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Recently I joined a HEMA club and I was told that I should get my own equipment. I can take my time; some people spend more than a year getting fully equipped. But there are times when there are not enough swords to spare between all the assistants. Also, there are pieces that are more personal than others (I was advised to get head protection first). So I was thinking of getting it the next month and a sword the month after. The thing is, I don't want to spend much but in my club, they use a steel hand-and-a-half sword in full shape (not Federschwerter) and quite rigid ones. So my questions are:

  • knowing that my sparring partners will carry heavy rigid swords, should I buy a steel sword? I read that fencing against less flexible swords makes your sword wear faster.

  • what I should look for when I choose a sword? Like material, shape, size, weight, etc.

Thanks.

P.S.: in my club they don't even consider using swords that are not made of steel.

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You should really be asking your club, rather than here. If you have just started training then you should not even be using a full weight sword. Safety and strength aside, your joints (and connecting fibers) will probably not be up to the task without some practice.

Buy a cudgel (stick) and a helmet (with eye proper eye protection!) and practice the movements you are taught in class on your own time.

Once you have your movements coming naturally, ask your club-mates for their opinions on the best sword for you. Try theirs; you will see how different weights and balances feel and what suits your style.

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This answer is late to the party, but:

  • Never buy a stainless steel sword. They may suddenly and unpredictably break in use, resulting in an injury to you or your sparing partner. You're looking for a high-carbon blade.
  • Use a full weight sword. You get better at using a sword by using a sword.
  • Buy a sword that matches the style you're learning. Most people study Italian or German longsword, which uses hand-and-a-half swords, so buy one of those. How the taper and the cross-section is up to personal preference, although these do affect how a sword handles cuts and thrusts.

As always, asking to handle someone's sword to see what you like is a good idea. Your club may have more advice as well.

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