The rapier is a type of sword used in the 16th and 17th centuries. While this weapon could still be used to cut, it generally had a longer and thinner blade, putting more emphasis on the thrust. It normally also made use of complex hilts, giving greater protection to the hand than swords of previous centuries. The blade was often significantly longer as well, allowing fencers to fight their opponent from a greater distance.
The rapier was also often paired with a secondary weapon in the off hand, such as daggers, capes, or even a second rapier, which would all give a fencer far more versatility, while training one’s ability to co-ordinate both hands. The off-hand was also often left empty, and when it was, it could also be used in combat to grapple and disarm the opponent.
In our rapier classes in Glasgow, we train in German and Dutch styles of the 1600s, which belong within the Italian tradition of rapier. The Italian rapier style was very popular, as it spread to many other areas in Europe, with local styles evolving from earlier Italian teachings.
In rapier fencing, the emphasis is on controlling the centre-line, keeping yourself safe by positioning your sword so that the opponent cannot easily land a thrust on you. The opponent will also try to do this to do to stop you from being able to attack them, so you must also be to trick and to out-manoeuvre your opponent, making rapier fencing much like physical chess.
Feel free to come along to one of our regular weekly classes and have a go, or even sit and watch a session to see if it would be of interest to you. Send us an email if you would like to ask us any questions beforehand, or just swing by and speak to the instructor on the night.