Sword Show 2002 - Las Vegas  

This weekend in Las Vegas we had the pleasure of attending the Sword Show 2002 hosted by CAS Iberia (CASI), as well as the Museum Replica’s Limited (MRL) arms and armor show.  We saw a lot of swords.  ARMA was on hand to preview what was coming out, what new develops were in store, and to help express the historical fencing community’s interest as well as consult on desirable elements in good blades, hilts, and weapons for training, drilling, or test cutting.  

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Paul Chen showing Anthony Indurante a new CASI two-hander

vegasstudyday1.JPG (46241 bytes)Earlier, in the morning ARMA Director John Clements gave a sword study day for 5 local practitioners and ARMA member, Anthony Indurate.  We had a good time in the clear desert air going over foundational elements for long-sword of the Medieval German school and aspects of Italian masters.   We covered guards, stances, cuts, cutting exercises, the three ways of cutting, the three ranges, the three times of attacking, footwork, basic concepts, and techniques, plus some half-swording and entering actions.   It was a pleasure to introduce such serious enthusiasts to the sophistication and effectiveness of the historical techniques and principles and show something of what the ARMA method of training consists of.  (It also happened to be John's 37th birthday and all he got was a few brusied knuckles).

Saturday evening at the MRL suite we met with their chief designer, Bruce Brookhart, and talked about new pieces and what elements the historical fencing community was looking for in pieces.  Bruce was able to tell us a good deal about the selection and design process of how a piece makes it from conception to catalog.  We were able to see several new swords coming from MRL, including a splendid Medieval estoc --the original historical piece which I have had chance to play with in the past.   The replica was especially light, and would even make a perfect extra long rapier ala’ Camillo Agrippa’s 1553 text. We also saw a very nice type XV arming sword inspired by Oakeshott’s own personal favorite piece. It was an especially stiff blade with a distinctly high riser.  There was also a new Bastard sword that was very promising.  vegasstudyday3.JPG (82295 bytes)









John demonstrates a longsword technique
from the 15th century Codex wallerstein text.


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Inspecting a long CAS Iberia foiled rapier.

The shows were an excellent opportunity to see the latest forthcoming pieces from leading sword manufacturers and to talk directly with them about the needs of the historical fencing community as well as the increasing awareness among sword consumers of historical accuracy and desirable sword attributes.   We were able to discussed a range of issues from the need for quality hilts and handles, the need for good training weapons as well as sharps, and the interest in more obscure sword forms such as messers, dussacks, estocs, and small-swords. We of course saw several prototype swords that seemed very promising (but until you get your hands on a production copy, it’s best not to say anything). 

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MRL's new
short sword

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A nice
bastard sword.
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A replica Estoc
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The Maciejowski

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Local sword fans chat
about blade making

show.jpg (36086 bytes)CAS Iberia had several impressive new Hanwei pieces, including a unique basket-hilt Scottish backsword training blade made extra thick to take practice abuse yet surprisingly light and very well balanced.   Such as weapon holds promise for future training blades of other sword types.  A Renaissance two-hander CASI had was the best balanced replicas of such a weapon I personally have yet seen.  CASI also had two excellent foiled rapier blades ---ones with blunted metal tips, and which were not flexi-rapiers but stiffer training weapons.  Their weight and balance was very good.  We were excited by these and welcome the development as we are transitioning in ARMA away from flexible rapiers due to disappointment in their performance and the lack of historical precedent for their use in the Renaissance.  Because the blades will also be offered alone, it will allow students to have them custom hilted by their favorite cutler. 

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acero.jpg (34381 bytes)The high performance knife company, Cold Steel, was also on hand with some of their new line of swords.  They plan an ambitious line with several promising pieces. We also has a brief chance to chat with their rep, Robert Vaughn, who practices with the infamous Dog Brothers.  James Williams of Bugei, a sword enthusiast and martial artist always fascinating to talk to, was also available.  We also met the proprietors of “By The Sword” out of Ft. Myers Florida, and local sword maker Ken Haren of Grendel’s arm in Las Vegas.  We encountered representatives of a new company, Acero Teldano, offering costume swords and prop weapons, but also telling us they have an interest in offering training blades. We’ll keep an eye on developments.   Other pieces on display were from the Valiant line as well as others from Depeeka.  

We’re unable to say when any of the swords we examined or previewed will be available or what price ranges they’ll be in, except expect them sometime in the next 6 months somewhere around the usual costs. 

On another note, we learned that at least one company, no names please, it seemed made the decision to make blades to meet lowest common denominator interest, in other words, appealing to the ignorance of consumers rather than trying to educate them into what are the true historical attributes of real swords and why such replicas would be desirable to have.  Instead of making more accurate weapons, which they certainly know how to do and are capable of, they now are making blades to meet what a fickle portion of the current market “thinks” it wants in a sword. This is a discouraging development and as community leaders we made our opinion known.  

On the positive side, we saw improvements in wares over the 2000 show, noted the continuing decline of "wallhangers", and spending time chatting with fellow sword enthusiasts and knowledgeable manufacturers was very useful.  Having them listen to our opinions on the needs of the historical fencing and the quality of pieces was certainly beneficial.  We look forward to what will be offered in coming months. 


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