San Diego Longsword
Western Martial Arts with a focus on honor, respect, and the ideals of chivalry in action.
Learn the Art of Historical Fencing
San Diego Longsword is a Western Martial Arts (WMA) or Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) interpretive training class, coordinated by the Chivalry Today Educational Program.
The study and practice of historical European sword combat (sometimes called historical fencing, or just plain “sword fighting”) is a growing field of sport and recreation – an entertaining way to discover a fascinating part of medieval and Renaissance history; get some great physical exercise; and a wonderful place to make some new friends.
San Diego Longsword interprets and recreates fighting techniques in the tradition of Johannes Liechtenauer, a 14th century fencing master, as described in the historical manuscripts. Our coursework is centered on fighting with the longsword, however, this system of fighting includes and/or is easily translated into work with spears, messers, sword & buckler, pollaxe, and armored combat. We regularly offer workshops in these weapons to our members who have completed the prerequisite course, longsword 101.
Our school’s culture focuses on honor, respect, and the ideals of chivalry in action. Our purpose is to enjoy our pursuit of these knightly arts and virtues while fostering bonds of friendship and trust.
We hope you will join us on our journey!
Watch our introductory video to learn more about our club's culture and what to expect when you walk in the door!
Ready to jump in?
Online Video Training
Are you in need of a distance learning option?
The San Diego Longsword Video Library provides video training developed to provide training resources for non-local students. The library can be used for for solo training or as part of your own private HEMA study group.
The video library is an excellent add on to our live classes (available via zoom or in person).
Your membership grants access to our ever-expanding library of:
- Online historical fencing training courses
- Games and Practice Drills
- Western Martial Arts Fencing-Focused Workouts
All designed to improve your historical fencing skills - whether you are just starting out, or are an advanced historical fencing practitioner.
Who can attend?
SDLS classes provide a serious opportunity to experience, and eventually master a complex, adaptable fighting art. When you join our HEMA program, you’ll enjoy the mental challenge of learning this historical martial art, as well as the physical challenge of putting the art into practice along with fellow students through an increasingly complex series of lessons, exercises, and (eventually) free-play sessions.
Our coursework is designed for adult students. We will accept younger, serious students on the condition that parents observe the first course and a sparring match between advanced adult participants. Students, regardless of age, will not be allowed to participate if they are determined to be unsafe by instructors.
Is this a LARP thing?
Nope, this is a martial art. All of our techniques are derived from historical fighting manuscripts. However, if you are interested in LARP, reenactment, acting, or a variety of other activities, you will find that our classes can complement and enrich your existing interests.
We currently have students whose outside hobbies and activities include Quidditch, reenactment (SCA), Brazilian jiu jitsu, costuming, Star Wars, yoga, modern fencing, dance, and much much more!
Do you teach how to fight with other weapons?
Currently, our regularly scheduled adult classes focus exclusively on use of the longsword. However, on occasion other weapons such as the sword and buckler, spear, pole axe, messer, and dagger are introduced in a lesson as part of a series of lessons to reinforce the core concepts of the German tradition of fighting.
Intermittently, we hold special eight week technique intensive workshops that feature an alternative weapon to the longsword.
On occasion, we host an armored work shop for our students. Students intermediate and up are welcome and encouraged to attend the technical lessons during this workshop. However, due to the costly nature of armor and the necessity of custom fitting for a safe and effective harness, only students who have invested in their own armor or fit the loaner armor we have available may participate in the practical lessons. Loaner armor is extremely limited and priority is given to advanced students who regularly attend longsword and armor workshops. Regardless of the lesson type, all are encouraged to observe and learn.
What should I wear and/or bring?
We recommend wearing comfortable athletic clothing for our training sessions. A pair of yoga pants and t-shirt is just fine! Close toed athletic shoes are required for student safety.
Students participating in Longsword 101 or Knight Nights only need to bring their smiles and their wits! For students wishing to join the remaining classes a list of required equipment can be found here.
How long until I can spar? Do I have to spar?
Sparring is the result of achieving a certain level of proficiency and more importantly safety. Due to differences in learning, student commitment to at home practice, and ability, the period of time from the first lesson to sparring varies significantly. However, contact exercises begin on week 5 of training.
No student is required to spar. Sparring is an enjoyable activity and we provide plenty of opportunities to practice. However, if you're looking for a more technical approach to reproducing the manuscripts or a more relaxing approach to fencing you will enjoy our classes.
How competitive is your school?
Our school has a very balanced approach to competition. We believe in bringing your best fight to any tournament or competitive sparring match. However, our students are expected to maintain a level head, exhibit the virtues of honor and respect on the field, and to value strong historical technique over medals and accolades.
When sparring in or after class students are expected to be good training partners for one another. This means discussing learning goals, fighting speed, and what constitutes a good blow before beginning to spar.
Our school is filled with exceptional trainers and students who value and take ownership in the community of trust and respect that we strive for.