Review: Black Fencer synthetic basket-hilted broadsword

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Review: Black Fencer synthetic basket-hilted broadsword

Postby KeithFarrell » 20 Aug 2015 14:16

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I would like to write a brief review of the Black Fencer synthetic broadswords, which I have had an opportunity to use for some brief sparring and for competitive purposes at Edgebana 2015, earlier this summer.

In short: they were a pleasure to use, by far the best training tool for the Scottish broadsword that I have used to date. The weight and balance are good, the handling is just fine, the basket provides plenty of protection, and the sword is the right kind of length. It doesn't hit too hard, it is surprisingly forgiving in the thrust, yet it is rigid enough to perform competent parries. There is plenty of space in the basket to wear a thick padded glove if you choose to do so.

The square shape of the blade meant that the edges required some time with sandpaper every so often, to keep them smooth - I think they became somewhat chewed up when people used the steel basket to parry the plastic blade, but that's only to be expected.

One potential issue is that the forward loops on the basket on either side of the blade became flattened against the basket quite easily. I think that again, people were using the basket to parry incoming cuts, rather than using the strong of their blade, so some of the incoming diagonal cuts were hitting the loops and flattening them. I don't think it's a major problem, because the loops are not an essential part of the basket for any technical reasons, at least not for fencing broadsword against broadsword. People just need to make sure they parry properly with the forte of their blade.

Finally, one of the vertical ribs on one of the baskets became a little bent - the rib on the outside, at the very back of the basket, next to the wrist. The reason for that was that someone parried a powerful cut with the back of the basket rather than the front of the blade, not something that is supposed to be done!

The feedback from this is that the steel baskets do an excellent job of protecting the hands against a powerful impact, but they are not bombproof. They will deform and bend a little under powerful impacts.

I don't think this is a problem in the slightest - after all, there are accounts of Scottish officers having their hand cut open by strikes that cut through their brass and steel baskets on the battlefield! Baskets are there to help improve protection, not to be bombproof.

So the swords and the baskets do their job perfectly well. At Edgebana, there wasn't a single injury to the hands in the whole tournament. But for training purposes, fencers need to be aware that the basket will take damage over time if they don't parry properly. So learning to parry correctly should be a priority, for this as well as the more obvious reasons!

In conclusion, the swords handle just like the should, and they are very good training swords for the Scottish broadsword. You just need to make sure that you parry properly, with the forte of the blade, and that you don't use your basket too often to keep your hands safe, since it will deform over time as it receives more hits. I will be buying one for my own training, and will recommend them to my students.
-- Keith Farrell --
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KeithFarrell
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