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Constructing an ARMA Generation 2.2 Padded Longsword



These directions describe the construction of a variation of the second generation contact sparring weapons used by the The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts (ARMA) for safe contact sparring. A very important goal of the second generation sparring swords is realistic handling and performance without sacrificing safety. The sword described in these directions has officially been designated Generation 2.2 by ARMA.

For more information about the ARMA methods, including sparring (or free-play), check the appropriate portions of the ARMA website. The site contains the official directions for building the ARMA second generation sparring weapons, including weapons other than the longsword. The site also contains information, pictures, and a complete description of the ARMA training method.

Design Details

This particular design features a somewhat longer than normal grip. (I am experimenting with a more accurate grip length with hopes of retaining as much of the balance as possible.) The center of balance is located 19" from the butt of the sword. The overall weight is approximately 2 1/4 pounds. This version also appears to be a little light on tip padding. Concerns have also been raised about the safety of the pommel weight. I'm looking at alternatives, including safer padding for the current weight or a safer material used as the weight.

Corrections will be posted as they become available.

So far these swords have survived many hours of sparring, including:

  • They have been used by scholars and novices in ARMA classes, as well as actually participating in the prize-playing of one of our Free Scholars.
  • They have also been used by various novices in unofficial sparring and testing outside of class.
  • They were used by people of several groups at the SSI 2000 conference, where they were part of the round-robin free sparring.

Required Parts

  • (2) 4' x 1 1/4" x 1/4" oak slats
    Since 1 1/4" slats are hard two find, here are two easy ways to get the piece you need.
    • (2) 4' x 2" x 1/4" oak slats
      These are actually 1 1/2" wide and can easily be modified to the correct width.
    • (1) 4' x 3" x 1/4" oak slat
      This is actually 2 1/2" wide. With a narrow saw blade, you can make two pieces of the correct width.
  • (1) 4' x 1" x 1/8" aluminum bar
  • masking tape
  • duct tape
  • contact cement
  • (1) 1" iron pipe cap
  • 1/2" thick high-impact closed-cell foam (Sometimes called Landau padding, L2000, or EVA foam)
    • 3/4"-7/8" wide strip long enough to cover the entire edge or two strips long enough to cover each side.
    • 1-3/4" wide and 9.5-10" long
    • 1-3/4" square
  • dense foam for cross
    • 2" x 1" cross section of high-impact closed-cell foam (may need leather or other material to increase stiffness.)
    • old flip-flops (I have been told they work great.)
  • open cell foam 1" x 1 1/2" x 6"
  • spray adhesive
  • 2" wide strip of thin leather or 4" wide strip of fabric
  • 2" wide x 1/8" thick self-adhesive pipe insulation
  • denim or sailcloth for cover
  • tennis grip wrapping material

Required Tools

  • pencil
  • straight edge
  • power saw (table saw or jig saw)
  • hacksaw or metal blade for jig saw
  • 2 clamps
  • medium grit sandpaper
  • wood rasp or file
  • tape measure
  • sewing kit and thread (preferably with sewing machine)
  • scissors

Instructions for Construction

  1. Building the sword core
  2. Constructing the hilt
  3. Padding the blade edge
  4. Padding the pommel
  5. Finish padding the blade
  6. Make fabric cover
  7. Finish the grip
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