FYI: This was the first venture into the world of serious martial arts using
the Knighthawk Armoury line of products. I was not at all sure that the
testing was even worth the time, but I was convinced to send some used weapons
The end result was as follows, but be sure to read the entire saga; it is QUITE interesting! Especially the Test Results !
Sorry it took so long to get back to you! I've had a hell of a week here. We are the Central Coast Western Martial Arts Association (CCWMAA), and please feel free to post the letter on your website! There's not much point in only endorsing a product to the producer, is there?
The practice weapons have held up beautifully, but the Crusader's hilt is proving problematic. The Latex has frayed and almost come off, but it's nothing a little duct tape and love won't fix. With that in mind, I can only approve of the Knighthawk weapons for light to mid-contact sparring, but for these purposes they are nothing short of excellent.
All the best,
The hilt on the Crusader was broken and repaired even before it was sent to you, so I expected it not to stand up to the level of stress you were applying to it. You might try using Aleene's Tacky Glue on it; that's what I used initially to repair the initial break.
ANY of the weapons will stand up very well as long as their hilts are not stressed. The hilt is the weak point on each of these swords. The basket hilts hold up much better, and I'd love to be able to have the cross-hilts supported with some kind of integrated core - but that's just not going to happen.
Thank you for the official endorsement. I understand that your initial letter was intended for public consumption, but I did not wish to assume permission - thus my request!   :)
Here's the start of our correspondence and the results of the testing done in the dojo.
Dear Mr. Brown -
THANK YOU for your interest in the Knighthawk Armoury line of latex-foam weapons.
These items are perfect for LARP use, but WILL NOT stand up to full-contact combat; the foam is simply too soft.
Dear Mr. Knight,
It's hard NOT to be interested in the Knighthawk line. To clarify my point (and because I still hold to a shred of hope these can be used) the actionflex swords we train with are very soft, and we wear no armour at all. The softness of the foam would be a positive boon to us.
We do not plan on mixing Knighthawk weapons with our other sparring equipment. If your blades can stand hard contact with eachother, flesh, and one or two scrapes with minimal damage, then they have met all of our qualifications. The reason we do not train with harder weapons is primarily, the heavy cost of armour, and secondly, the lack of mobility it incurrs.
We train with soft weapons without armour, and do so two to three times a week. This is the other benefit of soft weapon training - no serious injuries. It leaves us free to drill with live steel swords so we don't become complacent due to the lightness of our weapons. I'm sure you can see why the idea of your Knighthawk weapons is so appealing to us. We currently train with these:
and have five of them. This number will grow as our new members purchase their own and we branch out into other weapons. They leave a lot to be desired, however, give the dull look and lack of a true edge or hilt.
We train in duel bouts, with one combatant taking on one or two opponants in five to ten minute rounds. If your swords will stand up to this, I can see a trend catching on in our group. If not, be assured that you will have early adopters for your more durable line.
Dear Mr. Brown -
I have actually tested two of my swords in a full combat test, and I ran into two problems:
One: The latex covering. The latex makes each weapon waterproof and gives it that way cool, smooth surface look. However, when two of these swords hit each other really, really hard, the latex can stretch and deform; after all, the latex is simply a layered coating on the foam underneath.
Two: if you hit hard enough, the foam underneath can collapse. It's rare, but I've seen permanent dents formed by too-heavy contact.
The products you use (I checked out the link) look like they are using a neoprene product over a simple core. Neoprene is soft, will take a real beating, and bounce right back; it just looks like....neoprene.
As much as I'd LOVE to have another group as customers, I really think that you'd be unhappy with the products after a few sessions. However, if you REALLY want to test them.....
One final thought. If you do decide to test two swords, then start off at one-quarter contact, then if everything looks cool move to half-contact, and so on up to what you would normally do. Perhaps you will find a point that is acaceptable for training but will not damage the swords.
Anyway, please let me know what you want to do!
Dear Mr. Knight,
If you would like to send us two test items, we would be more than happy to put them through the paces, from quarter speed to full. If we are happy with them, I will pay full retail price for both items, and can commit to further purchases as early as August. If not, I will ship the swords back to you at my cost with a full written report of how they held up to the sparring, exactly what was done with them, and what could be done to make them more durable.
(Enough with the "Mr" this and "Mr" that! :)
Let me ponder this. I'm also considering sending you two items whose hilts were damaged but whose blades are perfect. Naturally these items are not sellable, and I've got three or four of these damaged swords. I do use them as demo items, but hmmm....
You Americans. No respect for formality. :) The damaged weapons would be ideal. I'd feel bad putting two perfectly good swords through the paces if they could otherwise be sold. I'd be much happier with just two damaged swords. If they are unsellable, then that suits our purposes much better.
If you want to ship them, we will put them through our tests, and if they perform as I hope, at least two other members will purchase swords within the next month, I suspect. One of them has been hungrily eyeing the Crusader since I sent him your site, while I have been sizing up the Mercenary's longsword and arming sword, and the shield.
WOW! Mr. Knight, you need more faith in your products! From barely tapping blades to full contact swinging, the only damage sustained was a slight crease to the side of the Saber. We even put the Crusader in the hands of our resident lunatic and even his wild swings couldn't damage it.
For the most part, our group is comprised of serious and dedicated martial artists. I've studied Kendo, Budokan Ninjutsu, Iaido, some fencing (which left me cold, I can tell you!) and I'm branching into WMA now, which is by far my favorite. Your products allow for quick handling and PERCEPTION, which is vital in learning swordplay. With the Actionflex weapons, you simply can't tell if a parry is edge-on-edge and thus a bad habit, or if you've just tried to cut someone with the flat of your blade. If you were curious, only four of the group members (there's around ten of us - only six hard core, though) train with wasters and only myself and Aaron enjoy fighting with steel (Hanwei's Practical line gets my vote for that, for quality, endurance and sheer affordability).
Your weapons are sturdy, attractive, and well formed. When my sparring partner Aaron and I train with our wasters, we obviously focus far more on defensive swordplay and pulled shots (though I have a lump the size of a grape on my forehead right now), but with the Knighthawk weapons, although the weight difference is a little off-putting (and allows for some unrealistic moves!) the quality of training rises tenfold.
I promised you a detailed report, but I am afraid I must back out of that oath. I assure you, it would be dull reading indeed - no matter what we did to those beauties, they held firm and strong. While they lacked the balance and weight of our wasters, and the belligerent invulnerability of our Actionflex weapons, they struck a perfect counterpoint between them. While the Actionflex weapons lend themselves well to hurling yourself into battle with abandon, and the wasters invariably lead to probing strikes, parries and heavy focus on footwork and avoidance, the Knighthawk weapons elegantly allow for calculated feints, ripostes and attacks, showing both partners where the blade is at all times, making for a highly effective and safe sparring weapon. I can see these weapons easily becoming an integral part of our training regime.
As to the durability of these, I have encountered absolutely no problems, and this includes two of our newer members going at it like lunatics and scraping the poor tips on the concrete floor. Aside from that extreme, the reality of sword combat is that if a blade is parried edge on edge, it will nick and damage the blade, and if the blow is hard enough, shear clean through. While your foam weapons may not be as hard and durable as wood or steel, we have both of those at our disposal, so I certainly feel that these weapons will be a fine and useful addition to our collective armory.
I have fallen madly in love with the Saber, and as soon as my balance refills (should be next week) I will be purchasing a new one for myself. Everyone else was very impressed with the way the swords handled, and I would not be at all surprised if each one of them bought their own. If I could suggest anything to improve your product, it would be stiffer quillions, possibly with a thick core over foam? I can foresee those catching a blow and flying off. A stiffer core in the blade itself would, of course, lend to durability - or perhaps more flexible foam and a more flexible core? But rigid seems to be an easier, and more broadly appealing way to go. Finally, and this is just a silly thing, some kind of latex-safe oil to lightly coat the blades with to simulate the slipping and sliding of live steal combat. The difference between the somewhat tactile latex and the smooth surfaces of our swords and wasters is suprisingly evident.
I would like to purchase the sample weapons from you as well, if possible. Some of our group members are not terribly wealthy but are enamored of your products, so if I could pay something to allow us to keep them, I'm sure they would be thrilled.
The handwritten note you included just cements my opinion of you as a dedicated an honorable man, and you really have gone the extra ten miles for your clients. I can't decide which impresses me more: the product, or the person selling it! For what it's worth, please accept the ringing endorsement of myself and everyone who has tested these weapons.
PS. In case you were wondering, we fought maybe 5 bouts of ten rounds each, so fifty odd duels total. In one night. We put those swords through their paces, and my god, they performed beyond my highest expectations.