equipment

“The sword has to be more than a simple weapon; it has to be an answer to life’s questions.”
– Miyamoto Musashi – 

Safety first

Safety is paramount in martial arts and half of it depends on the equipment used.
Proper equipment dramatically reduces the risk of injuries, is durable and is guaranteed to have the highest standard of protection and comfort. We only use certified equipment from our verified retailers and suppliers.

Entering
the Arena

Practice and sparring are awesome but very different from competing. In tournaments, the competitive side and the adrenaline might overcome the control of unexperienced fighters. For this reason, protection standards are higher.
It’s up to you to decide if and when entering the Arena but, if you do, make sure you have the correct gear first. Below are the equipment standards under the current LSOT rules which can be found here.

Training

General training can be done without protection under the instructor supervision as long as it doesn’t involve hitting an opponent.
Once the exercises start to require duelling, this is the minimum gear.

Mandatory:

  • Fencing mask, 350N

Recommended:

  • Gloves, padded and reinforced

Training gloves can be cricket or motorcycle ones, as long as they have enough padding and/or plastic reinforcements for the fingers.

Sparring

Sparring may require extra protection.

Mandatory:

  • Fencing mask, 350N
  • Gloves, padded and reinforced

Recommended:

  • Groin cup (gents)
  • Breast protector (ladies)
  • Elbows and knees padding

As you start duelling you may want some good motorcycle gloves or non metal HEMA gloves as the fingers tend to be hit frequently, especially at the beginning. It’s also a good time for buying your own LED sabre.

Tournaments

Tournaments now demand a higher level of protection.

Mandatory:

  • Fencing mask, 350N
  • Gloves, padded and reinforced
  • Groin cup (gents)
  • Breast protector (ladies)
  • Elbows and knees padding

Recommended:

  • Fencing mask, 1600N

It would be good to invest in some proper HEMA gloves at this stage, but some high quality motorcycle gloves would still be more than enough.

Technical specs

LED sabres are made of two parts:

  • The hilt, a highly sturdy tube of aluminium, is the “handle”. It’s hollowed inside, to accomodate a lithium rechargeable battery, the LED card for colours and eventually a sound card for extra realism. An on/off button and a charger hole are also present. Hilts normally measure between 25 and 40 cm, according to the user’s style of fighting.
  • The blade, a long and hollowed polycarbonate tube with a rounded tip, is normally filled with a lucid film, to enhance the LED colours. It generally measures from 80 up 91.5 cm. The tip is always rounded. We use medium grade blades, which means the polycarbonate’s inner thickness (called “the walls”) is between 1.6 and 2 mm. These specs offer the best possible combination of durability and safety.

Sabres with sound cards are a bit heavier than those without sound, but they are all much lighter than a standard HEMA longsword (which is a bit less than 2 kg).

Some hilts might present a peculiar design; that could be for styling purposes like cosplaying or practical reasons like in the “dual blade” setup shown below.

Some hilts made by JQ Sabers

Performance

In terms of performance, shorter blades have much more nimbleness than longer ones but obviously less range. Longer hilts instead give better speed but less accuracy than shorter ones.
As a rule of thumb, your sword can excel only in two of these three values:

Range / Speed / Accuracy

Configuring your weapon in order to find the best proportion according to your style is a core (and fun) part of the game.
Ideally, your sword’s total length shouldn’t exceed the distance between the ground and your armpit.

As you progress in training, you might want to get your own gear.
Here’s where to go:

Our friend Daren at JQ is an excellent master sabersmith.

He provides a huge variety of LED sabres, all handmade: for collection, battle ready or both.
Spare parts, repairs, adding a sound card, extra colours, they have you covered for everything.

Leon Paul is the best fencing supplier in UK.

Based in Hendon (North London), they have everything you may need for fencing, HEMA and even LED Sabre, including excellent carrying bags, shoes and some nice customisation for masks, like national flag colours.