Two HEMA instructors comment on dual wielding swords

Without a doubt dual wielding was nowhere near as popular in historical times as it is in roleplaying games and other fantasy settings. How common or rare it was depends on the specific period and region but it was certainly done, mostly using a longer blade in the main hand and a shorter one in the off hand.

To get a professional opinion I asked Richard Marsden and Lee Smith, two of the most respected and skilled instructors of Historical European Martial Arts, what they think about this topic. Of course the perspective of practitioners of various Eastern martial arts may differ.


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  • Antiphilosopher

    Clearly these guys haven't seen Ser Arthur "Motherfucking" Dayne of the Kingsguard, Sword of the Morning in action.

  • Algiz

    "Scissoring is not a period technique". That is correct, it's terribly messy.

  • Bhusta Cap

    dual weilding just simply wasnt done. it leaves no hand open to "end him rightly" and therefore it is far inferior to the pommel throw.

  • Beau A

    Of course dual scimitar feels strange, your aren't Drow.

  • phoenixsplash135

    "I need that to drink Richard"

  • KingLies

    I can't think of anything more unrealistic than attempting to deflect a huge, two-handed sword with a tiny dagger with no hilt... Are these guys for real?

  • Abeth

    I'd have to disagree with this video. Duel wielding two pommels doubles both your efficiency AND your probability of ending him rightly.

  • ElTagno

    It's harder to unscrew the pommel if you have a sword in each hand.

  • Deniz Cem Kaya

    When I fight,I dual wield two shortswords and throw them at opponent simultenously. That often gives me the 2 second advantage for the chase he will be giving afterwards. Still,I am a good runner and me being alive is the proof of that.

  • GaaraEnFemenino

    The "end him rightly" and "pommel throwing" have become a meme in this channel, haven't they??

  • Jason Patowsky

    Dual wield is impractical, you need the other hand to perform rude hand gestures.

  • zeal berkut

    +skallagrim you guys keep showing long sword and long sword, and you mention long sword and rapier, what about using 2 "short swords" or 2 daggers or just something smaller?

  • Techn0taku

    "Richard's" Rapier:)(Gonna let that game reference sink in~)

  • Jim Mc

    Didn't the Chinese use short swords in pairs?

  • Stephen O'Malley

    HEMA? can anyone tell me what that means?

  • Scott Gates

    Would dual wielding possible be more viable if one or both were held in a reverse style? This would obviousness take a lot of practice to do right, but I wonder if it's even viable enough for the practice to be worth it.

  • Morning Xanax

    We all know people dual wield two swords to learn it twice as fast.

  • PastorOfMuppets

    This ruined Black Flag for me.

  • Seems Legit

    they obviously haven't watched sao.

  • Marc Pabel

    Where is Musashi using two different long swords? That is not written in the book of five rings.Shure the tradition was to carry a katana and a...But that does not mean Musashi was not using two Katana...It is easyer to draw a dagger or nife if you have a sword in the other hand but that is the howl storry of that!

  • epiclolman57

    is anyone else's favorite noise the sound of two swords binding?

  • Ben To

    I really had to cringe when he said that Musashi does not like to use two hands on one sword.

  • Grant Z Price

    this market is due for some UFC style disruption

  • Orkar Isber (Estar)

    Personally i think that dual wielding becomes more reasonable the better your armor is - in full plate you dont have to worry about defense too much so no shield needed against incoming arrows - still you will likely be better off with a polearm then. BUT i can see dual wielding being effective against armor as armored fights are usually grappling all day long and the one to be first on the ground likely looses so how about dual wielding 2 axes for hooking your opponents weapon, leg, arm, shoulder, neck etc. to help you get him on the ground and a spike on top of the axehead could then be stabbed in weak spots

  • Zormac

    Please, don't put subtitles on the top.

  • The Silver Dragon

    those 2 guys are always so nice

  • alastermyst

    All of that being said, here is my question; What is a HEMA instructor?

  • Kyle McDonald

    What about dual wielded shortswords?

  • assassintwinat8

    But what about dual-wielding daggers?

  • lazy asfuch

    I was hoping to see a disarming technique. me and a friend of mine were "dicking around" in our backyard with practice swords (he had a wooden wakazashi and katana. I had a plastic Norman sword) and one thing he showed me was that he was able to wind his swords around mine and twist them out of my hand. Just a thought

  • gamer7916

    Dual wielding's actually a big part of Chinese martial arts. The hook swords, for example, are a pair of dual wielding weapons said to have been as old as the Warring States period 2500 years ago and are still used in Shaolin martial arts.

  • irishpunk37

    a Richard with a Rapier....Dark Souls?

  • OrderOfGamers

    "I need this liver to drink Richard..."

  • Zachary Doyle

    Miyamoto Musashi sounds like the strongest example of dual wielding. The irregularity behind it was one of the factors that led to many of his victories.

  • Marcus Wolve

    Hey Skall, love your content in this channelI want to hear your thoughts regarding this scene in shanghai knights Where Aidan Gillen (littlefinger lul) was dual wielding against jackie.He trained for months in fencing and I really think the fight had good choreography so I want to hear an experts opinion about this style :)

  • chris hollingsworth

    what about twin Dao swords sorry if I screwed up the name

  • Sekhem Shu

    Dual wielding in FMA or Thai Krabi Krabong is not special, it is quite common and just makes sense on many levels (unless you only have one hand). Miyomoto Musashi didn't have a two sword technique because it was illogical, "it worked"! Unfortunately it takes extra time and skill for most to get comfortable with, plus some people are just more natural at it than others. Most of the "others" are just too lazy or narrow minded to see the value in it. If you have two hands you should train with both to wield weapons, and to do so simultaneously gives you a great advantage as a warrior.

  • Sancd Lusion

    I don't know about you but Sword's Path dual wielding demo changed my mind about whether or not dual wielding is viable

  • chi

    I think drizzt the dark elf will disagree

  • lazy asfuch

    "I don't think scissoring is a period technique" I hope they realize what he just said

  • yondaime500

    Dual wielding long swords can be effective with proper technique. You have to hold one of the swords backwards and then you start spinning around like a beyblade. Works every time in anime and videogames.

  • bblurre

    I don't see how using a dagger in the off hand is any different than a second sword. plus I'm pretty sure if you are using a second sword you need to create a new style of fighting. not use the dagger and sword style of fighting

  • Tannis

    "He used a short sword and a long can't be a coincidence, it had to be cross cultural?" The man couldn't have just thought it up himself just by holding the damn things?

  • Old Tercio

    If you want a true source for Sword and dagger where it shines, look at the "Pike and Shot" era, the Tercio infantry were equip with rapiers and daggers as secondary weapons and the fencing manual "La verdadera Destreza" taught how to take advantage of the dual wielding plus use geometry and mathematics, this is the era where is shined...

  • Mike Dlc

    i remember learning a similar style called Espada y Daga

  • Zomdee66

    But the question is does the cross down parry work?

  • Phorate

    my whirl wind barbarian from diablo 2 says dual wielding works

  • The Pr3sT¡Ge

    are those guys the same ones that did the sabre fight ?

  • John Stuart

    If there is a heavy swing coming at you, it is much easier to dodge it, rather than block it.

  • William Breazeal

    Dual wielding was not uncommon in Eastern Russia, India, China, or South east Asia. In Russia and China it was typically with two sabers and in China it was typically done by people in the caravan guard profession. Southeast Asia has both dual sword and sword and dagger.

  • T4nkc0mm4nd3r

    What about using reverse grip for the offhand dagger? It is a preferred hold for modern knives in combat (definitely my favorite), so I'm curious as to if it there was any historical evidence of it being used. Dual wielding knives one standard grip and one RGEO is, in my opinion, the most powerful option available, but I wonder if that translates over when you have a rapier/saber/shortsword as your primary rather than just another knife.

  • Dener Willian

    so basically, just use a shield...

  • PAX East

    "I need this liver to drink, Richard..."

  • Lewie

    I'm surprised the one on the left (at the start) can ever lift a sword. If your opponent is that skinny he can't block shit you could just over power the crap outta him.

  • Ian Heck (Paralda)

    Skallagrim : I wanted to ask you something. I'm currently living in Hawaii, and perhaps as you might expect, there are no branches of HEMA here. I would be interested in starting one here, but I have no connection to the Alliance, and only agree that what it teaches is interesting and worth practice and study. I'm not entirely untrained, and have skill with the hand and a half (the complete guards, parries, strikes, steps, and plays from the manuscript by Harley). If I wanted to accomplish this, how should I start? Should I be contacting them directly?

  • Aetheriom

    HEMA is a general store in my country

  • 01luriaz

    Ahh the sentence that explains why I avoid any fighting type of violence "I need that liver to drink,Richard" Brilliant!

  • Fernando G Aita

    Please do a vid about dual sword fighting vs sword and shield.

  • Adam C

    Skall you did not wear that shirt out in public man...theres people there don't you know?

  • Leonard Wong

    I use twin sabres. practice for fun.

  • Verkkariritari

    I think either of these instructors would have made fine videos out on their own but put together it just seems like they're not in the same wavelength.

  • Yong En Lee

    I get what they're saying, that these are not historically common or even practical in the context of what they've studied. But there's also many examples of martial arts using dual weapons such as in Kendo or Kali, so I think viewers shouldn't write of dual wielding too early.

  • Douglas Tuck

    SCA dual broadsword user for 20years. I don't use both swords to block heavier weapons. If they're trying for big cuts, they get one point thru them while I'm blocking with the other hilt. Mostly, I fight two sword with slight delays, use one sword to move their defense (with feint or attack) and put the other into the gap I've created, or same time block and strike into the hole they've created with their attack. Same size swords mean you can fight lefties or righties without juggling, and create all sorts of uncertainty as to your competence with the off weapon.

  • Jason Khoo Keng Suen

    Kirito does that! Kazuto Kirigaya!!

  • Gfz 777

    This all may be true for European sword art but I would like to point out that Gatka, the Sikh sword fighting art, emphasizes the dual wielding of two tulwars(sabers). It is very effective, and I would always prefer it to using a dagger in the off hand. However, a shield due to its protectiveness against projectiles would have been the better choice on a battlefield. In duels though, the double sword is superior to sword and shield I have tested this over and over...

  • Victor Khan

    Dual wielding is a thing in kenjutsu, and yes they aint both long shinai but a pair of longer and shorter ones.

  • Rick Schubert

    Instead of a long and a short weapon you can also use two short weapons effectively without getting them tangled, such as Wing Chun's Baat Jaam Do (dual short swords or long knives). However, these were civilian weapons meant to be concealed, never military weapons.

  • Ichengo MC

    yuy, 'em learnig :D

Full Contact Sword Fighting -WARNING GRAPHIC-
Expert saber sparring: Lee Smith vs Richard Marsden
My opinion on using a single handed sword with a reverse / icepick grip
Why we cut water bottles with swords
Dual Wielding Sword and Dagger
Deadliest Art: A documentary on Historical European Martial Arts
Plastic knuckle dusters and the "Spikey" vs. zombie head from ZGB
First-person POV "bear pit" sparring (singlestick, dussack, rapier)
Dual wield Sabre Sparring
Dual Wielding
A look at a custom-made gladiator weapon: The Scissor
Cutting practice at Blood & Iron - water bottles be doomed!
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