You’re probably equal parts excited and apprehensive about coming and joining us. It’s always scary joining a new bunch of people but hopefully you’ll discover, just like 100 other members of the school, that we’re fun, diverse and hard working.
But to help allay any social anxiety we’ve put this article together on what to expect from your first training session with School of the Sword. It goes into a lot of detail so if you are after a short read, check out our FAQ page first to see if there’s a quick answer to your question there.
We currently train at two locations: Reading and Godalming. Whilst the curriculum and experience is the same, it’s a little more formalised at Reading due to the numbers.
At Reading we run beginner’s courses several times a year. These will be offered as a block of 6 lessons between set dates for £50. If you contact us, you can be put on the waiting list to be notified when bookings open.
To sign up you’ll just go to the link we send you, fill in your details and pay your £50. We’ll then set you up with an account on our attendance system and you’re good to go!
At Godalming new students are able to start at any time.
Sword fighting is a physical activity so you’ll need sports kit. Our school colours are black so ideally a dark t-shirt, dark jogging bottoms and a regular pair of gym trainers.
You’ll also want to get yourself a pair of thick gloves. Human sweat oxidises the swords we use and some of them are a bit banged up from students’ use and have burrs on them. Something with a cuff is usually best (such as a pair of gardening, motorcycle or driving gloves)
We sometimes change training locations within Reading due to numbers (finding space for an ever growing school of people swinging swords around is a constant problem) but we’ll notify you well ahead of time.
When you arrive, we’ll be easy to spot as we’ll be the people all dressed in black and carrying lots of swords. We’ll be expecting new arrivals so don’t worry about going up and saying hello.
We’ll issue you with your membership card and scan you in.
Sword fighting uses a lot of unusual muscles and we obviously don’t want any injuries so we start with a warm up. The idea of this is to get all our muscles suitably warm, not try and prove how fit (or unfit) we are, so don’t worry if you have to slow it down or stop! Just try and do a little of each exercise and then set yourself a goal to try and improve a little each week.
We’ll typically start pacing the hall once (both forwards and backwards), and then repeating, picking up the intensity to a sprint. We might also do cross-overs and sidestep before slowing it down and then working on stretches. We’ll end up with doing the plank for 90 seconds but you’ll be shown a number of ways to do it. Don’t worry if you have to stop and take a breather… we have to ensure the warm up works for people of all abilities.
Gloves & Weapons
With the hard bit over, the fun bit starts. When gloves and weapons gets called, it’s time to don your gloves and start handling a sword.
All our weapons are blunt and sated for safety but they’ve been especially made to handle like the real thing. Even so, remember bits of steel swinging around the hall could cause a nasty injury so treat it with respect and do what the instructor tells you.
We’ll show you how to properly carry it when not using it and ensure that before you start cutting with it, that there is suitable clearance around you. We’ll do some stretches with the sword in hand.
We will warm up with two cuts: what we call the figure of eight and the pretzel. For many of you this will be the first time you’ve ever swung a sword so we’ll have a load of instructors on hand to guide you through it. By the time you get to week 6, it’ll feel like riding a bike.
Rules Of The School
As we warm up with the figure of eight and the pretzel we’ll tell you the rules of the school. They’re pretty common sense ones involving safety and respect for your fellow students and our surroundings.
We adapt our lesson plans based on the progress of the class so the following is only a guideline. Some people take longer to learn some elements more than others and that’s perfectly acceptable. Our focus is on doing it right and we’ll help you get there, so don’t get frustrated if your hand or foot isn’t doing what your head is telling them to do. Everyone who swordfights experiences that at some point or another.
At the end of training, we will gather in a circle where each person will take it in turn to list a good point and a point for improvement. The good point can be about you, the lesson or even another student. The point for improvement (remember, it’s not a bad point!) is something you feel you need to work on.
The instructors will then give a quick summary and we’ll then pack up the kit and head home (or to the pub, which you as students are more than welcome to join in with)
After Your Six Weeks
After your six weeks are up you are welcome to continue training with us if you so wish. You pick up where you left off in week six. Lessons are then just £7 (although we offer discounts for paying monthly). As ‘Candidati’ within the school you’ll work toward something we call the “safety test”. This is a practical exam to show you’ve mastered safety, control of the blade and the foundations of swordplay. Upon passing it you’ll become one of our “Studenti” and get to join in one of the various training streams you’ll have seen other Studenti taking part in.
Sword fighting is a lot of fun and we hope that you’ll agree the Sword of the School is the best place to learn. With a diverse membership encompassing over 100 students, a no-ego attitude, and a host of wins at major international tournaments there really is no better place to learn the art of the blade.