It doesn’t take a lot of equipment to get started in historical fencing, but it is important that you get off on the right foot. Normally, a student begins his studies with basic longsword, as the old masters believed that learning proper use of the longsword formed a firm foundation for all other weapons.
Before you spar, you will need to learn the basics of Renaissance fencing. Therefore, your first piece of equipment should be a wooden sword, called a “waster”. Before you run out and buy one, though, please read our article on choosing properly for historical fencing. This will save you money, headaches, heartaches, and most importantly, possible injury.
Protective equipment is not needed right away, since the student will begin his studies practicing fencing drills and exercises. When starting sparring, he will use wooden wasters. However, as he gains skill and control over his moves, he will want to progress to sparring with blunted steel weapons, as these weapons will perform much more like the real thing.
Other equipment, such as other wooden swords and weapons, a pell, buckler or targ, or blunted steel swords, can be made or purchased as the scholar has the funding and inclination.
Wasters – Your first and most basic piece of equipment, it is more than just a wooden sword to the scholar of historical fencing. Choosing the right make and size as well as alternatives and errors to avoid are covered in this article.
Protective Gear – Despite our emphasis on safety and control, when fencing with wooden wasters and steel blunts, accidents and injuries can and do occur. While not strictly required for sparring, you will more than likely want to invest in at least basic protective gear. This section will tell you what we recommend.
Elbow/Knee Pads – You can get good knee protection from Home Depot, Lowes or Academy. For elbow protection you can use the same guards for roller blading.
Other Equipment – Whether we are talking shields and bucklers, or construction of a pell for striking practice, this section covers those miscellaneous items too small for their own section.
Ask in class.
Steel Swords – Blunted steel swords are only used in sparring by our more advanced students. However, they can be used by anyone to practice basic cuts and parries. But buyer beware! Not all swords are created equal. Read this before you run out and pick up a “wall hanger.”