Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Here are some of my favorite pictures of my sons Joshua and Thomas sword-fighting in our front yard this past spring.
Like a lot of parents, I'm not comfortable with my toddlers playing with guns. But since young boys need to fight, I've found that swords are a great option.
A sword (as Ben Kenobi says of lightsabers) is "a noble weapon, of a more civilized age." What's so civilized about stabbing and cutting? Isn't killing someone with a sword more horrible than using a bullet? Why is it morally better to encourage our sons to approach fighting this way?
For one thing, swords force you to fight your foe face-to-face, man-to-man. When swordfighting is done to the death in real life, it literally forces you to face the bloody mess that is killing. Unlike the wielder of a machine gun, who can kill with detached mercilessness, killing with a sword takes effort - lots of effort. Killing is a weighty, grave business, and it should take effort. You should realize what you are doing.
And of course, you don't have to swordfight to the death. You can spar and duel for fun with blunt swords (you can't do that with machine guns!).
My friend Dan Nichols came up with a "sword code" that he taught his sons, which our family has also adapted.
Rules for Sword-Fightin':
1. Sword warriors don't fight an unarmed opponents. If you want to fight someone, make sure they have a sword (or stick) too.
2. No attacking babies, younger unarmed sisters playing dolls, pets, or other non-combatants. Sword warriors only fight other sword warriors.
3. You can't kill an opponent who surrenders. Show mercy.
4. Only cowards and villains stab in the back. Real sword warriors are always just and fair.
5. You can't bring your sword or weapon into church. This is an ancient rule: even St. George couldn't bring his sword to church.

Our favorite swords are the rubber ones we used to get from IKEA, though we've had some nice wooden swords made by Uncle Mike. At some point, I'll have to post about the homemade swords developed for serious boy combat by the Robinson family.


Ben said...

Unlike St. Patricks Day, I am certainly NOT hostile to sword fighting! For the sword fighting code you could even add a list of quotes from different heroes (and literary heavyweights) showing what they have to say on the subject.

Ben said...

For instance, here's a good one from Serenity's Captain malcolm Reynolds (on fair play):

Simon: I'm trying to put this as delicately as I can. How do I know you won't kill me in my sleep?

Mal: You don't know me, son, so let me explain this to you once. If I ever kill you you'll be awake. You'll be facing me. And you'll be armed.

Simon: Are you always this sentimental?

Mal: I had a good day.

...'course Mal shoots people all the time.

Chestertonian said...

Actually, what Ben Kenobe said was, "an ELEGANT weapon of a more civilized age." :-)

But I wholly agree. Love the sword code too.

Who am I? One hint: I edit the world's greatest magazine.

scmom said...

Great rules for sword fighting! And isn't it true that they will make weapons out of anything? My daughter uses her Barbies for weapons against her brothers!

Love2Learn Mom said...

I like it - and I'll have to share the rules with my sons.

My 3 year old son decided, after watching part of the Pope John Paul II movie that bad guys use guns and good guys use swords (after all, the Swiss Guards have swords!). I thought there was some truth to that.

Chestertonian said...

Ben!! Hello! Are you back in the US?

Serenity/Firefly forever!

Matthew said...

Ah swordfighting. Many fond memories of childhood.

(I had toy guns, too, but they were rather of an antique, long-rifle variety.)

Sorry, Mrs. Doman, but I must raise a protest--you're allowed to bring your sword to church! Knights traditionally drew their weapons and saluted at the Gospel!

(That being said, I rather imagine young squires such as your own tykes should keep their weapons at home, until they get knighted...)

Christine said...

I needed to read this. Having only one brother and plenty of sisters growing up, I never experienced sword fighting between boys until a few weeks ago. I immediately called my husband who told me that he and his brothers used to sword fight all the time. I will have to go over your rules with my boys.

Dad29 said...


My children don't play with guns. They are trained to use them correctly. That is NOT play.

It's a lot of fun to take them to a target-range and watch them compete, even if it's not formal...

regina doman said...

Matthew -- I stand corrected. But the rule will probably stand, though without ancient tradition on its side. :)

Dad29 -- as the daughter of a man who is a marksman, hunter, and Vietnam vet, I'm with you on guns! I'm still trying to get Grandpa to start training my older ones!

janetktc said...

There is a young man in our homeschool group who makes beautiful wooden swords. There's an article about him in our diocesan newspaper here:


Happily Ever After said...

We have similar rules with one added: you don't hit a person with a sword, only hit the sword.