So, you have a Catholic swordsman that you are looking to get a gift for and you are in need of ideas. You’ve come to the right spot! Sword-based western martial arts is a fairly unique thing and as such it is hard to get reliable information on equipment and training needs. This quick guide can help you to outfit your loved one this Christmas so he is ready to learn the art with the other members of the Order of Lepanto!
1. Sword Maintenance Gear. The thing about using weapons that are designed similar to their Medieval and Renaissance counterparts is that they require much more maintenance than you think. Consistent maintenance is necessary to protect your investment and to ensure your tools are performing to the best of their ability.
A person who has a wooden sword will need to have boiled linseed oil to regularly treat the sword.
For those who have a blunted steel sword, there are a few more items needed
Oil to prevent rust – you can use a gun oil or a sword oil for this
A flat metal file with a medium grit to dress nicks in the edge
And a way to store the sword when not in use that will protect it from rust. I recommend using a gun sock made for rifles, they are inexpensive and the length is just right.
2. Sparring Gloves. While the original manuals do not show people wearing gloves, except during the winter, there is a need in our modern society to take some basic hand protection into account. While, it would seem that thick gloves would be the order of the day, it is actually better for your dexterity to use thinner gloves with just a bit of padding to reduce the force of an impact.
A set of T-Rex gloves by Magid. These gloves offer good protection to all 5 fingers, knuckles, and the back of the hand.
A set of Original M-Pact gloves from Mechanix. Good protection for 4 fingers and knuckles, okay protection on the thumb and back of hand.
or basic leather one’s will do nicely.
3. “The Spiritual Combat” or “Manual for Spiritual Warfare”. The thing about being a Catholic swordsman is that you are studying Western Martial Arts, not for its own sake, but as the metaphor and training ground for spiritual combat. In that vein, you need a good manual of spiritual warfare.
The Spiritual Combat by Dom Lorenzo Scupoli is the book that Saint Ignatius carried with him and that he read every day.
A more modern book, the Manual for Spiritual Warfare by Paul Thigpen is a wonderful companion too.
4. Training Dagger. Training weapons made of hickory or blunted steel are a critical component of this art. A wooden dagger is a nice additional piece to add to your martial artist’s tools and it has a lower cost than a full sword.
The Rondel was favored during this period
but a bladed Gauche would also have been seen.
5. “The Knightly Art of the Longsword” or “Codex Wallerstein”. We are studying a sword-based martial art, so having multiple manuals from the Medieval and/or Renaissance is important for a student. These are the best for beginners in the art
Sigmund Ringneck’s translation is a little dated, but the manual is easy to understand and gives an excellent foundational understanding of the longsword, which is the basis of all western martial arts.
Codex Wallerstein gives another perspective on the longsword as well as adding in wrestling, dagger, and other weapons.
6. Membership to The Order of Lepanto. Just what every Catholic Western martial Artist needs – a 1 year membership to the Order of Lepanto! We are dedicated to faithfully re-creating the martial arts that the knights used during the Medieval and Renaissance periods, along with building the faith of the men involved.
7. Fencing Mask. A key component to learning any martial art is sparring – testing your skills against a real opponent in a friendly setting where both can learn. With sword sparring, a mask is required for safety.
Luckily there are a couple of affordable options from Absolute Fencing and Blue Gauntlet Fencing.
8. Wooden Waster. The wooden water is a time honored tradition that hearkens back to the Renaissance. Since swords were expensive and one did not want to damage them during training, men would use wooden training weapons that simulated the look and feel of the real thing. We only recommend using impact grade hickory swords. Some of our recommended ones are:
Hollow Earth Swordworks
Purple Heart Armory
or New Stirling Arms
9. Bob Torso Training Bag. This training tool was developed for unarmed martial arts, but it works quite nicely with a waster or a blunt steel sword.
You can use the BOB to ensure your edge alignment is good and for practicing combinations. If you are handy, you could also build a pell out of a 4×4 post and some other materials – a nice set of instructions can be found here.
10. Steel Sword. The ultimate gift for the budding swordsman in your life! While this is a more pricey piece of equipment, there is nothing like practicing with steel sword. There are a lot of low-quality swords out there that are not designed or built to withstand the rigors of sparring. The one’s listed here are built to withstand the pressures of the fight.
The Maestro Line from Albion is currently the ultimate in sparring swords. The Meyer and Liechtenauer are the models to looking at.
Another good choice is a Feder from Regenyei Armoury. These are good mid-tier swords.
Finally, there is the Tinker-Pearce Longsword from Hanwei. It is a beginners sword with a price to match. This one won’t last as long, but it is a way to spar with a real steel sword.
Merry Christmas to all!
(updated on 28 Nov 17 to reflect some new options)