Welcome! You’ve arrived at the only little spot on the internet devoted solely to those who study historical fencing in New Haven, CT, USA.
Yes, we play with swords – and you can, too!
Historical fencing is pretty much the only activity in the world that allows you to get fit, study late medieval manuscripts and stab your friends all at the same time. So if that sounds like something you’d enjoy, why not give it a try?
We welcome anyone who is willing to be welcoming to others, regardless of class, gender, race, sexuality, physical capabilities, and so on. Beginners and experienced fencers both welcome!
Some questions people often ask
Are the swords real?
Yes, we train and spar with real steel swords.
Are you insane?!? How is that safe?
Medieval people faced the same problem we do: how to train with real steel swords, without hurting your training partners. One of their solutions was to produce special training swords, still made of steel, but blunt along the edge, and also a little flexible at the tip so as to allow for safe thrusting. You can still find many examples of these steel training swords in museums all around the world. (For instance, there are some lovely surviving examples in the Metropolitan Museum in New York)
When we spar, we use those swords, as well as modern protective gear. We also use sharp steel swords for solo practice, and to practice cutting targets. Many of our beginners also use wooden swords, mostly just because they’re the cheapest way to get started.
How do you know this is the way medieval people really fought?
We work directly from surviving historical fencing manuals, generally from the 14th-16th centuries. Those manuals were once used to teach the art of fencing in earnest, when it was a living thing. Now we’re learning from them once again. You can learn more about our sources here.
Do you dress up?
No, we don’t dress up in medieval outfits (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) Instead, we use the best modern safety equipment. Our aim is to practice the historical art of swordfighting, not to recreate the look.
Ok, I’m very interested. Where can I learn more?
If you want to get a better sense of the kind of thing that Historical Fencers do, take a look at this New York Times video on the subject.
After that, contact us, and come to a class! You’ll be very welcome, whether you’re an experienced martial artist or a complete newcomer.
(To get in touch with us, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the CONTACT link on the top right, or join the New Haven Historical Fencing Facebook group. Newcomers welcome!)
The New Haven Gladiatoria
If you live near New Haven, you might also want to read a bit about our resident late-medieval martial arts manual, the New Haven Gladiatoria. It’s world famous, and it’s right in our backyard.
Other Historical Fencing in the Area
If you’re interested in historical fencing, and you live in Connecticut, you should definitely take the time to check out all the groups who practice Historical European Martial Arts within about 90 minutes drive of New Haven.
In fact, if you’re willing to drive a lot, you can swordfight pretty much all week!
Here’s a quick rundown of the other great HEMA clubs in CT:
Per La Vita Academy of Western Martial Arts
Per Le Vita teach Italian swordsmanship, and run great weekly classes in Milford, CT on Thursdays at 6:30pm and on Sundays at 1pm. (Please check in with them before attending!)
Western Swordsmanship Technique and Research.
WSTR runs an excellent weekly class in Willimantic, CT on Wednesday nights (Beginners 6:30-7:30pm, advanced 7:30-9:00pm). Make sure you check in here: (https://www.wstr.info/schedule/). They also have a class in East Haddam which runs many, but not all, Saturdays; check their website for details. Excitingly, WSTR runs an annual tournament called the Brass Frog Assault of Arms which focuses on 18th and 19th century swords such as smallswords, backswords, basket-hilted broadswords, 19th Century military sabres, and the like. It’s well worth attending.
Laurel City Historical Fencing.
Laurel City Historical Fencing runs two very fun weekly classes in Winsted, CT, at 6:30pm on Tuesday and Friday nights. On the last Friday of the month, they usually run a sparring night (though sometimes this gets moved, so it never hurts to check before coming!) Their Winsted venue is also the usual home of two amusingly-named HEMA events: CLANG, for armored fighting, and the Connecticut Yeet Association, for late medieval wrestling. Both CLANG and the CYA meet on the third Saturday of the month (10:30am: CLANG, 1:30pm: CYA). Generally they meet in Winsted, but it’s best to check in with the organizers first, just to make sure.
Thames River Historical Fencing
Thames River Historical Fencing run a great group in Ledyard, CT. They run classes on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30. Due to the requirements of their venue, they don’t allow casual drop-ins, but if you live nearby, signing up for the season is a great idea! Contact them for more info.
If You Live Somewhere Else…
If you’re looking for a Historical European Martial Arts club somewhere else in the world, then take a look at the HEMA Alliance Club Finder.
Here are a few select links for anyone considering the study of historical fencing:
Wiktenauer, the largest online repository of medieval fencing manuals.
Hroarr, an online magazine for historical European martial arts.
The popular Youtube channel of long-time HEMA instructor Matt Easton.
Esfinges, the first international network for women in HEMA.
Ritterkunst, the website of prominent HEMA practitioner Jessica Finley.
The Youtube channel of highly-regarded HEMA instructor Martin Fabian.
Women of HEMA, a good source of interviews and tournament coverage
The Youtube channel of highly-respected HEMA instructor Anton Kohutovič.