Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

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Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 14 Mar 2013 00:31

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Description from Arcensis:

The all-new HEMA gloves by Arcensis, designed for longsword (and perhaps sword and buckler too) play, based on the Brine Supercrosse and the Hatch anti-riot. Featuring:

- Curved, scaled, rigid plates covering every finger.
- Impact-absorving foam under the plates.
- Full thumb movility (and protection).
- Wide cuff for improved movility (in Ochs, etc.)
- Supple leather palm allows full feeling of the sword.

This is currently a prototype, although if you are interested in trying one do contact Arcensis. Improvements considered for future versions are:

- Rigid, full encapsulation of the fingertip top and sides in plastic shells
- Cut-proof fiber reinforcements for the hand palm (to prevent cuts from the occasional burr when gripping am Halbschwert or disarming)
- A slightly longer, more waisted wristguard.

The tentative price for the future versions will be somwehere around 100 euro.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 14 Mar 2013 00:31

So, my initial review of the Arcensis gloves after spending an evening teaching a class, wearing them for solo drilling and for pair drilling (but unfortunately not sparring).

They started off a little uncomfortable on my hands, but within five minutes of serious use they had become reasonably comfortable. By comparison, it took probably two or three hours for my Absolute Force gloves to become comfortable, and the better part of five hours for my previous cricket style gloves to become comfortable. Five minutes is very reasonable for "breaking in" a pair of gloves.

Mobility of the wrist and fingers is very good. The insides of the fingers are comfortable and I have good control over the sword with my hands in the gloves. Compared to my AF gloves, the improvement in mobility is incredible.

In terms of the thumb, it has a little less mobility than on the AF gloves. That being said, I have been wearing my AF gloves for several hours worth of sparring now, so I have broken in the thumbs nicely; although they are clunky on the AF gloves, the thumbs do have good mobility. On these gloves, the thumb has much more limited mobility (but this may improve over time as I break in these gloves further). That being said, the dexterity provided by having the individual fingers able to move means that I can shuffle my fingers around the grip of the sword and can do some quite deft things with my fingers, so even though the thumb has less mobility that the AF gloves, the end result is that the Arcensis gloves have significantly better grip, dexterity and handling.

I was not really able to assess the level of protection provided by the gloves this evening, since I was too busy teaching and did not really have a chance to participate in any sparring. I will try to remedy this as soon as I can, either on Friday or Saturday.

Summary:

- very comfortable gloves;

- very good mobility, dexterity and deftness of grip;

- much better padded than any hockey, lacrosse or cricket gloves I have worn so far, and the solid fingertip inserts are nice and reassuring!

- projected cost is likely to be €100 (roughly £90 or so) for a pair, making them significantly cheaper than the AF gloves, the Sparring Gloves and the Jeremiah Smith gloves;

- after this evening's training, I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for something at the level of a hockey/lacrosse glove or better. Once I have had the chance to do some sparring with them, I will be able to compare their protection with that afforded by the AF gloves.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby Jacob_Lee » 14 Mar 2013 03:00

I consider the very joint that connects the hand to the forearm as the wrists, and to pad that part would be to limit the mobility of the wrists considerably, which is what lacrosse gloves are good at doing in both cases.

In response to that however, it seems that the main concern of the "wrist" section of protection is not the very wrist themselves, but rather how much coverage you get from the gloves to your forearm, or whether it overlaps with your arm guards. In other words, covering the potential gaps in your padding.

And with my position stated on this matter. I'm interested to see how these fare in the future!
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby admin » 14 Mar 2013 19:42

Really looking forward to seeing how these stand up in fencing - with steel if possible.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby Motley » 16 Mar 2013 01:01

Any idea how they would work with a more complex hilt side sword? I am thinking Ike this http://www.darkwoodarmory.com/index.php ... cts_id=366

My current gloves will be too bulky, soi am on the lookout for somthing else.

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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 16 Mar 2013 18:26

Motley wrote:Any idea how they would work with a more complex hilt side sword? I am thinking Ike this http://www.darkwoodarmory.com/index.php ... cts_id=366

My current gloves will be too bulky, soi am on the lookout for somthing else.

Dan


Although they have good mobility, the fingers are still quite chunky, a bit short and stubby, so they wouldn't really work if you were trying to put a finger into a ring or ricasso or whatever. If you are just looking for a "normal" sort of grip on the sword, and if these gloves would fit within the complex hilt (they are about as bulky as many hockey/lacrosse gloves), then I believe they would do quite well.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 16 Mar 2013 19:26

So, I did quite a bit more sparring yesterday evening and this afternoon, and I have some more feedback to give about the gloves.

They are holding up quite well. No sign of scratches, tears, dents, breaks, or anything like that. Compared to the AF gloves, I suspect the Arcensis gloves will remain in good condition for considerably longer!

I did some sword and buckler sparring. The gloves fit onto the hilt of an arming sword quite nicely, considerably better than my AF gloves. They are also small enough to fit into the handle of my buckler, which my AF gloves do not do. Indeed, this is the first pair of gloves I have had that I can actually wear on my buckler hand; I have always had to remove my left glove and wear a motorbike glove instead, which has often resulted in bumps and bruises and pain for that hand and wrist. These are by far the best gloves I have ever had for use with sword and buckler.

I did some longsword sparring with Rawlings synthetics and with Albion Meyers. There wasn't a significant amount of difference between the two; a hard hit is a hard hit, it can be felt through the gloves but without much pain. I felt the hits much more than in my AF gloves, and there were a couple of hits I took from the synthetic swords that hurt a little through these Arcensis gloves that the AF gloves would have absorbed completely. I am forced to conclude that these Arcensis gloves, in terms of protection are better than hockey/lacrosse gloves but not quite in the same protective level as the AF gloves, Sparring Gloves or Jeremiah Smith gloves.

However, the dexterity and mobility of these gloves let me do some stuff that I have never before been able to do with my previous gloves due to bulk and limited mobility. My right Ochs became feasible for once, which was a really nice change! I was able to perform techniques much better than when wearing my AF gloves, and my edge alignment was considerably better as well.

As a result, when I was sparring "properly" and not being lazy with my hands in order to test the gloves, I was able to use the dexterity afforded to me to ensure that I was not hit on the hands at all. However, I realise that for someone still working towards the skill of defending the hands and not leaving them vulnerable to strikes, this really doesn't make that much of a difference, and of course the protective element is what is important.

So, the summary from today:

- very good for sword and buckler, the gloves actually fit into the buckler's grip, and they allow dextrous use of the sword;

- for working with longsword, you do still feel heavy hits, and they might still hurt, regardless of using synthetics or steel;

- they provide incredible mobility and dexterity, and they really do allow for improved technical fighting;

- not quite as good in terms of protection as AF gloves.


I will do a bit more steel sparring on Monday with these, and hopefully will have a bit more to report about how they can handle steel fighting.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby admin » 17 Mar 2013 00:17

Thanks Keith, really useful review so far.
From what you've said about sword and buckler it gives me hope that these may work for steel sabre - are you able to hold a sabre or stick with the thumb extended up the back of the grip - does the thumb bend that way?
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 17 Mar 2013 01:21

admin wrote:Thanks Keith, really useful review so far.
From what you've said about sword and buckler it gives me hope that these may work for steel sabre - are you able to hold a sabre or stick with the thumb extended up the back of the grip - does the thumb bend that way?


Yes, I can do a "sabre grip" with the thumb up the spine of the grip. I forgot to mention in my review that I was twirling a walking stick earlier at the sparring, and I managed to do that sort of grip on it. The only issue would be for the shell or hilt assembly to be large enough to accommodate a somewhat bulky glove. I believe they would fit perfectly into a Hanwei Hutton sabre shell (using a thumb grip), to give some comparison for size.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby admin » 17 Mar 2013 09:14

Great! They will definitely work for Regenyei sabres then, which are bigger.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby TyHar7 » 17 Mar 2013 22:59

Very positive signs. Any idea when they will be out of prototype stage.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby Andreas Engström » 18 Mar 2013 08:28

Thanks for reviewing, Keith! These sound very promising as a "medium-budget" alternative given the price.

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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 18 Mar 2013 10:43

TyHar7 wrote:Very positive signs. Any idea when they will be out of prototype stage.


No idea I'm afraid. Arcensis has all the information, I'm just the guy doing a review of the gloves.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 18 Mar 2013 10:46

Andreas Engström wrote:Thanks for reviewing, Keith! These sound very promising as a "medium-budget" alternative given the price.

-Andreas


You are very welcome :) and I think they are at the top of the "medium budget" options. Not quite as good as the more expensive gloves, but certainly better than anything less expensive.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 19 Mar 2013 14:04

A person called Denis Cabrera has begun to comment on my Facebook review notes, and apparently he has also done some tests on a set of the gloves. It appears that his findings and my findings are very similar. Also, he says that the last time he spoke to the Arcensis people, they told him that the plan is to have the next version of the gloves ready for the HEMAC Dijon event in May. I don't know if that means the gloves should be ready for sale at that point in time, or if it means that the next prototype model will be ready for testing, but it is a good benchmark to see things moving forwards :)
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 25 Mar 2013 15:21

I did a bit more sparring with these over the weekend. It doesn't really matter what material you are using for weapons; if the sparring is friendly (so up to somewhat forceful in terms of striking) then they are perfectly fine, steel or nylon or wood. If the sparring is more competitive and with higher levels of force, then you are better switching to the Absolute Force gloves or the Sparring Glove; doesn't matter if it is steel or nylon or wood, the gloves are well padded but they cannot quite deal with really heavy hitting.

So the moral of the story is that if you want to do hard hitting, wear AF gloves or Sparring Gloves. If you want to do friendly / forceful (but not mega-forceful) sparring, then these Arcensis gloves are perfectly viable, regardless of material.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby admin » 25 Mar 2013 16:01

So they are no better than lacrosse gloves then? :(
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 25 Mar 2013 16:12

admin wrote:So they are no better than lacrosse gloves then? :(


They are better than any hockey or lacrosse gloves I have ever seen. They just aren't as good (in terms of protecting from raw force) as the AF gloves or the Sparring Gloves. They are about as good as gloves could possibly be without quite being AF / SG gloves.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby admin » 25 Mar 2013 16:16

Okay. Well it will be interesting to see what the final cost is. To get people to spend £100 on these they'd have to be pretty damned awesome. Even then it will be a hard sell to most HEMA students.
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Re: Review: Arcensis HEMA Gloves

Postby KeithFarrell » 16 Jul 2013 12:26

I have an update to make about these gloves.

I spent the weekend at the "VI Torneo de Esgrima Antigua Torre de Hercules" in Galicia, and I used the Arcensis gloves for all of my sparring. I did nothing with synthetic weapons, it was only steel that was in use.

Some of my fights were against people who were trying to hit me reasonably hard - a good comparison would be the sort of force that people such as Tim Gallagher and Mark Wilkie use when they are sparring. There was nothing quite as forceful as how many of the Polish groups fence, and it was certainly not at the power level that we see at events such as Swordfish, but I must stress that the level of contact was definitely quite forceful in a number of my fights with steel. My other fights involved less forceful opponents, but I did have some fights against strong people with good mechanics that produced some fast and powerful strikes.

The Arcensis gloves held up very well and kept my fingers safe. I took more hits to the hand than I wanted to take (my preference is to receive no hand hits at all!) and in each case, the gloves kept me safe. Some of the hits were relatively light taps, to the fingers, knuckles and the back of my hand. Other hits were really quite strong, across the fingers and back of hand, and if I had been wearing less protective gloves then I may have received bruising or other problems through the material. As it was, I was not afraid to use the Arcensis gloves against strong opponents, even using steel.

I fought with quite a few people wearing various different types of gloves (including the Arcensis models). I did not engage in hand sniping, but did smack people on the hands if I felt that they needed a reminder to keep their hands safe. Also, I did hit people across the hands, wrists and forearms quite often if I noticed them going up into Ochs too often: I would feint to draw the Ochs response, then would smack them across the extended (and vulnerable) limbs. Unfortunately, I gave someone a bit of an injury to his pinky finger - he wore hockey or lacrosse gloves, with a gap in the padding at the side of the pinky, and my sword found its way into that gap. I didn't hit hard, so his pinky was not broken, it just bled a little inside the glove. The first aiders gave him a plaster and a bandage and he went off quite happily. As far as I am aware, no one who wore the Arcensis gloves over the weekend took an injury to the hand; that was the only hand injury of which I am aware, and it happened to someone wearing the less protective hockey or lacrosse gloves.

After this weekend of lots of drilling and lots of sparring, I believe that the Arcensis gloves are definitely a level of protection above what is offered by any current models of hockey or lacrosse gloves that I have seen. They are still not quite as protective as the Absolute Force gloves or the Polish Sparring Gloves, but they allow considerably more dexterity and are somewhat cheaper too!

Also, Arcensis has developed a new model of the gloves, taking into account some of the feedback that they have received. The new model of gloves are more padded but also fit the form of the hand much better - so even with more padding and protection, they are no bigger than they were before. I tried them very briefly at the weekend, and they feel quite nice on the hand. Unfortunately I did not have the chance to test them in sparring, but if they have more protection than the model I have already tested, that cannot be a bad thing!

Finally, Arcensis are in the process of developing an extension to the wrist cuff, to provide more protection for the wrist and forearm. I saw a very early prototype of what they are trying to achieve with this next development, and it looks very promising - to the point where I might be happy to use the fully developed model for heavy contact sparring rather than my Absolute Force gloves.

Once these gloves are fully matured, I believe they will be a valuable asset for the community.
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