Getting Started


The AHF exists to pursue the study and practice of historical swordsmanship as both a martial art and as a sport. It is not run for commercial gain. The Instructors are not paid but dedicate significant time to researching documented historical forms of swordsmanship to be able to teach a new generation of swordfighters. A lot of work goes in to the research, teaching and training. But ultimately, the most important thing is to have fun. We spar a lot. So, if you’d like to learn historical sword based martial arts, and have fun fighting others with what you have learned, the AHF is for you.


The AHF is run by the Thomas Brothers, founders of the AHF in 2006 and experienced fencers since the 1990s. Both have a wide breadth of knowledge and experience across a variety of weapons and systems. We teach and train with longsword, rapier, sabre, and sword & buckler, with an emphasis on British, German and Italian traditions. Nick specialises in Italian rapier from Capo Ferro and British military sabre, broadsword, smallsword, and spadroon from Roworth, while Michael’s focus is 16th century longsword, dussack, and sidesword from Joachim Meyer. They run both schools, with classes taking place every week of the year.


If you’d like to start historical fencing, and are eighteen years old or over, you are welcome to join us anytime of the year. All members will need to purchase their own equipment, but you will not need anything to get started with your training. It is essential that you purchase a fencing mask within your first month, and a training sword soon after that (see our equipment guide or even better, chat with our instructors). You will not be able to spar (fight) until that time, and they are also important for regular class lessons as well. You will need to purchase protective equipment and training weapons, but not all at once. Most new members buy their core equipment in stages over the first eight weeks.

Aside from the minimum age requirement, anybody can get involved. No previous experience is required. Neither is there a minimum fitness requirement, but training with us will certainly boost your fitness. Training sessions can be paid for individually at the session, or by monthly standing order for unlimited training. See the club fees for pricing. If coming to a session for the first time, please arrive before the start time to introduce yourself.


After your first session you must fill out the membership form on the website and pay the annual membership fee (which includes insurance). Renewal is always on 1st January, no matter when you first paid. You will be unable to fully participate in drills and sparring until you are a member of the AHF.


The AHF trains all year round at our two schools. We also host a quarterly Saturday sparring day in Chepstow, where both schools get together for sparring. See the EVENTS page for details. It is also open to other HEMA clubs.


Sessions always begin with a fun warm up game. The first half of a session is lesson time, which everyone participates in. The second half is always for sparring. We teach a particular weapon form or style for approximately two months before moving on to another. You can start anytime during that training block. Everyone trains that system during drills, but in sparring you may use any weapons you like, so long as they meet club safety standards.