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Mounted Combat:
Weapons: The Sword

© 2000 Maitre R.P. Alvarez, All rights reserved

Richard Alvarez bio


Introduction to Mounted Combat
The Horse: Selection and Training
The Rider: Technique and Tack

Saddle, Lance and Stirrup


The history of the sword, and its many branches of evolution can hardly be recounted here. This section outlines the three basic groups of swords, suitable for mounted combat. The general categories are Broadsword, Sabre, and Rapier.

While all swords may be used for cutting and thrusting, some are more better suited to one action or another.

Despite the medieval image that comes to mind with this term, it may be applied loosely to all those swords with a wide, straight blade designed primarily for cutting. This applies to the cruciform medieval hilt, as well as the basket hilt broadsword, now universally though erroneously referred to as the Scottish Claymore. The points of these weapons, while sharp, are generally of a more "rounded" appearance.


Broadsword Hilts

Sabers are descended from the medieval scimitar and are designed for both cutting and thrusting. The word Sablya means sword in the eastern European countries. The blades are usually curved, though some are straight. All have a sharp point. The characteristic that sets it apart from the broadsword is that it is sharp all the way down it's front or "Leading" edge, and only sharp a third to one-half of the way down its back or "False" edge. It usually possesses a curved knuckle guard. This can be in the form of a simple single bar, a series of bars, a basket or solid curved shell.

Sabre Hilts


This term is loosely applied to thrust and cut weapons primarily intended for the personal duel. Not especially well suited to Mounted Combat, and definitely NOT intended for the wars, they were the everyday dress weapons of upper class gentlemen and as such might be called upon to be useful from horse back. These weapons are characterized by longer, thinner blades of approximately 40-45 inches, that tapered to a sharp point. The hilts might be elegant "Swept Hilts" or clam shells, or simple cups. They grew out of fashion with the appearance of the court sword, which is included here because it too is a thrusting weapon.


Rapier hilts

The area of engagement for the sword varies with the use of the point vs. the edge. The point can be used "At Charge" in the same zones as the lance. Keep in mind that the point of contact will be much nearer the rider.

When using the point "At Thrust" in melee, the area expands again to cover a 270 degree arc starting at Nine going round to Six on the overhead clock. In addition the point in line or thrust may be delivered on the horse's off side clock from a position of straight ahead at three o'clock, in line downward to just ahead of the rider's foot at six o'clock.

Thrust from nearside, or "Nine" on the overhead clock

Thrust to front, or "Twelve" on the overhead clock

Thrust from off side, or "Three" on the overhead clock

Thrust to Rear, or "Six" on the overhead clock

Offside thrust to six o'clock

The edge blow is delivered fore-hand to the rider's right from three o'clock to twelve and back hand on the rider's left from nine o'clock to twelve, as viewed on the overhead clock. This area incorporates the forward motion of the horse. In addition, downward blows may be delivered overhand on the off side clock vertically from twelve o'clock to six and underhand or "Polo" swings may be delivered from six o'clock upwards through three.

The blind side for most swords on horseback, is just behind the rider's left shoulder, or about six-thirty on the over head clock. Edge blows downward on the near side clock must be delivered across the bridle arm and so usually stop at waist level.

The Lance

Mass Weapons

Projectile Weapons

Back to Mounted Combat: Weapons


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This file was last modified Sunday, Mar 26 2006, 17:15:14 EST