Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Learning To Use A Rapier

Recently, I’ve taken an interest in learning to fight with a rapier. It’s more than a mere interest, I suppose, since I’m actually devoting time to it. While I don’t have a personal instructor, I am following along with a DVD series titled “La Verdadera Destreza,” subtitled “The True Art and Skill of Spanish Swordsmanship.”

I like the heavy rapier because there’s more to it than a foil or epee used in fencing. It’s a sword with a flat blade around three feet long, and there’s a finesse in using it that isn’t found with a broadsword. The flat part of the blade stays parallel to the ground as you use it. An instructor told me this was so that you could more easily shove it between a man’s ribs. I’d like to think that there’s more of an appreciation in being slain by a rapier than by a broadsword. With what little I know at this point, if I were dealt a fatal wound by my enemy’s rapier, I might utter, “Well, that was very skillful, Bill.” Bill wouldn’t get that kind of a comment from me if he came charging up like a barbarian, wielding a two-handed Claymore, and swooped my head clean off.

Below is a picture of my practice rapier. The end is deliberately blunted since it is only used for practice. I certainly don’t want to injure a sparring partner.

According to the video series, there are several ways to hold the rapier, and my preferred method is to split my index and middle fingers over the cross bar, curl my index finger beneath and rest my thumb on the flat part of the blade. This seems the most natural to me, but I may be an outcast for taking such a grip. Again, I am a beginner, not an expert.

One thing that becomes apparent after a short time is that my muscles are not naturally developed to hold a rapier. The muscle that runs along the top of my forearm seems the most distraught whenever I practice. I’m getting more and more used to the weight, especially as I supplement my sword training with weight lifting exercises that specifically target that muscle group. Eventually, I hope it feels very natural to pick up the blade and use it.

It will probably take me quite some time before I am able to spar for any length of time, especially if I was actually competing against my sparring partner. I don’t know that I ever want to take it that serious, but for now I’m having a lot of fun. I just hope Bill isn’t practicing, too.


Unknown said...

Boy am I glad you didn't get to learn this stuff when we were kids. I have a feeling I would have more scars than I already do! Glad to hear that you're having so much fun with it and that it's Spanish! Yea!

GeneHowell said...

¿Dónde está el cuarto de emergencia?

Matthew Wuertz said...

I took French in school, not Spanish, but according to Babel Fish (http://babelfish.altavista.digital.com/tr), you wrote: Where it is the quarter of emergency? I'm confused...