As the beginner’s course draws to an end, I realise everyone has a lot of questions on how to continue their swordplay and what’s involved.  Hopefully this covers everything, but if you have any additional questions, please feel free to message me!


How much does it cost to continue?

We charge members £20 a month for membership.

That includes your insurance, and (once you pass your safety test) the ability to attend classes at Oxford, Godalming or Reading as well as Swindon.


How does payment work?

Payment is taken through Paypal subscription at the start of the month. When you first set up your payment you will need to log into the school’s invoicing & attendance system (dojo manager) and pay the first month’s invoice. This will link through to Paypal and allow the subscription to be taken automatically for future months.

If you wish to pause your subscription please email at least a week before the start of the new month.  Please also let me know so I can follow up / Have an idea of rough class sizes!


What is the commitment?

Commitment is month by month.  If you need to take some extended time off, just email at least a week before the start of the new month and restart when you are ready to come back


If I pay for a month and then don’t use it, can I get a refund?

Much like a gym membership, you pay for the month and then it’s up to you whether you use it or not.  This is just to make our treasurer’s job easier (I used to manage dues at Reading before we got this software, and I swear I aged 10 years in so many weeks!  Across all the chapters, we have over 300 students so managing dues is a massive job for our treasurer).  Remember you can cancel or pause your membership at any time – just email at least a week before the start of the new month.


How will dues for the 26th July work (Week 11) as it’s the end of a month?

Good question!  If I’d been smart I would have started the course a week later so we finished on the 26th!

What I will do is take an attendance register on the 26th and separately invoice those who come along a one-off charge of £4.

Monthly dues will start from 2nd August 2023.




Do I need to buy kit?

We recommend that you start to get your own kit together.  Remember in SOTS our uniform policy is all black (except for socks).  We have a whole section on recommended gear and suppliers here:


Am I able to continue to use school kit?

Of course.  However please take the following into consideration:

  • As we progress into 2024, some of the more advanced techniques will require better protective gear
  • Sparring with steel weapons requires protective gear
  • You can’t spar steel vs nylon. As students get steel weapons, they are going to want to play with their new toys.  SOTS Students are always happy to downgrade to ensure no-one gets left out, though!
  • When Swindon eventually does another intake, school kit will be prioritised for beginners


Do I need to buy complete kit, or can I buy bits over months?

Buying a lot of kit at the same time can be expensive,  so we recommend you buy it in increments over the course of the year.

We have 6 school masks so whilst they are incredibly important, our size means there should be enough to go around most weeks without having to rotate.

Personally I would recommend getting a gorget and chest protector as soon as possible.  Also some bulkier gloves if possible (But don’t go super high end)

Make your first big purchase a jacket.  We can then start doing a lot of the complex moves at full speed.

Then get your mask and optional protection.

Steel swords should probably come last on the list, as there are a lot of specific requirements and long lead times.  Talk to me if you are considering a purchase, but I would recommend getting a nylon for the time being.

Some SOTS students are looking to sell old gear they have since upgraded so this might also be an option if you are on a budget.


Is there any financial assistance available towards kit?

In order to help with the initial outlay of equipment, the school will reimburse up to £65 to candidati on their initial purchases of fencing kit. To qualify send a copy of your receipts to me at


What about non-kit items like socks and wicking shirts?

SOTS clothing (available in Swindon’s Gold colour) is available from:

(And remember you all have a T-Shirt coming!)



What are your plans for Swindon?

Over time, the plan is to grow it, much like Reading and Godalming have done, and Oxford is in the process of doing.  That’s a long term plan though.

To do that we’d need more instructors (because you can’t easily teach students and beginners at the same time), need more kit and more space.

Our venue was chosen for a number of reasons, not least because it suits our size.

It takes time to bring students up to the level of instructors (and not everyone would want to be an instructor), so I foresee that unless numbers dip below an unsustainable level, we’re not going to look at a beginners intake for at least a couple of years.  People move into the area so it’s possible that we’ll get more experienced members join once people have passed their safety test (I know a few people who have gear and would be interested once we’re passed safety test and have sufficient gear) but I wouldn’t want to go much above 12 in our current venue.

I’ve already spoken to a number of local clubs about having an optional additional interclub sparring day on a regular basis once we’re ready for them (or rather… them for us!)


What is the School Progression?

This is the typical school progression.

Amongst all this, we will mix it up with additional weapons that the class wants to study.  It just has to be Italian and around our timeframe.  We’re already looking at a couple of possible weeks of partisan (i.e.) spear in the autumn.

As long as we can get, beg or borrow enough weapons for the class (even if we use makeshift broomhandles for spears) I’m happy to include weapons into the curriculum that students want.


What is the Safety Test?

The safety test is a standardised grading across all chapters that shows to myself and other instructors that you have control with the sword and won’t pose a risk to others.  The School of the Sword is renowned around the world for the quality of their students so we want to maintain that!

The test covers everything we’ve been working on:  the form, the cuts and guards, defending with the pretzel, etc.


When do you expect Safety Tests to take place?

Because I am a lone instructor, I will be looking at grading everyone around the same time, so I’m going to wait until I feel everyone is ready and then do them in a block.

I’m hoping that will be around September, based on current progress, but we really need to work hard on tightening things up.


What if I’m not interested in Progression / Instructing / Tournaments?

If you just want to come along and have fun learning how to fight with swords that’s fine!  The safety test is the only real requisite.  We realise that not all areas of HEMA interest everyone, and that’s OK!  If you are interested in grading and progression then we want you to be as well rounded as possible, so we ask you to have experience in a little of everything.

Also of note:  once you have passed your safety test, you won’t be prohibited from studying any weapon.  The grades are purely for those who want some form of progression / challenge.