Swordsmanship in London - Bradford - Manchester - Est. 2001

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Schola Gladiatoria is an historical European martial arts and fencing group, established in 2001 and led by Matt Easton.

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What are we?

  • We are martial artists, practicing traditional European armed and unarmed fighting skills (HEMA).

  • We train in modern clothes and use modern safety equipment.

  • We practice fighting skills for our personal development, not to put on displays or entertain the public.

  • Some of us enter and do well in martial arts competitions.

  • Our fighting systems are historical, but can have many modern world benefits, such as self defence, physical confidence and fitness.

  • Our systems easily measure up against modern and non-European arts (and can compete against them).

  • We are social, welcoming and friendly.

We have 3 classes: SG1 West London, SG6 Bradford and SG9 Manchester.

  • SG1 in Ealing, West London, on Tuesday evenings, under Matt Easton is the HQ of Schola Gladiatoria. Matt has been teaching HEMA for over a decade and has taught and competed at events across Europe. SG1 classes focus on two main subjects, with occasional sessions on different weapons: 


    • Medieval longsword fencing (two-handed sword), according to Fiore dei Liberi (c.1380-1410)

    • Victorian British military sabre fencing, according to John Musgrave Waite (c.1865-1884) and others

Our teaching ethos is to give students a very strong foundation in fencing and fighting principles, so that they can use any weapon to best effect. We focus on these core universal principles, rather than getting caught up on one particular weapon. Sessions are divided into a basic/beginner first part mainly consisting of drilling (7.45pm-9pm) and a second part for more advanced students (9pm-9.45pm) with sparring.


Email schola-gladiatoria@hotmail.co.uk for details.

  • SG6 in Shipley, Bradford, West Yorkshire, on Wednesday evenings, under Colin Fieldhouse, assisted by Greg Richardson, concentrates on:

    • Longsword according to various German sources in the Liechtenauer lineage (c.1380-1550)

    • Georgian military sabre according to John Taylor (c.1798-1830)

    • Pollaxe according to Le Jeu de la Hache (c.1470)

    • Sometimes also messer (big knife), sword & buckler and dagger.


    Classes consist of a mixture of drilling and sparring.


    Email swordfightbradford@hotmail.com for details.


  • SG9 in Marple, Manchester, on Tuesday evenings, under Paul Bennett, concentrates on longsword according to various German sources in the Liechtenauer lineage (c.1380-1550), messer (big knife) and sword & buckler.

Email scholamanchester@hotmail.com for details.

Equipment is provided for beginners at all our classes, there is no annual membership or joining fee, and most classes are around 7 per person per session. All you need to bring to your first class are some comfortable clothes (a pair of leather gloves can be useful, but not at all essential). To check specifics drop us an email. We always welcome beginners at any time of year and always have a number of new people in the class, so you won't be alone! All ages (over 18) and levels of fitness are welcome. We welcome all genders, nationalities and ethnicities and are signed up to the 'Fighters Against Racism' initiative. Couples and groups are also welcome.

What is HEMA?

Many people are surprised to learn that Europe has complex martial arts systems like those found in Asia and elsewhere. Historical European martial arts (HEMA), also known as western martial arts (WMA), are the study and practice of Europe's indigenous hand-to-hand combat systems. Historical fencing refers to a subset of HEMA, where the use of swords and longer weapons is taught.

These systems were used with great effect across the world by Europeans for hundreds of years. These are the arts that sometimes laid Japanese samurai low (eg. Portugese swordsmen in the 16thC) and defeated Turkish and Indian swordsmen (eg. Austrian swordsmen in the 16thC and British swordsmen in the 19thC respectively). In fact there are many parallels between Western and Eastern arts and anybody who has done Aikido, Jujitsu or Kenjutsu will find many similarities in technique. Similarly, people who have done modern sport fencing will find similarities.

Some of the European arts are continuous living traditions, whilst most have died as continuously-taught lineages (some evolved into sports, like modern boxing or modern fencing). Luckily, many of the old masters thought to write detailed and complex books about their fighting arts, and some of these have survived (we have hundreds of such combat books dating from 1300AD onwards). We use these detailed books and our experience as martial artists/fencers, with pressure-testing, to breath life back into the old arts. The end result are martial arts systems that can stand up against any other.

HEMA has already gained the notice of Asian martial arts, the sport fencing community, modern mixed martial artists and military hand-to-hand instructors, and is currently growing faster and faster, attracting a wider range of students, of all age groups and both sexes, than ever before.

HEMA brings a lot to the world of martial arts and offers students a very broad range of weapons and styles that have distinct regional differences, from Portugese staff, to Spanish rapier, to French smallsword, to German longsword, to Scottish backsword, to English pugilism. These arts were practiced by some of the greatest Empires that history has seen.

Is Schola Gladiatoria good at it?

Schola Gladiatoria has one of the best competition track records of any UK group, across a range of weapons. Against opponents from across Europe and beyond, our members have previously won:

  • 2005 - Glorianna Cup (Sabre/Backsword)

  • 2005 - BFHS Sir Robert Salle Challenge (Longsword)

  • 2007 - BFHS Sir Robert Salle Challenge (Longsword)

  • 2007 - FightCamp Cutting Competition

  • 2008 - HEMAC Dijon Open Tournament (Longsword)

  • 2008 - International Open Championship Apelern (Sword & Buckler)

  • 2009 - FightCamp Assault at Arms (Sabre/Backsword)

  • 2011 - BFHS SWASH Longsword Competition

  • 2012 -  HEMAC Dijon Rapier Competition

  • 2012 - FightCamp Eggleton Cup (Mixed Medieval Sidearms)

  • 2013 - FightCamp Waite Challenge (Steel Military Sabre)

We have also consistently ranked highly in these and other competitions, such as at the Dreynevent in Vienna and Swordfish in Gothenburg.

As a member of Schola Gladiatoria you don't have to compete and even sparring is completely optional, but if you want to compete then we'll help you become the best you can be.  We are well known for producing skilful fighters.

Who are the students?

We have members from many varied training backgrounds, all ages, various nationalities, ethnicities and both sexes.

People come to us from Asian martial arts, modern sport fencing, re-enactment and so on, and most people come into historical European martial arts with no previous related training at all.

Fitness is not a barrier to taking part - if you want to get fitter then we'll help and it won't be as boring as going to the gym!  

People from all backgrounds are welcome in Schola Gladiatoria.

Is it social?

As much as you want it to be. We generally go for a drink after training, but of course this is not compulsory. We have occasional day trips to museums and suchlike for those who are interested, and HEMA events are great fun even after the training has finished for the day! Schola is known as a very social club, and we have good friends spread throughout the UK and across Europe, America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Can you study other weapons and styles?

We provide a foundation of martial principles for our students, who if they wish are then welcome to branch out and study different weapon forms and sources. There are fighting treatises surviving from 1300 to the modern day, so a HEMA practitioner can study anything from medieval dagger fighting to renaissance rapier fencing to Victorian bayonet practice or Edwardian walking stick self-defence. A large proportion of the known fighting manuals are now freely available on the internet (see our Online Treatise Database).

Who else is doing HEMA?

The historical European martial arts have grown in popularity considerably in the last decade, and Schola Gladiatoria enjoys friendly and co-operative relations with groups in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Norway, Sweden, USA, Canada, Australia and elsewhere. 

Schola members were a founding part of HEMAC in 2000 and in 2006 joined the BFHS.

Since 2001 we have been actively involved in presenting at, teaching at and organising national and international martial arts events. Attendance of these events is totally optional for members, as is frequency of training, though we find that once a member goes to a big event they generally want to go to the next one!

If you want to find a group closer to you then have a look at our links page, or the groups listed on the HEMAC and BFHS websites.


Contact: schola-gladiatoria@hotmail.co.uk