The art of using Cossack shashka only recently began to revive in Russia. There was no common school or the printed manuals of shashka training, these techniques passed down from fathers to sons. Cossack military training began in the age of 7-8 years. To use a Cossack sword in real fight is not as easy as it seems. Even just to hit a target is almost impossible for the unprepared person.
An impressive sight of attacking Cossack detachment has been used in many films about the civil war in Russia. But every man who was taught to use shashka in childhood would see many strange things in these films. For example, in the famous Soviet film “Chapayev” two cavalry detachments try to use against each other the shashka’s strikes intended for the destruction of infantrymen.
Soviets had their own Red Cossack cavalry detachments until the end of WWII. But the level of their training was not high. It was impossible to teach a man drafted into the army at the age of 18 to use horse and shashka as a genuine Cossack. There were only four kinds of martial sword strikes in the military regulations of the Red Cossacks.
The art of sword today can be considered almost lost in Russia. The reason is that in the USSR possession of shashka, especially in the 1930s, was equated to the gravest crime. But in old times even experienced fighter should spend on training with sword at least 3 hours per day . So the result is predictable.
It’s interesting that the most accurate description of the shashka fighting can be found in the book of Mikhail Sholokhov “And Quiet Flows the Don”.
On the other hand the author of the book was a genuine Don Cossack himself. He was taught to use shashka since his childhood.
Fortunately there are enthusiasts who restore the art of using shashka bit by bit. Also the elements of a shashka fighting were preserved in the national dances of the Cossacks.
Watch this video showing an art of shashka.
Although the instructor makes comments on its actions in Russian, the way he uses his shashka is very impressive.