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Media coverage

Postby admin » 13 Apr 2006 03:13

Westside Magazine:

http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/gallery2/ ... temId=6087

Metro Newspaper:

"Live life at the sharp end
By Joe Rathlin, Metro
8 December 2004


"Such is the domination of martial arts by its many Eastern forms - from karate to kung fu and from judo to jujitsu - you might be forgiven for thinking macho orientals invented the whole genre.

Cast your mind back a few centuries, though, and you'll recall there was once a time when every European's life might depend on his skill with a weapon; a time when every tiny move was analysed as literally a matter of life and death.

In those days, swordplay was an essential part of man's education and London was filled with schools offering expert tuition in all the deadly arts - our very own versions of the Eastern dojos.

Near Ealing Common, you'll find a throwback to those days in the form of Schola Gladiatoria, which combines scholarly study of obscure Italian 15th-century fighting manuals with some practical applications.

Under the expert tutelage of Matthew Easton, I was soon swinging a long sword like an extra out of a Hollywood epic as he put me through the basics.

This most Western of martial arts has a legacy going back many centuries. Its biggest difference from the Eastern styles is attitude. In the East, the aim is to achieve a Zen-like state with the sword - to make it a part of your body. In the West, we aimed to save that privilege for the opponent.

No sense of fair play

Wooden practice sword in hand, I was soon learning the difference between the true edge and the false edge and the need to keep my wrists uncrossed on the back cut (it makes it easier to be disarmed).

This mix of sporting event and history lesson raced through the differences between Italian and German sword techniques while simultaneously striking at head, body and other less savoury bits of the anatomy.

Most unarmoured medieval duels or fights would be finished in a matter of seconds - as one serious cut or thrust could disable or kill an opponent. And dismiss any notions of fair play.

'The sword hand was a particular target,' says Easton. For this reason, the guard positions keep the hands out of reach of sniping attacks, unlike later fencing styles - using more protective hilts - where the hand can be more safely presented.

A few quick blows from Easton illustrated the point perfectly but fortunately the wooden sword meant I kept my finger count the same before and after the lesson.

As well as the long sword, you can also learn dagger, sabre, spear and pole axe techniques. Says student James Marwood: 'I previously studied jujitsu and a number of other Eastern martial arts. Western martial arts use many of the same techniques.'

Trip, throw and knock

And so it became apparent. With the long sword, one aim is to quickly close the distance to the attacker and then trip, throw or knock them to the ground.

Even an armoured warrior is vulnerable when lying on their back winded and disorientated. So the familiar judo or jujitsu principles of getting your opponent off-balance and using their own weight to bring them down come into play.

There were about 15 of us training and, although all took their interest seriously, the evening was also great fun. It's hard not to feel like Errol Flynn when you have a sword in your hand and I'm glad to say I was no exception. That said, I was amazed at how much was to be learnt with this one weapon.

History lessons at school were never this much fun - for obvious reasons, I guess. There are one or two teachers I'd have liked to have met at dawn to settle our differences.


Schola Gladiatoria, contact Matthew Easton, Tue 7.45pm to
9.45pm, All Saints' Hall, Elm Grove Road, Ealing Common W5.
http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
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Re: Media coverage

Postby admin » 20 Jun 2007 16:46

http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

I like swords more than you.
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Re: Media coverage

Postby admin » 11 Dec 2009 16:44

http://www.archaeology.co.uk/lisa-westc ... school.htm

Blisters, bum smacks and humble pie: my first class at Gladiator School

Written by Lisa Westcott Monday, 05 November 2007 15:55

Yesterday evening, I was killed at least 50 times. I was stabbed, slashed, poked, cut, beheaded, dismembered and left for dead. In other words: I attended my first class at the Schola Gladiatoria.

I had absolutely no idea what to expect and approached the doorway with a mix of trepidation and Christmas-morning level excitement. The instructor, Matt, was very welcoming and gave me a quick run-through of what happens in class, as he was emptying his duffel bag of various wooden swords, shields, gloves, helmets and other ominous-looking things I can’t quite identify as yet. Other members of the class filed slowly in, everyone seemed quite nice, and it was clear to me that this is a very chummy group. They all seem to be at different stages in their training, so I didn’t feel out of place at all as a beginner.

We started out with a warm-up, after which we were all ready to get down to business. We each geared up with a practice sword, and we began to train with very basic cutting and slashing techniques. We moved on to some backward movements as well as footwork and some choreographed fight routines. It looks easy when you see it in the movies, but let me tell you – if you’re not used to handling swords (which I’m guessing most people aren’t) or using your arms for such strenuous activity, it gets hard quite quickly. As the swords we were using were only a fraction of the weight of an actual steel weapon, it gives me a whole new respect for how strong fighters must have been back in the day. Additionally, the footwork is crucial; much like boxing, it is more important to avoid being struck (or in this case, cleaved) than it is to land a blow on your opponent. Likewise, without proper footing, none of your attacking movements will have sufficient power behind them. It’s a lot to think about and I did feel that I was embarking on an unexpectedly fascinating part of swordplay. It’s a great workout, too- my heart rate was up the entire time, not to mention the adrenaline rush one feels from even mock combat.

It has to be said: I’m not very good at this all. But, I can see how wanting to improve gets addicting! I feel determined to go back and get better. At the end of class, there was a sparring session, and it was thrilling to watch the more highly trained students go after each other in unchoreographed fights. Steel clashing, face-masks in place, it’s really a good show. We beginners also got a chance to spar with the instructor, but as I was already nursing a gigantic blister in the crook of my thumb on my pommel-side hand, I decided to opt out. I left the studio with his correctly dismissive comment ‘Wuss!’ ringing in my ears. We’ll see about that- I’m definitely going back for more. And I’ll be taking pictures, too!

For more details, visit Schola Gladiatoria at http://www.fioredeiliberi.org

http://www.antique-swords.co.uk/

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