Medieval Swordplay: Method To The Madness

Since the dawn of time, swords have been on the scene and through the ages, sword fighting has morphed in many ways.  But it was the medieval knights who truly defined this great art and laid a foundation for future combatants.

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While literature and films tend to portray medieval sword fighting as a spectacle to behold, it did not start out this way.  During the Middle Ages, knights were weighed down by heavy armor and swordplay was a means of defense against attacks from multiple enemies.  This period also introduced a new sword technique of thrusting transitioning away from the Japanese way of using a sword for hacking.  In addition to the sword, knights also incorporated an Austrian style wrestling style as Ott in combat.  The concept was to overtake and disarm an adversary with agility, speed, and strength.  This was a common fighting technique for knights and the sword was actually more of a supplement in the beginning.

Medieval Battle Sword:

Medieval Battle Sword

As the Middle Ages advanced, sword fighting became more of a prominent technique.  With a focus on footwork and implementing armor and shields for protection, knights were trained in how to battle multiple enemies at once.  They were also taught the art of counter cutting, enabling the sword to serve offensive and defensive purpose in one foul swoop!

 

Medieval Knight with Sword:

Mounted Knight with Sword

Medieval swordplay also drew on influence from other countries such as Germany and Italy.  German technique educated knights in taking the lead in combat, maintaining momentum and moving forward without waiting for the opposing side to make a move.  Italian technique trained knights in defensive behavior and identifying an opponent’s weakness in attack before striking. These fighting methods proved to be very beneficial to knights and only helped to make them stronger warriors.

Medieval knights spent many rigorous hours daily training with a sword.  While seemingly simple, it was no easy task and required balance, precision, quick thinking, and endurance.  Being a knight was an honor and a sword was often a symbol of status.

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