We introduce 3 levels of proficiency in this site. All of them have a specific equipment need. The products that are linked here are only to show an example and help you to start your search. Of course there a lot of other suppliers and all of us have our own preferences. If you have a tight budget it’s possible to find cheaper alternatives in almost every case. We haven’t used/tried/saw a wider range of products of the market yet, that’s why we don’t want to make a “low-budget/best price-value ration/best choice” list. Nonetheless, if you have some questions we are glad to share our opinion and experience on whether a definite product or alternative is sufficient or not.
In this level you have just started practicing fencing, learning the basics, or maybe you are an experienced fencer who just doesn’t want to do a more dangerous full contact sparring. Thanks to that, you need just the very basic equipment.
Obligatory equipment: Foam saber, 350 N fencing helmet, light sparring gloves
A foam saber is a perfect choice for you! It’s light, it’s easier to avoid serious injuries even without protective gear, and it’s cheap. Unfortunately, the blade behaves quite differently in comparison to a real steel sword.
If you and your partner use a foam saber and neither of you attack the head, then you don’t need a helmet. Nonetheless, if you really want to do fencing at least a bit seriously, the first thing you need as protective gear is a helmet. It’s not the cheapest part of the equipment, but it worth buying a good one! The fencing helmets have different levels of strength (i.e. how much power you need to pierce the mask): 350 N, 1600 N.
Until you don’t use metal swords (just foam, plastic, or wooden one) the 350 N version is adequate. If you want to use steel swords, you must have the 1600 N version!
Reinforced 1600 N
The second – or arguably the first – most important part of the protective equipment. While the shell of the foam saber provides enough protection for most of the time during light sparring, there are situations when the hand gets a direct hit. For that reason, it’s highly recommended to obtain some kind of gloves as soon as possible , which have at least a basic protective property. There are dedicated fencing gloves, but other types can be sufficient as well (hockey glvoes, motorcycle gloves, etc.)
For advanced practitioners
If you reach a level when your footwork it’s in place, you can confidently handle your weapon, and you want to go further with a bit heavier sparring, it’s time to change for a synthetic practice sabers. You can deliver heavier, hence more dangerous blows with such weapons, so you need to keep up with the protective equipment as well!
Obligatory equipment: Synthetic saber, 350 N fencing helmet, medium sparring gloves, elbow, forearm, and knee protectors, fencing jacket (or at least a thicker coat)
The best choice is a plastic practice saber. Their behaviour is far closer to the real, steel sword in comparison to the foam sabers. Yet, they are still cannot give the same feeling as a steel practice saber.
It is inevitable to obtain “medium” sparring gloves at this level. They might not be able to provide the highest level of protection, but the examples listed here are sufficient for heavier sparring as well (when it comes to saber).
Forearm and elbow protectors
Knee and shin protectors
The fencing jackets are expensive. Good alternatives can be a gambeson, or at least a thick jacket. If you are handy, you could even add protective elements to an old, used jacket (for eg. from polyfoam).
If you have built up your equipment earlier in a clever way, you might need to buy only a good steel saber to start the “full contact” sparring. On the other hand, steel swords are very dangerous. The practice versions are not sharp, not pointy, yet you can easily cause serious damages. Therefore we maintain a level of caution and control always and we suggest adding more accessories to your protective equipment.
Obligatory equipment: Metal saber, 1600 N fencing helmet, medium/heavy sparring gloves, elbow, forearm, shin and knee protectors, fencing jacket. Recommended: throat protector, groin protector, chest protector,
It is not an easy task to find the appropriate steel practice saber, and it is not a cheap investment. You have to take into consideration many things, eg. safety issues, price-value ratio, the saber will be only for training or for tournaments as well, which fencing style fits to you the most, historical accuracy etc. Before you buy such an expensive equipment, we advise you to read and ask more!