Three Bar Sabre Hilt

Dennis and I discussed making a sabre hilt like this for some time and during that process he raised an interesting question: how useful in training would such a hilt actually be?

Prior to using this weapon in training my answer was confidently, yes, and remained so for some time.  Relying on the sabre's guard was never my approach - rather, find a way to maximize blade control - even for those hard to reach defensive requirements that most others are  happy to have a giant dome of steel to hide behind.  This approach together with this minimal hilt also introduced some interesting, albeit, unorthodox ideas about stance and movement, something to discuss at another time.  Sadly I had to revisit my original answer, if not only my own confidence in it when this happened


and yes, that is my right adductor pollicis which the very round and certainly blunt sabre point punctured with a sensation not unlike the squishing of a grape.  The context is more revealing - I was not being attacked at the moment of impact.  I was being tracked by my adversary's point, but it was my own forward motion which caused the injury.  Take from that as you will.  What I learn from this is that it was my fault for not perceiving the threat of point and forgetting my own approach to sabre play, viz. failing to defend myself by blade.

But more questions arise from this situation.  One, can we ever effectively armor the hand wielding a sabre?  Two, can restricting sabre targets mitigate any danger that a minimal sabre hilt may present itself if the answer to Q1 is no and the fencer is unable to utilize the blade for all defense?

I'm not sure what the answer to Q1 is.  I know that there are many products now in the larger HEMA/WMA community that at first sight appear to do so.  However, when we look more closely at these products they are built with an almost singular attention to impact of percussive blows and not thrusts.  This leads me to presume that we do not yet have adequate hand protection.  If anyone would like to build a sabre glove with a butcher's mail sewn into the palm I think we'll get close.

The answer to Q2 is certainly yes, provided that you have no qualms about how "real your fencing is". There appear to be more supporting reasons for a simple target convention than other more complicated solutions including, perhaps new armor.  What this answer cannot address obviously are accidents - the very kind I am humbled to reveal above.  Do I have the experience and skillset to have prevented this injury?  Yes.  Was it a lack of focus or attention to the real threat? Perhaps.  Does this mean that we need to maintain the domes of steel, the excessive guards to simply play safely?  Oh Teapot I sure hope not.

What do you think?