Rapier fighting in Thamesreach
With us, you can study Di Grassi’s principles, contemplate Silver’s Paradoxes of Defence, or just rely on natural speed, talent and self-preservation to win the day. We start you off on basic drills, and you can add the nuances of the masters at your leisure.
We have a small, but growing community of fighters who are learning the gentlemanly arts of defence, sixteenth-century style. We have spare kit and time to teach you the basics and get you fighting within a few sessions. This page provides some background and resources to help you develop from a novice through to a tournament winner!
Practices are weekly and run alongside the Armoured practice in Victoria Park. We fence with Rapiers of histoic weight and style using the point and the edge. We differ from Olympic style fencing in our use of slicing cuts, parrying with the off hand, secondary weapons such as daggers, extra swords, cloaks and the like, and non-linear movement; Combat in the round, often against more than one opponent.
Hits are determined the same way in armoured combat, vis-a-vis the honor system based on recognition of the blows received. However, our blows are not struck with as nearly as much force as armoured combat, at most a particularly hard blow should feel more more than being hit by a paintball. The period and modern blend might look odd at first sight, but we have to bear in mind the paramount need to keep you as a fighter safe.
Minimum Kit standards
We have a small collection of kit to get new fighters up and running, but need to know if you are coming in order to lend it out and can help you build up your own set. The rule of thumb is that no skin be left uncovered. The basic kit is – mask, gorget, fencing tunic, gloves, trousers or skirt, groin protection for men (this is optional but highly reccomended for women), and suitable footwear. The suitability of each piece of equipment is covered in the Drachenwald fencing rules. At practice, we fence in suitable normal clothing, with either thick or multiple layers of clothing to protect ourselves.
In tournaments, fighters often go for period costume that meet the rules requirements, often to great and spectaular effect. it can be fun building up your own attire, based on civilian or semi-military dress of the period. We have plenty of advisors and resources to help you, form books, to patterns, sewing machines and advice on fabrics. Even a quick trip round the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery will generate ideas. For women fighters, a long skirt actually provides a combat advantage as well as good protection of the legs.
Making your own kit
This is a good link to a pdf on making your own SCA rapier kit, from basic to period. There are plenty of links, as listed below -
Caellach Mac Donal’s page – also contains plenty of information on SCA fencing
Live Fast, Die Young, Leave a Colour Co-ordinated Corpse – comprehensive guide to materials and planning kit.
Also – ask the regulars. We have patterns for hoods and gorgets, which are some of the easy pieces of personal kit to make on your own.
Buying in Kit
Important note about online shopping: be aware that if you order goods from overseas, you may be charged duty by HM Customs and Excise at the border.
Masks – The SCA rating of 550 Newtons is between the CEN 1 and CEN 2 rating. The rating refers to the amount of impact a mask can take before buckling. Buy in new where possible, or at least buy an un-dented mask. CEN 2 is rated at 800N, so something like the Leon Paul CEN 2 Epee mask, or the Knight Shop rapier mask will do. There are other manufacturers, so shop around.
Swords – We use replica blunt rapiers that are available from such sources as Hanwei and Darkwood. Hanwei in particular are available in the UK from the likes of The Grange or The Knight Shop (UK-based shops). Look for the ‘Practical Rapier’ in 37″ or 43″ lengths. You can buy an entire blade + hilt, or buy blades and hilts separately.
There are plenty of other listings and advice available on The Armour Archive. This is a large forum about all combat and armour related topics; use the search engine to narrow your browsing.
Gorgets – Are commercially available if you do not wish to make your own. A particularly popular make is from Zen Warrior Armoury, (US-based shop that also has a range of rapiers) which is designed for heavy fighting, but provides excellent protection and looks good too!
Costume – also commercially available, though quality and authenticity cannot be vouched for. Gambesons, Aketons and other arming jackets are readily available form several sources, but remember to have either thick upper leg protection or that the gambeson is long enough to cover the groin area at all times. Both American SCA-specific, and more general British companies will have suitable kit available to order, online , or at the regular re-enactor markets.
Randal the Malcontent’s SCA fencing guide – a comprehnsive guide to developing your drill and style.
Joining the Drachenwald Fighters Forum is a must, for further discussions, drill, training diaries and more.