This month, I’m looking at elements of medieval history that might be of use to writers. Swordplay shows up in most fantasy novels somewhere, and while obviously the main things about writing it are that it should fit your story and read well, understanding medieval swordplay can help.
For a full look at it, I’d recommend some of the historical texts accessible through http://www.wiktenauer.com/ but we can cover some basics here. First is that a wide variety of weapons and tactics were used. It was not all about sword against sword. Secondly, most people would have done something with both hands when they were using a sword, whether it was using a shield, using a second weapon, or holding a long sword with both hands.
Third, some common tactics to try including: attacking and defending in one movement, rather than parrying and riposting. Wrestling at close range, having crashed into the opponent’s sword with yours. Reversing your sword to hit them with the blunt end as a hammer (people really did all of these). Resting your sword against your shoulder baseball bat style in the basic stance, because it’s a waste of energy not to. Try writing in all of these, for that extra bit of authenticity.