About Us

Started somewhere around 1999 by Josh Little, Ars Gladii is a martial arts school dedicated to reconstructing and reviving the chivalric fighting arts of medieval Central Europe. Using a wealth of surviving fencing, wrestling, and martial manuscripts, Ars Gladii teaches students fighting techniques for the myriad of weapons the medieval knight had at their disposal. Wrestling, dagger fighting, fencing with the sword in one or both hands, axe play, and even armored combat are all taught at the school.

Josh is now joined by David Farrell, originally from the Chicago Swordplay Guild, as co-instructor. Dave brings a wrestling background, both in medieval and early modern/catch wrestling, as well as a solid understanding of body mechanics to form a blend of the modern and the medieval into learning the historical fencing arts.

Whether you are a historian, martial arts aficionado, role-player, athlete, or you simply like the thought of playing with swords, Ars Gladii has something to offer you. Come on out and see us in action!

Ars Gladii is a state and federally registered 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to reconstructing, revitalizing, and teaching the martial skills and cultures of medieval and early modern Europe to all persons who seek such knowledge.

Practice Knighthood, and learn Art that adorns you, And in wars brings honor. Wrestle well, grappler. Glaive, spear, sword, and knife…


Josh Little founded Ars Gladii sometime in 1999 (the exact origins are lost to space and time). He holds a degree in Philosophy and Medieval History from Western Michigan University. Josh has been around swords for almost his entire life, participating in numerous forms of practice including Olympic-style fencing, the SCA, and medieval reenactment. For the last 17 years, he has worked hard on reconstructing the medieval fencing arts of Central Europe from surviving manuals, specifically on the works related to the Zettel of Johannes Liechtenauer. Outside of the chivalric arts, Josh also enjoys boxing, both modern and historical, and marksmanship using 19th century firearms. Josh is Ars Gladii’s primary weapon instructor.

David ‘Sparky’ Farrell is Ars Gladii’s primary mechanics and wrestling instructor. He began his Western Martial under the tutelage of Greg Mele and the fine folks at the Chicago Swordplay Guild, where he earned the rank of Scholar and served as an instructor for several years before moving to the metro Detroit area. Dave brings to Ars Gladii a good understanding of the martial lineage of Fiore de Liberi and the arts of the Italian Peninsula, catch and freestyle wrestling, body mechanics, and early 20th century American physical culture.

Kat Dunham is an instructor at Ars Gladii. She started her sword journey with modern sabre, then Kendo, and eventually transitioned to HEMA in 2016. Loving the diversity of weapons, people and the intellectual pursuit that HEMA provides, she expects to be a lifelong HEMA practitioner.

Tyler Dunham joined Ars Gladii in 2016 B.S.D. (Before Salle d’Etroit). He holds a degree in Philosophy and English from Central Michigan University. Tyler has been practicing martial arts and combative sports since he was 15 -most notably Wing Chun, Olympic Sabre Fencing, and Kendo, with others sprinkled in between. At Ars Gladii his interests lie primarily with the early traditions of Johannes Liechtenauer’s Bloßfechten with the longsword and Andre Lignitzer’s Sword and Buckler. He also engages in self-study of the British Military Sabre Systems of the Napoleonic Era. His interests outside of being cut, stabbed, sliced or thrown include drawing, cooking, the outdoors, and archery.