Basic Training Clothing

The following is required of all students:

  • Clothing suitable for training ie t-shirt and shorts or trackpants or yoga pants
  • Non marking sports shoe – a light flexible sole shoe designed for court use such as indoor soccer shoes or squash shoes are ideal.
  • Leather gloves, such as TIG welding gloves, rose pruning gloves or riggers gloves

Basic Protective Equipment

Although we attempt to make it as easy as possible for students to participate in classes, European Swordsmanship does require a certain amount of equipment. The following is a list of gear you should aim to acquire, in order of importance:

  • Fencing Mask, to protect your head, face and eyes from injury during drills and bouting
  • Groin protection for men and breast protection for women
  • Gorget, to protect your throat from impact / crush injuries during drills and bouting (thrusting systems especially)
  • Vambraces &/or Elbow pads, to protect your forearm and elbow from injury
  • Torso padding, to minimise the bruising and injury from hits to the body during drills and bouting
  • Knee pads, to protect the knee joint from accidental injury during bouting

Basic Starter Kit

For the Stoccata branches in Sydney we offer the following basic starter kit, sourced from Absolute Fencing Gear with whom we have a club discount:

  • Absolute 3-W Coach Mask with Extra Padding (~$140)
  • Absolute Proflex Vest (~$110)
  • AF HEMA Forearm Protector (~$70)

We also recommend you add either one of the AF cotton fencing jackets (~$85) or the AF fencing coach jacket (~$ to help prevent minor cuts and abrasions to the upper arms, which can occur during drills and bouting. The basic starter kit is ~$320 to purchase (depending on the USD exchange rate), and the extra fencing jacket is another $85-$120 depending on the style of jacket you choose.

Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497, to purchase the basic starter kit, or to discuss purchasing equipment from Absolute Fencing Gear using the club discount.

Protective Equipment Recommendations

Head & Face Protection

The minimum requirement for head and fence protection is a basic fencing mask. Any modern fencing mask designed for foil, epee or sabre is suitable for our needs. However due to the heavier blades we use we also recommend additional padding over the mask such as a fencing coaches mask cover to reduce the impact to the head, and extend the life of a basic fencing mask. All of the modern fencing equipment suppliers sell a decent coaches mask cover, which you can use to upgrade a standard fencing mask. Some suppliers are now making a specialist HEMA mask cover with integral back of the head protection. There are also manufacturers producing steel masks and helmets designed for WMA / HEMA competitions, which are also highly recommended for bouting with steel blades.

Recommended Suppliers:

Groin and Breast Protection

For men a standard groin protector is highly recommended. The standard martial arts box has been found to be superior to the standard cricket box. These can be purchased at most martial arts stores, and some of the better sporting goods stores. The best support garment however is the cricket underwear with integral box support available from good sporting goods stores.

For women, breast protection is highly recommended. Rigid breat protection is available as a one or 2 piece plastic plastron, which while effective can limit arm movement, and may lead to repetitive use injury in the elbows.

The recommended breast protection is the Cool Guard range, particularly the Cool Guard Super
( range of protectors, all of which meet the requirements of EN13277/ part 6 – Protective Equipment for martial arts, and have CE certification. They are available from the manufacturer in New Zealand or from martial arts stores. Unlike the hard plastic breast protectors, these ones are made from reactive polyurethane foam, and are rated suitable of repetitive impacts, unlike the rigid plastic ones which are rated only incidental impact. Female students have also noted that these are far more comfortable than the rigid plastic ones because they feel just like wearing a padded bra.

Throat & Neck Protection

The throat and neck is particularly vulnerable to crush and impact injury. Extra protection under the mask bib is highly recommended, especially for thrust orientated systems such as rapier or small sword. The minimum recommendation is the HEMA specific padding, however any of the rigid material gorgets designed for SCA / HEMA fencing are the preferred option.

Recommended Suppliers:

Hand protection

For basic drilling work and shinai bouting, commonly available leather gloves are suitable for our purposes. The hands and fingers are particularly vulnerable to incidental impacts during bouting with steel blades, and a basket hilted or swept hilt sword is recommended to prevent these impacts. The back of the hand and wrist bones are still vulnerable to incidental impact with one of these swords, so the use of extra padding or rigid demi-gauntlet is recommended when bouting with steel blades.

If a simpler hilt form is being used, use of superior hand protection is recommended. Options in increasing levels of protection are cricket batting gloves, padded lacrosse gloves, HEMA specific padded gloves, or rigid material gauntlets. Whilst the various padded gloves listed do work, they still leave gaps which a steel sword may hit into causing a finger injury. For this reason rigid material gauntlets are highly recommended for longsword and quarterstaff bouting.

Rigger’s gloves can be purchased from most hardware stores. Rose pruning gloves, which have a longer cuff, can be sourced from any good nursery.

TIG welding gloves, in either short cuff or long cuff variants can be sourced from a welding supply store. Long cuff leather gloves can be sourced from costume or reeenactor supply stores, and lightly padded variants can be sourced from fencing equipment suppliers.

Cricket batting gloves can be sourced from any sporting goods store. Look for ones with the smallest gaps over the knuckles. Note that these gloves do not give any wrist protection, and most models only pad the leading thumb, leaving the rear thumb vulnerable to injury. Lacrosse gloves can be sourced online locally or from the US. HEMA specific padded gloves can be sourced from the suppliers listed below. Both of these two types provide better coverage, but can still be hit through the small gaps of the padding that allow for finger movement. (It’s rare but we have seen it happen!)

Rigid material gauntlets typically come in either a fingered glove or clamshell design. The clamshell designs work best with longsword and polearms, and the fingered gloves can also work with complex-hilt swords. The Kydex gauntlets from Windrose are our current preferred option for two handed weapons use.

Recommended Suppliers:

  • Windrose Armoury – – stock a medium padded glove, and the excellent kydex “Egg Armor” clamshell gauntlets, and steel clamshell gauntlets
  • Absolute Fencing Gear – – HEMA specific clamshell gauntlet design with rigid plastics inserts and padding. Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497 / to make use of the club discount
  • Red Dragon Armoury – – make a HEMA specific heavily padded glove with integral rigid plastic plates
  • WMA Shop – – local specialist HEMA supplier retailing a semi-rigid padded glove design
  • SPES – – have a light fencing glove, and a rigid clamshell gauntlet. Also stock rigid fingertip protectors that can be added to most gloves
  • Esford – – Stock a number of affordable replica steel gauntlets in fingered and clamshell designs
  • Medieval Fightclub – – Stock a number of leather gauntlet gloves, the Red Dragon HEMA glove and a range of affordable replica steel gauntlets in fingered and clamshell designs

Forearm and Elbow protection

Forearm and elbow protection is imperative, as they are easily hit causing painful injuries and bruising. Basic protection can be provided by an integral padded sleeve on the gamebson / padded fencing jacket. However, extra protection in the form of a vambrace or vambrace and elbow cup combination is recommended.

Vambraces can be made from thick leather, or from thinner leather or similar material splinted with steel or high impact plastic strips. Ask one of the Provosts for help.

Several options are also available for purchase ranging from HEMA specific designs to replica leather and steel arm armour. Leather bazuband designs provide excellent forearm and elbow protection.

Recommended Suppliers:

Torso Armour

Light bouting with shinai-backswords can be carried out in little more than a fencing mask, however elbow and knee pads and a groin protector for men and breast protection for women are recommended. However, some form of body armour is necessary for steel bouting. This can be a padded garment like a gambeson, a coat-of-plates or jack, a thick leather buff-coat, or mail, lamellar or scale armour. Some armour is available commercially, made for re-enactment, HEMA or other sporting purposes, but padded / quilted armour is also fairly easily made.

Instructions for making one light but highly protective form of armour can be found our Articles section but there are many alternatives. Ask a Provost for suggestions.

All of the modern HEMA specific jackets have been found to work well, as well as most of the replica gambesons for reenactors. A modern cotton fencing jacket coupled with a brigandine or coaches plastron has also been found to work well. An additional layer of protection can be gained by wearing a light mail shirt under your armour, or (in summer) in place of your armour! They can be found at Ringmesh

Recommended Suppliers:

  • Absolute Fencing Gear – – HEMA specific padded fencing jacket, and economical padded coaches vests. Contact Provost Richard Cullinan (0407 917 497 / to make use of the club discount
  • SPES – – A range of various HEMA padded jacket designs that have proved to work very well
  • Medieval Fightclub – – Stock a number of range of replica gambesons for reenactors. Take the time to visit and try on for size try as sizing / design can be odd. They also have a range of lamellar and coat of plate options. The recommended gambeson options are the Short Sleeve Gambeson or one of the many gamboised Jupons available in several colour combinations. For the rigid armour options there is the Visby Coat of Plates in 1.2 mm steel or the Visby Coat of Plates in 1.6 mm steel or the Long Visby Coat of Plates.
  • PBT Historical Fencing – – Reasonable padded fencing style jacket design
  • Zen Warrior Armory – – Make a quality heavy cotton classical fencing jacket suitable for thrust orientated systems
  • Medieval Shoppe – – All padded armour is inevitably hot to wear, especially in the Australian climate. This natural fibre gambeson has open armpits, while remaining heavy enough for good protection.

Knee Armour

Regular sporting or skate knee pads do well, but don’t really cover the side of the knee where more hits occur. Shin and knee protectors designed for use with whippersnippers have proved very effective and affordable. Other options such as motocross knee protection are also available, and a HEMA specific knee protector is available from Red Dragon. Knee cops made for reenactors also work well, and are available in rigid plastic, leather or steel.