The Rearguard v2 represents a new generation of fencing mask specifically designed for Historical Martial Arts – no matter your style or choice of weapon.
The Arming Guild designed the mask around three guiding principles : safety, comfort and affordability. After numerous prototypes, here is the final product.
(NOTE : "standard mask overlays (DOHEMA, SPES, PBT) are NOT COMPATIBLE with this mask. The Warrior Overlay from PBT is compatible and we are designing a specific DOHEMA overlay in early 2021)
WHY A SPECIFIC MASK FOR HEMA AND OTHER HISTORICAL MARTIAL ARTS?
Head injuries are a serious matter. Open wounds or skull fractures are obvious. But what you probably don’t see are the series of "micro-concussions" that can be used by the "subconcussive impacts" you experience every time you are hit to the head.
What does that mean? In short more and more evidence is showing that not just the heavy hits to the head, but also the more frequent lighter hits, can cause brain trauma over time.
Modern Olympic fencing masks (even the 1600N FIE masks) were not designed for the hits we take in historical fencing. While suitable for some lighter weapons and styles (dagger work, smallsword, some rapier work), Olympic masks fail on many points for heavier historical weapons :
- Olympic masks weren’t designed for strikes with the amount of force we generate in HEMA, especially padding-wise
- The back of the head is uncovered and while back-of-head covers work, they aren’t quite the solution
- The angles of strikes in HEMA can be very different from Olympic fencing attacks
- HEMA fencing weapons are MUCH heavier than Olympic épées, foils and sabres
- Heavy thrusts to the face of Olympic fencing masks often allow contact between the mesh and the face : causing the infamous "blood waffle".
Building the Rearguard on the basis of existing Olympic mask design (much of the design is long proven and appropriate) allows the new mask to be made on existing mask production lines, keeping costs down. The problems above were addressed by changing the following design features :
- An elongated back of the mask, protecting the back side of the head
- A slightly elongated front mesh to reduce the possibility of a “bloody waffle” – the painful imprint of mesh on skin
- A mesh backplate to protect the parietal bone
- A back-of-head protector to cover the occipital bone
- Inner reinforcement bar to help prevent mesh hitting the face
- Extra rubber ring on the forehead and back of the mask to help with force absorption
- Grommeted holes for easier modification of protective options
- CEN2/FIE certified (1600N bib, 1000N mesh)
RETHINKING MASK PADDING
Nothing short of stopping impact generating sports can completely prevent prevent "micro-concussions" from "subconcussive impacts" (ask any rugby, American football or boxing professional), redesigned padding helps a lot.But the padding in standard fencing masks offers little to no protection for HEMA fencers from micro-concussions. To help prevent this, some fencers (including Black Armoury's founder Anthony) use rugby scrum caps with their masks to cushion the blows.
With Rearguard V2, the Arming Guild went a few steps further. They wanted to create a scrum cap that fits perfectly with the mask, is breathable and has extra protection on the danger zones.
This is why :
- They’ve used Artificial Cartilage Foam (ACF), an extremely effective shock absorbing material to cover the forehead, sides and top of the head. ACF can absorbe up to 90% of the force of impact.
- For comfort, they've included microfiber textile at the chin.
- The remaining padding insert is made from 3D mesh material that is antibacterial and breathable. This is the same material being used in many newer HEMA jackets.
Having your mask fit correctly is one of the most important factors to proper protection.
Keep in mind that fencing masks can be moulded a bit – if it is a little tight on your chin and jaw, place it between your thighs or sit on it at the widest circumference of the rubber ring and exert pressure. This will slightly elongate the mask, allowing for a more comfortable fit.
If you still plan to use an extra scrum cap underneath the mask for even more protection, please keep this in mind when choosing your size - you may want to go up a size.
The size is measured be taking a measuring tape and going around your head in the following manner: under the chin – ear – top of head – ear – chin.
Here is the sizing (Imperial measures are approximate, measure in metric if possible):
- S = 56-60cm (22 - 23 3/4")
- M = 61-65cm (24 - 25 3/4")
- L =66-69cm (26 - 27 1/4")
- XL =over 70cm (over 27 1/2")