Saber Forum

Way of the Saber => Saber Combat => Topic started by: BionicDance on May 21, 2019, 03:38:21 PM



Title: Protection Gear
Post by: BionicDance on May 21, 2019, 03:38:21 PM
Not really sure where to post this; none of the message boards seemed to be about equipping for dueling when it didn't come to the saber itself. This one seemed closest.

I'm just starting out; ordered a saber yesterday, and I have acquired some hand and forearm protection.

(https://i.imgur.com/Co3zgXq.jpg)

What I need to get next is something to protect my own personal face-bone. I needs me a helmet.

Now, if I opened up a map of Nowhere and pointed right in the middle, I'd be pointing at the nearest place that sells fencing gear, and I'm not gonna just order one; I'm not counting on getting a proper fencing mask. I need to try-before-I-buy, yanno?
Definitely not going paintball mask; those @#$%ers fog up on me.
 
So...what are my options? Hockey mask? Probably not a motorcycle helmet. I d'know.
What do other folks use that aren't fencing masks?


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on May 21, 2019, 04:19:31 PM
over in Questions, there's this thread on Safety Gear:
http://www.saberforum.com/index.php?topic=41349.0 (http://www.saberforum.com/index.php?topic=41349.0)

From my hunt for similiar answers, somebody said Paintball gear's not good enough for a whack to the head (gonna break).

Lacross pads/gloves had favorable nods, but not any kind of mask with holes you can stick your fingers in because they can stab a saber in.

Heavy Fencing mask seemed the best recommendation for head gear.

Right now, from my wood sword sparring pursuits, I have lacross gloves.  Those are nice.  Padded on the back of the fingers/hand, where a hit is going to happen.

What kind of gloves/pads did you get as seen in the picture?  Gloves look kind of like my Lacross.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: BionicDance on May 21, 2019, 04:28:00 PM
over in Questions, there's this thread on Safety Gear:
[url]http://www.saberforum.com/index.php?topic=41349.0[/url] ([url]http://www.saberforum.com/index.php?topic=41349.0[/url])


Oh.

The description of that sub-forum seemed to be for the sabers only.
Oh, well. My bad, I guess.


Quote
From my hunt for similiar answers, somebody said Paintball gear's not good enough for a whack to the head (gonna break).


Hmm. The San Diego Sabers group on Facebook recommended paintball gear as an alternative.
Glad I asked.

Quote
Lacross pads/gloves had favorable nods, but not any kind of mask with holes you can stick your fingers in because they can stab a saber in.


The pads and gloves I have in that picture in the OP are lacrosse gear.

I knew I wasn't going for a helmet, tho, for exactly that same reason.

Quote
Heavy Fencing mask seemed the best recommendation for head gear.

*psigh* The only place for that near me is gonna be, like, a $40 Lyft ride away. (And, no...not a $40 round-tripper. We're talkin' each way.)

Funny thing: if I put on all the safety gear I have right now--including an old set of BMX armor I have from a long time ago--I look less Jedi/Sith and more Road Warrior. Heh.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on May 21, 2019, 06:12:08 PM
One word: Airbrush.  :)

My Lacrosse gloves I got from Academy are bright white on the outer side, black/green on the underside.  Gah!

I think I can do a decent job airbrushing the white to grey or something, then go from there.  erase the brand logo, etc.

For starting, a mask with bars is still better than no mask.  My old karate headgear has a full grill (I took more precautions than the standard after getting plates in my head from a spinning kick).

Saber fighting is more slashing than thrusting, so...

PS: I think this is still a good sub-forum to have a thread about this because this is literally the group for talking about hitting each other.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Cyclops942 on May 21, 2019, 06:29:57 PM
*psigh* The only place for that near me is gonna be, like, a $40 Lyft ride away. (And, no...not a $40 round-tripper. We're talkin' each way.)

Bummer.  Like janx says, though, SOME protection beats NO protection.

Funny thing: if I put on all the safety gear I have right now--including an old set of BMX armor I have from a long time ago--I look less Jedi/Sith and more Road Warrior. Heh.

1.  It's practice, not cosplay or official public demonstration.  You're honing your skills here, not your presentation.  What works is more important than what looks "right."
2.  So... wouldn't Mel Gibson (the Mad Max I remember) have looked SUPER cool wielding a light saber?


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: BionicDance on May 21, 2019, 07:16:23 PM
1.  It's practice, not cosplay or official public demonstration.  You're honing your skills here, not your presentation.  What works is more important than what looks "right."

I just thought it was funny.
I tried it all on, looked in the mirror, and had a, "Say...how 'bout that?" moment.
Everything I bought, I bought to utility; it just happened to look kinna cool when put together, is all.

Quote
2.  So... wouldn't Mel Gibson (the Mad Max I remember) have looked SUPER cool wielding a light saber?

I'd totally watch a Star Wars/Road Warrior crossover.
Heck, just set it on Tatooine, right?


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Musashi Padawan on May 21, 2019, 07:23:13 PM
If you have the internet, Amazon or eBay can deliver you a “3 weapon fencing mask” for $50-60. Do not try heavy sparring with anything else on your head.
Lacrosse gloves are good depending on the model. Red dragon gloves or rapier HEMA gloves are also great options. Moto cross jackets, although not ideal are a solid cheap option for starter body armor. I discuss the pros and cons here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0lNWKlOJiQ&feature=share# (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0lNWKlOJiQ&feature=share#)


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: KaiserSosay on May 22, 2019, 04:20:55 AM
Thank you for posting the video. Very informative.  I have only been sparring against my 5 year old son so far. His strongest attack is to cup-check me while I'm sleeping. Its overly affective! I have stopped sleeping. He gets stronger every minute, as I get older and weaker. You might have just prolonged my life! At the very least, I will be optimistic about my future. For a little while!

              Thank you again for posting the video. 


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: KaiserSosay on May 23, 2019, 03:36:54 PM
Definitely not going paintball mask; those @#$%ers fog up on me.
 
So...what are my options? Hockey mask? Probably not a motorcycle helmet. I d'know.
What do other folks use that aren't fencing masks?


Not paintball but airsoft masks are what i had laying around.  Of coarse my sparring partner is only five, so...
(http://i.imgur.com/RUOanJC.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/ppm3Mux.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/h2UVTXq.jpg)
(http://i.imgur.com/pa41bb7.jpg)


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: amanal on May 24, 2019, 12:21:17 AM
What do other folks use that aren't fencing masks?

You mask is protecting a lot of vital bits of you, while what you put between you and your opponents blade may be a matter of taste I don't think you can go past a fencing mask.

BTW: you can push in the top/bottom or the left/right sides and improve the fit by pushing and pulling.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: ThreadJack on May 24, 2019, 12:27:58 AM
https://www.icewarehouse.com/Bauer_Concept_3_Certified_Full_Shield_Junior/descpage-BC3FSJ.html (https://www.icewarehouse.com/Bauer_Concept_3_Certified_Full_Shield_Junior/descpage-BC3FSJ.html)

Attach that to a hockey helmet of your choice.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: AstraVlad on June 04, 2019, 01:51:23 PM
I personally would not recommend rapier gloves if you spar with at least _some_ force. And if you do full-speed, full-force sparring like we do, they can be totally ineffective. I use light HEMA gloves and they can not protect me from heavy hits sometimes (my fingers still remind me of today's sparring :)). RedDragons are the way to go according to my experience.

Also you totally can buy fencing mask "blind". There are comprehensive size tables and you can fit it for your head by bending a steel "tongue" at the back. Fencing masks are inexpensive and durable and you will not regret getting one of them.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Illyiss on June 04, 2019, 02:05:10 PM
I would like to point out that "inexpensive" is a VERY relative term.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: BionicDance on June 04, 2019, 02:10:33 PM
It really is.
 
And I've had too many bad experiences not trying-before-buying that there is no possible way I'll get something that's gonna be more than $100 and which may not fit before I've plopped it on my noggin to check.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Musashi Padawan on June 04, 2019, 07:22:10 PM
If you are planning on any full contact dueling, 50-60$ is NOT expensive to provide durable and reliable protection that will last many years. Most stunt sabers cost twice as much as a good fencing mask. We are talking about the most important part of your body. If this is a hobby you are interested in, it is an investment that needs to to be made. Tape measure and charts for sizing before ordering and worst case - Amazon offers free returns. I see no debate here.
I personally would not recommend rapier gloves if you spar with at least _some_ force. And if you do full-speed, full-force sparring like we do, they can be totally ineffective. I use light HEMA gloves and they can not protect me from heavy hits sometimes (my fingers still remind me of today's sparring :)). RedDragons are the way to go according to my experience.
Red Dragons are nice but somewhat bulky. I have not seen any sparring heavier than what we do at the Academy and Kevlar reinforced HEMA rapier gloves have kept me broken finger free for years now. I do recommend supplementing any glove you choose with fingertip protectors like these:
https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm (https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm)


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Illyiss on June 04, 2019, 08:50:22 PM
If you are planning on any full contact dueling, 50-60$ is NOT expensive to provide durable and reliable protection that will last many years. Most stunt sabers cost twice as much as a good fencing mask. We are talking about the most important part of your body. If this is a hobby you are interested in, it is an investment that needs to to be made. Tape measure and charts for sizing before ordering and worst case - Amazon offers free returns. I see no debate here. Red Dragons are nice but somewhat bulky. I have not seen any sparring heavier than what we do at the Academy and Kevlar reinforced HEMA rapier gloves have kept me broken finger free for years now. I do recommend supplementing any glove you choose with fingertip protectors like these:
https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm (https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm)


Oh I'm not saying that it's not a good investment, just that what is expensive or not is relative.  While even just $50 is easy for some to drop (let alone the $100+ for better ones that many dueling orgs require with back of head protection), for many, that's a month's food budget, or a decent chunk of it.  I'd like to see the sport be more accessible, which is rough on fixed and/or low incomes.  Which is sadly the vast majority of the populace, at least in the US.  Especially when that's not the only piece of gear in that price range needed.  Saber aside.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: AstraVlad on June 04, 2019, 10:47:12 PM
I would like to point out that "inexpensive" is a VERY relative term.
An average 350N epee fencing mask that is MORE than adequate to lightsaber combat costs around $50. It is inexpensive. You do not need anything fancy to fight and with our safe blades you do not need any additional head protection (I do HEMA and have full set of protective gear but I never ever use it with a lightsaber -- it is just no need for it).

If you are planning on any full contact dueling, 50-60$ is NOT expensive to provide durable and reliable protection that will last many years. Most stunt sabers cost twice as much as a good fencing mask. We are talking about the most important part of your body. If this is a hobby you are interested in, it is an investment that needs to to be made. Tape measure and charts for sizing before ordering and worst case - Amazon offers free returns. I see no debate here.
+1

Red Dragons are nice but somewhat bulky. I have not seen any sparring heavier than what we do at the Academy and Kevlar reinforced HEMA rapier gloves have kept me broken finger free for years now. I do recommend supplementing any glove you choose with fingertip protectors like these:
https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm (https://www.woodenswords.com/SPES_Fingertip_Protectors_Set_of_10_p/spes-fingertips.htm)
Yes, fingertip protection is nice to have. Sometimes you get hit really hard at the fingertip and it is not pleasant at all :).

Regarding gloves, probably it depends on the blades. We use HeavyGrade Ultrasaber blades and my fingers are still feeling pain from the yesterday's fights :(. RedDragons are bulky but they offer much better protection. Though it is a matter of personal preferences of course.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Illyiss on June 04, 2019, 11:28:20 PM
An average 350N epee fencing mask that is MORE than adequate to lightsaber combat costs around $50. It is inexpensive. You do not need anything fancy to fight and with our safe blades you do not need any additional head protection (I do HEMA and have full set of protective gear but I never ever use it with a lightsaber -- it is just no need for it).


Good luck convincing the dueling organizations of that.  *I* agree, hell, I duel with others in an agreed upon no head shots, no thrusts game, and there are rarely problems, but it you are going to allow head shots, a mask is needed.  If you're going to thrust, chest and groin is probably a good idea.  Protective gloves can be a good idea, even if you make hilts and hands non targets, it still happens. 

As for $50 not being expensive, come live my life and tell me that.  Most months of the year, that's most, if not all, my food budget, and not because of leisure spending.  As I said, it's not an unfair price, it's just not always easy to have to spend.  If you still think it's easy to toss out, I'll send you my paypal. :P


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: AstraVlad on June 05, 2019, 12:12:43 AM
Good luck convincing the dueling organizations of that.  *I* agree, hell, I duel with others in an agreed upon no head shots, no thrusts game, and there are rarely problems, but it you are going to allow head shots, a mask is needed.  If you're going to thrust, chest and groin is probably a good idea.  Protective gloves can be a good idea, even if you make hilts and hands non targets, it still happens.
Tournament organizers always tend to be over-cautious but you do not need to follow that rules in your club. We fence without ANY restrictions at all and we live quite well with mask and gloves being the only protective gear. Some people even fight without a protective gear at all (I did it myself for half a year when I started). It's painful sometimes (being stubbed to the throat while wearing no protection is not the most pleasant thing in the world) but you will not die... probably :).

As for $50 not being expensive, come live my life and tell me that.  Most months of the year, that's most, if not all, my food budget, and not because of leisure spending.
S*** happens :(. Hope you will be better off in some time.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on June 05, 2019, 06:57:07 PM
From my practical experience of 20+ years of intermittent light sparring with wooden swords (plus fencing in college and a black belt):

I got started with no protective gear as a teen.  Made wooden swords and rules. No head or groin.  Hands got whacked the most.  Leather gloves with cotton gloves underneath helped.

Turns out that glove trick was needed in college as we didn't have enough fencing gloves (did have helmets and jackets).

You CAN start with that little, but, your risk of injury is higher.  And a school can't afford that risk (nor will their insurance let them).  So once you get formal, expect to need to get gear.

Observation: When my wife's saber arrived today, we tried them out in the living room.  She noted that to make the clash sound, you have to hit harder.  Which approached some near-injuries.  So I stopped it soon after.  The fun of the FX instigated higher risk levels than I usually saw with careful light sword work using boffers or wood.

Be careful.  Work your way up to full protection as your budget allows, but keep it light and controlled until you have expert supervision and gear.



Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: AstraVlad on June 05, 2019, 11:35:54 PM
People are much more robust than it is generally accepted. You should just get rid of your fear and embrace pain :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY# (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY#)


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on June 06, 2019, 05:43:30 AM
People are much more robust than it is generally accepted. You should just get rid of your fear and embrace pain :)

[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY#[/url] ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY#[/url])


fear? No. I'm middle aged and have a $6,000 deductible. I got enough bills.

Heck, I have plates in my head from when I was a purple belt sparring a black belt. And I came back and earned my black belt.



Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Musashi Padawan on June 06, 2019, 06:17:49 AM
People are much more robust than it is generally accepted. You should just get rid of your fear and embrace pain :)

[url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY#[/url] ([url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ts-FjmWmeWY#[/url])

At the Academy we always say, “train safe today so you can train tomorrow”... Controlling one’s adrenaline, breathing and flight/fight response is key to mastering so-called “fear” in sparring. We talk about these concepts a lot.
But training without adequate safety equipment has nothing to do with becoming a better martial saber practitioner.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: AstraVlad on June 08, 2019, 11:50:45 AM
fear? No. I'm middle aged and have a $6,000 deductible. I got enough bills.
I'm sorry, I always forget about that part of the American life :(. You do have reasons to play it safe.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Cern on July 03, 2019, 09:16:38 AM
how would this work for light dueling?

https://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Full-Protection-Knight-Templar/dp/B06ZZDQ5QQ/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=templar+helmet&qid=1562170569&s=gateway&sr=8-12 (https://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Full-Protection-Knight-Templar/dp/B06ZZDQ5QQ/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=templar+helmet&qid=1562170569&s=gateway&sr=8-12)


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Musashi Padawan on July 03, 2019, 09:45:10 AM
how would this work for light dueling?

https://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Full-Protection-Knight-Templar/dp/B06ZZDQ5QQ/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=templar+helmet&qid=1562170569&s=gateway&sr=8-12 (https://www.amazon.com/Tactical-Full-Protection-Knight-Templar/dp/B06ZZDQ5QQ/ref=sr_1_12?keywords=templar+helmet&qid=1562170569&s=gateway&sr=8-12)

Depends on how “light”, I mean there are groups wearing only goggles that refer to dueling. But in my opinion, stopping BBs is a lot different than a blunt object coming with some force. If you are engaging in anything organized or competitive, I would recommend a fencing mask. They are easy to customize and paint to look cool and not much different in price.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on July 03, 2019, 10:35:57 AM
I went for my second saber class held at a nationally acclaimed fencing school.

no gloves, no helmets during lights-out free sparring time at the end.

Got tapped on the head and hand a few times while dueling the instructor. Both instructors appear to be well skilled in the art (rather than randos who watched a youtube video and started a school).

Talking later, after class, their view is that more pads and protection tends to lead to heavier, more reckless contact, not safer.  I'll note that NFL injury records support this, as pads got better, players hit harder.

I'd still advise wearing gloves, because I use my fingers for work (mine are fine, but I can still feel an ache in the ones that got tapped).

A fencing mask is also a  good idea.  Despite both parties having good control and no lasting pain, I could have broke glasses just as easily).

With those in place, I still see their point.  Barring a yack-hole getting stupid, two reasonable students will self-moderate themselves because they're not feeling armored and invulnerable.

Mileage may vary based on the people and styles of combat involved.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Illyiss on July 03, 2019, 11:32:18 AM
Also, something to keep in mind, force = mass x acceleration.  Speed increases impact as well.  When you throw fast shots, even without brute force behind them, they hit hard.  I am large, and throw fast shots (taking advantage of small windows), and get accused of hitting too hard at times.  Slowing down is hard, telegraphs, and throws off timing.  Hand/wrist, face/head are probably good ideas.  If you aren't stabbing (those I duel with do not allow it), gorgets and cups are less important.

Janx brings up a good point, when you armor up, you swing harder, and so do those trying to make sure you feel it.  Escalation happens.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: janx on July 03, 2019, 11:57:58 AM
Also, something to keep in mind, force = mass x acceleration.  Speed increases impact as well.  When you throw fast shots, even without brute force behind them, they hit hard. 
..snip...

True, but...as part of my martial arts training, I learned control.  Perhaps a fancy way of saying "pulling my punches."

An advanced martial artist should be able to strike fast yet hit the target with a feather's touch just as easily as breaking through a board.

That means not over-extending such that you have no choice in the matter or knowing which moves require that kind of commitment, such that what you are doing can always be retracted or halted. Especially when you are supposed to be doing light contact.





Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Musashi Padawan on July 03, 2019, 12:21:14 PM
Also, something to keep in mind, force = mass x acceleration.  Speed increases impact as well.  When you throw fast shots, even without brute force behind them, they hit hard.  I am large, and throw fast shots (taking advantage of small windows), and get accused of hitting too hard at times.  Slowing down is hard, telegraphs, and throws off timing.  Hand/wrist, face/head are probably good ideas.  If you aren't stabbing (those I duel with do not allow it), gorgets and cups are less important.

Janx brings up a good point, when you armor up, you swing harder, and so do those trying to make sure you feel it.  Escalation happens.
Yes, good points all around. This IS all very relative. Some like flag football, I prefer tackle. And yes, increased equipment does allow for heavier contact. However, I would disagree that increasing safety equipment leads to more reckless sparring. In a controlled environment with proper experienced instruction and oversight, going too hard or outside the established etiquette is simply not tolerated.  Nor does equipment lead to poorer technique, in fact I would argue the opposite. As Illyiss points out even with supreme control, one can not use a full repertoire of techniques while at the same time slowing down. A big part of training is not only mastering footwork and technique, but mastering these in such a way that one increases the speed. Speed wins sword fights most of the time over brute force.
So in summary, to go full speed for me means more challenge, fun and technique. But full speed also requires safety. To prevent injury and be able to train tomorrow, I recommend equipment.


Title: Re: Protection Gear
Post by: Jabari on September 05, 2019, 03:15:14 PM
I've sparred with no gear.  While yes, it can be done, I ended up getting lacrosse gloves because your hands are most likely to get hit.  And my sparring partner tended to get a little too into it, which leads to some awkward form when you're constantly dodging to keep your face out of danger.  Accidents happen, even if you agree no head shots!

THAT SAID, I won't spar without gear anymore.  I would say the absolute minimum is gloves and a fencing mask (which, really, is your face not worth more than $60?  It'll sure cost more than that to repair it if you get hit, and nobody wants to lose an eye or teeth.  Save up if you have to, but get a proper fencing mask!)   I've been able to borrow a fencing mask from a friend, and it definitely made me a more confident fighter, as I'm no longer afraid of a blow to the head.

For body armor: motocross jackets are better than nothing, and a cheap way to start, but they have some big flaws.  There's no inner arm protection, and because of the zipper, they have no sternum protection.  And they're surprisingly hot.  I've used one a couple of times, and ended up upgrading to hockey pads (which you can find used pretty easily, I suggest Play It Again Sports if you have one nearby).  Motocross jackets are not legal for Saber Legion competitions due to the lack of sternum protection (but you can wear them for sparring/practice, or get a fencing chest protector to go over them).  Hockey pads (despite what that video says) can absolutely be painted and customized, and mine cover the inner bicep, which is a place I was constantly getting stabbed while wearing the moto jacket.

Knee pads are also good idea.  While nobody should be aiming for your knees, they do get hit on the backswing.  I've been using motocross combination knee/shin guards, which are nice because they have good range of movement and stay in place.  Hockey pads are too stiff.

Elbows and Forearms: You can get combination elbow and forearm pads made for hockey/lacrosse/motocross/soccer, etc.   I have a small pair of lacrosse elbow pads, but may upgrade to larger hockey pads in the future.  Nothing I've found covers the inner arm very well except for HEMA fencing gauntlets though, so it depends on your preference.

I'd say the above is basic gear.  If you're going to do competitions, like Saber Legion, you'll also need thigh, hip, stomach, groin, spine, back of the head, and throat protection.  Again, this is often hockey or fencing gear, but can vary.   I know someone who uses a baseball umpire stomach pad, for example.


As to "more gear = harder hits" - it can, but it shouldn't, if you're actually attempting to be a good martial artist instead of just whacking people.  The local Saber Legion group has a person who tends to hit too hard, and working on chaining moves (so, instead of just one hit and done, do two or more moves at once - block then hit, etc) got him to back off, because you can't hit full force if you immediately have to follow it up with a second move.  Which made everyone a better fighter, and him less likely to hurt someone.   (Saber Legion also discourages full-force hits, because if you were using a real lightsaber, you wouldn't need a very hard hit to cause damage.  And it's more fun for everyone involved.  You only need to touch to score.)

As I said before, wearing a helmet made me a lot more confident, and it freed me up to concentrate on technique - everything from footwork/balance to saber handling.  And it's more fun to not have to worry about hurting yourself or others.  If you're sparring, or doing anything other than practiced choreography, at least get a helmet and gloves!