sports gazette

Longsword Fencing - Sport's Next Revival

Published: 31 May 2017

Across Europe, people are picking up historic texts and attempting to revive long lost martial arts.

History books turned playbooks have many swinging two handed swords overhead at each other in an attempt to restore ancient practices.

But what would inspire someone to try such an untraditional sport instead of Olympic fencing?

The answer might lie in popular culture.

Hannah Cook, who took up longsword fencing in 2015, said: “I’m a fan of Game of Thrones and those kind of TV shows and it’s like what they do on there.

“It’s also fun saying to people I do longsword fencing. So many people are like what’s that? You tell them and they say it sounds really cool.”

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This kind of fan base can be found throughout the community.

Ahliya Nal, who is new to the sport, said when she was first hearing about it her ‘inner nerd’ was intrigued.

Nal said: “They explained to me how they take historical texts and translate them. It sounded awesome.”

A range of equipment is used.

Traditional fencing masks are worn, along with protective padding and neck guards to ensure no damage is caused by the longswords. However, Cook said the hits can definitely be felt.

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It is also not a sport of outlying groups of fanatical historians. The governing body, Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), organises training sessions and competitions for a variety of fighting disciplines.

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St Mary's Longsword Fencing president Tom Shaw also said they have received funding from British Fencing to help their club grow.

Last autumn they competed in their first competitions and membership has increased year on year since they first started.

With fantasy TV programmes blossoming in popular culture, maybe this sport can fill a growing gap in the market.

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