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Ultimate Fighting Equipment
for Full Contact

Swordfighting Tournaments.

If you want the ultimate fighting equipment for a future full contact swordfighting tournament, this page is a good place to start. Don't think you can leave it until a month before the event. Some of this gear takes a long time to make and if you're not making your own, your place in the waiting list might be a year from the top. Start now. Even if you are not sure you'll be ready to enter the ultimate fighting tournament in a year, there's no harm in aiming towards it by gathering equipment. If you change your mind about entering, you'll get your money back by selling the gear.

Ultimate fighting equipment for swordsmanship

What you need for a full contact Chinese swordfighting tournament.

  • Helmet
  • Gloves
  • Gambeson
  • Wooden sword
  • Other protective gear

Ultimate Fighting Helmet

Since this is the most vital piece of equipment for your tournament, I suggest you begin with resolving the question of which helmet to buy. There is a page here on the best helmet. Check it out. Most of the contestants in the 2009 Traditional Chinese Sword League Tournament, wore the Philippino martial arts mask. I'm not going to recommend it as the best. When wearing these masks, it is still possible to be hit hard enough with a wooden sword to be knocked out. Even a headache might spoil your next bout. Most wore them because they are the best easily available option and only cost $100.

Click on the thumbnails for a closer view of the helmets we used.

 Ultimate fighting gear swordfighting masks
Philippino masks

 ultimate fighting gear for sword tournaments helmet
Terry Tyndal helmet

ultimate fighting helmet squire

My suggestion for a step up on that, is the Terry Tyndal steel mask. I wore one in the tournament and was completely unaware of any hits to the head. I wore modified football head padding underneath for a snug fit and extra padding. The mask was easy to see through and there was no chance of a sword going through the grille.I'm suggesting this as the ultimate fighting helmet from the presently available choices. If you want one, it might take a year to get to the top of Terry's list, so put yourself on it now. You can always withdraw if you find something better before your turn. Another drawback is that it's difficult to do up when dressed in a thick gambeson. I had a squire to help me on the platform.

My suggestion for the future is to find someone who is already good at reproducing "antique" Chinese helmets, and buy from him. You know the kind. Or find an armourer. The helmet is probably going to be your most expensive piece of gear, unless you're happy with the Philippino mask.

Ultimate Fighting Gloves

ultimate fighting gloves

So far we have not found anything perfect for full contact Chinese swordfighting tournaments. Cricket gloves expose the base of the thumb. Mitten type gauntlets with maille on the back do not afford the correct grip for jian swordsmanship. Lacrosse gloves are the best we've found so far, as long as you get the ones with padding along the inside of the index finger, or modify for that protection.

The ultimate fighting gloves for our art would be lacrosse style gloves with hard plastic shells over all of the finger pads. Lacrosse gloves have good wrist flexibility and fairly good padding. It still wasn't enough to protect the top of my index finger from ligament damage that felt as bad as a break and needed therapy afterwards to regain usefulness.

These gloves with knuckle caps are getting close to what we need. My gloves were less than $30 though. It seems expensive for the added protection that still isn't quite right. The caps need to protect the finger bones as well, not just the knuckles. If anyone reading this finds a better glove, please use the contact form and let us know. If there is a company willing to donate a pair of gloves for testing, I'd be very happy to do it for you.

What You Need in Body Armour

Take a look at these pictures for the ultimate fighting equipment we've found useful so far. You will need a gambeson for body protection. If this is made in Chinese style, a tasset completes the outfit and gives excellent protection for the legs, as well as doubling lower belly and groin protection.

 Ultimate fighting gear Heenan gambesons
Heenan Gambesons

 ultimate fighting gear for sword tournaments gambesons
Tiko Gambesons

ultimate fighting gambesons
Schmidt Gambeson

The gambeson needs to be thicker than the standard European reenactment gear, which is made to be worn under maille. Remember it has to protect you from a powerful, full speed strike with a heavy wooden sword. Lay a piece of the material over your arm and have someone whallop you with your practise sword, to see if you've got it right. If you're not prepared to do that, your gambeson isn't thick enough. I received some solid hits during this year's tournament, and there are no bruises.

My recipie for a good gambeson: The thicknes of five woolen blankets over most of it, plus inner and outer lining. Mine had brass studs as well. These are surprisingly protective, although they were only intended as decoration.

Since a gambeson can take 100 hours or more to make properly, start working on it as soon as possible. If you are entering the TCSL tournament, it can't be in black or a very dark colour. This is against the rules because it makes judging strikes more difficult.

The Best Wooden Swords

I used a Graham Cave Tiger's Den Jian site opening soon. These come in oak or hickory. I used an oak one but would prefer hickory as it is less likely to develop splinters. I found the Tiger's Den jian to have excellent balance and require no adjustment in my style. It was perfect from the moment I picked it up but it belonged to my teacher so I had to hand it back after the tournament. Tiger's Den jian below

ultimate fighting gear Tigers Den jian

I also used a Raven studios dao. This was very easy to fight with. Mine was made with the double thickness of guard, a broad enough blade for tournament regulations, and a custom pommel. I had the niuweidao hilt made on the liuyedao blade. I like this sword very much. Raven Studios Dao below

ultimate fighting gear Raven Studioes liuyedao

It was also my intention to test my favourite Tony Mosen sword in the tournament but didn't like the chances of the lighter jarrah surviving against hickory at such speed. Instead, I kept it for the seminar the following day. I nearly always use Tony's Australian made swords in daily training and find them a delight to train with.

Other Protective Gear

The ultimate fighting equipment for a Chinese swordfighting tournament makes groin protection a required item.

Chest protection is not compulsory for women, but my opinion as a woman is that this is as important to us as groin protection is for a man. I wore plasic slip in cups at the tournament and didn't feel the two thrusts that made it straight to my chest.

Many of the contestants, particularly the ones without tassets, wore shin and knee protection as well. this is a matter of choice and not compulsory.

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