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What to Wear

Part X

WHAT TO WEAR AND USE

What to wear and use is an ongoing issue. For SCA fencing at least, we have standards that we have to meet in terms of equipment and clothing. This is mainly driven by Society rules and Kingdom rules. If you don't know those, you should look them up. I have links on this page for you. As much as I can, I will have a link for the items discussed, along with some comments on it's use. Another factor in SCA fighting is going to be local culture. I have travelled much of the Known World, and while there are a lot of similarities in how SCA fencers present, there are unmistakable influences of location and custom. For instance, did you know it's hot as hell in the south? PEOPLE FENCE THERE! For god sakes, and it's HOT. Here in An Tir where I am it's often cold, so you see a lot of wool.


Clothing and Things


This is an Absolute Force jacket. It's rated upwards of 2000 newtons, and very comfortable to wear. I like this piece for a few reasons. First, it's cheap. I think I paid about $80 for it. That's pretty good for a jacket, many of the Olympic competitive types are pretty expensive. Second, the jacket is still light enough and comfortable in hot weather. It's not restrictive and closes up well. It's a front open with a sturdy zipper, and a small hook and loop closure on the neck. Checking their web site, I don't see it listed there, but there are other items too.

Absolute Force.


Another from Absolute Force. These are HEMA pants, and they come with long foam pads that run down the outside of the thigh. Kind of odd. Also, it's a zipper with a hook and loop closure. Which is kid weird in that it's just that to hold it closed. I would expect a snap, or a buckle, maybe even a tie? But no. Not here. Also, don't get fat. These are not the pants to wear of you are a fatbody (NTTAWWT). Also, the back pocket falls off. I had to fix that. So, if you get a pair, and it says size 36, THEY DON'T MEAN PANTS SIZE. It's literally the tape size of your waist not the pants size.

Absolute Force.


I don't remember who made these gloves, I seem to think they were some kind of motorcycle glove. The think I like most is that the cuff is mostly stiff, as it's backed with some light foam. This means that it doesn't slouch down and keeps the gap covered with the wrist on the sleeve. That's important for SCA rules, you don't want your sleeve to come out. They are loose so I don't have to fight the glove. A long time ago, I used to get skin tight gloves. This is probably because we were still treating this like sport fencing and the gloves were pretty tight. However, I do a lot of cutting and hand stuff, so I found that a loose glove is good. It fatigues my hand less.

Black is the only color these come in. I use these a lot for HEMA fighting and while they are not as protective as other types of just HEMA gloves, they do provide a moderate level of protection, but yea, I have been hit pretty hard with these on and it hurt. They also have pretty poor stitching I have had to make repairs quite a bit to the ends of the fingers and the web of the thumb. There are two types I have seen so far, one has a valour like lining in the cuff that you won't see on the web site and other versions use a fine glove leather in the cuff. I think those are the older ones that were probably made better. I also see this same pattern on other web sites, so maybe there are two makers of the same glove? Could be. It wouldn't be a bad thing if they did an upgrade on these to be really good HEMA gloves with mostly rigid fingertips.

Zen Warrior.


These are black gloves, and I normally don't like to use black leather. The dye comes off and leaves my hands black. However, I do like these gloves. The padding is not very firm, but it is just enough to take some of the sting out of a hit. Since the way it's padded looks less modern than other gloves, these have actually become my standard gloves now. I like the grain of the leather, it's stout enough to hold up to a lot of use, but the stitching is kind of crap around the thumb. I have had to make repairs. I would buy replacement gloves in this type when the time comes. They are also loose enough to not bind in fighting. I think the price is pretty good too.

Zen Warrior.


I made this one with the help of my mother, in an attempt to get her to understand what kind of weird things I do. My mom is a sewer and makes nearly anything. I just make stuff for SCA garb and such, and have had to be self taught. If I ask my mother, she starts saying words that I don't understand. Much like me talking to students. Anyway, this is based off the 1580's Elizabethan Fencing Jacket, of which there are actually several examples like this. I found two others that are traditional front open types. The one in the article below is a pull over, with false buttons on the bottom half of the jack, and where the double buttons are; false buttons but real ties. The historical versions appear to be pretty well padded, but you may notice that there is no padding past the elbow and in all of the jackets, it's the case. I think this is because the fencing rules for practice at that time forbade hits below the elbow (among other conventions). I made this with white goat, smooth hide out. My mom did the edging of the fabric and the overstitch binding something or other (vertical lines). Inside is 4 layers of heavy linen from Fabrics-Store.com. GOOD STUFF. Love this jacket. I got hand made wood core dumpling buttons for the front, but if I had a chance to re-do them, the buttons that go up under my gorget would be soft. I wear the gorget over the top of the jack. I also use this in C&T as my base doublet plus armor. Works great

Article from Fabrics-Store.com.


Another one that I made. Originally, this was for the An Tir Reduced Armor Experiment, where we could relax the under arm armor rules. It worked pretty well and was easily used with the linen up armor shirt below to bring it into specifications for regular SCA use. The jerkin is based off the example in the link, but I really wish I could find it in the same color. I think the leather weight is about the same. The leather is no longer available from Tandy. It was the brown Highland Leather. If you have that weight of leather somewhere you can make a doublet out of, I would advise it. Nice thick leather is great for SCA fencing. It also works well on C&T. The link below is to a guy that did a jaw dropping perfect re-creation based off the original. How I wish I could do that kind of work, or could afford to have one made.

Karl Robinson Leather Worker.


I make a lot of my own stuff. This is a basic square pattern shirt. A good heavy linen shirt that will stand up to a few years of abuse is going to run you, if you can even find one. A shirt that is going to meet your armor standards is also probably not common. I built this to go with the leather jerkin, so the middle row behind the hook and eye opening on the jerkin is triple layer. I used the heavy linen from Fabrics-store.com and jeans buttons. Little hint on buttons for fighting shirts.... don't sew them, they all come off. Get jeans buttons from your fabrics store. They set like a rivet, and are easy and quick to replace if you need to. Mine are on the cuff, so with regulation gloves on you can't see them. No harm, no foul. I also make the cuffs about 6 inches long and very closely trapped to the wrist, so they don't crowd my gloves.

Fabrics-Store.com 10.2oz.


More hand made! I made these wool nickers from heavy coat fabric from Pendleton Wool Mill. If you live near Portland OR or Washougal WA, you can go get this right off the bolt! And other wool too! You can spend a lot of money! Bring all you have if you go to these places. Sometimes you will see wool there that you will never see again. If you do, buy it and don't regret it. This wool is charcoal on one side and a gold color on the inside. One way to help yourself here is to wash the uncut wool in hot water and a dry it all a few times. That will "card" the wool a bit and make it thicker. Once that's done, you can cut it to your true size and not worry about the wool shrinking. I used flat pewter buttons on this piece and no tie cuffs, just cuffs. Simple. Big belt loops too.

Pendleton Wool Mills.


Black Turn Shoes. Historical looking to be sure. I get a lot of comments on them. I have had to add something to the bottom, otherwise I rub the bottom leather off the shoe. I just got these re-done. I also have to add insoles to them for support. The shoe as is, flat leather bottom flat soul. Which is what you want. I like to stay away from heels on fencing things. Revival Leather has these shoes. They hold up well.

Revival Leather.


Sox are great. Mostly the socksI have are cotton types I get at ren fairs and on line, so the wear of these things is counter to what cotton hose is. Here, I have some bsaeball socks which are great sports socks. They are thin. They are red and go with my HEMA school's colors. Not quite SCA, but you don't have to wear SCA junk at practice.

GREEN cotton socks. These are above the knee types, that go with all the Venetian style pants I wear fencing. Long ago, I used to do pumpkin pants, that came to mid thigh. Loved those, but the problem is finding something from the leg down. I don't look good in tights. So.... tall hose it was. Most anything you can find will work as long as it's tall enough. The one problem is anything that goes above the knee falls down the knee. I wear these with nickers that are tight around under the knee.

Absolute Force.


Blue hose, cotton socks. I find these at ren fairs, I don't know where to get them otherwise. One thing I found that adds a bit of nice detail is garters. Men wore them, it's OK. It also holds up your socks, if you have pants that don't do that for you.

I make my own stuff, so this is part of an outfit I did. I like my things to match. I make all my hoods to pass the punch test, no exception here. One thing I do also is wear the gorget over the hood, I hate metal touching my skin.

A linen hood made by a friends wife. Nice and light.

Cup. Well, you know kind of need these. Look, take it seriously. These are not that expensive, but so much worth it. If you take the easy way out you might go for one of those stupid, cheap football or baseball cups. Here's the difference: A sword will lift and separate. Think about that for a moment. It's not the frontal impact you need to always worry about. So, the best way to go here in my opinion is a martial arts cup, since they are also designed to take rising shots. If you know what I mean.

Challenger Martial Arts.

I think this is the Spes FG Gambeson. It's pretty well padded, and from what I can tell has held up well. It's also not very expensive, for what it is you want. In fact, almost everything from SPES that I can see is pretty good. It's got tie up fronts and looks historical enough to pass for an arming jack

Historic Fence USA


Another of my own things. Quite frankly, I have closets full of things like this, but it's a typical example of what I have. Why this is useful... First, it's cheap. I used a discount upholstery fabric for the shell and poly-cotton mix duck for the inners. I make these with a built in short sleeve with an internal band around the biceps for the underarm armor for SCA standards. Mainly to make it as light as I can. Second, I use jeans pants rivet set buttons. These can come in brass looking plastic, or some metal type. That means setting a lost of broken button is quick and easy. Overall, it's pretty cheap to make an outfit. There are short pants that go with this. I just need to find them.

As a kid I always wanted a mithril mail shirt like Frodo had. I used to pretend that my grey sweater was mail. I think I saw enough stupid movies that tried to pass off metalic looking yarn sweaters as mail. Face it, no one knew how to make mail back in the 80's. Then came shark armor, and now comes stainless mail fillet gloves. Hey, if you are not fencing, you can use it to cut food with. Here, a friend has one that was used in the An Tir blade grabbing test. Here's the interesting part of this. When you do blade grabbing and try some stupid BS like saying "I travelled my hand down the edge when you pulled it back, so I'm still good to grab your sword", it does not work here. I was told that the moment the blade starts to move in the glove, there is no sticky, tacky leather that provides a false sense of tactile movement, and the sword, being bound no nothing but metal... SLIDES. You find out soon that your hand would get cut to crap in a real hand grab, so you get to do that once in you life before your hand is flayed down the middle to the wrist bone and you are crippled for life and discover that your hand is not in fact a meat shield.eBay Metal Glove page


Swords and Daggers and Things


42 inch sword. Alright, look there are only really two places to get swords these days, Darkwood and Castille. This is a basic Darkwood bated rapier blade. I think I have this with the simple hilt here, but not sure. The good thing about nearly all of Darkwood swords is that they hilt upwith most any blade they make. Same for pommels being of a common thread type, they all fit. I have a lot of swords, this is one I use for students.

Darkwood Armory.


Sidesword 32 inch. My new toy! This is a stout blade, I have named it "Authority" Cuz, that's how it hits. Probably one of the heaviest blades I have, with the heaviest side sword blade Scott makes. The idea of a light C&T blade is in my opinion; erroneous. Good historical play should not be based off of how light your sword is.

Darkwood Armory.


32 Inch backsword. I lerv this sword. This is a basket hilt sword with a backsword blade. I have already broken one of them. I took this one with me to Afghanistan. Yea, I did have SCA practice with my deployment. Hard core and all that. So, this is a great sword for C&T, and nearly all my students if given the chance choose this one. It's ha hammer grip, so don't go thinking you can put a finger in those loops. You'd be likely to lose it. The round ball pommel is also hollow, so it does not add weight to the sword, but it acts like pivot for the palm. Instead of using the finger to pivot, you use the back of the palm side of the hand. Kewl trick, who knew? If you want to take up Silvers style sword work, this is the one that I would advise. It's also funny too in that if the SCA heavies were to be using a sword; many use some variation of a basket hilt for protection... it would be this type. I still don't know more heavies don't do this.

Darkwood Armory.

Safeflex double wide dagger. This is the "New" version of the dagger and is SCA legal. I hvae had one of them for a very long time. Never had any problems with it. So, it's stiff in the back and soft in the front. It does not hit very hard on a thrust, but can parry OK. Straight quillons have become a problem to me, so I no longer use it much. I kept punching my sword arm in the elbow with dagger parries. If you are new to using a dagger and dont' quite trust yourself to hit well, since most daggers are stiff, this is a great starter. It just won't ever hurt someone.

Alchem.

18 inch Darkwood Dagger. It's almost like having a short sword. Kind of cheating, as I don't think Saviolo had really long daggers like this. I have never seen anyone else have one. For using the Saviolo method, it's nice since it extends out the defence zone. It's stiff. If I recall, this is one of the earliest daggers made by Darkwood.

Darkwood Armory.

14 Inch 3 Lobe Dagger. Another great one from Scott at Darkwood. I got this becasue I wanted to expreiment with something that was as close to historical as I could find. It's interesting, the third ring offers some interesting options. Goes with my English Hilt sword.

Absolute Force.

12 Inch Pierced Sail Dagger. I have a matched set of a 14 inch and a 12 inch, to go with a set of Paff II from Darkwood. I'm a nerd. I spend way too much money on swords. I can't help it. Someone stop me. The daggers are with forward swept quillons. I have gone to that as a standard about 6 years ago, because I was finding that Saviolo's style seemed to work better with this style of quillons. The dagger gives great back of the hand protection, but the sail leaves the fingers exposed. It also floats, so it's only point of contact is the weld on the cross piece. If doing some of the straight arm style beat outs with Saviolo's style, the fingers might tend to lead a bit and get smacked.

Darkwood Armory.

Custom piece 43 Inch Rapier. This is a bit of everything. It's an Angus Trim 43 inch blade, Gus makes these long and able to cut down if you want. It's one of the last batches I thought he was going to make, but word is Gus is back to work. I need to buy more blades from him. I have had the opportunity to be a Guinea pig for Gus and test fought some of his early fencing rapiers when he was developing them. I have THE dagger that he sent to the SCA for approval, and THE sword (which broke in Afghanistan) that he sent to the SCA bod. Gus makes great swords and has put a lot of work into the characteristics of a safe blade, that will last years and hold up to the stress we put them through. Gus told me of these types of blades that they are OK for C&T, but not rough work. So, maybe heavy rapier type. The hilt is a custom piece from Castille when Armand was first making stuff, and the pommel is a custom job from Darkwood. This is the rapier version and the one below is the "Side sword" version. He has a Facebook page, you can look him up there.
Another of the set here. Custom hilt from an old book on swords in museums. It's all in German, but the hilt looks cool. I am careful not to hurt these swords too much, I don't know if I'll ever get replacements. .
Tinker Pierce from Cas-Iberia. Some people hate them, some people love them. It's a cheap sword, in that it's not expensive. So far, I have seen one broken at the tang. They seem to take a hit well. The leather on the hilt does not hold up for more than the first two passes, so I had to glue them down. I have two swords. Weight wise, they are light, probably lighter than some of my rapiers. I use a rounded kind of bird blunt on the end, but have also used folded over leather. The tips are very wide and don't take too well to normal rubber bird blunts. I see Tinker at events all the time, but I have never told him I bought some of these swords. BUT, since I use them for long sword, I expect them to get the crap beat out of them, so I don't mind it being inexpensive. I think you can get these in many places and I'm not going to link any.
36 Inch AT Rapier. Another custom piece from Angus Trim and Darkwood. It was back when Gus had his "Dirty Dog" line of swords, I think this was an early one. He also said I shouldn't use it for a lot of sidesword. SO, instead I use this one for doing Spanish. It's got a port on the top that I have to get welded up about 3 times, and two of the arms have had to be re-welded, but I like this blade. Like some of the other AT blades, the pommel is a two piece thing. There is the pommel it's self, and a retaining hollow hex nut that fits within pommel over the thread. It moves the stress point down and instead of stressing the tang down the length of the it, causing the typial break of the thread at the weld on the tang, it pushes "down" on the riccasso, or some such. Anyway, they break less.

42 Inch English Hilt, Darkwood. MY FAVORITE sword, and one of the most expensive. I had this orderd up from Scott at Darkwood and have been beating the crap out of it since. I sent it back to him for re-finishing a few years ago, after I painted it. Don't do that. It was blue. Blue didn't last. Black paint didn't last. Scott saw it a year after he tried to fix it up and it was back to it's beat up state, I think he cried a little. Scott, if you ever see this page, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I take all the very awesome swords you make and beat the crap out of them. I like this sword since it's good in both left and right hands, being totally Bi in that way. Second, it's probably one of the very few modern fencing rapier blades out there that really looks like the historic piece. I have pictures of this type of hilt in many different places in the Leeds Armory. Of course, theirs are in much better condition and have better paint and embellishments. It's also firmly dated in style to before 1600, so that's a plus.

Darkwood Armory.

46 Inch Castille Economy hilt. So I says to Armand I says "I'm broke and it hurts to fight. I need a really light sword that I can use while I wait for the Army to fix me. I have seen other people use your 46 inch blade and kill me before I have had a chance to walk on the eric, I think I want one." He tells me there are different hilts, etc, and I settle for the lightest thing possible. That happens to be the economy hilt. I did have to add some washers to the back of the hilt to adjust the balance point back to the right place, however. So, it's light, and it's quick. I can't cut for crap with it and my hand is open, but that just means I need to use the measure better. It kind of works. It's not stiff at all, but there is no real good edge like I'm used to. Great thruster.

Castille Armory.

Armor and Things


17 Inch Stainless Steel "Officers" gorget. God I sound like a horrible person, but my armorer made this one to my specifications. Stainless locking gorget. Better than buckles. Uses a turning lock that is tear drop shaped. NICE! No rust. NICE! meant to look good over anything I wear. I wear all my gorgets on the top of my outfit. My armorer quick later and no longer makes things but is saying he's back to limited production soon. If he is, I'm buying more.
17 Inch Gorget. I got this off of Face book from a local armor maker in Seattle. I don't recall who now. It's not expensive, and can be a problem to put on. It hangs on putting it on, it's difficult to get closed, and the metal bends. If you get one, you'll need help putting it on.

17 Inch Custom Gorget. This piece goes with a Milanese Plate harness that I have. The lames are interlocking and go up the neck so that they don't interfear with the the close helm. Cold rolled steel, with straps for things. I need help putting this on.

Leon Paul Contour Saber Mask, with SPEC protection hood. If you buy any mask, buy a Leon Paul. I had the chance to go to the factory in London in 2000, near Cheapside, I think and met the current Mr. Paul. We talked about HEMA fencing and products that they could get into. The masks were put to final assembly there and he showed me around the factory. These are made well. I can't stress enough that if there is a single piece of equipment that you don't ever ever skimp in, it's the mask. This is the Saber mask, with X Change system. That means you can replace the soft parts. This mask will last you years. WORTH EVERY PENNY!!!!

Leon Paul.

Metal external cod piece. Well, it's metal and it goes over the thingies. Myself, I wouldn't trust it, but these guys like them and then don't have to put on garb to fence in. PERSONALLY, I practice in what I fight in, so I always wear my SCA garb for practice. The thing meets standards and can be taken off quickly once the fencing is done for the day. Armand at Castille is making these, so I'm told but I don't have a link.

Same concept as the one above. Not Stainless.

Home
Introduction of the Style
Presentations of the Sword
Movement of the Fight
Where to Put the Sword
Distance and Measure
Putting it All Together
Advanced Concepts
Saviolo's Actions
Terms
What to Wear