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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 11:14 am    Post subject: Some thoughts on various A&A sword trainers...         Reply with quote

So I've had the pleasure of owning or using several of the Arms and Armor training swords, and I can't say enough good things about them. They really are fantastic tools. All of them have excellent heat treatment and hardness. I thought I'd give a run down of the ones I've handled and some general thoughts and comparisons about each.

Fechterspiel:



In my opinion, this is the best longsword trainer I've used for practicing unarmoured combat techniques. Whether you are fully bouting or focusing only on drilling, this sword manages to feel like a wonderful "sharp" sword without being a sharp. It has nice wide edges for safety. I own the prototype, and it has slightly more rounded edges than some of the more recent models I've seen, so you may want to take a file and round the corners a little, but that's easy. The blade has enough flex to give a good thrust without injuring your partner, but is still stiff enough that you won't experience any problems at practicing techniques from the bind. It also happens to look pretty damn cool. I've noticed that more recent ones are even nicer in handling, being slightly lighter and more responsive in feel than mine is, and having even more flex (but not enough to hurt technique).


Fechtbuch:



This is the original practice longsword that A&A produced years ago, and it has been tweaked over time to become quite nice. The older ones were much heavier than today, as many people who bought them were striking hard into armour, and the swords had to be able to handle that. Today the WMA community is much more sophisticated in how we approach training, and this sword is much lighter than it used to be. It is not as light as the fechterspiel, though it's light enough, and the blade is a little "beefier". It still has a reasonable amount of flex, though not as much. In my opinion, if one were trying to decide which sword to buy, the Fechterspiel is slightly more ideal for unarmoured training, and the Fechtbuch is slightly more ideal for armoured training, but really either one could be used either way.


Spada da zhogo:



Another excellent trainer. In some ways this sword is slightly in between the two swords above. This one has a less flex than the fechterspiel, but is lighter than the Fechtbuch. I would recommend this one for a person who wanted a stiffer trainer, as many people do prefer stiffness to the blade. Despite the name, it could easily be used for German longsword (two of my students use this sword for Liechtenauer), just as the previous swords could easily be used for Fiore or any other longsword style.


Scholar:



This is the one handed sword, and it is quite nice. I sort of think of this one as the smaller version of the Spada da zhogo, as the stiffness is the same, and the profile of the blade is similar. It is quite lively, and definately my choice for single hand sword work.


Smallsword:



A lightweight, quick and very accurate handling replica. The blade is a modified modern double wide epee blade. It is a little on the stiff side, though many people prefer that. Personally, if I were having one made for myself, I'd ask for it to be made with a standard epee blade rather than a double wide to be more flexible, but that's just my preference. Balance, size and proportion are all spot on with this piece, something that is rare for smallsword reproductions.


Nail head rapier blades:



These are a very welcome addition to A&A's lineup. If you want an A&A rapier, but specifically are looking for something to fence with, just ask them to make the blade with one of these fencing versions, and it costs the same. The blades are flexible, but have excellent heat treatment. Handling will be dependent on which rapier you specifically want, of course. Granted, A&A rapiers will be much more expensive than a typical trainer because of the level of finish on the [gorgeous] hilts, but I believe it was Guy Windsor who made the observation that the more you like your sword, the more you're probably going to want to train with it. I know that's true for me.


"Montante" trainer (link unavailable for the time being):



This is a prototype of a full sized two-hander that Craig made for Steve Hick's class at WMAW. It's not in the catalog, as he'd only made four at the time to test out (and all four were enthusiastically bought that weekend, two of which came back with my group). This is an incredible handling two-hander. At some five and a half feet tall or so, it looks massive, and yet it handles like a dream. It is light weight (for it's size) and incredibly lively. This is clearly the type of sword DiGrassi spoke of when saying, "one may with it (as a galleon, among many gallies) resist many swords, or other weapons..." It is fast and extremely agile, and it's massive size would work well for dealing with many who have shorter weapons that aren't that much faster.

A&A also have a couple of new trainers in the works that I got to handle at WMAW, but not actually fence with. These included a budget rapier (seemed very nice), and budge spada da lato (also seemed very nice), and a more decorative version of their smallsword (which I was coveting all weekend). All in all, these are definately in the top tier of WMA trainers that I've ever used, and I'd highly recommend talking to them for any sword trainers you're looking for.



 Attachment: 54.53 KB
trainers.jpg
New smallswords and a spada da lato trainer from WMAW 2006

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bill,

Very interesting post.

Its always nice when you do things like this.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
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Steve Grisetti




Location: Orlando metro area, Florida, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a very nice overview, Bill. If I can ever get off of my duff to do some training, I'll then have to decide which trainer to get!
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
- Sir Toby Belch
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks, guys. A recent discussion with some students made me think to do a comparison like this online.
Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2006 5:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback Bill. It's great to see training equipment like this become more and more available. I think it really advances the state of the art, so to speak.
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Stephen A. Fisher




Location: Kentucky USA
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PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2006 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Those smallswords look really nice. Cool
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