You and ToledoME
December 18, 2018
You & ToledoME
January 7, 2019
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By Ben Cathey | Fri 5:55 PM, Dec 21, 2018

Seems like every Christmas, kids ask Santa Claus for swords and armor, just like in their favorite knight movie. After childhood though, many of us give up that dream of the round table and enter the working world… except for one local spot.

Every Monday inside the Rossford United Methodist Church gym, the medieval past becomes the present. It’s your turn to swordfight.

“It’s kind of a sport. It’s kind of a martial art. It’s kind of a mix,” club member Matthew Haynes said.

Part fencing, part historical research, it all gets your blood moving.

“It’s less chess based and more ‘I’m going to limit your moves and kill you.'” Haynes joked.

The sword battle we watched followed weeks of practice. The club has armor members can use… and for good reason.

“You put a dent in my glove. That’s why good gloves are important,” Kevin Umstead said of a good whack from a flat-edged sword.

Kevin and Matthew want to slash misconceptions and thrust swordfighting into the spotlight.

People “assume that we’re basically all sitting around in Victorian clothing, or Renaissance clothing, and eating mutton, and drinking mead, and all that kind of stuff. That’s furthest from the truth,” Haynes said.

“Our weapons are made out of steel,” Haynes said. “Most LARPing weapons are made out of a plastic or a foam.” LARP is live action role playing. The Toledo Historical Swordsmanship Society is not that.

“It’s growing everyday,” Haynes said.

They call this HEMA or historical European martial arts. But the club says part of the fun is away from the battlefield.

“It’s not simply about just using the weapons.”

“I enjoy taking the manual and trying to take it apart,” Umstead said.

The members go to competitions, with both male and female divisions, and adults of all ages join in.

“Everybody goes home with the same amount of eyes and fingers that they came with,” Haynes said.

There are no sharp objects in HEMA but you can still get injured.