Is Anne holding a sword? Yes, she is!

I’ll bet some of you aren’t all that surprised, particularly those of you who’ve read In Pursuit of Dragons. It’s true, I’ve eyed the beautiful swords hanging on various walls for years now. On my honeymoon, the one item we purchased was a Toledo sword. We then went on to have two boys… with an interest in fencing. Both of them wield sabers.

Cool, but what about those historic swords I so loved? I really wanted to try using them – as they were meant to be used. For a while, I hunted online, locating classes that taught traditional sword-fighting lessons, but all were too far away. Or so I thought. A recent search turned up a group near us… and beginning classes started November 5th. I quickly set about convincing my family (it wasn’t hard) to come with me to German longsword lessons.


That’s the beginning point for all members of this club: martial arts training, focusing on bio-mechanics, footwork, and cuts using the German longsword. Here I’m holding a practice sword weighted to match that of the real thing. You could certainly do some damage swinging this thing at a person, but it’s at least blunt. Our instructors and the more advanced members of the Maryland Kunst des Fechtens have metal practice swords, but they certainly don’t want to place those in our beginner hands. 

When we arrived, I was stunned to find a class of some 25 students! They put us right to work, learning footwork and the basic ways to hold the longsword. We’ve moved on to learning a variety of cuts and, last week, we begin to combine the various moves. We’re in muscle memory learning phase here. Which is a nice way to say they show us a form and we repeat and/or hold it until our muscles burn and give out. 


Meanwhile, off to the side, is the more advanced class. They’re wearing helmets, gloves and padding and swinging at each other with metal swords. And when that class is done, the instructors pad up and have at each other. When their fights grow serious, it’s hard for this beginner not to stop her drills and stare in amazement.

While my teenage boys and husband are giddy with glee about the not-so-distant beginner’s tournament – where they’ll finally be allowed to smack at each other and the advanced class – with swords, I’m perhaps a little less enthused about being beaten up. Those guys over there? They’re not holding back. It’s fascinating to watch. But participate?

Have you tried sword fighting? Taken a class? Email me, I’d love to hear about it.

Stay tuned!


For those of you who might be interested, here’s a link to the central Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) site where you can search for classes near you.

Curious about where one buys training gear? Here’s where we picked up our plastic swords: Purpleheart Armoury. You can also buy the textbook (we did) Sword Fighting: An Introduction to Handling a Long Sword for actual use and/or curiosity’s sake.

About Anne

Though USA TODAY bestselling author Anne Renwick holds a Ph.D. in biology and greatly enjoyed tormenting the overburdened undergraduates who were her students, fiction has always been her first love. Today, she writes steampunk romance, placing a new kind of biotech in the hands of mad scientists, proper young ladies and determined villains.

Anne brings an unusual perspective to steampunk. A number of years spent locked inside the bowels of a biological research facility left her permanently altered. In her steampunk world, the Victorian fascination with all things anatomical led to a number of alarming biotechnological advances. Ones that the enemies of Britain would dearly love to possess.

To chat with Anne, stop by on Facebook or join the Department of Cryptobiology Facebook group. You can also join her newsletter list to have cover reveals, sneak peaks, sales and giveaways delivered straight to your inbox.

1 Comment

  1. Lenka Vargova

    Hi there! I did sword fighting with the longsword as well, for about 5 years, but I also never felt like going to a tournament. But I do like dressing up in period clothes for various reenactions that we did as a group 🙂 Now I switched to historical archery which is quite fun as well, though I´d like to get back to fencing at some point again.
    Anyway, enjoy and have a nice holidays!

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