Equipment - The Society for the Study of Swordsmanship



We prefer to give our students a great deal of freedom to choose what they want to do, but obviously there are some safety and conduct rules.

All you need to start fencing is clothing and footwear suitable to play sports in, which leaves no bare skin when a fencing mask and gloves are added. This is important since blades can become burred along the edges, which will cut or tear bare skin even if the blade itself has no cutting edge.

The club has small quantities of equipment for loan during sessions; there is no need to buy specialist safety equipment until you are sure you want to pursue historical fencing. A full set of kit includes the following items.


Footwear should be sensible and not prone to slipping. Thin-soled ‘indoor’ trainers such as squash shoes (or even fencing shoes!) are better than thick soled running shoes, but the difference is not enormous.



Legs should be completely covered by (at the least) trousers, jog pants or the like. Fencing breeches offer better protection from a broken blade, but must be worn with socks that cover the rest of the leg and stay up. Strikes to the lower leg are rare in most systems we teach but they do happen, and not always deliberately. Additional leg protection such as shin guards are used in some historical fencing systems but are not necessary for most of our activities.

Torso and Arms

Torso and Arms should be completely covered by a long-sleeved top at the very least. Students are strongly encouraged to obtain a fencing jacket; there are some activities that cannot be permitted without this level of protection. However, it is not necessary to conform to the FIE rules for modern Olympic fencing equipment – our requirements are somewhat different. A fencing jacket should be white for non-instructors.

Additional torso protection in the form or rigid or padded impact protection for the ribs area is required for freeplay. Various equipment is available, some specifically for fencing and some for other sports. Opinions vary as to what is best; it is worth consulting the instructors before buying kit.

Additional forearm/elbow protection is necessary for heavy cutting weapons such as the backsword or sabre. Skateboard or BMX equipment is very suitable, though there are other options too.

Both hands need to be covered by gloves, which should have a gauntlet long enough to cover the end of the sleeve to prevent a blade from entering. Soft gloves are entirely suitable for some weapons such as smallsword, but the additional protection of armoured gloves is advisable for heavier blades. These are available for a variety of applications ranging from security to sports such as lacrosse.


Head protection is provided by a fencing mask. Inserts are available to protect the back of the head and neck, but these are not necessary for most activities.


Historical fencing has different safety requirements to modern Olympic fencing for various reasons, mainly the way attacks are made and the fact that the thin blades used in Olympic fencing pose a greater hazard if they break. It is not necessary that historical fencing equipment conforms to current international Olympic fencing tournament standards, but it must meet the requirements of historical fencing.

Most commercially available fencing equipment meets or exceeds our requirements, but historical fencing does require additional impact protection and a glove for each hand. Additional equipment is sometimes required for some weapons and in tournament situations.

Join Us

Our classes are every Wednesday, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. If you would like to join us, please contact us.

You can find us at the Penshaw Community Association, in Penshaw, just off the A19.