Our students, friends, and colleagues often ask us what kind of equipment we use and where we purchased it from. The following products are suggested by us because we like them, have used them, and have had positive interactions with their sellers.
Choosing safety equipment and sparring gear is a bit like purchasing a pair of shoes – one size does not fit all and what is comfortable and safe for one person may not be for another. These products have worked for many of our coaches and students but we do not officially endorse or guarantee the safety of any of the products below.
For a list of equipment required to participate in class, please click the button below.
Where & What to Buy
Remember: Participating in martial arts and fencing activities comes with risk, and no amount of protective equipment will keep you safe in all circumstances, especially when fencing with someone outside the boundaries and supervision of San Diego Longsword class meetings (such as HEMA tournaments, living history events, or LARP games).
We do not guarantee the safety of any of the products below. These products have worked for our staff and students in the past, and meet our minimum safety requirements. Use your best judgement to determine the level of safety you personally require. You are the one responsible for your own safety, so you must be responsible for the selection and maintenance of your safety equipment.
Do You Have Safety Equipment I Can Borrow?
Out of concern for the health and well-being of our members, San Diego Longsword does not offer loaner safety equipment, with the exception of synthetic swords used in our Introduction and Core Concepts classes. Masks, gloves, and other gear worn by multiple (sweaty!) people is a haven for bacteria, fungus, and nasty "locker room stink." This is not a COVID-specific issue, though preventing the spread of COVID (as well as cold and flu germs) is certainly among our sanitary concerns.
All of this is why we encourage (and require) our fencers to buy and maintain their own safety gear from the start. Let's share the joy of sword fighting and keep our germs to ourselves!
What Equipment Do I Need To Buy/Bring For My Classes?
Required equipment for our longsword classes is as follows:
Introduction to Fencing with the German Longsword (or "Longsword 101") four-week intro course
- No equipment is required, we provide "loaner" training swords (although if you have a blunt longsword of your own, you may use it in this training course with instructor approval).
Core Concepts in German Longsword, Sundays at 1 pm
- Fencing mask
- HEMA mask overlay (for standard fencing masks)
- Gorget/throat guard
- Protective gloves
- Closed toe athletic shoes or leather turn shoes (non-marking soles are required on all shoes; hiking boots, army boots, and sandals are not allowed on the fencing floor)
- Gender specific groin protection
Intermediate/Advanced German Longsword, Sundays at 2:30 pm
All of the above "Core Concepts" protective equipment, plus:
- HEMA jacket or gambeson
- Instructor-approved training longsword (by the time you reach this level of experience, you should have, or at least be in the process of acquiring, your own training/sparring sword)
Any Open Floor Training Time, e.g. Thursdays 5 to 6:30 pm; Sundays after 3:30 pm
For open-floor training, the equipment you use must be matched to the activity you are doing:
- Solo training/mirror work can be done with no protective equipment;
- Controlled partner training can be done with Core Concepts level protective equipment;
- Any sparring/free play requires full protective gear, as delineated in our club sparring guide
A standard "dry" or "epee/three weapon" fencing mask (with a protective HEMA overlay) is standard head protection for longsword fencing. We suggest purchasing your fencing mask from our host clubs LionHeart Academy or Team Touche Fencing where a team member can help you fit the mask appropriately. Their pricing is competitive with other retailers. Call the club to make an appointment. (The Lionheart Pro Shop is generally not open on Sundays)
These semi-custom steel masks offer superior head protection (compared to a fencing mask) but can be a little finicky to get fitted. Also, because these are not "off the rack," the waiting time to get one can be much longer than a commercial fencing mask.
Wukusi helmets are heavily modified fencing masks, designed to provide significantly more protection against head strikes than a standard fencing mask with HEMA overlay. Although some complain they are "bulky and oversized," we recommend them for fencers who are concerned about the concussive force of sword blows.
A mask overlay that provides back of the head and throat protection, and extra padding for your mask. Order "one size up" for your mask (e.g., order a L overlay if you have a M mask).
Affordable mask overlay with hard back-of-head and throat panels. Measure the dimensions of your mask carefully.
The Red Dragon Gorget provides adequate hard throat protection and is a cost effective option. These are appropriate for modern HEMA tournaments (always confirm a tournament's equipment requirements before entering).
Leather and steel gorgets. These are good throat protectors for those who are interested in having a fencing kit with a more "historical-ish" appearance. (Be aware: These gorgets may not be approved for use in some HEMA sport tournaments.)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if listed as out of stock. Gorgets can be made to order.
Our recommended glove for "in club" longsword sparring. These gloves offer moderate hand protection along with a minimalist "low bulk" design. While probably too light for HEMA sport activity, these gloves work very well for our training and free play activities.
The Red Dragon Gloves have the benefit of being easily available (i.e., they do not require shipping from Europe) and providing decent protection and dexterity (many fencers prefer the individual-finger design). Although generally seen as "too light" for sport HEMA activities, these gloves are acceptable for all in-class longsword activities. (They may require a bit of use to break in for comfortable wear.)
Mitten-style HEMA gloves for heavy-contact fencing. These gloves should be acceptable at any HEMA sport tournament. Like any true HEMA glove, this level of protection comes with a sacrifice of mobility and significant added weight. But these gloves are the best we've found for those who want maximum protection, and/or want a glove that will allow them to take part in HEMA tournaments.
Fencers who want a bit more finger dexterity may choose these kevlar reinforced gloves for fencing.
Warning: These gloves offer very light protection, even in controlled ("light contact") longsword fencing. We do not recommend these for "first time" fencers. And for those who choose to fence in gloves of this design, additional fingertip protection of some sort is a requirement (see the adjacent listing for fingertip protectors). However, for experienced fencers who are fully aware of the risks involved in using light-protection gloves, these can be a more satisfying means of achieving hand protection than bulky gauntlets and "hockey"-style gloves.
These are for use with lighter gloves. We have found that gluing them on the exterior of the glove provides added protection without stretching out the glove. We strongly advise against gloves with less protection than the Red Dragons (listed above). But for experienced fencers who choose lighter gloves, you are required to have hardened finger tip protection.
A high quality HEMA jacket (acceptable in most sport tournaments; appropriate for rigorous sparring) that mimics the style of a historical gambeson/arming coat. A great choice for fencers who want a highly protective jacket that will look "right" at historical demonstrations and public presentations.
Modern HEMA jackets that are appropriate for our purposes. We recommend these instead of a quilted gambeson or arming coat if you plan to participate in HEMA events outside of our club.
Custom made historical garment with breathable linen. Appropriate for reenactment and can be used with 14th century armor.
Contact Yefimova Nataliya, via facebook messenger, for questions and purchases
Gentlemen, you are required to wear a sports cup on the fencing floor. The brand/design is up to you. This is one option that provides solid protection.
Groin protection for female fencers is also a requirement. The brand etc is up to you. Unfortunately, "lady cups" are harder to find than men's models. However, here is one option.
Generally, the gambeson should be enough to protect the breast, however, on occasion a thrust may hit a more sensitive area. If you are concerned, these may be helpful.
We recommend "minimalist" style athletic shoes as fencing footwear, as thickly soled running shoes are not well designed for the intricate movements of fencing, and can actually increase the risk of ankle injury. Vivo shoes have almost no footbed padding, and work well for HEMA fencing, but wrestling, trail running, and even sport fencing shoes are also good choices for HEMA sports.
For fencers who want to have a historical appearance to their kit. These are also the shoes we wear with our armor.
The men's and women's turn shoes are exactly the same. If your'e a man and they're out of your size, just size up 1.5 sizes and buy the men's. Women, do the reverse.
or fencers who want to have a historical appearance to their kit. These are also the shoes we wear with our armor.
The men's and women's turn shoes are exactly the same. If your'e a woman and they're out of your size, just size down 1.5 sizes and buy the men's. Men, do the reverse.
If you're looking to further your studies, we recommend this introductory text on the German fighting system by our colleague, Christian Tobler.
For advanced students wishing to delve into the historical material, and begin their own "adventure" in interpreting the advice provided by one of the 15th century masters.
Longsword by Black Fencer. Loreen’s favorite sword.
Please speak with us prior to purchasing any sword.
Scott’s “go to” sword. This is a functional reproduction. The site may say it is out of stock. We suggest emailing the importer (HEMA Supplies) directly to inquire about a waiting list.
Please speak with us prior to purchasing any sword.