By Paul Wagner

June 2015

It is a curiosity that British fencing sources are all but devoid of instructions on knife or dagger fighting. Continental medieval and renaissance sources generally spend a considerable time on defence from the dagger, both with a dagger and unarmed, yet no British source even mentions it, apart from a very brief and rather unsatisfactory chapter in Silver’s Brief Instructions, and Newcastle’s bold (and unrealised) claim that “Heer also I will shewe you howe a dagger by this methode, shall beate anye Sorde, pike, halberte, or partesan, or anye two handed weapons.”1

Read more: English Knife Fighting - The Alehouse Dagger


Despite common perception, armour was in fact not uncommon in the Highlands up until the 17th century, at least for the elite of the clan warriors. There are a number of written references describing Highland armour:

Read more: The Highland Coutn

Why a shinai?

The "singlestick" or "cudgel" was a traditional training tool for the practice of English backsword, as well as being a weapon in its own right. Sporting singlesticks were made from light ash saplings, kept soaking in a trough of water to keep them flexible, and given leather or wicker basket-hilts. Armour consisted of a masked fencing helmet for the face and head, a long-sleeved leather jacket or padded coat, covered with a thigh-length leather apron or bib for the body and cricket pads for the legs. Earlier cudgels were made of solid wood and the only protective equipment used was "the old North-country prayer (beautifully terse), 'God, spare our eyes!'".

Read more: Constructing a Basket Hilted Shinai

Coming into 2015 we were looking at running classes on Spadone, and we needed a simple affordable simulator that students could train with. Whilst we could have used wooden batons, the ability to them in antagonistic drills would be limited. Enter the humble shinai which with a little bit of work can be turned into an acceptable simulator suitable for antagonistic drills.

Read more: Converting a Shinai Into a Spadone