Why use a foam sword? By Steena Holmes

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Why Use a Foam Sword?
By Steena Holmes

Why use a foam sword?
When it comes to fighting within LARP, Martial Arts and Fencing or even within movies, foam swords have become the #1 weapon of choice. Foam sword fighting has been around for at least 21 years and it has been developed and refined and perfected over those years. With foam sword fighting, no protective clothing is needed, and the style is more like how a knight might fight with a weapon and shield.

Why should I choose a foam sword over a replica sword?

Choosing a foam blade as a practice sword is great when it comes to learning new skills and techniques while still providing the safety of a practice replica. Practice swords made of quality rubber foam help you master the ancient techniques of self defense.

These practice foam blades have the look and feel of the real thing. Now you can practice your sword techniques and learn new skills without the hazards or expenses of using real steel swords. It is easy for most inexperienced LARPERS or fighting enthusiasts to confuse a foam sword with a Boffer sword. Boffers are handmade swords that use PCV piping, foil and duct tape. These types of swords can inflict harm if not used properly.

Martial arts practitioners, re-enactors and stunt people all require equipment to maintain their skills and they prefer to use foam swords within their day to day use for practical and safety reasons.

Who uses Foam Swords?

LARP

Live Action Role Playing, otherwise known as LARP is a role-playing game where a characters actions are physically and mentally acted out. Each character creates a persona that fits into an imaginary role within the game setting. Within each game, various weaponry, costumes and settings are used. Rules and regulations are quickly changing within the LARP games and safety of the participants is paramount. That is why foam swords are quickly becoming the blade of choice during the various fighting scenes.

Fencing

When it comes to developing basic fencing skills, most beginners will choose to use a foam weapon over real fencing foil. Foam fencing foils help to develop basic fencing skills without having to invest in all of the real fencing equipment.

Children

Foam swords for children make an excellent toy; they are safe and fun to play with, parent approved and leave no marks on the child's skin. Foam swords and shields have been created with realistic role-play in mind and have been designed and developed for safe playtime fun for all ages from Preschool up. Whether it is a budding Robin Hood, Knight of the Round table or a fearless dragon slaying adventures, children can enjoy the make believe fun that foam swords and shields are designed for.

Martial Arts

Foam weapons are often used in fights more akin to martial arts tournaments. These tournaments tend to resemble historical reenactment combat but will require less protective gear. Foam weapons are also used in many sport-like battle games.

Chambara

Foam weapons are also commonly used in Chambara - the Japanese Sword Fighting Movie. The Chambara actor must be skilled in a variety of weapons, striving to become overly animated in their application. Learning to fight with foam weapons has become a Chambara specialty. Swords, firearms, and improvised weapons become a natural part of the Chambara actor's arsenal.

SCA Sports

SCA or Society for Creative Anachronism will use foam rapiers within their fencing practices. During their melees a real rapier is used, but in order to pass the SCA judges authorizations, knowledge and demonstration of safety must first be challenged. For these reasons, participants in the SCA will use foam rapiers during practice to improve their skills.

For a superior foam weapon for use in any marital art, sport or LARP setting, there is a Canadian company who specialize in creating foam weapons that are superior in durability, realistic looking weapons, maintenance free, weather resistant and latex free.

If you are interested in finding out more about LARP or looking for incredible foam sword be sure to visit the LARP section on Calimacil web site http://www.calimacil.com/LARP.htm You will find a lot of foam weapons with a very realistic look and unique design.

Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Steena_Holmes
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Interesting article. I agree with the safety part, but in my experience fencers don't use them. There are also some balance/weight differences, as well as edge awareness to consider. I've sparred with several different companies foam/padded weapons and watched alot of competitions where they are more stick fights than sword fights.
 

tshadowchaser

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Do you have any links to these swords?

They sound interesting but I have never seen one
 

Sukerkin

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I once paid 瞿80 to have a foam 'replica' of my katana made for the very purpose of investigating whether there would be any utility in using such to add a 'sparring' element to swordwork.

Despite paying for what is the best quality, hand made, foam facsimilie (that was quatanteed to stand up to the rigours of contact), the balance was nothing like. I'm not saying that it wouldn't be fun to play Ninja's & Pirates with such things but they're not a serious training aid.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I did a review of Smakstiks a while ago, and I've used the ActionFlex as well. Much prefer SmakStiks. I just got some Hatah Safety Arnis Sticks in that I'll be reviewing soon.
 

tshadowchaser

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Ok I had the wrong idea
i thought you ment swords made of foam in the true shape of the weapon.
I have used a couple of the ones you mentioned and agree they are great for practice BUT people get careless because they do not hurt like wood.
 

kaizasosei

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I have used a couple of the ones you mentioned and agree they are great for practice BUT people get careless because they do not hurt like wood.

this may be some true, but to truly use the foam sword or shinai correctly, you have to make it hurt. easier than using wood, which is a bit too hard.. with shinai, you can really hit hard into face or neck,stab the body(provided one can avoid eyes or even ears),
depending on the model, foam may be a bit to soft for getting that necessary respect. because once you hit well with a shinai and the partner doesnt have any armour, there is little chance of getting hit yourself.
very difficult hitting someones face or head safely with wood. unnecessary waste of energy. bamboo shinai or fukuroshinai is just right to really go at it realistically.
 
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It's true that foam covered weapons allow people to strike at full force with less chance of injury and that a lot of institutions use them in martial training however I still would not train with them myself. The problem is that the foam weapons are too wide and don't cut through the air close enough to the speed of the weapon they are intended to represent. In addition foam weapons are easier to block because of their bulky shape. Most of the foam weapons I have looked at were not legitimate in weight. I still think rattan is the best material overall to spar with unless your talking about teaching kids martial skills in which case your probably right to use foam.
 

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At the Higgins, they had an equivalent for short-swords that opened up some really interesting possibilities. The PVC pipe within had two pieces of leather sewn around it in the shape of a sword that gave a nice flat profile to the weapon. You couldn't get around needing a mask to use it but the leather made adequate padding for strikes to the limbs and body, the cross-section was much more sword-like than a round "boffer" and you could feel a difference in how the tool moved through the air. When I have the funds, I'm going to get some larger pieces of thick leather and try out a long-sword version and see how it feels.

Matt
 

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Only time I've ever used a foam anything combined with/for a weapon was my chain whip. I took some pipe insulation & put it around the end of the chain whip so I wouldn't kill myself dead if I missed a transition or got off center with the spin. Instead large ugly bruising occurred but no death or broken bones, for which the foam has my support in the application.

Otherwise, real or wood for me.
 
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