Ways to Hold a Sword | Methods and Poses


Gladiator Holding a Sword with Arm in Front of Face

There are multiple ways to hold a sword. There are also multiple types of swords, and within those, there are different ways to hold each variety.

When holding a common sword, the grip is usually two-handed. Using your dominant hand, grip the handle of the sword just below the hilt or guard. With your other hand, hold the pommel of the sword, or just above it. Your rear hand delivers the force of the blow, while the front hand guides the sword.

To learn more about this and other ways to hold a sword, read on.

How to Grip a Sword

There are a few different variations on how to grip a sword.

Your first instinct may be to grip a sword like you do a hammer. Meaning, you simply grab the sword at a perpendicular angle to the handle. You can do this, but this grip is very stiff, and it will be hard to move the sword in anything other than a direct up and down motion.

In fact, this grip is known as the hammer grip. It is usually only effective for shorter, single-handed swords, known as arming swords, that you might use combined with a shield. This grip is sometimes used by the rear hand on a two-handed sword.

The more commonly used grip is known as the handshake grip.

This grip combines firmness and relaxation, which allows you to wield the sword in a proper manner. It leaves flexibility in your wrists so you can easily move the sword into offensive and defensive positions.

To use the handshake grip, hold your hand out like you’re giving a handshake. Slip the handle of the sword into your hand. Wrap your fingers around the sword. Apply the most pressure with your middle, ring, and pinky fingers while leaving your pointer finger and thumb relaxed, and your thumb pointing forward. 

This will allow you to manipulate and steer the sword with the forwardmost fingers while keeping a firm hold on the sword with the back fingers.

How to Hold a Sword With One Hand

When you’re using an arming sword or knightly sword, you will be holding it with one hand.

The best way to hold an arming sword is by using the handshake grip. For the single-handed various of this grip, your hand will probably fill most of the grip. This means the heel of your hand should rest on the top of the pommel, and your thumb or pointer finger may rest lightly against the guard. 

Using the handshake grip will allow you to manipulate the sword with great flexibility.

How to Hold a Two-Handed Sword

Many swords are two-handed or can be used with both hands. For instance, a greatsword is a large sword that requires two hands to wield it properly. A longsword may be used single-handedly, depending on the user’s strength, but more likely, it will be used with two hands.

When using a two-handed sword, your dominant hand will be at the top of the hilt. Use a handshake grip on this hand. Let your thumb point forward along the hilt, and your pointer finger rest against the guard. 

Your rear hand will be placed either on the pommel or just above it on the hilt. Your rear hand will switch between a handshake grip and a hammer grip quite often as you fight. This hand provides the force in each blow, while your front hand steers the weapon.

For instance, if you are jabbing at your opponent, your front hand will aim the sword, and your rear hand will move to grasp the pommel and push forward with immense force.

When you are holding the sword in front of you, be sure to keep your wrists rolled inwards, similar to the grip on a golf club. You want your wrists straight and in line with the blade. If your wrists are bowing or rolled outwards, they may collapse or give out when you land your blow.

Stances for Holding a Sword Pose

There are four basic stances for holding a sword. These are used in various situations, depending on whether you’re on the offensive or the defensive. In each of these stances, your legs should be slightly wider than shoulder-width, with one of your legs in front and one in behind. Which foot is forward varies according to each stance.

These stances are:

  1. The ox. This stance involves drawing your weapon up and to the outside of your head. If you’re right-handed, you draw your right elbow up by your ear, and your left arm twists across your torso. The blade should be pointed at your opponent’s face or neck. Your dominant foot is in the rear.
  2. The plow. This is an easy stance to transition to from the ox. Simply drop your sword back down to your hip height and hold it near your core. The blade should point at your opponent’s chest or neck. Your dominant foot is in the rear.
  3. The fool. This stance is named what it is, because the holding of the blade lower to the ground makes it easy to fool your opponent into where you may be attacking him, and allows for quick defensive maneuvers. Either foot may lead in this position.
  4. The roof. This position involves raising the sword above your head, so the hilt is held above your head, with the blade pointing backward. This is an easy position to transition to other stances from or to perform an overhead swinging attack. Either foot may lead, though it is more common to have your dominant foot in the rear to make easier transitions to other stances.

Here is an interesting video showing a few stances:

The Parts of a Sword

These are the most basic components that most sword types have:

  1. The blade. This is the business end of the sword. It can be many shapes and sizes. It can also be sharpened on one side or both sides. Some of the first swords were made of bronze and copper, but eventually, steel alloys were found to be more durable. The tip of the sword is known as the point.
  2. The guard. This is the piece that separates the blade from the hilt. The guard can be a simple cross style piece of metal on the sword or a full half-sphere of metal. The guard prevents your opponent’s sword from sliding up your blade and cutting your hand.
  3. The hilt. The hilt is the handle of the sword. It is where your hands sit, protected by the guard. The hilt is made up of two main parts: the pommel and the grip.
  4. The handle. This is the round part of the hilt that you hold onto. It can be a variety of lengths, depending on whether it is on a one or two-handed sword. The finishing around the handle is called the grip. The grip can be made of several different materials, including wood, leather, stone, bone, or metal.
  5. The pommel. This is the piece at the bottom of the sword. It is usually round or semi-smooth in shape. This piece is very helpful in delivering strong blows to your opponent, especially with a two-handed weapon.

Summing Up

There are many variations of swords and just as many types of swordplay. One of the most common swords is the longsword. This is most often held with two hands, with your dominant hand steering the blade, and your other hand providing the force of the blow.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thanks for reading!

Jim James

Jim James spent most of his childhood outdoors fishing on lakes in his area. Due to his scouting background, he has always been interested in survival, camping, and the outdoors in general. Jim is a best-selling author and has a degree in History, Anthropology, and Music. He lives with his family in Charlotte, NC.

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