Group Profile: The London Sword & Dagger Club

LS&D An historical European martial arts group based in central London; training is focused on learning the skills needed to survive on a medieval battlefield, in a formal duel or on the streets of an era far more dangerous and violent than our own.


Where: The Waterloo Action Center, 14 Baylis Road, Waterloo, Greater London SE1 7AA

<See the LS&D wesbite for map and other details.>

About The London Sword and Dagger Club

The London Sword and Dagger Club is an historical European martial arts group based in central London. Formed in the summer of 2010 we study martial arts based on historical documents. We are proud members of the British Federation of Historical Swordplay. Anyone over 18 is welcome to train with us regardless of gender, race or religion.

The training at the club is focused on learning the hand to hand skills needed to survive on a medieval battlefield, in a formal duel or on the streets of a place and era far more dangerous and violent than our own. As such, we don’t train to participate in competitions, for fitness, or to find inner tranquility and enlightenment. However, our training may include some of those as a means to an end or possibly as happy side effects. We are not a re-enactment society, theatrical swordfighters, or live action role-players, although many have found the kind of training we offer to be helpful to those activities.

Fiore Dei Liberi

Our main focus is the works of the Italian master Fiore dei Liberi, who lived at the end of the 14th and the beginning of the 15th century. Four copies exist of his work, and we largely work from a translation of the one held in the Getty Museum put together by Matt Easton and Elenora Litte of Schola Gladiatoria.

This treatise covers a complete and integrated martial arts system including open hand, dagger, swords in one and two hands, poll-axe, spear, fighting in armour and fighting on horseback. It includes vicious arms locks, pressure points, eye gouging and kicking your opponent in the groin. It details the kind of techniques utilised by the ruthless mercenaries or condottiere (literally military contractors) rampaging through Northern Italy at the time. These came from across Europe – one of the most infamous came from Essex.

George Silver

Silver’s two works “Paradoxes of Defence” (1599) and “Instructions on My Paradoxes of Defence” (approx. 1604) form the earliest complete English fighting manuals . They outline many sound principles that can be applies to many weapons. Silver is highly critical of the new fangled rapiers and the Italian maestros that taught their use in late Elizabethan England, preferring a basket hilted cutting sword.

Joseph Swetnam

Swetnam also wrote two treatises – one was primarily focused on Rapier and the other listed in great detail the many faults of women. This provoked several replies and a play, and resulted in Swetnam being the first person in history to be described as a misogynist.

Aside from his amusing rantings, Swetnam’s treatise “His School of Defence” (1617) sets out what seems to be a peculiarly English version of Rapier use and among other things includes an excellent set of instructions for that most English of weapons: the quarterstaff.

Sir William Hope

Sir William Hope (1660-1724) wrote a number of books on fencing. His work is notable for a gradual realisation that the French small-sword system he originally trained in was lacking, and that the true art of defence lay in the English back-sword method. Although often rather verbose, his books clearly explain his reasoning and the principles and methods of his system.

Sir Richard Francis Burton

This notorious Victorian explorer, soldier and translator wrote several fencing manuals. These include treatise on military sabre and bayonet.