Join Us - The Society for the Study of Swordsmanship

Joining a Class

Our Classes

Our classes are open to anyone over 18 who is willing to follow safety guidelines and to accept the judgement of our instructors about how best to teach them.

We are always willing to listen to what a student wants from the class but some activities are beyond our remit or not appropriate at a particular time.

Classes run 7:30-9:30 on a Wednesday evening at Penshaw Community Association.

It is best to contact us before visiting, but we can generally accommodate new starters straight away. You will need clothing suitable for general sporting/fitness activity, with no bare skin showing once a mask and gloves are added. All other equipment is provided, and the first month/four sessions are free.

To ensure there are no possible gaps in a student’s knowledge we follow a standard format for orientation and initial training. The programme is sometimes abbreviated for those with extensive experience, but it is necessary that all steps are completed.

It is simply not possible to come to the class and ‘have a go’ at sword fighting without appropriate training. Even those with extensive experience will need some help to convert across to the systems we teach.

Initial Training

After a basic orientation, you will be taught the basics of English military sabre fencing.

This normally takes about four sessions. There is far more to learn of course, but at the end of this period you will have an understanding of fundamental principles behind the art of fencing, and should be both safe and competent to begin freeplay. This is not mandatory, but most students want to try out their skills in a free-fencing environment.

Once competence has been demonstrated with the sabre, you will receive a period of instruction with the smallsword. This is a purely thrusting sword, whereas the sabre is mostly a cutting weapon. Both share similar body mechanics and complement one another. You will then be introduced to the rapier, which uses both cuts and thrusts in more or less equal measure. Once this period of initial training is complete – this is nominally twelve weeks – you will be in a position to choose how you want to proceed.

Further Development

Once you have demonstrated a basic level of competence with the sabre, smallsword and rapier you can choose how to proceed.

Most students have a favourite weapon and will elect to concentrate on that with occasional forays into other areas. It takes many months or years of training to master a weapon, but it is possible to reach a level where you can enjoy fencing in a relatively short time.

Some students choose to research areas we have not yet covered, such as the works of a different historical master. Others prefer to train in the existing areas of specialist expertise covered by our instructors. Those who wish to become instructors in their own right can pursue this goal and eventually take the BFHS qualifications. Students have a great deal of freedom from this point, subject of course to safety considerations.


There are no requirements to attend any given session, though monthly fees have to be paid regardless of attendance.

It is expected that students keep any equipment of their own in good condition and respect that of others. We also expect that students will discuss with the instructors before entering tournaments or attending events. Membership of our group is seen as a guarantee of safety and competence by event organisers, and it is important that students remember they are representing us when they compete or attend an event.

As with other matters, common sense and courtesy will head off most issues long before they appear.

Join Us

Our classes are every Wednesday, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. If you would like to join us, please contact us.

You can find us at the Penshaw Community Association, in Penshaw, just off the A19.