The general theory and techniques of Sidesword stem from the teachings of the 16th-century sword masters, specifically Italian authors such as Agrippa, Marozzo, dall'Agocchie, etc. These instructors taught and/or wrote about a style of cut-and-thrust swordplay that eventually developed into the mainly thrust-oriented techniques known in the 17th century and later. The weapons these authors speak of are the spada (sword), the spada da filo (edge-sword), and the spada da lato (side-sword). Sidesword can be interpreted to mean "side arm" referring to its role as a mainly civilian weapon, which is why the general term Sidesword has come to describe the Italian cut-and-thrust techniques that we are concentrating on.
The Sidesword program was created in the SCA as an outlet to study and practice these authentic methods of 16th-century (and late 15th-century) swordplay. It is to be seen as primarily a non-competitive research tool in which the main goal is the learning and perfection of the techniques necessary in a cut-and-thrust form of civilian combat.
This program allows both thrusts and percussive cuts to be performed with steel sword simulators. As well, other techniques traditionally disallowed, such as blade grabbing , can be attempted.
It is important to note that this program can exist for the following reasons:
- We now have available a high quality of steel simulators that weren't around even a few years ago.
- We are striving to safely learn the techniques - therefore control is stressed to all who would join, and the authorization process is less forgiving than in the other SCA combat arts.
- There are no plans to develop Sidesword into a primarily tournament-focused art. This simple facet serves to minimize the competetive aspect of combat which can oftentimes be the catalyst for dangerous actions and injury.
This site aims to make available the Sidesword rules for the kingdom of Ansteorra, some links for the further study of Sidesword specifically and Historical swordplay in general, and some more links to find equipment that will allow and enhance your further study. In the future we may also post papers focusing on training methods, armoring ideas, and other aspects that we think might benefit those interested in studying this growing aspect of our art.