The basket-hilted broadsword, and its counterpart the military sabre, were popular weapons in the gunpowder era of warfare during the 18th and 19th centuries. Both these weapons are held in one hand and have a significant amount of metalwork protecting the fingers and wrist – very valuable when the one hand is your only means of attack and defence!
For the broadsword, the blade is usually around 30 inches (75cm) long and double edged, allowing strikes and cuts on both the front and back edges, with a sharp and rigid point to enable thrusts. These swords were rarely as heavy as people tend to expect, with most weighing between 2 to 3 lbs (1.3kg), and were balanced to allow skillful use in both the cut and the thrust.
For the sabre, the blade is usually a similar kind of length, but the sword is usually much lighter (800-900 grams being a common kind of weight) and has less protection for the hand. The blade is often curved, which leads to a different method of use to achieve a functional cut.
We mainly study the 18th and early 19th century Scottish and English sources for both broadsword and sabre (as well as other one-handed swords), but on occasion we will investigate European (or even North American!) sabre sources for comparative purposes, and to help round out our spectrum of skills.
The broadsword and sabre are weapons that are easy to begin with, and rapidly expand into intricate systems in which skill and athleticism meet with individual approaches to style. In short, if you like the idea of fighting a dramatic duel and looking good while doing it, then this is the class for you!
If you have never tried a martial arts or fencing class before, we would recommend you drop into our Intro To HEMA class on Tuesday nights for a week or two where you will get a good grounding in the activity and terminology needed to take up the broadsword and sabre. If you have some fighting or fencing experience already, then come along to one of our regular weekly classes and have a go! Send us an email or give us a call if you would like to ask any questions beforehand, or just swing by and speak to the instructor on the night.