Splendid collection

 Readers, who – due to their circumstances (financial limitations etc.) – cannot collect or own practice (or sharp) sabres, will be delighted to browse this excellent collection. Fencing Arms & Artifacts provides a unique set of photos for each exhibited sword, together with a really valuable specification.
 Let's have a look. Clemen & Jung fencing sabre:

And the detailed specification:

Sabre: steel, iron, wood, cord, shagreen, brass wire.
Overall length: ................. 96.7cm
Blade: .............................. 83.7cm long in front of guard, 
                                                6.11mm x 21.6mm thick at forte, 
                                                4.13mm x 18.07mm at middle, 
                                                1.87mm x 15.12mm at foible.
Hilt: ................................. 13cm total length
Guard: ............................. 11.18cm x 13.23cm, 2.4mm thick plate
Grip: ................................ 12.5cm long including ferrule and backstrap, 
                                                10cm visible shagreen, 20.54mm x 30.22mm thick 
                                                at middle,
Backstrap: ....................... 11.2cm visible length, 2.45cm at widest
Weight: ............................ 649 grams

Blade is fullered on both sides from the forte until the foible and the point is rounded. Peened hilt.

And another nice fencing sabre (Broqua & Scholberg):  

In this case we also have a really detailed specification.

Sabre. Steel, iron, wood.
Overall length: ................. 98.5 cm.
Blade length: ................... 84.0 cm in front of guard, fuller length 81 cm.
Blade thickness: .............. 5.82 x 18.22 mm at guard, 4.36 x 15.88 mm at strong, 
                                               4.06 x 13.66 mm at middle, 3.40 x 13.26 mm at weak, 
                                               2.27 x 12.77 mm at point.
Blade curvature: .............. 8.50 mm at strong, 9.11 mm at middle, 6.15 mm at weak.
Hilt: ................................. 14.8 cm total length.
Guard: ............................. 10.7 x 15.3 cm; 1.78 mm thick material, 6.1 cm between 
                                               knucklebow and grip.
Grip: ................................ 14.3 cm total length, 11.8 cm visible wood, 
                                               24.04 x 32.05 mm thick at middle.
Point of balance: ............. 9.6 cm from guard.
Weight: ........................... 666 grams.”

Even a PoB is provided. 



 No comment [1]
  1. The original picture -- without the virus -- can be found at FB-page of Vívómúzeum (Fencing Museum).


Face mask (~1625)

 It seems that the first known depiction of a plate fencing mask with ties is from 1686 [1] . However there are some tantalizing signs that protective masks were used several decades earlier. Below we could examine two face masks from the Stibbert Collection (Florence). The first mask is a rather interesting one, because it is difficult to say for sure: Was this mask a decorative one (resembling Venetian masks)? Or was it used for some other purposes e.g. fencing?!

 The second one, simply placed in a gorget by a curator or originally attached to a gorget, is especially interesting, because it matches really close the description of the object from the Pennsylvania Museum.

Purchase of European Armor

 The Museum's collection of European armor has been greatly strengthened by a recent purchase of fourteen specimens acquired at an important sale in New York. [...] The most striking piece in the group is a French fencing mask of 1625. It is embossed with the verisimilitude of a face with long mustachios and a Louis Trieze pointed beard; the mouth and eye openings have upraised borders, to deflect the stroke of the opponent's blade; the eyelids, beard, and mustachios are ornamented with roping.” (Page 24) [2][3]

Accessions October, 1921 - February, 1922
Class: ............... Armor
Object: ............ Fencing mask, French, 1625
Source: ............By purchase, Keehmle Fund and Bloomfield Moore Fund” (Page 29)
  1. Fencing Material Culture (2014)
  3. This bulletin is marked with a library stamp: „Philadelphia Museum, Library, College of Art”.



  The whole thing is only tangentially connected to the main topic of this blog, but it is nevertheless great fun to watch. There is a group who has been creating several realistic „lightsaber” models based on the currently available technologies. Their latest achievement is the 2000°C plasma „saber” with a retractable (!) blade. 

 And naturally they have tested it in every imaginable way, even against... a commercially available „lightsaber”.

A deadly encounter...

...and the final result!


R. I. P. Wazull

 Today I have learned that an old-old online opponent, Wazull passed away in May. He was just 52 years old... How sad...

 Wazull had been practicing kendo since around the early 90s and for many years was the very active member of Hungarian online community, especially on the biggest local forum called Harcművészetek (Martial Arts). He wrote at least 7588 posts in total, including 5805 posts dedicated to the different aspects of martial arts, especially Japanese swordsmanship, including kendo.

 Back in 2008-2009 we had rather heated discussions about fencing, about HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts), about the possibility to reconstruct these lost arts based on available medieval books, on the quality of fencing displayed by European HEMA-enthusiasts around that time. He was a relentless, learned, highly intelligent and skilled debater, who -- occasionally -- came across as rather sarcastic or even arrogant. Despite of this he left behind a huge amount of interesting and valuable posts! 

R. I. P.

  1. Hungarian readers could browse through his posts at Index dot hu. (Részletes keresés mező, nicknév alapján.)
  2. At the moment I think it would be inappropriate to disclose his IRL name, his profession or details of his biography. It may change in the future.



 Mit tegyen az ember, ha szeretne megtanulni hosszúkardozni, de nincs lehetősége eljárni az ismertebb HEMA-iskolák (Ars Ensis, Kard Rendje, AULE stb.) kezdő edzéseire, mert ezek jó messze vannak? Könyvet sem akar venni, viszont már rendelkezik kellő szablyavívó tapasztalattal, van egy kiváló edzőtársa [1], aki épp nemrég vett két műanyag hosszúkardot.

 A kérdés viszonylag egyszerűen megválaszolható: YT-videók!

 Jelenleg számos külhoni vívóiskolának vannak egész videósorozatai, melyek egész részletesen foglalkoznak pl. a német hosszúkardvívás (Lichtenauer, Meyer) technikai részleteivel. Csupán be kell azonosítani a legminőségibb tartalmakat, és már lehet is gyakorolni. Némi keresgélés és tanulmányozás után én a Sword Carolina csapat anyagát választottam. [2]
 Lássuk a listát -- angol nyelvű videók (2014, 2015) a Lichtenauer-féle hosszúkard-vívásról -- , amit használni fogunk az elkövetkező pár hónapban. [3]
  1. Lábmunka (Footwork)
  2. Vívóállások (Vier Leger)
  3. A 2 legfontosabb vágás (Lesson 3: The 2 Most Important Cuts for HEMA) [4]
  4. Zornhau I. (Lesson 2: Zornhau, High and Low)
  5. Zornhau II. (Zornhau-Ort, Abnehmen) [5]
 (A lista folyamatosan frissítve lesz.)

  1. Igazából az edzőtárs -- aki helyi hagyományőrző -- akar hosszúkardvívást tanulni, én csupán mindenben támogatom.
  2. A csapat vezetőjéről -- Aaron Shoberről -- itt lehet többet megtudni. Kellemesen, érthetően magyaráz, meglehetősen régen csinálja. Máskülönben kiváló vívó: jelenleg a 155. helyen van a hosszúkardvívók listáján (összlétszám: 5200+ fő a HEMAratings szerint).
  3. Ez az anyag nagyjából megfelel az Ars Ensis-féle tananyag első két évének: Scholler I, Scholler II.
  4. Oberhau, Unterhau: „They are the principal cuts, the grounding of all other cuts.”
  5. Itt már egy haladóbb technika is szerepel. Abnehmen = „To move away or free yourself from a bind and make another attack.”


How to...

 ...modify the tip of a plastic longsword (Red Dragon, RD) in order to make it more or less compatible with kendo headgear. We have been using a pair of synthetic longswords since May. They are absolutely great for beginners to learn the basics of the German longsword tradition (KDF), and also for light sparring (basically with nothing more than leather gloves and standard 350N masks).

 After a while, together with my fencing partner we have decided that it would be a good fun to fence with local kendo guys. More than 10 years ago -- as a complete beginner -- I fenced with them: shinai vs Olympic sabre. [1] But there is one big problem: shinai -- Japanese bamboo sword -- is really stiff (static flexibility somewhere between 17 and 22 kg), compared to Red Dragon's flexibilty (3.2-3.5 kg). So substituting shinais with plastic longswords while fencing with kendo guys is basically rather straightforward idea, but you have to overcome the next obstacle: the plastic blade could easily slide between horizontal steel bars of the kendo headgear (men), with obvious serious consequences (eye damage via blunt trauma). 

  The biggest distances between adjacent bars is 11-13 mm. [2]

Contours of RD's tip, width (23 mm),
thickness of the edge (6.5 mm)

 After taking into account all these details we thought the following modification would be sufficient to ensure relatively safe sparring with plastic longswords between a kendoka and a fencer. What we need for this? Only very basic stuff: a plastic cork [3], a piece of leather (approx. dimensions: length - 230 mm, width - 20-21 mm) and some insulation tape for securing the cork to the RD's tip.

 In this post I am using an aluminum blade (width: 30 mm) to show the process of the modification. I think that the pictures are definitely self-explanatory.

The final result

 After this modification we have a rather solid addition to RD's tip, whose dimensions -- thickness in one direction: 23 mm, in another: 31-32 mm -- might prevent the tip to enter any gap between mengane's horizontal bars. We have already tested one longsword with the modified tip against standard 350N fencing masks. It has survived two training sessions with any damage, also made thrusts with such a longsword less painful, because the modified tip is at least 3.7 times bigger than the original one. Naturally the final test will be the encounter between an empty kendo headgear and the modified longsword. 

 Everybody should be extremely cautious while fencing, especially during free sparring sessions between the representatives of different fencing schools. We are not advocating the usage of modified fencing equipment. Everybody performs such a modification, and uses the modified equipment at his / her own risks. The safest way to fence with plastic longswords is to use standard Olympic headgear for both the kendoka and the fencer. 

  1. The YT-video of this encounter has reached almost 2 million views (1,981,461).
  2. Mengane.
  3. Diameter: 21 mm, height: 36 mm; it is advisable to split only the first 30-32 mm. 


Filiberto Sauro

 It is really exciting to find a catalogue picture which shows such a rich assortment of fencing sabres. (A better picture.)

From Gerard Six FB-page [1] [2]

 I planned to use the previous blog entries in order to be able to identify as many sabre hilts as possible. But with some luck I have found that Chris Holzman made my life much easier by posting a pdf of Filiberto Sauro's printed catalogue (1932). Thus we can identify all sabres with absolute certainty. (Page 5 & 6 of the Italian catalogue.)

Page 5

Page 6

 The whole story just underlines the importance of mutually beneficial cooperation between HEMA-enthusiasts: Gerard Six had some good photos, but no text, and Chris Holzman had only text, without pictures. So by combining their goodies, now they -- and also the whole community -- have much better understanding which fencing swords were manufactured in Italy in the 30s.

Part of the last page

  1. Originally it has been tentatively identified as a photo from the Sauro's catalogue.
  2. 1st row: Parise, Parise, Radaelli (35), Radaelli, Barbasetti, ???; 2nd row: Sauro, Bonna, Sauro, Masiello, Masiello, Baracco; 3rd row: ???, Sauro, Gennari, Galante, Tomazzoni, Mensur.



 Very impressive cutting skills!!
 In 2019 Russian Cossacks were competing in cutting different objects. 

  1. В частности, до сих пор сами казаки используют в качестве самоназвания родовых, а не набранных и, тем более, ряженых казаков слова «казара», «казарра», «казарла», «козарлюги»” (Wiki) Even till now the Cossacks themselves use words kazara, kazarra, kazarla as  self-names for generic, not recruited Cossacks.