Overall length 47.5"
Blade - 36"; Pommel - 4"; Handle; 6 1/2"; cross 10"
After seven long years in development and testing, we are proud to announce the newest member of the Revival Martial Arts line, the Zugadore (our poly sparring sword). A "zugadore" was Fiore dei Liberi's word for one of his students, a "player" who studied and practiced within his l'arte d'armizare, "the art of the use of arms."
We have long attempted to find a training sword for the Western martial arts which would, in a single weapon, allow students to explore the guards, train in the plays, and spar. This proved a formidable task, however, as we tried hundreds of variations of padded, wooden, composite and poly-based trainers.
The key problem is that power is an important component of the surviving medieval sword arts. If combatants are trying to recreate these arts, then they must preserve this critical component of the art. This is no easy task, as there are only three ways it can be done: through the weapon itself, through the defensive gear or armour, or through "control." Of course, most groups use a blend of these three approaches, but each is problematic.
"Control" : Some combatants say that their most important safety factor is control, that the combatant is simply responsible for not injuring the opponent. While we believe this *is* a critical component of any sane combat training environment, simply relying on control ignores the fact that neither combatant controls the other, and that the art of combat is essentially unpredictable. A thinking opponent will from time to time act in surprising ways. So, to my mind, it is not enough to rely on control alone.
Armour: One can add defensive equipment or armour in order to protect the combatants, and this is a good practice. I strongly encourage it. However, a large percentage of combatants intersted in the Western martial arts cannot afford or do not want to commit to armour immediately. It can be shockingly expensive. More importantly, the majority of techniques preserved within the surviving treatises are shown out of armour, in medieval clothing. Adding armour for these techniques can distort the experience.
Weapon: That leaves us with the weapon itself. Many, many variations have been tried and are constantly being tried.
Padded weapons, like those used in LARPS, have the advantage of being extremely light and absorbing impact, so little or no protective gear is required. While this is great for a game environment, or for tournaments with children, these weapons have too much bounce to perform much like their historical counterparts.
Wooden weapons--commonly called "wasters"--have the firmness but are also heavy for sparring and worse, can shatter during sparring, leaving extremely dangerous shards in the hand of an aggressive opponent. Still, they are good for working through the basics and have the advantage of being priced well within the range of a casual beginner.
For rebated (not sharp) steel weapons, the problems are similar. The extra weight added to thicken the edge makes the weapon thicker. This retards performance and increases the damage done should the weapon impact at speed on the opponent's lightly protected body. We still advocate the use of steel rebated weapons for advanced or armoured students, but in the heat of sparring, students of all levels of experience tend to increase their power and can do significant damage.
In the case of both wooden and rebated weapons, the mass of the weapon itself contributes significantly to the damage done to a lightly protected combatant. The choice is thus either to add armour or to reduce the weight of the weapon while still preserving the performance characteristics.
Thus, we have designed our zugadore with this in mind, and what has resulted is a pleasantly light, extremely well balanced and well-playing training tool suitable for both practice and competition.
The blade of the spada da zogho is 36" from cross to tip, with a 47.5" overall length. To reduce weight and to better simulate the swords of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, we have tapered the blade in both planes. At the base it is 1 5/8" wide narrowing elegantly towards the point, which is 3/4" wide. At the base it is 5/8" thick, with a distill taper down to 1/2" at the point, which allows more flex at the tip than at the base. This is both historically appropriate and a good safety feature.
In addition, we have hollowed the blade, inspired by a historical solution to the same problem, as presented in the late fifteenth century work of King Rene d'Anjou. This broad fuller significantly reduces the weight and improves performance. In addition, it is made from durable poly materials that can stand up to the abuse associated with hard play and hard training.
Because the blades are made from a polymer material, the blade shape slides appropriately, following the performance of their steel cousins. This is crucial for techniques that involve subtle blade play, such as the German winden or Fiore dei Liberi's volta stabile.
On the cross we have left a lot of room for big hands or for big gauntlets. The handle itself features a nice decorative band in the center, also useful for orientation, and is a suitable platform for leather to be stitched (as on an authentic sword) to help improve the grip. Together with the 3" faceted scent-stopper pommel, there is plenty of room for your hands. And the balance point is correct, too.
We have made the cross removable. It slides down the hilt and is held in place either with the rubber grommet included or with a common zip-tie. The current model of cross is 10" wide and made from durable poly material. It elegantly slopes towards the blade, which helps to reduce interference with the cross and the wrist as the sword is turned. Best of all, if you break the cross it can be replaced, or, as we release future designs, they will all be interchangeable, so you will be able to select a style to your preference.
All told, we believe that we have struck the right balance between a sword trainer that is durable, has good performance, and is true to the original in terms of design. And, the cost is low, so beginners can use the same sword they start with for tournament competition.