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Get into the swing of actual longsword fighting

Growing tired of the virtual swordfighting in games like Dark Souls 2? It might be time for you to take up real longsword duelling.

The New York Times is running a story and video piece today on longsword duelling contests like Longpoint, which recently attracted 200 fighters to a ballroom setting in Ellicott City, Md. Players dress up a lot like fencers, but they wield heavy swords. Most fights are over, very quickly. But they take skill and finesse.

The swords are blunted steel, but bruises among competitors are not uncommon. Longsword fighting comes under the sporting banner of historical European martial arts, or HEMA, which has grown in popularity since it was established only a few years ago.

"The longsword specifically is just very accessible," said competitor Axel Pettersson, 29, "because that is what the old masters wrote about the most. It was called the ‘queen of weapons' in the old days."

About 20 percent of contestants are women. Katy Kramlich of Oshkosh, Wis. has been fighting for a year. "I was picturing dressing up, and fake swordfighting," she said. "I just wasn't interested. I finally went to one practice, and I haven't looked back since."

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