childhood, family

Sticks and Swords

One of my daughters has decided that she wants a sword. She was at CincyCon most of yesterday, playing games and being as much a social butterfly as she ever is (the Junior Mad Scientist, as I’m sure will surprise none of you, is more a social caterpillar. Maybe a social pupa, all wrapped up in her cocoon). During the course of the day she found a sword, which led to a series of texts to me describing (badly) the object of her desire, and how much it would cost. Only $30! she wrote. Marked down from $80!

Well, that was a red flag right there, as I showed it to the First Reader. He’s the former SCAdian in the family, and he shook his head. “A good sword is going to start around $300 and go up from there.”

A friend who was working the con and keeping an eye on the child-thing, gave me a call. They weren’t letting her handle the sword itself, he assured me, they knew she was only 14. But they had belted a foam katana on her, and it nearly touched the floor (my daughter is taller than I, but not by much) so the wazikashi she was looking at longingly would likely work for her, being a much shorter weapon. I sighed, and said that we’d look at it when we got to the con.

As we were headed over there, we talked about weapons training. The JMS had been making noises about wanting to learn how to use a sword or axe or bow… for some time. Why not start with sticks? I asked my husband, the man who has a rattan length he treasures and is possibly older than I am. That would start with arm strength, and at least teach them some principles behind hand-to-hand combat. I’ve never had any formal training in anything like that besides throwing a tomahawk. I’m a delicate little flower and prefer my damage to be done at much, much further than arms-length. Sticks are simple, he told me.

  • Rules of stick fighting:
  • First, use the stick held in both hands to block.
  • Use the end to thrust
  • Never use it like a club.

Ok, that sounds simple enough. I’m already envisioning some spectacular bruises from practice. But at least sticks don’t have sharp edges.

When we showed up at the con, the JMS dragged us over to check out the sword. A few minutes of inspection later we decided that while the thing wasn’t badly balanced, it had all the ring of a rock. I turned and looked at her and told her it was a provisional yes, on a sword. Not that one. But that we would look for a teacher, and then down the road buy her something that would match the style she was learning, and be a decent blade for her. She was disappointed, but willing to let this sword pass by.

We don’t want her to just own a chunk of metal that she can use as a prop for cosplay. If she’s going to have a sword she’s going to learn how to use it. Besides, as I pointed out to her, if we can find someone willing to give us lessons, it will be research for me as a writer of fantasy, and I can write it off. Which makes us more likely to do this than just indulging her whim. Later in life, I’d have suggested she find work and earn it – and that will likely be what she does do in time. This child has motivation, she just needs to find her channel, and run with it.

In the meantime, sticks. The First Reader has a thought or two on how to teach them, but he’s not formally trained either. So we’ll be doing some research.


2 thoughts on “Sticks and Swords

  1. Could you drive the cost down by kit building? And I think you respect something more if you had to invest time into making it. (and that applies to way more than just edged weapons)

    1. Quite likely, but even before that, we’re trying to decide what style she wants to learn. And to find someone who can teach her. We’re probably going to start with a waster (fancy stick!).

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