Advice for starting with sabre

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Advice for starting with sabre

Postby danielc » 06 Jan 2015 02:15

Hello everyone,

I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Daniel Carrera, and I just joined this forum hoping to get some advice for learning sabre. Since my local HEMA club does not offer a sabre course, I expect to mostly self-study with wife (who is also interested) plus the occasional trip to either Copenhagen or Gothenburg. We watch Matt's YouTube channel and we are reading Alfred Hutton's Cold Steel. Currently we practice with wooden sticks. My grand total HEMA experience is two hours swinging a Regenyei-Easton sabre in Copenhagen. I hope you won't mind a moderately long list of questions.

1) Nylon vs Steel swords

Are there any important downsides to buying nylon swords instead of the steel swords? Obviously nylon is a lot cheaper and safer. Should I be concerned that the lower weight might teach me a bad habits? Alternatively, I could get one of the heavy nylon swords from Black Fencer. They are shorter than a British or Swedish sabre, but the weigh 800g. Has anyone hwere used Black Fencer? Do they make good simulators?

2) Learning sabre

I also note that Matt seems concerned that the basket hilt of the Hema Shop nylons may prevent you from holding the sword like a sabre. I have read his explanation, but I am not sure I understand it. Why does the basket prevent you from extending the point forward? I have watched videos of Matt's students holding nylons and the baskets appear to be intact.

On a different note, can someone help me understand how to do a proper number 3 cut? I feel that my hand just doesn't bend the right way. I hold my sabre (wooden stick) with the thumb up (Hutton style) and try to do a 45-degree diagonal cut from the bottom right to the top left using only my wrist... and I can't. I don't see how anyone can twist their arm enough to make the wrist motion point in the direction of a #3 cut. Looking at Matt doing it, he makes it look easy, but I cannot see exactly what he is doing with his hand.

3) British vs Swedish sabre

What are the important similarities and differences between the British and the Swedish sabres and their respective fighting styles?

I am reading Alfred Hutton's Cold Steel, but because I live in Sweden, the instructors I'm going to find will teach Swedish sabre. In particular, GHFS appears to use Cold Steel as its secondary manual for sabre, while the primary manual is a Swedish sabre manual. But at the same time, the GHFS website says that Hutton's style is fairly different from the Swedish sabre.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for the help.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Monzambano » 06 Jan 2015 08:49

I can only respond on your first question, nylon v. steel. The advantage with the Knight Shop line of nylons is that you can adapt the one-hander blade to different kinds of weapons, which saves on kit costs. If money is no object, I would still go for steel practice swords, because for me, the nylon sabre wasters are disproportionately heavy in the blade, even if the overall weight is fine. That means more stress on the wrist. With a steel simulator, the guard provides proportionately a lot of weight.
800g is perfect for an infantry sabre; the fencing teachings were never meant for the heavy, cavalry sabres.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Barbatus » 06 Jan 2015 09:58

Nylons vs steel
First off, anything with an edge and handguard is way better simulator than a stick. Plastic will behave different compared to steel in blade contact but it won't do much of a difference during initial training. Proper weigth and balance of a simulator are important - otherwise you're prone to learn bad habits, especially if you learn without a teacher. I'd go for nylons for the beginning.

No 3 cut.
Sabre requires high mobility of the wrist and that's something you'll have to practice :) Hutton's Cold steel contains nice instructions on how to perform a moulinet. Try using those directions.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby danielc » 06 Jan 2015 10:37

Monzambano wrote:I can only respond on your first question, nylon v. steel. The advantage with the Knight Shop line of nylons is that you can adapt the one-hander blade to different kinds of weapons, which saves on kit costs. If money is no object, I would still go for steel practice swords, because for me, the nylon sabre wasters are disproportionately heavy in the blade, even if the overall weight is fine. That means more stress on the wrist. With a steel simulator, the guard provides proportionately a lot of weight.
800g is perfect for an infantry sabre; the fencing teachings were never meant for the heavy, cavalry sabres.


Thanks. Money is short. So it looks like the Knight Shop nylons are better than the Black Fencer wasters because the latter are heavy on the blade. I guess I'll go for those then. For me the cost of the two is about the same when you add shipping cost.

The one time I handled a steel practice sabre my arm got very tired very quickly. My shoulder is definitely not used to that weight. I will try to do some shoulder exercises at the gym.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby danielc » 06 Jan 2015 10:43

Barbatus wrote:Nylons vs steel
First off, anything with an edge and handguard is way better simulator than a stick. Plastic will behave different compared to steel in blade contact but it won't do much of a difference during initial training. Proper weigth and balance of a simulator are important - otherwise you're prone to learn bad habits, especially if you learn without a teacher. I'd go for nylons for the beginning.


Hi. Thanks. You see, when you say "nylon" I subconsciously think of both the Knight Shop nylons and the Black Fencer wasters, since the latter are also mostly nylon. So I'm not sure if you are recommending the Knight Shop over Black Fencer or not.

No 3 cut.
Sabre requires high mobility of the wrist and that's something you'll have to practice :) Hutton's Cold steel contains nice instructions on how to perform a moulinet. Try using those directions.


Yeah, I looked carefully at the directions in Cold Steel. When people are back from holidays I will do a trip to the nearest instructor and ask for help with the moulinet. Maybe the weight of the blade will make it easier to bend my arm properly.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Barbatus » 06 Jan 2015 11:14

I never handled Knight Shop nor Black Fencer synthetic sabres, but I would choose the one with weigth and PoB closer to the original.

Careful with the gym. Handling a sabre involves a specific set of muscles - training with weights may not help much, but it could affect your quickness and flexibility. Happened to me. Best way to get used to the weight of a sabre is to... practice with a sabre :). Try some wrist stretching exercises first - can be found on youtube.
With my crappy English I probably wouldn't be able to explain the way I teach the moulinet, but I'll try and record something when I find a while.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Monzambano » 06 Jan 2015 20:03

We only have the Knight Shop nylons, so I can't compare with any others. Personally, I like the light messer blade for sabre (makes it look like a cutlass), but I'm alone in the club with that preference, and - except in the ineffables - I'm not the top fencer.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Magnus Hagelberg » 07 Jan 2015 07:09

would recomend the black fencer Sabre, it has a better precense of blade compared to the Knightshopp one, and should last you slightly longer.

Swedish sabres are of the heawier kind -closer to 1kg for infantry and 1,2kg for cavallry.
the gymnastic sabres I have are around 930-1kg for infantry with a PoB of 6,5-10cm

Is there a particular timeperiod that is of interest to you?
Otherwise I would heartily recomend you read and study manual 1890.
Andreas Engström should be possible to find either here on this forum, or via GHFS that you mentioned, and has proven to be of immense help for my studdies on the subject.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby danielc » 07 Jan 2015 10:29

Magnus Hagelberg wrote:would recomend the black fencer Sabre, it has a better precense of blade compared to the Knightshopp one, and should last you slightly longer.


Thanks. That's very helpful.

Magnus Hagelberg wrote:Swedish sabres are of the heawier kind -closer to 1kg for infantry and 1,2kg for cavallry.
the gymnastic sabres I have are around 930-1kg for infantry with a PoB of 6,5-10cm

Is there a particular timeperiod that is of interest to you?
Otherwise I would heartily recomend you read and study manual 1890.


Where can I find that manual? I don't have my heart set on any particular period. I don't know much about sabres, so I'll just study whatever people around me are using. I am pretty sure that the sabre I held in Copenhagen was the Regenyei-Easton model. I don't know what they use at GHFS.


Magnus Hagelberg wrote:Andreas Engström should be possible to find either here on this forum, or via GHFS that you mentioned, and has proven to be of immense help for my studdies on the subject.


I wrote to him recently. I suspect he is still on holiday. I hope he sees this thread.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby liampboyle » 20 Jan 2015 16:16

My club is just now starting with military saber as well. We were planning on using the 1872 "A New System of Sword Exercise" by O'Rourke as our primary source for beginner level material. After a discussion I had with some folks on the HEMA Alliance it was recommended to look at the 1861 book by M. W. Berriman as well.

In O'Rouke, he also details how to make wooden trainers, but synthetic wasters were not available in the time period. It seems like Blackfencer might be the preferred option with Rawlings coming in second, if I'm understanding correctly?

@ Daniel, I'm not meaning to hijack your thread but since we are just starting saber as well I have many similar questions and I'm the guy who is supposed to be showing everbody else how to do this. As for the number 3 cut I do not think it can come completely from the wrist, there has to be some movement of the arm, but I think the idea is to slowly work on getting that movement as minimal as possible.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Barbatus » 20 Jan 2015 20:40

Cut 3 can be performed entirely from the wrist, and done from a full moulinet it does bear some energy. Aided by the movement of the arm and twisting in the hips it becomes quite powerful.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby liampboyle » 20 Jan 2015 21:53

So how would you work on drilling the cut solely from the wrist?
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Barbatus » 21 Jan 2015 10:38

liampboyle wrote:So how would you work on drilling the cut solely from the wrist?


will film it as soon as I'm back to training after recovering from my back injury.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby liampboyle » 21 Jan 2015 13:01

That would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby SirFrederick » 01 Mar 2015 15:15

I just started/restarted on saber (Cavalry/Dragoon) and was looking for 18th century (goal was American 1776).

I'd say go with steel.
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Pete085 » 18 Mar 2015 12:02

I have also always been interested in the military sabre. Unfortunately there are no Sabre classes at my place. The HEMA Club where I train is specialised in the German Longsword. But know i have gathered a few interested indivduals which are also interested in learing Saber. This guys are members of the HEMA Group where I train. We are interested in tryping to learn using the sabre in self studying so far as possible.

But which manuels would be the best Choice for this "task?

We are primerely intersted in the British Military Sabre of the 19 th century.


As Austrians, we would be also interested in the Austro Hugarian Stuf but until today I wasn't able to locate much information concering Austro Hungarian Sabre Stuff.

So sticking the British manuals would be our best bet, I believe.

Thanks for your help in advance guys.

Greetings from Austria. :)
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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Magnus Hagelberg » 18 Mar 2015 18:27

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Re: Advice for starting with sabre

Postby Pete085 » 19 Mar 2015 09:30

Thx for your advice Magnus Hagelberg. Christmann really looks very promising. This a good manuel to get started. :D :D
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