Fear Cuts Deeper Than Swords

Not going to lie: I’m scared.

I’ve never been much of an athlete. None of my hobbies require me to stand up from my desk. I absolutely hate PE class. The words “I have training today” have never, ever crossed my lips. But tomorrow I’m going sword fighting.


No, not with the skinny swords, it’s not sport fencing. No katanas included either. We are going to use historical European swords: longswords. They’re broader, heavier… It’s not until I tell my classmates that it’s “medieval movie sword fighting” that they really understand.

Real medieval swordsmaship was, of course, quite different from the raging hacking and slashing shown in some movies and video games. But how different? What did it actually take to become a good swordsman? That’s what I’m about to discover.

Eek. Can I still bail out?

The course I’m going to will be teaching the techniques part of the “Italian school of swordsmanship”. It’s one of the two big schools of European historical swordsmanship techniques, the other being German. The course’s teaching is based on the manuscripts of Fiore dei Liberi, some Italian master of arms.

Looking at the course syllabus, I see some confusing points like “four guards drill”, “four unarmed poste” and “Abrazare” (that one sounds like a cool name for a wizard), as well as more scary ones like “basic falling” and “stick avoidance drill”. Eek-y-eek. Then there’s loads of dagger and sword exercises, but I don’t bother looking at those yet – there’s just no way they are going to allow us swords on the first day.


A decent character needs three things: a goal, a motivation, and a conflict. Well, I’ve got a goal (learn how people used to poke each other with swords) and a conflict (my condition is simply embarrassing), but what about motivation?

I’m a writer. Well, at least according to the “you write, therefore you are a writer” definition. (There’s a lot of squabbling amongst writers about who may be considered “one of them”.) I’m in the process of editing a sword and sorcery novel, and as the genre suggests, it includes swords. Quite a lot of them, actually. An opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge and experience on them cannot be passed by. Needing exercise, being a history geek and the fact that my father has been doing this for years are also good motivators.

Alright. Tomorrow I’m going to training. (Gosh, that sounds really cool when said out loud.)


8 thoughts on “Fear Cuts Deeper Than Swords

  1. Wow, this sounds amazing! I’ve often thought of taking up fencing, but I had no idea that medieval swordsmanship is available in some places as well. I will be following your progress with great interest, Mephet! :D

  2. This sounds like a dream come true (or a nightmare). I would love to do this, but would be a complete disaster at it in real life. But I will enjoy reading how you fare at it!

    • It’s definitely a dream come true, though it has its few scary moments. :D I would recommend at least trying this out if it’s a possibility: nothing is cooler than holding a longsword.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  3. Hi, just found your blog and really enjoy it. I’ve just started my own at http://thevirtualpell.wordpress.com/ to detail my experiences doing pretty much the same thing, only I’m not sure yet whether I’m leaning towards Fiore de Liberi or the German Lichtenauer/Ringeck methods. Actually a lot depends on what I can find locally. Hope it’s going well so far.


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