Longsword fighting has a long history, but it’s only recently that the sport has started catching on with a whole new generation of fans (our post on Samantha Swords was a testament to that). Considered part of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), it’s not about role-playing but about seriously competing like any other sport. According to the New York Times:
“The longsword specifically is just very accessible,” said Pettersson, a management consultant from Gothenburg, Sweden, “because that is what the old masters wrote about the most. It was called the ‘queen of weapons’ in the old days.”
Unlike re-enactors or role players, who don theatrical costumes and medieval-style armor, Longpoint competitors treat swordfighting as an organized sport. Matches have complex rules and use a scoring system based on ancient dueling regulations. Fighters wear modern if sometimes improvised protective equipment, which looks like a hybrid of fencing gear and body armor. They use steel swords with unsharpened blades and blunt tips to prevent bouts from turning into death matches.
Skill and technique, rather than size and strength, decide the outcomes. Fights are fast and sometimes brutal: key to the art is landing a blow while preventing an opponent’s counterstroke. Nevertheless, even the best swordfighters earn large bruises in the ring, which they display with flinty pride.
There are even organised tournaments with the largest in North America drawing 200 entrants. The majority of those, 47 men and 8 women, were part of the longsword competition.
The NYT takes you into the world of longsword fighting in the video after the break.