Gear
Recommendations

Getting started in HEMA can be daunting.  What to buy?  And from whom?  This guide aims to get you into sparring (Longsword) as soon as possible via synthetic weapons with the eventual goal of sparring with steel weapons.  To do this, we’ll break gear down into 3 Tiers.

Tier 1

Tier 1

Able to practice paired drills and solo work

Tier 2

Tier 2

Able to do full contact synthetic sparring

Tier 3

Tier 3

Able to do full contact steel sparring

Note:  Just because synthetic weapons are made of nylon/plastic does not mean they are safer than steel weapons!  They can break bones just as easily and can still bruise/crack ribs from stiff thrusts.

Disclaimer:  The recommendations in this guide do not guarantee your safety and are merely the prevailing opinions of members within the group!  As such, Centerline Sword School takes no responsibility or liability from incidents relating to this guide or the recommendations therein.

Tier 1

For solo work and paired drills, we’ll need to protect our hands, face, and have a properly weighted synthetic weapon.  The first item you should procure is a synthetic weapon so that you can solo practice/study.  Then pick up the protective equipment so that you can drill with partners in controlled situations.  If you are a male, pick up a cup from your local sports store.

Weapon

Our recommendation is to pick up a Pentiii synthetic from Purpleheart Armory. It is properly weighted, well made, and very resilient to damage. RedDragon/Rawlings synthetics should be avoided due to their inferior construction/durability. Do NOT purchase the Cold Steel Hand and a Half Training Sword. It is not properly weighted and is not allowed at most synthetic competitions.

Hand Protection

Lacrosse gloves provide decent protection to the hand for their price point and can often be purchased at 2nd hand sports stores for even cheaper.  RedDragon Gloves are slightly better protection and are slightly more expensive.  However, neither of these options are recommended for steel sparring, just synthetic work.  Also, the thumb and index finger protection on these kinds of gloves is relatively low, so be careful.

Mask

A three weapon fencing mask is sufficient for HEMA. You will also want to buy something to protect the back of your head. This can be done by buying an overlay for your fencing mask, or by buying a mask that has the overly already attached to it. We recommend this mask/overlay combo from Purpleheart Armory.

Tier 2

A student with this Tier of gear will be able to spar against other students with synthetic weapons.  At the end of this section there is a link to an “all-in-one” kit option that sells you all the protective gear you need (assuming you have already acquired Tier 1 gear) from a company called superior fencing.  Their kit is hard to beat for the quality/price and we highly recommend them.

Gorget

This item protects your throat underneath your mask. Hard plastic is the minimum we will accept. Cloth protectors are insufficient protection. Steel is best. Two options for plastic are the DestroyerModz or Dark Victory Armory gorgets. A steel/leather option is WinterTree.

Gambeson

This is the large padded jacket that helps protect from bruising and from jagged metal (should a steel sword break). Some jackets have newton ratings which show how much impaling force they can withstand (usually 300N or 800N), but such ratings are not a universal requirement among tournaments. Popular Vendors include SPES, Quilted Armory, and Superior Fencing.

Limbs & Joints

Buy a set of hard plate elbow/knee pads. You can purchase these cheaply from most 2nd hand sports stores.  While not required, having plates/padding on your arms/shins will help reduce the bruising from strikes to these areas. A popular solution is to buy catcher’s guards to protect the foot/ankle/shin/knee. Buying child size soccer shin protectors and strapping them to the forearms is also a popular solution.

Full Kit

Superior Fencing offers a full HEMA starter kit (steel sparing rated). It includes: Mask Overlay, Gambeson (custom), Padded Pants, Knee Protection, Shin Protection, Elbow Protection, Forearm Protection, Jockstrap/Cup, Gorget (Cloth), Gear/Sword carrying bag. The style/colors/size of the gambeson and pants are customizable for little-to-no charge. Get the whole thing for $270 plus shipping Here!

(Does not include mask, gloves, weapon or shoes)

Tier 3

If you have acquired Tier 1 & 2 gear, you don’t need much to achieve Tier 3 gear. Basically you need to upgrade your gloves to steel rated gloves and upgrade your synthetic weapon to a steel weapon.

Steel Rated Gloves

There are a few options for gloves on the market. The gold standard at the time of this article’s writing are gloves from a company called “Sparring Gloves”. Their US distributor can be found Here. While expensive (compared to your lacrosse gloves) protection of you hands is gravely important. These are worth the money. Sparring Gloves have Mitten/Hoof/5-finger variations with comparable levels of protection. A few other vendors include: SPES, Koning, Superior Fencing.

Steel Weapons

A quick note on steel longswords. You will find two major groups of longsword steel trainers: Blunts, and Feders. Blunts are more sword-like than feders in that they have a more distinct taper, generally have less flex in the thrust, and can have thinner edges. As such, some tournaments don’t allow the use of blunts. Feders, by contrast, usually have thicker edges, flex more in the thrust, and usually have a “schilt” near the cross guard which helps to protect the thumb. All things considered, we recommend buying a feder as your first steel trainer. There are multiple HEMA suppliers available when it comes to either, though cost and wait-times vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Popular vendors include VB, Chlebowski, Regenyi, Castille Armory, Sigi, Arms & Armor, Albion, and more.

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Centerline Sword School 2020 © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Gear
Recommendations

Getting started in HEMA can be daunting.  What to buy?  And from whom?  This guide aims to get you into sparring (Longsword) as soon as possible via synthetic weapons with the eventual goal of sparring with steel weapons.  To do this, we’ll break gear down into 3 Tiers.

Tier 1

Tier 1

Able to practice paired drills and solo work

Tier 2

Tier 2

Able to do full contact synthetic sparring

Tier 3

Tier 3

Able to do full contact steel sparring

Note:  Just because synthetic weapons are made of nylon/plastic does not mean they are safer than steel weapons!  They can break bones just as easily and can still bruise/crack ribs from stiff thrusts.

Disclaimer:  The recommendations in this guide do not guarantee your safety and are merely the prevailing opinions of members within the group!  As such, Centerline Sword School takes no responsibility or liability from incidents relating to this guide or the recommendations therein.

Tier 1

For solo work and paired drills, we’ll need to protect our hands, face, and have a properly weighted synthetic weapon.  The first item you should procure is a synthetic weapon so that you can solo practice/study.  Then pick up the protective equipment so that you can drill with partners in controlled situations.  If you are a male, pick up a cup from your local sports store.

Weapon

Our recommendation is to pick up a Pentiii synthetic from Purpleheart Armory. It is properly weighted, well made, and very resilient to damage. RedDragon/Rawlings synthetics should be avoided due to their inferior construction/durability. Do NOT purchase the Cold Steel Hand and a Half Training Sword. It is not properly weighted and is not allowed at most synthetic competitions.

Hand Protection

Lacrosse gloves provide decent protection to the hand for their price point and can often be purchased at 2nd hand sports stores for even cheaper.  RedDragon Gloves are slightly better protection and are slightly more expensive.  However, neither of these options are recommended for steel sparring, just synthetic work.  Also, the thumb and index finger protection on these kinds of gloves is relatively low, so be careful.

Mask

A three weapon fencing mask is sufficient for HEMA. You will also want to buy something to protect the back of your head. This can be done by buying an overlay for your fencing mask, or by buying a mask that has the overly already attached to it. We recommend this mask/overlay combo from Purpleheart Armory.

Tier 2

A student with this Tier of gear will be able to spar against other students with synthetic weapons.  At the end of this section there is a link to an “all-in-one” kit option that sells you all the protective gear you need (assuming you have already acquired Tier 1 gear) from a company called superior fencing.  Their kit is hard to beat for the quality/price and we highly recommend them.

Gorget

This item protects your throat underneath your mask. Hard plastic is the minimum we will accept. Cloth protectors are insufficient protection. Steel is best. Two options for plastic are the DestroyerModz or Dark Victory Armory gorgets. A steel/leather option is WinterTree.

Gambeson

This is the large padded jacket that helps protect from bruising and from jagged metal (should a steel sword break). Some jackets have newton ratings which show how much impaling force they can withstand (usually 300N or 800N), but such ratings are not a universal requirement among tournaments. Popular Vendors include SPES, Quilted Armory, and Superior Fencing.

Limbs & Joints

Buy a set of hard plate elbow/knee pads. You can purchase these cheaply from most 2nd hand sports stores.  While not required, having plates/padding on your arms/shins will help reduce the bruising from strikes to these areas. A popular solution is to buy catcher’s guards to protect the foot/ankle/shin/knee. Buying child size soccer shin protectors and strapping them to the forearms is also a popular solution.

Full Kit

Superior Fencing offers a full HEMA starter kit (steel sparing rated). It includes: Mask Overlay, Gambeson (custom), Padded Pants, Knee Protection, Shin Protection, Elbow Protection, Forearm Protection, Jockstrap/Cup, Gorget (Cloth), Gear/Sword carrying bag. The style/colors/size of the gambeson and pants are customizable for little-to-no charge. Get the whole thing for $270 plus shipping Here!

(Does not include mask, gloves, weapon or shoes)

Tier 3

If you have acquired Tier 1 & 2 gear, you don’t need much to achieve Tier 3 gear. Basically you need to upgrade your gloves to steel rated gloves and upgrade your synthetic weapon to a steel weapon.

Steel Rated Gloves

There are a few options for gloves on the market. The gold standard at the time of this article’s writing are gloves from a company called “Sparring Gloves”. Their US distributor can be found Here. While expensive (compared to your lacrosse gloves) protection of you hands is gravely important. These are worth the money. Sparring Gloves have Mitten/Hoof/5-finger variations with comparable levels of protection. A few other vendors include: SPES, Koning, Superior Fencing.

Steel Weapons

A quick note on steel longswords. You will find two major groups of longsword steel trainers: Blunts, and Feders. Blunts are more sword-like than feders in that they have a more distinct taper, generally have less flex in the thrust, and can have thinner edges. As such, some tournaments don’t allow the use of blunts. Feders, by contrast, usually have thicker edges, flex more in the thrust, and usually have a “schilt” near the cross guard which helps to protect the thumb. All things considered, we recommend buying a feder as your first steel trainer. There are multiple HEMA suppliers available when it comes to either, though cost and wait-times vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. Popular vendors include VB, Chlebowski, Regenyi, Castille Armory, Sigi, Arms & Armor, Albion, and more.

Get In Touch

Leave us a message

Centerline Sword School 2020 © ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.