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.

  • phoenixsplash135

    "I need that to drink Richard"

  • Algiz

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

  • 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?

  • Beau A

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

  • 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.

  • Abeth

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

  • GaaraEnFemenino

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

  • Internet Depression

    What about shaolin monks and their double sword style?

  • Shock Foxx

    what do you do when someone with a giant two handed sword with incredible strength breaks through your two handed block?

  • Dapix

    could dual wielded buckler work? i mean the range would be almost none but you'd be like a boxer

  • 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.

  • Stephen O'Malley

    HEMA? can anyone tell me what that means?

  • PastorOfMuppets

    This ruined Black Flag for me.

  • Jason Patowsky

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

  • Jim Mc

    Didn't the Chinese use short swords in pairs?

  • 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!

  • Techn0taku

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

  • 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?

  • Morning Xanax

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

  • 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.

  • Ben To

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

  • Seems Legit

    they obviously haven't watched sao.

  • Kazura

    How about carrying one sword backwards?

  • renuoz

    Is it compulsary to grow a beard to get into HEMA? lol

  • Kyle McDonald

    What about dual wielded shortswords?

  • wiadroman

    Would a medieval knight respect "I need this liver to drink" though?

  • Grant Z Price

    this market is due for some UFC style disruption

  • The Silver Dragon

    those 2 guys are always so nice

  • epiclolman57

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

  • irishpunk37

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

  • Orkar Isber

    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

  • Ross Kostopoulos

    Skallagrim looks like shamas

  • alastermyst

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

  • OrderOfGamers

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

  • 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.

  • WolfSarpi

    This actually helped a lot, since i'm trying to get better at fighting with my ketzbalger and my dagger, at the same time.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 :)

  • chi

    I think drizzt the dark elf will disagree

  • assassintwinat8

    But what about dual-wielding daggers?

  • chris hollingsworth

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

  • 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.

  • Zormac

    Please, don't put subtitles on the top.

  • John Stuart

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

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Victor Khan

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

  • Ian Heck

    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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Marko Stupar

    0:37 that is kind of wrong. He used swords in both hands when fighting multiple opponents. "He doesn't like two hands on a katana." He "likes" it cause he used it in most of his duels and he said he would never use dual swords against a skilled opponent. There is also no likes or dislikes when it comes to weapons in his teachings. He said that one should not have favorite weapon, mostly because there is right and wrong time to use any weapon. Therefore you should learn to use two handed alone, small sword alone, dual, spears , bows, guns ect.

  • 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

  • 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...

  • The Pr3sT¡Ge

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

  • PAX East

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

  • 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.

  • Aiden

    Would you be able to make a video on the use of duel wielding daggers? I'd be interested to see the comparison in both speed and style that having two small blades would afford as opposed to one full length blade and one dagger, perhaps two seax knives or even something like a pugio would be an interesting combination but saying that i understand that using this type of weapon into a mace wielder or heavy axe would be asking to die rightly. Thanks Skall!

  • Maodifi

    I definitely agree with a lot of stuff in this video. But the Filipino martial arts, while not dual wielding weapons the size of the swords used in this video, do teach applicable dual wielding with both a stick/short sword and dagger or a stick/short sword combo. Dual wielding definitely doesn't work with any combinations involving two weapons longer than a short sword.

  • 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?

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