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Sword Fighting Styles: West to East

Posted by Ivan Jankovic on

Over the millennia, millions of people have utilized swords for combat. However, this has changed significantly during the past century. Today, it is very rare for someone to use a sword to defend themselves. Nevertheless, it is possible to partake in reenactments. Many people do so in the form of fencing. Fencing is one of the most popular sports today and it commonly incorporates the use of katanas and other traditional Japanese weaponry. So, what are the most common sword fighting styles of today? You’ll find out in the comprehensive guide provided below.

The Purpose Of The Sword

First and foremost, you should learn a little more about the purpose of the sword. What is its primary purpose or purposes? Well, the katana and swords like it are designed for two specific purposes. They’re designed to help users attack and defend. In other words, they’re great for offense and defense. By equipping yourself with the right sword, you’ll be able to fend off your opponents in every way possible. You can use the sword to defend yourself and you can use it to attack your enemies.

Just remember that there are several different sword fighting styles. Some are better for defensive purposes, while others are more offensive oriented. Below, you’re going to learn more about these different styles.

Fencing

fencing

Today, a lot of people practice fencing as a sport. In the past, it was a primary form of self-defense. In fact, this specific type of sword fighting was primarily utilized by the Italians and the Spanish. It was introduced to the English by Domenico Angelo. At the time, this particular fighting style was primarily taught to aristocrats. It would have been very rare to see a lower class individual fencing. It is possible to use several types of weapons for fencing. The most popular include the foil, epee, and the saber. Fencing has become so immensely popular that it is now an Olympic sport.

Fencing has been glamorized in modern media. Nevertheless, it is pertinent to understand that this sword fighting style is designed to kill. It was very effective for this particular purpose many years ago.

Fencing Offensive Moves

There are several very popular offensive moves in fencing. The two most common are the lunge and the feint. The feint is exactly what it sounds like. You’re attempting to force your opponent to attack or make a mistake. In return, you’ll be able to strike and finish them off. The lunge is the most basic. It is simply stepping forward and remaining in the striking posture. There are many other fencing moves as well. They include the flick, beat attack, remise, and even a thrusting attack. When you’ve entered the fencing posture, you’ll have a wealth of options at your disposal.

Fencing Defensive Moves

There are several ways to defend yourself when fencing. The riposte is one of the best counterattacks. It is a counterattack, which is carried out right after a lunge. You can strike your opponent using a parry or lunge. The parry is another counterattack. It can help you fend off lunges. When you’re able to parry your opponent, you’ll cause him or her to lose their position. The circle parry is another option. The circle parry involves the defender bending the sword to catch the very tip of your opponent’s sword. In return, you’ll be able to deflect the incoming blow.

Broadsword Fighting Style

Broadsword Fighting

If you’re interested in stepping back into the Medieval era, you’ll definitely want to invest in a broadsword. You’ll also need a shield. The broadsword sword fighting style involves many stances and lightning fast sword attacks. In order to get into position, you’ll need to keep your feet at a 30-degree angle. Also, be sure that your hips are cocked a bit. This will help you support the weight of the shield. Always keep the sword in the hand that syncs with the trailing foot. The blade edge should be kept downward.

Moving correctly is key. You should always try to keep the majority of your weight on the balls of your feet. This will make you quicker and give you the ability to move from one side to the next very quickly.

Kenjutsu

Kenjutsu

There are many people who absolutely love Japanese culture. If you fit into this category and you’re lucky enough to own a katana, you’ll definitely want to experiment with the Kenjutsu sword fighting style. This specific style covers pretty much every single Japanese swordsmanship skills. It is one of the oldest sword fighting styles on the planet. In fact, it dates back to the years of the Samurai. The style focuses heavily on swordsmanship methods and techniques. Practicing this specific style would require a wood sword know as a bokken. If you’re cautious, you can also practice with a real katana.

Around the turn of the 19th century, practitioners of the Kenjutsu style began wearing body armor. They also used bamboo to practice. This made it possible for them to carry out full contact sparring. Sadly, the popularity of Kenjutsu died out somewhat in the middle of the 19th century. Later though, it became popular again when it was practiced by Japanese police and military officials. Classic forms of Kenjutsu are pretty rare outside of Japan. Nevertheless, it is still referred to as a secret art of war training practice and this makes it very popular for some.

Types Of Kenjutsu Training

Again, it is fairly rare to find Kenjutsu training outside of Japan. Nevertheless, there are a few classes out there. These schools are going to focus on the specific techniques and styles associated with this form of sword fighting. Some of the most common techniques include jabbing, thrusting, cutting, feigning, parrying, and more. The classes will also focus heavily on footwork. When practicing with a partner, you’re not going to make contact with your opponent. Instead, you’ll attack and allow your partner to counter. It is also possible to incorporate other techniques into the training.

Either way, it is very rare to experience full-contact Kenjutsu training.

Kenjutsu Gear Needed

In order to practice this form of swordsmanship, it is pertinent to equip yourself with the right gear. First and foremost, you’re going to need a jacket, trousers, and a belt. If you’re going to be engaging in full-contact practice, you’ll need more. For instance, you’re going to need armor, helmet, head towel, gloves, waist armor, and breastplate. It is possible to practice using a handful of weapons. To keep things safe, it is best to train with a wooden sword, which will usually be referred to as a bokken or bokuto. You can also use a Shinai, which is a practice sword made from bamboo.

When practicing for real, it is best to use a Katana. This traditional Japanese sword is the type of sword commonly used by the Samurai. You can also use a Kodachi or Nodachi.

Kendo

Kendo

Kendo or the way of the sword is another very popular sword style. It is believed that this specific style was introduced sometime during the late 18th century. It is important to understand that many of Kendo’s attributes and techniques are taken directly from Kenjutsu. Nevertheless, Kendo is a little bit different. Training with bamboo swords and armor was introduced sometime during the end of the 17th century. This allowed practitioners to fully enjoy the Kendo sword fighting style in all of its glory.

In 1946, the Japanese government took steps to ban Kendo. They do so because they did not want average citizens to practice militarized fighting styles. The good news is that the sword fighting style was reintroduced in 1950. At that time, it was known as Shinai Kyougi. In 1952, it was renamed to Kendo once again. In 1952, the All Japan Kendo Federation was founded. This organization believes that Kendo is an educational sport and not really a martial art. The governing body, the Kendo Federation, was founded in 1970.

Kendo tournaments are very common. In fact, it is safe to say that Kendo is more popular and common than Kenjutsu at this point in time.

Training Kendo

Training in Kendo is very popular. People who do so are referred to as Kenshi or Kendoka. If you’re going to be training Kendo, you’re going to need a lot of physical strength and mental strength. You must be able to control your emotions. Otherwise, they’re going to get in the way and cause you a significant amount of trouble. You’ll need to learn to deal with the four Kendo sicknesses. This includes anger, doubt, fear, and surprise. You’re also going to be required to wear protective gear. Be sure that your head, body, and arms are protected to the fullest.

When partaking in Kendo, you’re going to hear a lot of noise. There is plenty of shouting and foot stomping. Usually, you will not wear any footwear. Most dojos will have wooden floors. There are tons of kendo techniques to practice and learn. All will be taught in a slow and very thorough manner. You’ll be taught how to read your opponent, while also learning how to pull off these moves effectively.

Kendo Gear

In order to practice kendo, you’re going to need to equip yourself with the right items. First and foremost, you will need protective gear, including gloves, waist armor, breastplate, head towel, helmet, jacket, trousers, and other armor. You will also need a Shinai. This is nothing more than a bamboo sword, which is specifically used for training. These swords may also be made with many other types of wood.

The Popularity Of Kendo

The truth of the matter is that kendo is one of the most popular sword fighting styles on the planet. In fact, it has been featured in tons of films over the years, including Black Rain, Samurai Banners, The Last Samurai and even Conan the Barbarian. And, there are plenty of celebrities who have practiced or dabbled in Kendo.

They include Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ken Kensei, Phillip Rhee, David Lee Roth, and Billy Zane. If you practice Kendo, you can guarantee that you’re in good company.

Haidong Gumdo

Haidong Gumdo

Haidong Gumdo is very similar to the Japanese sword arts. However, you should know that Haidong Gumdo is actually the Korean way of the sword. There are plenty of good moves and practicing will require you to use a wood sword known as a Mok Gum. The most common Haidong Gumdo techniques include cuts, sheathing, and paldo. There is a slight difference between haidong gumdo and Japanese sword fighting styles. While Kendo and other Japanese styles force you to fight a single opponent, Haidong Gumdo is going to prepare you to face off with multiple opponents.

Longsword Fighting

Longsword Fighting

Longsword fighting is also very popular. However, it is going to be very tough to master. And, you’re going to need a great deal of strength. After all, you’re going to be required to carry the sword in both hands. The sword’s size and weight make longsword fighting very difficult for many. Nevertheless, the basic moves are very similar to fencing. You’ll need to learn how to thrust, parry and strike. In terms of defense, you’ll learn to block and step properly.

When your back foot passes your front foot, you’re performing a burst. If the opposite happens, you’re performing a lunge.

Longsword Fighting Stances

You need to understand that there are several different stances used for longsword fighting. The most common is the ox ward. In this type of position, you’ll need to put your left foot forward. You should keep the sword close to your face and it’ll be aimed towards the upper part of your body. There is also the plow ward and fool ward stances. If you’re going to be practicing longswords fighting, there is a good chance that you’re going to need to master each and every one of these stances. You’ll also need to familiarize yourself with the most common attack movies. The high, wrath, middle and low blows can be very effective when fighting with a longsword.

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