En Garde

Okay, I’m going to flat-out say it: I fucking love swords.
I wasn’t too sure about longswords at first; the first time I practiced with one, it was unwieldy and awkward, and I couldn’t get the forms right. I was so frustrated I burst into tears because of all the new input that just wouldn’t click. This elbow here, that arm there, and never mind that it feels weird or is a little painful. I was sure I’d never enjoy that form of swordfighting. Last weekend’s tournament proved me wrong.
Yeah, I had only picked up a longsword for the first time a week before the tournament. Yeah, my form sucked. But in two best-two-out-of-three rounds I managed to get one “kill” and one “double kill.” Granted, those were with different fighters and were both after I had already lost two rounds so they really didn’t count for the purposes of the tournament, but they counted to me. I was up against fighters who had years and years of practice, so just being able to hit them at all is, at least in my opinion, quite the accomplishment.
I did relatively well in the rapier tournament too, getting at least one kill or one double in each round (except against my husband lol damn his 6’4″ reach!), so I will take those as “wins” as well despite my two-out-of-three losses in each round. Again, aside from my husband I was paired against fighters with much more experience than I have–and even my husband had some experience with “modern” fencing when he was younger. So as the noobiest noob in the tournament, again, I did pretty well. To be able to kill or double kill against more skilled opponents is a great feeling, especially for me. I’ve never, never been good at sports. At all. And now I’ve found a sport that feels almost natural.
It helps to have the support of my local rapier community (and close friends), whose advice and opinions I deeply respect. For them to encourage me and tell me how well I fight given my skill level–it really makes a girl feel good.
Soon I’ll have a rapier of my own to practice with, which should help me a bit. The one I’ve been borrowing is a fairly short blade (so even with my freakishly long arms I don’t really have any bonus to reach) and this one that I’ve ordered is a couple of inches longer. A couple of inches might not sound like much, but in at least one fight last weekend I would have doubled versus lost if not for those two inches. I have to give that opponent props for halting the round until she could trade her regular-length sword for a shorter blade once she realized I was wielding a short blade to even things out. I’m 99% sure she saw how close I had been to reaching her and wanted to make the fight more even-sided.
That’s another thing about rapier, at least in my experience so far: chivalry. If there’s any uncertainty about a hit (because with some of the armor it’s hard to feel a hit or feel if the hit was “good”) there’s discussion and concession. Sure, there’s the occasional jerk who won’t acknowledge a perfectly good draw on the side or who will declare a double when you yourself didn’t feel a damn thing, but so far I’ve found that to be rare. The majority of rapier fighters, good rapier fighters, will fight honorably. And that’s super cool. How often in other sports do you see knock-down drag-out screaming matches or even physical fights? Well, I’ll tell ya, rapier is not like hockey. We don’t throw down our swords and lay into each other. Nope. Civilized, man, civilized. That’s the way to be.
I’m going to an event in a couple of months where I will know probably only one person outside of my local “circle” of rapier fighters. That should prove interesting, as I’m accustomed to the fighting styles of my friends and haven’t had much experience fighting others. I’m actually looking forward to it though; the more varied styles I can fight against, the better I’ll get.
Bring it on!