thing and getting a proper blunt now is midterm cheaper than getting a waster first, getting bored with it and then getting a steel blunt.
I'd always suggest steel and given how cheap you can get the most basic - but still very sufficient - Fabri Armourum swords (at least in Germany you can get the Of-the-shelf ones for 150€ or there abouts, if you are fine with not having the guard or pommel of your choice but using what he has in stock) there is really little need for wasters if you have decided for yourself that this hobby is something you want to continue doing for quite a while.

All of this is for longsword, because that's what we train. For playing around Wasters are just great fun and the Rawlings Baskethilts are hard to beat at that.

Now as far as other brands of wasters are concerned, there are some using - relatively old - nylonwasters of a different make that I'm not familiar with, those are fine as well and very, very sturdy. They also give better bladefeeling and binding.

The Coldsteel wasters.. I've got one of their daggers and if that is any indication I'd stay away from those for serious sparring.
That dagger - we use it for playing around with Sword&Dagger with the Baskethilts, so no formal training with that thing - is rigid. It is one massive slab of plastic with a guard on it and I'd rather get hit with a walking cane than that thing. It also was quite pointy (given how round it overall is) and stabbing with it would be seriously dangerous. I don't know if that applies to the longer swords as well though.

Europe - Where the History comes from. - Eddie Izzard
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Matthew P. Adams




Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
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Posts: 456

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.woodenswords.com/ProductDetails.as...YPE-III-50

These are used in local cross school tournaments in the Boston area. If I could have one do it all trainer this is it. They also make a nice feder if that's your preference. The plastic flexes my nicer than the rawlngs, which feel mushier to me, especially in the bind.

I like wood but not for sparring or free fencing. no flex in the thrust means your forced to pull, and practice poor technique.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Christopher Franklin




Location: VA
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 12:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Training on a budget         Reply with quote

Mike O'Hara wrote:
Hi Christopher

Actually it is a really good question you have raised. It is expensive either for existing clubs or potential new members to start buying a ton of gear, especially when it may not be for them.

I'll declare a prejudice (and am happy to be challenged for it) - i don't like the polyprop or similar material wasters. They just don't feel right in a bind.

So wooden wasters - why not make your own? I have made about 20 or so for our club, learning a lot with each generation. I'd happily stack up the last set against anything commercial and I've got to the point where I can customise these for club members - it doesn't take long.

As a bare minimum of tools, you'll need a good plane, a saw, a coping saw and a drill. If you, or a friend has access to them, with a table router and a thicknesser you can turn out quite a few relatively quickly. Oak is readily available in the US (not so much here) and works great.

cheers
mike


Thanks for the quick reply!


I've actually thought about making my own wooden waster. I'd love to read more on how you make yours! Is the entire sword one piece of oak, including cross guard? Do you use anything (ie: insert a metal post) to strengthen the wood through the hilt, up into the blade? How about thickness and radius of the edge?
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Christopher Franklin




Location: VA
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 12:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marik C.S. wrote:
We use Rawlings Wasters if we use wasters at all because they are just excellent.
The modular nature makes replacing parts very easy and if you get a one-handed blade - for example a basket-hilt sword -, a guard and an extended pommel you basically have two weapons in one.
(Plus you can get them in "glow-in-the-dark" which is just awesome :P)


I own a Rawlings Xtreme Synthetic Long Sword...At $75, I think it's a decent beginner's sword. It's modular, so you can swap out any part of it to change colors/appearance. The material is also pretty forgiving on the body, though the foible is quite flimsy...that's good for thrusting safely, but noticeable in the wrong way when two blades meet. At the very least, I think it's serviceable for practicing drills, especially in comparison to a shinai (which my past classes have used exclusively).

I've used a synthetic messer as well - not sure of the brand or material specifically, but I was impressed with it - it felt solid - a fairly strong blade that lacked the exaggerated bendiness (yeah, I'm considering that a real word!) my long sword has, though that's probably due to the shorter and wider blade.

Quote:
But mainly we use steel and encourage new fencers to get steel as well.
Wasters are fine, but soon you find yourself wanting the real thing and getting a proper blunt now is midterm cheaper than getting a waster first, getting bored with it and then getting a steel blunt.
I'd always suggest steel and given how cheap you can get the most basic - but still very sufficient - Fabri Armourum swords (at least in Germany you can get the Of-the-shelf ones for 150€ or there abouts, if you are fine with not having the guard or pommel of your choice but using what he has in stock) there is really little need for wasters if you have decided for yourself that this hobby is something you want to continue doing for quite a while.


One thing I've noticed in doing my own searches for budget swords is kinda scary....there have been several sites that offer steel "sparring" versions of their "battle ready" swords at super cheap prices. The "scary" part is that only difference between these "sparring" swords and their functional counterparts is the blade's edge - they simply don't sharpen it. That's something I'd hope most definitely avoid.

Quote:
The Coldsteel wasters.. I've got one of their daggers and if that is any indication I'd stay away from those for serious sparring.
That dagger - we use it for playing around with Sword&Dagger with the Baskethilts, so no formal training with that thing - is rigid. It is one massive slab of plastic with a guard on it and I'd rather get hit with a walking cane than that thing. It also was quite pointy (given how round it overall is) and stabbing with it would be seriously dangerous. I don't know if that applies to the longer swords as well though.


I've never used any of Cold Steel's polyprop weapons, but I've never heard anything good about them. How exactly do they compare to the Rawlings (I ask because nearly everyone who hates Cold Steel's line puts Rawlings in the same boat without explanation).
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Ben Coomer




Location: Colorado
Joined: 06 Sep 2011

Posts: 184

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 1:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a couple Rawlins and they are... okay. They are definitely invincible, but they wobble, are a bit light for swords, and I really hate the rubbery handle. Still, they serve pretty well for the price.

Now good wooden wasters are a better option. I'd shy away for oak, if for nothing else they can splinter easy, particularly if they dry out. Still, my first waster was a homemade oak and its still in good shape, though long ago consigned to non-contact. We got some hickory wasters this summer and they are much more durable. The problem I have with them is that they are horribly balanced for sword work. One of their balance points is a foot beyond the crossguard which makes swordwork a bit interesting to say the least.

I'll probably be making my own again here soon, and I am looking into some of the more exotic wood for this one. Maybe I can find something that will be durable but have better characteristics for a sword-like object.
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Joshua Waters




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 15 Dec 2013

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 3:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Christopher, from my experience good low priced trainers are the Hanwei Practical line swords, the Rawlings Synthetic swords and Dark Sword Armory’s new line of WMA of steel trainers.

Rawlings makes the best Synthetic sparing swords, compared the Cold Steel Synthetics which might as well be clubs. The Cold Steel Synthetic sparing swords are heavy and handle badly compared to the Rawlings swords, the only thing the CS swords have on Rawlings is a slight edge in durability, In a sparring session the top four inches on my Rawlings broke off on a shield, while my CS’s Barely have a scratch on them.

The only problem I have with Synthetics is that they don’t usually handle like steel trainers, and that you cannot use them against steel trainers because they will get eaten by them, but you can use them against wood trainers without a problem, and they are well priced at $75.

The best low priced steel trainers I have used are the Hanwei Practical hand and a half, and it usually sells for around $210, DSA’s new WMA swords are excellent trainers, and by far the most durable swords I have ever used, and they handle very well unlike DSA’s old swords, and they sell for $375.

Wood trainers are the most inexpensive to use, but in the long run the least durable also, and they don’t usually handle well either, but they are very easy to make on your own.

Benedictus Dominus Deus meus.
Qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.

Deus vult!
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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Posts: 1,494

PostPosted: Fri 24 Jan, 2014 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Cold Steel hand-and-a-half poly wasters are OK, IMO. The grip is too short, only about 10" for the whole hilt including pommel; they would be much better with a longer grip. Balance is a bit clunky, CoG being about 8" out. But given that they're light compared to a steel sword (about 850g iirc), this is tolerable. They are stiff, almost as stiff as wood. Not worth it for full contact, IMO, since the armour that you need will be sufficient for steel, and cost enough so that you may as well use steel blunts. But OK for light-contact sparring. Wooden wasters will have the advantage that you can make (or have them made) to your preferred size.

The Revival poly longswords look better: http://revival.us/spadadazoghosparringsword-2.aspx , but I haven't used them.

The Rawlins are OK, too. They sin in different ways. Very bendy in the weak/foible, which interferes with some techniques. Lightweight, and balanced fairly close in (compared to the Cold Steel), so it's possible to whip them around with unrealistic ease.

Neither are perfect training tools. Both are OK.

(The Cold Steel poly bokken are good substitutes for wooden bokken. More indestructible and more flexible.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Mike O'Hara




Location: New Zealand
Joined: 10 Jul 2010
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Posts: 110

PostPosted: Mon 27 Jan, 2014 3:01 pm    Post subject: Make your own wasters         Reply with quote

Hi Christopher

Christopher Franklin wrote:

Quote:
I've actually thought about making my own wooden waster. I'd love to read more on how you make yours! Is the entire sword one piece of oak, including cross guard? Do you use anything (ie: insert a metal post) to strengthen the wood through the hilt, up into the blade? How about thickness and radius of the edge?


Your response has prompted me to do something I have been meaning to do for ages: write down my method, complete with pictures. This may take me a few more days and will produce a file that may be too large to upload to the site.
If you're still interested, PM me an email address.
In brief and in answer to your questions:
1. The 'blade' and hilt are one piece and the cross a separate piece.
2. There is a threaded rod in the hilt to hold on the pommel, rather than for strength. Oak is pretty tough!
3. The edge is rounded over - the detailed instruction explains this better.

Ben Coomer wrote
Quote:
Now good wooden wasters are a better option. I'd shy away for oak, if for nothing else they can splinter easy, particularly if they dry out.


Yep - Ben's right, so don't let them dry out! Ours have regular application of 5:1 linseed to mineral turpentine and we've not had a problem. The occasional damage is quick work with a block plane or card scraper.

regards
mike

MIke O'Hara
Location: Plimmerton, New Zealand
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Robert Rootslane




Location: Estonia
Joined: 06 Aug 2007

Posts: 72

PostPosted: Tue 28 Jan, 2014 4:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, actually the only thing you REALLY REALLY need is the true willingness to do it. When we started with full contact sparring with steel weapons, most people in our group were highscool or college students, which means that the budget was an absolute zero.

So for the first few months until we got enough money to buy training swords, we used the frame of an old bed found from the streets and cut into sword sized peaces with an angle grinder. Not correct balance and so on i know, but it already gave the feeling what it was like to hit and get hit with metal weapons.

We used old military helmets with riveted on visors and aventails for head protection, and thick old jackets and stuff as gambesons. With a bit of improvising it was safe, (non of us got hurt badly) and basically didnt cost anything at all, nor did it take us more than a few days to assemble.

When you are just starting and wanna get the feeling of it you can improvise a lot with equipment, since youl have some time until you go to events that require normal gear anyway.

By the way cover your wooden trainingswords with duct tape. A few layers and it will be much more resiliant to splintering, ang more safe if it will break.
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Christopher Franklin




Location: VA
Joined: 25 Nov 2013

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri 31 Jan, 2014 12:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Make your own wasters         Reply with quote

Mike O'Hara wrote:
Hi Christopher

Christopher Franklin wrote:

Quote:
I've actually thought about making my own wooden waster. I'd love to read more on how you make yours! Is the entire sword one piece of oak, including cross guard? Do you use anything (ie: insert a metal post) to strengthen the wood through the hilt, up into the blade? How about thickness and radius of the edge?


Your response has prompted me to do something I have been meaning to do for ages: write down my method, complete with pictures. This may take me a few more days and will produce a file that may be too large to upload to the site.
If you're still interested, PM me an email address.
In brief and in answer to your questions:
1. The 'blade' and hilt are one piece and the cross a separate piece.
2. There is a threaded rod in the hilt to hold on the pommel, rather than for strength. Oak is pretty tough!
3. The edge is rounded over - the detailed instruction explains this better.

Ben Coomer wrote
Quote:
Now good wooden wasters are a better option. I'd shy away for oak, if for nothing else they can splinter easy, particularly if they dry out.


Yep - Ben's right, so don't let them dry out! Ours have regular application of 5:1 linseed to mineral turpentine and we've not had a problem. The occasional damage is quick work with a block plane or card scraper.

regards
mike


Sorry for the late response - work has made me quite busy lately. I'd love to see how you make yours! PMing you now!
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A. Gaber




Location: New York
Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 31

PostPosted: Fri 31 Jan, 2014 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have this video on youtube saved up for a while.it is for bokken (not a fan of Japanese blades)you could change the style to your `style.(use different approach but the same method it will work)hope it help.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEx8bXQA9QU&am...E3FAF70D84

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.

Fear not the man who fears God.
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