Playing With 500 Year Old Swords – The Climb #319

/, Swordfighting, The Climb/Playing With 500 Year Old Swords – The Climb #319

Playing With 500 Year Old Swords – The Climb #319

Wednesday 6th December 2017

Today probably wasn’t the best day to be ill.

A group of us had arranged to go up to the Wallace Collection in London to handle some antique swords from the period of the style that I fight.  I would be handling actual 500 year old weapons that I train to fight with.

I had a restless sleep.  I’d wrapped up in many layers to try and sweat it out of me overnight, and whilst I did sweat, I still wasn’t feeling 100%.  I was good enough to go out but I knew I wouldn’t be 100% come evening.

The plan for the day was long but relatively simple:  I’d drive to Godalming, meet Leigh at the station to travel up to London, go to the museum, then come back to Godalming, go to training and then head home.

I left early – I’d taken the entire day off the day job and had no reason to be late – and arrived in enough time to leave my car near Fran’s house, walk down and get a hot chocolate (where the barrista thought I was from New Zealand, even though I’m from two villages over from where I was) before meeting Leigh.

Everything went pretty smoothly.  The train was on time, it was simple to get to the location and we got there before most people.  I came to the Wallace Collection for a handling session almost 2 years ago and that was in a private room.  This was in one of the display halls.  It was interesting seeing people walking around and looking at us.

We’d opted to try and go for swords with their original blade.  Just as everyone these days buys old worthless furniture and redecorates it as an arts and craft project, so the Victorians were fans of buying up the surplus of old weapons on the market and then cutting down the blades to create elaborate fans of swords.

You might think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but one of the key things about how a sword handles is its balance point.  Something with the weight further back might feel more cutty than something with the point along the blade.  It helps give each sword its own personality.  I’ve handled antique daggers that just feel like they want to stab, swords that want to cut, and as weird as it sounds to people who’ve never experienced this, the secret is in how the sword is balanced.

So having a sword’s blade cut down would affect the balance point, and make it feel a very different sword to how the swordmaker intended.

As a result, it was very informative handling these weapons.  You can’t really ‘swing them around’ but you can hold them in guard and get a feel for how they handle.  It’s a bit like taking a car for a test drive before you take it to a race track to properly hammer it.

My favourite thing to do is to hold a sword in a hanging guard called prima.  I feel this really gives you an idea of the weight and how it would handle.

Obviously the swords I fight with are replicas that are blunt and sated but the modern swordmakers go to extraordinary length to achieve a similar balance.  In many ways they are one and the same.  Picking up a 500 year old sword feels no different to me than picking up a friend’s training sword.  I might be unfamiliar with the actual weapon but I could easily fight with it.

It’s quite a buzz to know that the martial art you study (recreated from old documents) would work with one of these antique swords.

I was exhausted by the time I got to Godalming but I stayed for training and had fun practising some cloak throws.  I didn’t stop for the pub afterwards though as it was still a 2 hour drive home.

Whilst I wasn’t as rough as I was at the start of the day, I still felt exhausted by the time I got home.  I was a great day and I only hope I spread some of my germs around my competitors for Saturday.

If you want to follow more of my journey, then be sure to check me on my social channels.  Likewise, if you’d like me to expand on any point mentioned above, please say so in the comments.

Past Issues: 318317 | 316 | 315 | 314 | 313 | 312 | 311 | 310 | 309 | 308 | 307 | 306 | 305 | 304 | 303 | 302 | 301
300299 | 298 | 297 | 296 | 295 294 | 293 292 291 | 290 289 288 |  287 286 285 284 283 282 281
280 279 278 277 276 275 274 273 | 272 271 270 269 |  268 267 | 266 265 264 263 | 262 261
260 259 258 257 256 | 255 | 254 |  253 252 | 251 250 | 249 248 247 246 | 245 244 | 243 | 242 | 241
240 239 238 237 236 235 234 233 232 | 231 230 | 229 228 227 226 | 225 224 | 223 222 221
220 219 |218 | 217 216 215 214 |  213 | 212 211 210 | 209 | 208 207 206 205 204 203 202 | 201
200 | 199 198 197 | 196 195 | 194 | 193 | 192 191 190 189 | 188 | 187 | 186 185 | 184 183 182 181 |
180 | 179 | 178 | 177 | 176 175 | 174 173 172 | 171 | 170 169 |  168 | 167 | 166 | 165 | 164 | 163 | 162 | 161 |
160 | 159 | 158 | 157 156 155 | 154 | 153 | 152 | 151 | 150 | 149 | 148 | 147 | 146 | 145 144 | 143 | 142 | 141 |
140 | 139 | 138 137136 | 135 | 134 | 133 | 132 | 131 | 130 | 129 | 128 | 127 | 126 | 125 | 124 | 123 | 122 | 121 |
120 | 119 | 118 | 117 | 116115 | 114 | 113 | 112 | 111 | 110 | 109 | 108107106105104103 | 102 | 101|
100 | 9998 | 97 | 96 | 95 | 94 | 93 | 92 | 91 | 90 | 89 | 88 | 87 | 86 | 85 | 84 | 83 | 8281|
80 | 79787776 | 75 | 74 | 73 | 72 | 71 | 70 | 69 | 68 | 67 | 66 65 |  64 | 63 | 62 | 61 |
60 | 59 | 58 | 57 | 56 | 55 | 54 | 535251 |50 | 49 | 48 | 47 | 46 |45 | 44 | 43 | 42 | 41 |
40 | 393837 | 36 | 35 | 34 | 33 | 32 | 31 |30 | 29 | 28 | 27 | 26 | 25 2423 | 22 | 21 |
20 | 19 | 18 | 17 | 16 | 151413 | 12 | 11 |10 | 9 | 8 | 76 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

2017-12-07T21:31:29+01:00December 7th, 2017|Health, Swordfighting, The Climb|0 Comments

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.