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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  • phoenixsplash135

    "I need that to drink Richard"

  • Ed Harley

    What about a battle that breaks out at the food-bar of the Sizzler? Would I be better off wielding salad tongs with my dominant hand and a smaller nimble weapon such as butter-knife in my left? Or should I go with an off-hand weapon that will give me more reach, like a soup ladle?

  • Plato

    What about duel wielding shields?

  • Pickle Rick

    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.

  • 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.

  • Scott Pettit

    Arthur Dayne needs to watch this video.

  • 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.

  • Apocalyptic Knights

    Very good points, I appreciate the common sense of those two instructors. Also, I don't know if anybody told you Skall but Lee Smith really looks like you.

  • Trumbles

    This fight... looks genuinely slow to me. I can follow every move, watch every connection and notice every parry, even that sick two-handed block. This is crazy, I can actually interpret expert-level sparring.

  • Dario Ferretti

    Awesome video as always!Skall, you should ask them about strange/curious stuff you come across (pommel throwing and stuff like that)Also, they said that dagger and rapier must be used in one single tempo to be effective, but they also said there are other weapons which are used in two tempos. Could you aske them of an example of those other weapons?

  • gsimon123

    What about dual-wielding shovels? Naturally with shields attached to both shovels...

  • irishpunk37

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

  • Komugi

    I always thought dual wielding was just a movie thing and that it was kinda idiotic. I see it's more viable than i thought, but im sure at the time nobody would use that on the battlefield. Woudn't make use of it though since there are more safer, reliable options. Seems more for show.

  • ElTagno

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

  • Ramil Javier

    But if im using a dagger in one hand, and a sword in the other, what hand do i use to unscrew my pommel and end them rightly?

  • Algiz

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

  • GamingTaylor

    I find it kind of silly that they were acting like someone who was dual wielding light swords would be in the same stance as someone wielding one heavy sword and likely a shield.If I was dual wielding I would intentionally strike with one forcing the opponent to parry, and then immediately striking with the other likely to the leg. No one wielding one blade would strike first like what is shown in this demonstration.

  • NormanMatchem

    I believe dual wielding pistols is equally as useless, unless it's two muzzle loading pistols, in which case, having more shots would be beneficial, but you only shoot ONE pistol at a time, and each shot is aimed. That's my belief on the matter of dual wielding pistols, anyways.

  • trey olson

    just think though..... DUEL WIELD MURDER STROKE that might be the most epic thing ever

  • Satzibeli

    He didn't specify in which parry frame we're supposed to attack to get more time and damage for the riposte attack, though.

  • Zormac

    Please, don't put subtitles on the top.

  • Beau A

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

  • Armexius Productions

    "I need this liver to drink, Richard"

  • epiclolman57

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

  • Oly1y

    What if you dual wield beards?

  • oochie

    Game of Thrones Spoiler Alert, but this is a question Skallagrim.What do you think of the flashback fight scene between Arthur Dayne and Ned Stark's guys? Arthur Dayne was dual wielding in it, and it seemed relatively realistic and practical to me though I'm no expert.

  • RetroicDescent

    Hey,Skall, have you ever brought up the pommel throwing technique to your instructor? Perhaps he'd know whether or not that is a real technique or just a joke.

  • GaaraEnFemenino

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

  • daidabus

    i need this liver to drink what ?

  • TheSaberra

    The forgotten technic says, that when dualwielding you can throw two pommels at once to confuse your opponent ant then throw your sword. If he manages to block that, you can attack him normally just after that.And since someone is complaining about beards, they are extremaly usefull. You can hide things there, like pommels for example, so you don't need to unscrew it from your sword. It also protects your throat and confuses your opponent, because he cannot se, where your throat is, so he cannot hit it.


    In LARP you can easily Spot the Noob. That Guy with all in black Clothing wielding two imbalanced cheap Foam-swords with no Head protection or maybe a "cool hood" Also the first one in a scirmish to get down after taking 10 times more hits then anyone else. ^^

  • AldanFerrox

    This was very insightful. Thank you.

  • Mike Wazofski

    Well obviously it won't work the way they show it, for one you have to do it with two katanas (the real, traditional, Japanese forged katanas), and second, you have to use reverse grip, not only would you get more cutting power through kinetic energy, but also a longer slash. I'm honestly becoming really disappointed in Blood and Iron, I expected more from them, even if the do exercise an inferior martial art that would stand no chance against a real samurai. Obvious joke is obvious.

  • Antiphilosopher

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

  • Joshua Carr

    5:06 "i need this liver to drink, Richard" lol

  • Abeth

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

  • Erik Marcu

    I will never be able to look at duel wielding the same anymore... sigh

  • Slithereenn

    What about reverse-gripping a cutting weapon with your offhand?

  • creatorofdragon

    "i don't think scissoring was a period technique" -skall laughsclassic skall

  • 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.

  • Dark Brother

    Dual wield katana for twice the neckbeardedness.

  • Tom Rogers

    what about dual dao swords?

  • Matthew Millar

    STOP IT YOU'RE RUINING MY RPG FANTASY LIFE!Seriously though, that's pretty sweet. Thanks for making these videos.

  • GoodwillWright

    Just for people's interest, there is a form of Thai sword fighting that uses 2 swords commonly known as krabi krabong. Although the style isn't sword specific and is synonymous with unarmed fighting as well.I've only seen this in my travels but haven't really had the time to study so I can't really comment on the theory or practicality behind it other than assumptions.Overall, my point is that dual wielding swords is probably not too uncommon and is not limited to one longer and one shorter. At the least it definitely does not seem to be a foreign concept in southern Asian countries.

  • Ben To

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

  • Nick Whitman

    i fucking love these videos

  • Cody Dale

    "I need this liver to drink, Richard."

  • Márk Palotai

    Piermarco Terminileo   wrote that on one of the FB groups (I can't remeber which): "I've cited 11 italian sources (here he speaks about fencing manuals. Marozzo, Manciolino, di'Grassi, Agrippa are the ones I'm familiar with, but as he says there are many others) for 2 swords in the article I linked (that was on HROARR). Di Grassi rates 2 swords as the best combination short of polearms, so it's not just a parlour trick. It's also recommended as the first combination to learn after the sword alone by: Altoni, Docciolini, Palladini, Desbordes and Cassani. Cassani being a military author who just has a very short section on fencing."That was in a loooong conversation about the same topic. My personal opinion is that basicaly people don't like "double wielding" because of the related fantasy/sci-fi troupes (I'm looking at you Drizzt), but it was a perfectly valid style, practiced all around the world with different weapon types, however in Europe it was mostly a very different one than the most of the mentioned troupes pictured it. For example, fencing with twos swords as the 16th cent. sources wrote about it is often a very thrust-centric approaching, not a slash-slash-whirlwindy thing. And clearly it wasn't a thing for warfare, instead for duelling and other civilian contexts.The likely rareness as a day-to-day carried combination is imo mostly due to the fact that carrying two swords all day, everywhere is a pain in the ass. Not because it was a "bad" combination.

  • BanIF Forever

    Why are people so obsessed with debating about whether a thing works or not? Why not see if it works for you? Well, we can certainly see it does not for you, which is fine. The strength either of these guys have for dual wielding is debatable anyways-- One of the most overlooked points regarding this is that a weapon is merely extending the utility of the hand and arm--- I don't see many one armed boxers, do you? I think that plenty of guys versed in escrima would be able to handle the ambidexterity-- even if it was limiting them to a machete or messer--- But again, unless you have people that are skilled in it to contrast, why make it all so one sided? The bottom line i'm gathering here is that "If you don't have the coordination, then mock it to make you feel better". But it isn't like amazing skill is being demonstrated to the contrary, man. The fixed cross guards are silly-- anyone using that type of fixed concept as a defense are going to get shredded, but to see an allegedly "advanced" instructor showing it that way? I personally find your formulae of mixing controversial elements with the average two-bear amusing. No offense intended. Just.... You dwell way too much in the tick talk of it all. I'm glad you have found people that agree with you but I think it would be far more humble to spend your energy finding those who can exhibit the method you have so much disdain for and learn a few more things instead of acting like you've already reached the proverbial high road. Take care.

  • Curious Wars

    Wow, these guys really impressed me. Its so common to people who don't know wtf they are talking about trying to teach or people who do but suck at teaching trying to teach but they really seemed to do a good job even with just comments :)

  • Zunbil

    Reverse grip dual wielding is obviously the way to go

  • Gluteus Illuminatus

    So... Anyone have a link to a study of the correlation between facial hair and blade fetishism?

  • FrozenLemur

    That was extremely cool :) Thank you for the video!

  • Guillaume Lemaigre

    that series of video is very fun and interesting, especially for someone like me who practice fencing. Keep it going :D

  • Nerds With a mouth

    I love your chanel pal. but sword fighting to me even back in medieval times wouldn't matter how many books you read how much training you did. when your facing down an opponent be it alone in a dark alley or on a battlefield surrounded by your Bros. your going to shit out. at the end of the day the potential of you dying/killing another man is going to make you freak the fuck out. fighting in ranks like the Romans and Spartans and such all protected by big Shields wouldn't be as frightening. but having a sword and a tiny shield f that. my head would go big time. start waving my swords round in all angles.

  • The Silver Dragon

    those 2 guys are always so nice

  • Richard Marsden

    Some clarifications!We are a HEMA group, so our focal point is Europe and our mention of Musashi was trying to make a connection. There ARE dual wield (two sword) systems (Persia/Turkey/India/China/etc.), but we don't think they were common in Europe. You can, as we noted, find them in treatises, but you more often do not find them. There are red cars. Go outside and look around, how many red cars do you see? A lot, or a few? I think it's more along those lines.There is arguments about the common or uncommon nature of it.My own view is uncommon. Too hard to carry, too hard to draw them both, too hard to use with skill, not common in period artwork. Done, yes. Common, I do not believe so.

  • Kenny Starkiller

    what if you dual-wield bows with flails attached to the ends of your explosive-tipped arrows?

  • Gathrus

    "I need this liver to drink Richard" That was the best laugh I have had all day.

  • Ophis Sama/Chan

    "I need this liver to drink, Richard."...My sides are in orbit

  • Rainbow Beetle!!

    That was a very interesting lecture. Thanks a bunch, Skall.

  • Rek

    What about the icepick or reverse grip? Of course, you'd see it a lot in videogames (Especially when dual wielding daggers/knives) but would it actually be viable in real combat?

  • Chris N

    The one instructor says that he has no documentation for the dual sabers/curved swords, but there is documentation for Persian Dual Shamshirs which is very close to the same thing. Razmafzar's channel and book has some great documentation on the techniques (his book is gorgeous and very well researched! although bit pricey). And of course, use of two dao or two swords is very common in Chinese and Korean martial arts.

  • wolf wight

    I don't know if I agree with this. Dual-wielding can be 'very' artistic, and 'very' useful. Yes, very few people do use it, but those who do are incredibly efficient (assuming they've practiced with it and know what they're doing). But it can lead to stunning connections, and faster attacks then just about any other style (possibly tied with sword and dagger). I think if an expert duel-wielder were to show you what he can do, you might be surprised. I think you just haven't seen a good example yet.

  • Jeffrey Ford

    very Sensible stuff, I rather enjoy fighting with 2 swords, but I'm not doing any thrusts its all Snaps, Torques, or chops. it makes sense that people probably didn't do this in real life but its pretty effective and fun, Sword and shield is a much more effective style over all, It's just not as much fun.  for Rapier combat I know a group that fights sword and dagger almost exclusively and it works fantastic for them, but that isn't really 2 swords. you guys make a lot of really good points, if I'd a seen this video 15 years ago I probably wouldn't fight with 2 swords.

  • Ollie Thompson

    Ser Arthur Dayne don't care.

  • Jason Patowsky

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

My opinion on using a single handed sword with a reverse / icepick grip
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