Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Riddle of Steel (or wood)

The picture above is a two handed broadsword from Starfire Swords. Starfire swords are forged with stage combat in mind, rather than costuming or wall mounting, but I think they are all the more beautiful for it. The edges and tips are blunt, but the steel rings like a tuning fork when struck. I’ve had a pair of these for about eight years now (actually the forge has burned down and been rebuilt in that time) and as you can see they’ve had a bit of use.

I’ve been meaning to post something about swords for awhile now, and this is a good time. Because swords mean a lot, and even in these postmodern days they can still play an important part of our lives.

For instance, last week my sister-in-law (God bless her) locked the keys in our van. Thankfully, the passenger door was not latched all the way and I was able to wedge it open and work some strips of metal (flattened curtain rods) past the weatherproofing up to the lock button. But my paltry flattened curtain rods were not rigid enough to unlock the car. I was on the verge of calling the locksmith when I thought of an old French military saber I had at home. It worked like a charm.

Lately some friends and I have been sparring once a week with wooden swords and metal bucklers using a medieval fighting system developed from Manuscript 1.33 (and explained further by these guys). It’s a lot of fun and yes, okay, right after swordfighting we go in and play Dungeons and Dragons.


Jake said...

I remember a fantasy I had for a large part of my childhood was to make my own sword. But with out access to a blacksmith's shop I just drew swords instead.

Speaking of swords playing an important part in one's life:

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

I just watched Reclaiming The Blade last week and was thinking how fun a swordplay group would be. I recommended my older son to look for a group at college and I'm thinking my 11yo son, who doesn't much like organized sports, would go gaga for something like a nerf swordplay group. I've got a bum knee but I'm thinking it still might be a good upper body workout for me if I don't jump around too much.

Ben Hatke said...

Wow Jake, that guy is awesome! I had never seen that site before but then I found this:

and I was mesmerized. You have a talent for design, Jake. I'd love to see Parker Sword designs.

And Tim! When I was your sons age I was in the SCA. But they wouldn't let me fight. Today we have three or four guys. It would be interesting if it grows...

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Aw man! thanks for posting these. My brother and I used to stunt fight with oak staffs a few years ago. We got pretty good too, but this is an awesome post! I still need to carve my sword.

and the drawings on Wikipedia of those monks with the clerical tonsures... wielding swords! too cool... I'm going to keep those for reference, haha

Ben Hatke said...

Yeah, the guys from SPADA have even figured out what type of swords the scholar and priest seem to be using. The priest's sword would have been a little more "old fashioned" than the young students blade.

As for sword carving, just make sure you use a hardwood!

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Hey Ben. Where's a good place to get pads and helmets for stunt sword fighting? Or do you have any advice on making it yourself? I've nearly finished my one/two handed wooden broadsword.

Ben Hatke said...

Oh, that's a question with a long answer! You can buy pretty good practice swords for not too much. Most of the dudes I used to practice with (it's fallen by the wayside for me lately) used hocky gloves to protect their hands. They now have steel practice swords.

If you're REALLY interested shoot me an email and I'll put you in touch with the guy who knows where to get most of the stuff that works best.

For making practice swords yourself use the hardest wood you can find (mine are made from oak from an old, old barn). Anything less with just crack apart at the first contact. And oil the wood.

Anthony VanArsdale said...

Hockey gloves, now I didn't think about that! The last thing you or I need is a busted knuckle. I'm just wanting to play around a bit but not get killed.

Anyway thanks, and sorry I didn't respond to your response sooner.

Jake Grant said...

what an unusual device you picked up to open the door!) You wound up your brain) Try to us 24 hour locksmith ny next time!

David Smyth said...

In order not to damage the car, it is best to contact a locksmith, of course. But it is good that everything worked out!

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