The ‘My Weapon is Better Than Yours’ Fallacy of Phalluses

I’ve been meaning to rant about this topic for a while.

Throughout my time as a HEMA swordsman I’ve often heard people say something like-

Why do you do longsword when ‘weapon X (often sword and shield, spear etc)’ will beat it?

I’m not here to agree or disagree with such a statement. What I want to say is, what does it matter?

Let us assume someone using ‘weapon X’ will always defeat someone with a longsword. So what? Where the hell are you going to get into a real fight where weapon X is used against a longsword?

In a self defence situation?

Unlikely. Do you carry your spear or sword and shield around the town? Even if you did, does anybody else carry a longsword around? Is a trained longswordsman going to break into your house? If so, do you have your ‘weapon X’ at the ready? Are they suitable to use in a common house? What is the legality of using a longsword or ‘weapon X’ against a lesser armed intruder? Are there better things to use than medieval weapons?

In the SCA?

Yes and No. Within the SCA context would be the yes; certain weapon systems may confer advantages for one to win competitions. However, since SCA isn’t HEMA, nor operates like HEMA schools, the point is moot as it isn’t HEMA systems being put to use in a competition.

In a HEMA competition?

Possibly. Thing is, HEMA competitions are generally done to test the skill of the person, not the weapon system. Thus participants are usually restricted to weapons of similar effectiveness. Competitions with vastly different weapons are considered a novelty and not a equal playing ground for tests of skills.

In an open weapons tourney?

So you can shoot a swordsman with a pistol. Congrats, very skillful.

Longsword is a hobby. It is also a great weapon to understand the basics of fencing and once mastered it’s easy to learn another weapon system.

I do it for fun, not to be a ‘super duper medieval tough guy who can wield the ultimate weapon X’.


The One True Weapon X: Axe and Trowel.


~ by Magnus on 1 August, 2009.

2 Responses to “The ‘My Weapon is Better Than Yours’ Fallacy of Phalluses”

  1. That’s about the size of it, eh? Why do we like to play with Longsword?

    Because we can!

    Because its a beautiful weapon.

    And because it teaches you to rely on your footwork rather than a shield that in a real combat could be cut through or shattered.

    – Andre

  2. It’s the Colt 45 of the Medieval World. Imperfect in most situations, but the only weapon you can carry to almost all situations.

    Plus… it’s what people carried, which tends to suggest that it worked.

    That said, on a Wars of the Roses battlefield, I’d want a poleaxe.

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