Usage and History
The long sword is a weapon used during the middle and late medieval period and early renaissance period - and should be distinguished from the standard sword, which is primarily used with one hand only. It is both an offensive and defensive weapon and can be used for cuts and thrusts as well as parries and deflections. Cuts with a long sword are delivered either as slices or as extremely powerful chopping blows. Although it is primarily used with two hands, a long sword is still capable of being wielded with a single hand, allowing the off-hand to be used for grappling, punching, and grabbing an opponent or his sword.
Advances in armor technology toward the end of the medieval period, specifically plate armor, decreased the protective need for a shield and thus freed up the off-hand. Because of this, special techniques called half-sword or shortened sword were developed. Half-swording generally involves holding the blade of the sword in the second hand, which enables greater point control and increased thrusting power. This in turn enables the long sword to puncture heavy armor and stab into the vulnerable joints and gaps between plates.
Components and Construction
A long sword consists of a blade, a cross-guard, a handle and a pommel. The blade comes in two basic styles, a straight cutting blade and a tapered thrusting blade, though both styles can cut and thrust. The cross-guard is generally straight, but it can be curved and its ends may be rounded, spiked or ornate. During the renaissance period elaborate cross-guards incorporating rings for additional protection of the hand or finger have become popular. A long sword handle has enough space for two-handed use; it can be waisted (narrower towards pommel) and has a typically oval cross- section. The pommel is a counter weight to the blade and comes in many shapes and sizes. Because of this, it can be a formidable weapon in its own right when used to strike hammer-like blows.
At Sword Academy we use exclusively steel weapons for practice and sparring.
Wooden wasters are known from historical sources, and were used in the Middle Ages for training or even (generally) non-lethal combat. Some practitioners today use aluminum practice swords, while others also use padded swords.
In our philosophy and approach to training, we use steel swords, which have many benefits over using wooden wasters or swords of other materials.