Techniques for a Hand & a Half-Sword


The Hand & a Half-Sword is also known as the "longsword" or the "bastard" sword, because it has a longer hilt than normal so it can be swung with one hand or both. Developed during the late Medieval period and weighing about five pounds, these swords were intended to combine the accuracy of broadswords with the heavy weight of two-handed swords.

Half Sword/"Mezza Spada"

  • Period swordsman J. Ledall and Fiore Dei Liberi independently developed techniques for using the longsword in battle, which they called Half Sword or Mezza Spada. These techniques allowed even an unskilled swordsman to get the upper hand in battle -- and the name refers to thrusting, deflecting or striking while gripping the sword with both hands.

Haukes/"Posta di Falcone"

  • The increased weight of a hand and a half sword, combined with the extra power you could bring to a blow using your second hand, made the Haukes technique particularly effective. This was a downward chopping motion intended to be "striking down like a bird of prey" -- hence the name, "hawk" or "falcon" -- and combined cutting with clubbing.

False Point/"Punta Falso"

  • The lightness of a hand and a half sword made thrusting motions easier than with a two-handed sword, and were very effective at skewering opponents because the stabbing motion was particularly powerful. Opponents sometimes had to move their body forward to have the strength and stability to deflect a thrust. That was where the False Point technique originated -- as it was a false thrust that put an opponent off balance, and allowed the swordsman to then strike them with a "real" blow such as a swing or slash.

Crossing Swords/"Incrosar a Mezzo Spada"

  • While the hand and a half sword was light enough for cutting and thrusting movements, it was also heavy enough to practically be used as a club. This is a fact exploited by the Crossing Swords technique, in which the swordsman deliberately clashed his blade with that of his opponent, and then followed through by using his body weight and the strength of striking with both hands to throw his enemy off balance and put him at a disadvantage.

Art of the Longsword/"Arte Dello Spadone"

  • Master medieval swordsman Fiore Dei Liberi summarized that four characteristics were essential for mastering the technique of the hand and half sword; and named them after animals in nature. The "Wolf" was mastery of carefulness and preparation before combat. The "Tiger" was the use of swiftness or speed to strike first. The "Lion" encouraged bravery, which often threw a confident enemy off his game, while the "Elephant" was the characteristic of strength and power. These characteristics combined made a swordsman effective with a longsword.


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