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SCA Rapier Dueling - Learn How to Swordfight like a Musketeer
Wesley AKA - The Man In Black
Rapier Fencing around the U.S.
The Princess Bride on Blu-Ray
If you're like me and have watched Princess Bride at least a dozen times, this article is about a sport you I'm sure you will enjoy. The art of dueling with swords is not lost. In fact, it is very healthy with probably 10,000 or more active enthusiasts throughout the world. I'm not talking about Olympic fencing in little white jackets. The swords we use are called rapiers and they are much larger and fancier than what Olympic fencers use. There are several terms for the sport including Western Martial Arts, Rapier Fighting, SCA Rapier, and Elizabethan Rapier.
What's cool about the sport is you get to fight in the garb of the time period. You actually get to dress up like a musketeer, or Captain Jack Sparrow or The Dread Pirate Roberts if you like. The following Youtube video is a great example of rapier fighting in action:
The rapier is a long, slender sword that flourished towards the end of the 16th century and well into the 17th century. The Three Musketeers movies are great examples rapiers in action. The Duel in The Princess Bride is probably one of the most famous rapier duels in movie history and in that duel, Wesley and Inigo Montoya face each other with swept-hilt rapiers.
In the long gone age of musketeers and pirates, the rapier was the primary dueling sword for nobles, soldiers and cavaliers. Today, rapier enthusiasts duel with the same type of swords. The only differences are the edges aren't sharp and the tip is blunted. This prevents combatants from going away with serious wounds.
The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) hosts numerous tournaments all over the world where rapier enthusiasts dress the part as noblemen and women from the 16th and 17th Century and compete in sword fighting competitions and large melees. Each year in August at a place called Coopers Lake in Pennsylvania, approximately 12,000 people gather for two weeks to compete in sword fighting duels, wars and competitions. There are many other exciting things to do there as well like archery and medieval armored combat.
What's great about this particular martial art, is that it is happening in nearly every large city in the U.S. and in many towns across the U.S as well. So, there is no shortage of qualified teachers to help you learn. The best part about it is lessons are free. And, many instructors have free loaner gear, so you can try before you buy. In the SCA, fencing masters don't charge to to teach students. So, once you decide you want to learn, it doesn't cost much to get your own gear. Equipment costs can be less than $500 and in most cases, and most instructors will continue to provide you with loaner gear as you get your own equipment piece by piece.
The Society for Creative Anachronism http://sca.org/ website is a great place to go and see where different fencing groups and schools are located. There, you will learn many things about the organization and find an instructor near you. If you belong to Facebook, you can go to the group "Band of the Black Tigers" and the leaders will help you find an instructor as well.
Mastering this art, like anything, isn't easy, but it is a very fun journey. If you think you might be interested, go to the above website, or say hello on our Facebook group.
Here are a couple of free Ebooks on the subject from my fencing school, The Black Tiger Rapier Academie: