Within the Garrison, you will be able to participate in a variety of types of medieval European combat. The skills you gain in our monthly training sessions can then be used in combat demonstrations, tournaments and re-enactment battles at our summer shows. You will also have the opportunity to learn about the development and uses of armour and weapons throughout the medieval period and communicate this to the public via weapons and armour displays and talks.
At first you will learn the basic principles of each weapon type, as well as techniques that will keep you safe when participating in combat. These will include:
- The basic sword attacks and defences (known as ‘the eights’) using wooden swords.
- The basics of solo fighting with a spear.
- The basic attacks and defences of axe fighting.
- Unarmed fighting.
- Stage fighting.
- Break falls and rolls.
As you progress and pass our combat proficiency tests (which cover skill, safety and knowledge and care of your weapon(s)), you will quickly be able to learn more advanced techniques and, if you wish, choose a preferred weapon or weapons. You may also be able to train in varying amounts of armour.
The advanced techniques you may try include:
- ‘The eights’ using blunted metal swords.
- Free-form sword fighting.
- Sword fighting with secondary equipment, including daggers, shields and axes.
- Marching and fighting in a spear wall.
- Combat in armour.
- Mock battles.
- Choreographing fights.
When you have passed the tests with each weapon you wish to use at re-enactment shows, you will have the opportunity to develop your combat skills further. You may:
- Participate in combat demonstrations both with the Garrison and with other re-enactment groups.
- Participate in pitched re-enactment battles with other groups, fighting against archers, armoured knights and spear walls.
All basic equipment is provided by the Garrison for use by all members. This includes safety equipment (basic helmets, gloves) as well as some weaponry (wooden training swords, bucklers and spears).
If you decide you wish to buy combat equipment for personal use, please check our Authenticity Guides and consult the Training and Displays Officer before you purchase it. This is to ensure that the kit you buy is authentic, safe, and reliable.