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John V




Location: Massachusetts
Joined: 11 Sep 2014

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 8:15 pm    Post subject: Advice on Albion Steward/ Count, Alternative         Reply with quote

Hello!

I'm new to the forum and have a question I couldn't find answered by a previous topic.

My name is John and I'm just exploring the idea of learning the longsword. I'm a martial arts practitioner (1st Dan) and have an interest in studying European martial arts - specifically the long sword.

My interest is based in my long time fascination with the weapon (admittedly through fantasy literature and film) and the study of a martial art that is based on traditional theory and curriculum. It is my understanding that each practitioner develops his/ her interpretation of the old techings/ writings, as there aren't any actual "masters" available today. I currently practice Kajukenbo, which focuses on street self defense, Lots of bumps and bruises and not much time for reflection when I train and practice, as might be found in more traditional martial arts. I believe studying the use of a weapon like the Long sword, while challenging, might provide more of an escape and a somewhat peaceful pursuit.

That said, I have a very specific idea of the sword I'm looking for - both aesthetically and in its use. From my research, I'm looking for a Type Xiii-a of the two handed grip length, with a shorter blade. I've found the Count and Steward and really like the look and from the reviews I've read, handle very well two-handed and still manageably in the one handed fashion.

However, as I'm new to HEMA (I'm still looking for instructors in my area!), I don't want to just spend 1200 on a sword - without a scabbard no less. Further, I would imagine that I would first need to purchase a blunt blade for practice as a novice before purchasing my first sharpened blade. I can't quite convince myself to purchase a 1200 blunt blade with the idea that I would later purchase an alternative sharpened blade.

Can anyone recommend a durable, quality product that would fit into the size/ weight spectrum of the Steward/ Count? I don't need something that's aesthetically pleasing - just functional, reliable and fitting into this size. A scabbard/ belt system would be great.

Also, can anyone recommend wood swords in this size as well?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Also, any suggestions for finding a good school/ resources to learn from would be great. In the world of martial arts schools I've encountered, there are many "McDojo's" out there with wanna-be's or folks looking to make a quick buck. While I feel I have a discerning eye for a quality martial arts instructor, I don't know enough about HEMA to know who is skilled in the craft and who is not.
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John V




Location: Massachusetts
Joined: 11 Sep 2014

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 8:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To clarify - a durable, quality AFFORDABLE product*

Thanks!
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Albion Maestros are considered by many to be the best blunt trainers/reenactments swords around..

Look Here

The Epee de Guerre is the one most like the Steward and the Count.. Albion put some effort into making them handle as much as possible like a real sword, something that is hard to find in many blunts, which are often overbuilt and ponderous.

What is your price limit?
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John,

My two cents:

I wouldn't recommend getting a wooden sword personally, for the simple reason that wooden swords bounce when you try to bind with them. Also, I think that not getting a sharp sword early is a critical mistake, for a simple reason: you cannot practice cutting against targets with a blunt. This might not seem to be that crucial, but when you think about it, the cut is one of the foundational attacks of a sword, especially an early long sword/war sword like a Type XIIa or Type XIIIa. While you can certainly practice the motion of striking with a blunt sword, how will you know whether your edge alignment is good, and if the trajectory of your strike is effective in achieving the desired end, namely striking deeply into a target? Additionally, you can do solo practice with sharp swords, which I far prefer to practicing with blunt swords. The edges on blunt swords invariably affects the way the sword tracks through a cut, and the weight and balance is not as good as a sharp unless you've got a really light and flexible blunt, which inevitably distorts your technique in other ways. You do have to be a bit careful practicing with sharps- start out slow at first, and you should be fine. Although you do need a blunt steel sword to practice with training partners, it is a mistake not to get a sharp as soon as possible.

Personally, I recommend the Steward myself. It is a superb war sword that looks very similar to most of the 13th and 14th century war swords shown in period manuscripts. The blade is light and agile, and yet capable of delivering horrendous cuts and dangerous thrusts. Personally, I think it's worth paying more to get a really high quality tool that will last a long time and perform really well.

However, if you really insist that you don't want to pay that much, your best bet might be something like a Hanwei Tinker Great Sword of War. It costs $230.00 at Kult of Athena and it comes with a basic scabbard, though without a belt and suspension. Keep in mind that this sword is a sharp; it's not a training sword. You can see it here: http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...ord+of+War
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Thu 11 Sep, 2014 11:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like XIIA's and XIIIA's too, no reason they won't work for your studies but! the sources you'll be studying are going to be 14thc or younger so a XVa, XVIa, XVII, or XVIIIa/b/c would be more fitting. The H/T GSOW is a good XIIIa to begin with though, you'll probably trash your first sword anyway so it's best if it's something affordable. For that matter practice sharpening on machetes or the cheapest wallhangers and SLO's you can find before you risk messing up a decent sword.

I can vouch for Athena School Of Arms in Medford, don't know how close that is to you though.
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John V




Location: Massachusetts
Joined: 11 Sep 2014

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 4:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you everyone for your responses!

I think that it's a great point to start with a sharp blade. That makes sense - I do also fear ruining a good blade before I'm ready for one. I like the idea of the Hanwei, but found that their bastard sword more closely resembles the size of the steward. Would it be a mistake to purchase that over the Greatsword? I'm 5'8 on a good day, and don't want to get something too big for my stature.

Also, does purchasing a cheaper sword like this present any safety hazards/ chances if a blade snapping/ failing?

It seems they made, but have a now discontinued, a blunt version of the weapon. Does it make sense to try and procure one in addition to the sharp version, or would it make more sense to procure an Albion practice blade and eventually pair it with a steward when I'm ready (bearing in mind that I would end up waiting a little longer for the Albion practice blade than the Hanwei blunted, due to cost.)

Also, I know that the steward/ xiii-as I'm looking at probably won't be an exact match to the schools/ studies I have available, but it is a manifestation of what I see in my minds eye when I envision the weapon, and feel that while only an aesthetic choice, this is important to me.

Lastly, I'm on the western side of Massachusetts - unfortunately Medford is a hike and too far for regular attendance. Any other suggestions would be great!

Thank you so much everyone! This is very helpful!
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 5:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, H/T Bastard is very different weapon from Albion Steward, but H/T GSoW, although it's also XIIIa like the Steward is not very similar to it because of the great difference in size... None of the Hanwei swords you could buy would be a good match for the Steward. I suggest, if at all possible, that you should buy the sword that you like best, Steward, immediately. With caution, you can start practicing solo drills with it immediately and when you find a group, you can buy Maestro Line greatsword. Sharpening doesn't have to worry you much, you will have to cut with steward quite a lot to blunt it so much that it cuts no more. And by then, you can learn how to sharpen it on something else and worthless. If you decide to buy a cheaper blade, you will soon find its issues and soon you'll have to buy the real thing anyway.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 7:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's really only a couple of ways you could damage a sharp sword. Aside from accidents like dropping it on a rough surface, one way to damage your sword is to badly miss a cutting target and violently impact against a hard surface. The second and far more likely way to damage your sword is to change the trajectory of a strike so that your edge hits against the edge of your training partner's sword. Since you will not be practicing with a sharp with a training partner, this scenario is effectively ruled out. In other words, it's not that likely that you will damage your sharp sword.

I, too, second Luka's recommendation to get the Steward.

PS: Check the link near the top left of your browser; I have sent you a private message.
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Michael Couture




Location: Canada
Joined: 08 Sep 2014

Posts: 14

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For an alternative to the Steward, the VA Knights Templar is similar in size and type, but costs considerably less and comes with a scabbard + suspension.
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 12:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Couture wrote:
For an alternative to the Steward, the VA Knights Templar is similar in size and type, but costs considerably less and comes with a scabbard + suspension.


I have one of those. It's a very good sword - a light, but powerful, maneuverable XIIa.
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Joe Maccarrone




Location: Seattle, WA USA
Joined: 19 Sep 2003

Posts: 161

PostPosted: Fri 12 Sep, 2014 11:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding the Albion Steward... I think the "to scale" pics on their site are deceiving!

I've handled the Duke a few times, and liked the overall feel and heft of it. The Steward looks tiny below it on the Next Generation page, so I never paid it much heed.

After reading this thread I took another look, and the stats have it only about 2" overall length and 6 oz. lighter than the Duke I don't think those pics are quite to scale. Big Grin
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John V




Location: Massachusetts
Joined: 11 Sep 2014

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue 16 Sep, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm currently in saving mode and hope to get something within the next few weeks/ months.

One last question - can anyone help me determine why a round pummel vs a scent stopper pummel are used on any given sword?

I'm a little nervous about the grip bring too small two handed on the count, but don't want to go to a larger sword. (I'm 5'8 with pretty big hands) I was looking for something similar to the steward with a scent stopper (is that right?) pummel to allow for a little extra room, but noticed that on the albion lime, anything with that type of pummel and in the size range I'm looking seems to be geared more towards the thrust and has a much more defined point - which is not what I'm looking for. I love the look of the counts blade and that's my first choice - funds permitting. But it left me wondering as to the difference of styles and why one is used over the other in any given situation? I suppose i grip a portion of the round pummel.

Cheers!
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Tue 16 Sep, 2014 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John,

The Steward has a wheel pommel. A scent stopper pommel is the kind seen on Albion's Liechtenauer, Mercenary, and Brescia Spadona among others.

The difference between pommels is largely an aesthetic one for the purpose of fencing. While you can grip a wheel pommel or a faceted pommel like the one on the Count, it should not be necessary. This is because you keep both hands close together when gripping a sword.

I know there are some modern long sword schools that will disagree with me, but Dobringer explicitly mentions keeping your hands together on the grip, and images of long swordsmen from the 14th century show this as well. Keeping both hands together permits you to deliver far greater power with a strike; it also helps to make sure the strike tracks properly. You should have no problem gripping either the Count or Steward.
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Mike Ruhala




Location: Stuart, Florida
Joined: 24 Jul 2011

Posts: 328

PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 12:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's true that 3227a says not to grip the pommel because it should overthrow itself in a cut but tons of other sources in and out of the fechtbucher show gripping of the pommel, neither method is wrong. In a perfect world a sword would only have mass at the center of percussion and within the grip, scent stoppers and similar can have the felt effect of redistributing some mass after that fashion. The non-grip method is probably a hold over from single handed swords, a heavy pommel isn't strictly necessary to balance a sword. Funny thing is I haven't seen many non-grippers embrace the "overthrow."
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 1:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike,

I should clarify: when I fence, I start with both hands close together, and for many strikes or techniques, they remain this way. However, there are certain strikes or techniques where it feels preferable to allow my left hand to slide further down the sword grip. Everyone who has practiced long sword for a significant time knows that a certain plasticity of your grip is necessary to most effectively deliver strikes.
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Hector A.





Joined: 22 Dec 2013

Posts: 137

PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
John,

The Steward has a wheel pommel. A scent stopper pommel is the kind seen on Albion's Liechtenauer, Mercenary, and Brescia Spadona among others.

The difference between pommels is largely an aesthetic one for the purpose of fencing. While you can grip a wheel pommel or a faceted pommel like the one on the Count, it should not be necessary. This is because you keep both hands close together when gripping a sword.

I know there are some modern long sword schools that will disagree with me, but Dobringer explicitly mentions keeping your hands together on the grip, and images of long swordsmen from the 14th century show this as well. Keeping both hands together permits you to deliver far greater power with a strike; it also helps to make sure the strike tracks properly. You should have no problem gripping either the Count or Steward.


I'm sorry to have to call you out like this but its very much the contrary, gripping the pommel gives more power and if you got a wheel pommel it will also let you know if the edge is making alignment easier.
The benefit of having hands close together is to have them protected as much as possible with the cross guard, thanks to simple angulation.

As for the grip on the Count and Steward they are both indeed pretty small if you have big hands (anything over 8 cm of palm width) you can forget about it. This type of early great swords are very dependent on being "swung" so having a firm comfortable grip is your first priority, and the pommels do not help on either one of these models, they are not comfortable... unless you plan on wearing leather gloves, at which point you should be golden.
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Tom King




Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 2:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=SH2411

this might be up your alley. As far as cheap, durable, and correct swords go, the hanwie tinker line is superb. When it comes to entry level HEMA gear, they can't really be beat. I own the sharp and blunt of the HT longsword: the blunt holds it's own against stagmiers and the sharp has cut as well a albions. They make pretty good training tools.
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Luka Borscak




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem is you don't see scent stopper pommels on swords before mid 14th century and by that time XIIa and XIIIa already started losing their popularity. And even the XIIIa swords still made in that period retained their original style fittings, so mostly various disc pommels. But XIIIa blades did have a time of renewed popularity in the late 15th and early 16th century and you might find some of those with different pommels, like for example this A&A sword:

http://armor.com/sword167.html

Other swords you might like:

http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...Long+Sword
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...tard+Sword
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...ming+Sword

Also, Sonny from Valiant Armoury will mix and match fittings and blades from his models as long as it's a reasonable combination.
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 7:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking of Sonny of Valiant Armory, take a look at his Malatesta HERE at KOA. You can't buy it from KOA anymore, but it will show you the specs. You'll find it at http://www.valiant-armoury.com/swords.php - Not historically correct, but a good sword.

http://www.customswordshoppe.com/shoppe/produ...i1ecks99o5
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Wed 17 Sep, 2014 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:


I'm sorry to have to call you out like this but its very much the contrary, gripping the pommel gives more power and if you got a wheel pommel it will also let you know if the edge is making alignment easier.
The benefit of having hands close together is to have them protected as much as possible with the cross guard, thanks to simple angulation.



I went out and did some cutting, and found I am mistaken. I could strike with more power with a second hand on the pommel. What I also found, at least for a zornhau, is that the wider my hands were spaced apart, the easier it was for my strike to follow an eccentric path if I was not careful. Perhaps this is what Dobringer means about striking harder/stronger and truer. A strike that follows an eccentric path probably will not cleave as deeply as one that follows a cleaner and more constant line.
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