Usage and History
The long sword is a weapon used mainly during the middle and late Medieval period (and should be distinguished from the Renaissance cut & thrust sword). It is both an offensive and defensive weapon and can be used for parries and deflections, as well as, cuts and thrusts. 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-swording 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 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 it's ends may be rounded, spiked or ornate. A long sword handle has enough space for two handed use; it can be waisted and has an 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 it's own right, when used to strike hammer-like blows.
At Sword Academy we make use of a variety of long swords in our training. Wooden wasters are used for drills and are known, from historical sources, to have been used in the Middle Ages for training or even (generally) non-lethal combat. We use aluminum practice swords for drills and safe high speed sparring - with additional protective equipment. Replica steel swords are used for drills and cutting practice. We also use padded sword - made with an aluminum/oak core and covered in high impact foam - for safe (though not completely painless) sparring.