is the BEST HELMET?
Tips for Keeping Your Head
in a Sword Fight
helmet is the one that fits well, lets you see properly,
move easily, and protects your head ... during that rare
event of the other guy getting in a head strike you didn't
move fast enough to deflect.... There are lots of helmets
available. Since they can be expensive, it's nice to have
a bit of advice before deciding to buy one. I have at
least eight different types of helmet. The medieval one I
bought on Ebay has good steel and would be useful with a
suspension system added .... if it wasn't too small for
me. Besides, the eye area is wide open, and that's the
part of my face I most want to protect. It makes a nice
ornament though. I look at it every day.
Now here's a real piece of art. A
Manchu helmet from the history of China. This is the
sort of thing our reproduction helmets have been copied
This page isn't about decorations. It's here to help you
find the best helmet for full contact sword fighting. If I
didn't have to protect my eyes, I'd use one of my riding
helmets. They are the most comfortable and best fitting
helmets ever designed.That was what gave me the idea for
the liner I have in my Qing General's helmet. More on that
in my replica armour, custom helmet page, still to be
written. Let's ask a few questions:
need a helmet?
Probably, yes, because you're getting better at sword
fighting. The better you get, the faster you move. Faster
strikes are harder to control. If you and your training
partner start wearing armour, you will have more freedom in
a sword fight. Instead of having to hold every strike so
that it barely touches, you can rely on the armour to absorb
some of the blow. Replica armour, and even the best helmet,
are not a license for full power strikes in a sword fight.
Full speed with controlled strikes is good.
Sometimes, when training, a partner will announce they
are not going to wear a helmet, or gloves, or some other
piece of protective equipment, because they find it too
restrictive. Have you heard that one before? It has the
effect of making you too nervous to fight well in case you
hurt them. Pass them a helmet and refuse to play with them
until they put it on!
do I want to use it for?
Will you be using your helmet:
How much face protection?
- Only to dress up for Ren Faires. Weii, it
depends how much you want to spend. The best helmet
choice for you might be one made out of papier mache. Or
you could buy a custom period helmet, or anything in
- Slow swordplay and partner drills. A fencing
mask will do for now, or a Philippino martial arts
helmet such as the third one in the picture row above.
You might need a stronger helmet for later if you speed
up the swordsmanship.
- Full speed swordplay. You need the best helmet
you can get and possibly some armour as well. The next
decision is how much face protection you need.
Your mask has to have a grille with gaps narrow enough to
prevent penetration of whichever sword you are using. One of
my favourite wooden swords is within regulation thickness
dimensions for my type of swordsmanship, including
tournaments but the bars on the helmets most of my fellow
students are wearing, are wide enough to let it through. So,
for their health, I can't use it. If you have one of the
swords that will be used with the helmet, take it with you
and try to poke it through the grille.
If you are using a blunt steel sword, you'll need better
protection again. Look at the Terry Tyndal mask in the
centre, above. You'll need something like that sort of
face protection for steel. I don't have to say anything
about the stupidity of fighting with sharp steel.... do I?
Most people who think that's okay are missing a limb, or
a good fit?
If the best helmet for you is an off-the-shelf version,
check it for these things:
- Head fit.It shouldn't be so tight you can't
wriggle your ears. Nor should it be so loose it swings
around or wobbles. If there isn't a perfect fit, go for
the one slightly too big because you can wear an arming
cap inside or fit it with velco hat fitting pads.
- Visibility. Your helmet must not obscure your
vision. If it is too top heavy, it can slide forward
over your eyes. If it's too big, it will settle too low
on your head. I'll explain how to correctly measure the
fit for a Custom
Helmet, in the page I've written specifically
about them. I'll explain how to adjust the fit of a
helmet in the page about ready-mades.
much will it cost?
- Fencing mask. The best helmet price I got on a
strong - 3 style mask, was $80 AUD. That's with a
special club deal where I bought 10 from Physical Chess,
and included postage costs. Expect to pay about $120 AUD
for a good fencing mask, if you just want the one.
Americans can probably get them cheaper. I plan to set
up a bit of a shop from this site in the future, where
Australians will be able to get all their sword fighting
gear in one place, at the best prices.
- Philippino martial arts masks. About $100 AUD.
- Terry Tyndal custom helmets. It depends what
Take a look for yourself.
Helmets. That depends entirely on the maker.
Don't expect any change from $500 AUD, and it might be
quite a bit more. I think my custom Qing General's
parade helmet by Adam Mckay (first in the row above), is
a beautiful work of art. It's also highly functional.
When I'm not wearing it to train against steel, it has
pride of place as a home decoration. It's my favourite
and best helmet. I don't begrudge one cent of what it
can I get one?
- Fencing Mask. At fencing stores such as Physical
Chess, or from me when I set up on online store.
- Terry Tyndal helmets. Only from him at That Guy's Products. And there is a
waiting list of close to a year. You have to get onto
the end of the list. It's worth the wait and cost to
have the best helmet for reenactment fighting.
- Philippino Martial Arts mask.
Helmet. You'll need to find a local
armourer. I found a few of them at the Lithgow Ironfest.
Sometimes they have their work on display. Check out the
local Ren Faire, or your local NVG, SCA, or other
reenactment group. Those people know all the best
armourers in the local area. They will know how to get
the best helmet for you if you are prepared to pay the
price and wait the time for a custom one.
Best Helmet page and return to Armour page
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