Types of Sword Fighting Styles

Updated February 21, 2017

The sword has been one of the principle weapons of human combat for centuries. The sword was the dominant weapon in war long before guns had even been invented. Sword fighting evolved all over the world into different styles that also used different varieties of swords. While the sword is not used in many practical applications in present day, there are a number of sword fighting styles that are still studied and practised.


The earliest evidence of fencing as a sport was unearthed in Egypt in a carving dated at 1200 B.C. Greek and Roman cultures initially favoured the lighter, shorter swords that would later become synonymous with fencing arts. The sword in modern fencing is the rapier, which is a straight-edged sword with a sharp tip and two edges. The sword is handled with one hand and fencers usually wear heavy padding and face guards when practicing their art. Traditional fencing would frequently see the fighters hold a rapier in their right hand while the left hand held a small dagger. The lunge is very commonly used in fencing, which is a stabbing motion in a straight line to drive the end of the rapier into the target.


Kendo is a Japanese sword art that most frequently relied on the kitana, a sword with a curved blade that could be used both one and two-handed. The samurai were infamous for their lethal sword ability and their techniques were handed down through the generations until it became both a fighting art and a sport referred to as Kendo, which means "the way of the sword." The kitana is heavier than a rapier so Kendo techniques are somewhat slower and more powerful than fencing and the kitana focuses more on the cutting edge of the sword than the point of the rapier.

Roman Sword Fighting

Roman sword fighting is perhaps most commonly associated with gladiators fighting each other in the Roman Colosseum but the Roman military was very proficient with swords as well. After initially using a smaller sword similar to rapiers, the Roman army frequently used heavier broadswords that required great strength to wield effectively. They would block incoming sword blows with large shields. If they were able to knock an opponent to the ground with the shield, they would then try to stab the opponent with a smaller dagger while he was on the ground.

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About the Author

Michael Davidson started writing screenplays in 2003 and has had a screenplay professionally produced. He has also studied martial arts since 1990 and has worked as a licensed security specialist. Davidson has written articles for various websites. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in advertising.