Wearing a sword with someone's everyday attire has recently come into fashion. In the past, those wearing a sword would only have done so when about to go into battle, or on ceremonial occasions. However, times have changed and it is now considered to be acceptable and even respected.

But not everyone is the same when it comes to appearance, and so people's preferred sword types differ as well. The Spanish, for example, prefer a very long, thin blade, and, when it is in use, they hold a very close stance with the sword arm extended. We, in contrast, prefer the traditional shortsword, which is often used with a small shield, a buckler. We English do not accept or approve of the longer, thinner rapier. In fact, in Italy, "rapiere" is a derogatory term for a ridiculous weapon, and is especially unacceptable there. Even so, you must remember that there is great rivalry between our fencing schools and the Italian fencing schools; our forms differ greatly. Their bizzare manner of ripositing and parrying simultaneously is completely inefficient and much less distinguished than our way of alternating.

The best masters of our time all agree, however, that the sword alone should be sufficient for self-defense. It is also common to employ a dagger, which every man routinely carries, as a supplement to the sword. The role of the dagger is primarily defensive, used to parry thrusts.

Protective equipment is minimal, and so you must be very careful around someone who wields a dagger. If it is a student, he might fight you with hardwood staves cut to sword length: wasters or bavins. The foils used for students are unsharpened and sometimes covered in leather at the point, but were otherwise similar to their real-life counterparts. Therefore, you should not assume that someone is harmless because they are still a fencing student.

Cite: 'Fencing' at www.clarityconnect.com/webpages/ifv/noble.html