The Longsword or Langeschwert was a common and central weapon to the fencing traditions of Central Europe from the beginning of existing sources in the late Medieval period (1400s) through the beginning of the Early Modern era (later half of the 16th century onwards). Ars Gladii teaches the longsword mostly in its Medieval context. All students learn the basics of fencing with this weapon.
The Medieval Sword
The basic sidearm sword of the early through late Medieval period is common in surviving artifacts and iconographical representation, but sorely missing from the surviving historical fencing treatises. Only the late-period Messer (a sword/knife hybrid), along with its Early Modern cousin the Dussack (a form of proto-saber), is given any specific treatment. Ars Gladii synthesizes common fencing techniques and the surviving Messer/Dussack elements into a usable system across the various types of Medieval sword while still investigating the unique properties of each.
Additionally, Ars Gladii studies the medieval sword in combination with the buckler, a small hand-held shield. This was a very popular style throughout the medieval period.
Wrestling & Dagger
No more ubiquitous fighting system exists across all cultures and times like wrestling and dagger/knife fighting. Wrestling, called Ringen in the German speaking lands, was something children learned and continued into adulthood, regardless of social class or standing. Ars Gladii teaches wrestling in many different contexts, from “sport” wrestling of the Medieval and Early Modern period, to Kampfringen (“battle wrestling”), even some Catch Wrestling, the forerunner of modern professional wrestling. Alongside wrestling, we also teach the use of the dagger, turning wrestling into a lethal conflict.
The common term for Renaissance and Early Modern swords, the rapier is an evolution of the common sword of the Medieval period. Ars Gladii teaches the rapier as an extension of our core curriculum, examining how this weapon came to be used in the German and Italian principalities in the late 16th century.
The quintessential cavalry sword, the military saber paved the way for Victorian and modern saber fencing. Ars Gladii likes to look at each weapon in its heyday of personal or military use and the saber is no different. Ars Gladii works with both Napoleonic British saber and mid-19th century Prussian styles.
Ars Gladii performs test cutting against a variety of mediums using accurate reproductions of period swords. Students learn how to use test cutting to validate their training and improve their form, edge alignment, power generation, etc. early on in their progression. Test cutting “keeps us honest” in a time where swords are more a curiosity than a weapon.