For training weapons right now, we are going to be using Actionflex escrima sticks and then these heavy plastic sticks from cold steel. I know a lot of people aren’t really into foam, and I understand that, but they are really great tools for practice, especially for beginners (I’ll probably get into that in another post) for the following reasons:
- Safe use of uncontrolled strikes (kind of important for Krista, as she’s an illustrator and needs her hands) We like to practice at full speed as much as possible, and these make that possible.
- Very little protection required. At most, optional mask and light gloves.
- cost effective
All that being said, I don’t consider padded weapons with no gear to be more effective than realistic weapons with gear, or vice versa. A case can be made for the strengths and weaknesses of both options, for neither perfectly simulates combat.
I purchased the hard plastic sticks rather than single sticks mainly because I was looking for something that was similar in length to the batons, but heavier than rattan. That, and they were inexpensive. These will definitely be used with the usual safety gear.
Really when it comes to gear, we are going to wear what we are comfortable with. Down the line, I will likely lower the level of safety so that I depend more on technique to avoid injury. That being said, I also have to wear enough so that Krista is comfortable striking me with full power. For example, if I decide to forego a mask with these heavy sticks, I doubt she would fully commit to head shots (unless I taunt her until she actually wants to).
Lastly, we will also be getting a pair of wooden staves and foam staves which will function on the above principles. At the moment we’re focusing on baton for a couple reasons. Firstly, it’s what we have on hand, and secondly, it’s easier to get the fundamentals right with baton and move into staff than the other way around.
PS: A little note from Krista
The question of gear in HEMA will probably be a hot button topic for years to come. While we seem to have settled into a fairly uniform look (that’s pretty slick, I might add), there will always be arguments about what works and what doesn’t. This stuff is incredibly subjective, and we all have opinions about what standards we want to see as the martial art grows. We are lucky enough to have some incredible artisans creating training weapons and sparring gear specifically for this art. The lovely people of Purpleheart Armoury and Spes come to mind.
If training with Matt has taught me one thing, it’s that even though we agree on a lot, there are still things that we have to leave up to personal choice. I prefer a slightly higher level of protection, while he likes less. At the end of the day, it’s your personal level of comfort that’s at stake, so I believe these are decisions that we need to make for ourselves.