Quote:

The Fencing guys where a face mask to protect the face, but are mostly armorless otherwise. The kendo folks where somewhat more armor.




It should be pointed out that the jackets worn by fencers are actually made with ballistic cloth of various materials (heavy canvas, nylon, & kevlar) that gives a specific amount of penetration protection (measured in newtons). The reason for this is that swords do break in fencing (repeated beats and parries will eventually ruin the temper of any blade, though it usually takes a very long time for this to happen). With a broken blade, a fencer suddenly has a real sword in his hands, and that can be lethal. Fencers have been killed in practice and competition because of this. The masks of today are also of a heavier wire mesh than they used to be.

So, in the final analysis, fencing is actually the only existing established combat sport or martial art which involves bouting with actual steel weapons (as opposed to mock swords made of wood, bamboo, or rattan). The lack of rigid armor is therefore somewhat deceiving.

And it's interesting to note that a 3-weapon fencing mask actually gives considerably more impact protection to the top and sides of the head than a kendo mask does (the fencing mask has a rigid frame of steel bars and wire, whereas the sides and top of a kendo mask are merely heavy cloth).


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And the rapier blades, being so narrow and of so small substance, and made of a very hard temper to fight in private frays... do presently break and so become unprofitable. --Sir John Smythe, 1590