Beginners Courses:
Basic training in Longsword and Messer

Beginners training at Medieval Combat Group generally takes the form of a 12 week course in longsword and messer. The course price usually falls out at around ~£150 for the full course of one 1.5 hour class per week, and includes the years membership of Medieval Combat Group and British Martial Arts & Boxing Association, HEMA practitioner discount at the Knight Shop, and a fencing mask of your own to keep (this means there's no chance of anything like Covid spreading through loaner masks, and if you decide not to continue fencing after the course, we'll buy the mask back off you for a fair price).

Demand for these courses is quite high; we would advise signing up for our Mailing List for word of upcoming courses as quite often simply sending word out to the mailing list results in a full course. We also periodically run taster classes so that people can try the class and make an informed decision about whether they want to take a beginners course. Word of these will also be sent to the mailing list.

Course Content

The beginners course content is taught mostly with the longsword - having two hands on the weapon for control makes this a little easier, and it also necessitates the whole body moving as a unit a little more, which is a good habit to get into early. Periodically the course will revisit longsword content with the messer, this gives a good grounding for our messer classes, gives a different angle on the longsword content, and reinforces the underlying basics that apply to both weapons. All two-person elements to the course, whether drilling or sparring, are carried out using appropriate protective gear. Where instructor and venue availability permit, course content can also be covered in private lessons. These cost £25 per hour, not including venue fee.

Part 1: Basic components
Part 1 of the beginners course covers simple basic techniques for each weapon:
  • Basic posture and footwork,
  • How to form basic attacks,
  • How to form basic parries,
  • Developing good basic structure and control.

Part 2: Combined components
Building on the basics from Part 1, Part 2 of the beginners course starts to combine these elements, shifting from using simple basic cuts and parries as standalone drills and into combined drills where training partners will be dealing with making and defending against multiple attacks.

Part 3: Consolidation and Application
Part 3 aims to revise and consolidate the techniques and drills from parts 1 and 2, and build them into a useful and useable set of basics for sparring.

  • Consolidation - revision of all previous content using combined flow drills to maximise time spent drilling in a fluid situation.
  • Fixed freeplay drills - the first step towards sparring. These are freeform drills where the pace and techniques are restricted, but within those constraints the students can make use of any material from the course. For example, we might restrict the pace to slow-moderate intensity, one student to making simple attacks, and one to simple defenses, but otherwise give no set ordering of which simple attacks or what targets.
  • Objective based drills - the next step towards sparring. These are freeform drills where the pace is controlled, as is the objective, but within those constraints the students can make use of any material from the course. For example, we might set the objective as 'Land a cut or thrust to the fencing mask after making a simple parry'.
  • Controlled freeplay - the first step in sparring. Towards the end of the course, after the students have gained experience with the freeplay drills and objective based drills, they will be introduced to controlled sparring. This will initially be against an instructor and other senior students so that we can 'safety check' that everyone has the required levels of control to spar safely.

Course Assessment
As the final element of the course, we'll put all students on the course through a short assessment afterwards. This is simply to ensure that the student has enough of a grasp of the basics to be able to join in with the content in our regular intermediate-level classes, and has developed enough control to be safe whilst sparring.

  • Technical Assessment - this is simply the names of the guards, the cuts, and showing the ability to do the basics from the course. This way we know if we ask everyone in the intermediates to stand in Guard X, and cut at their partner with strike Y, everyone will know what we're talking about and be more or less able to do it.
  • Sparring Assessment - this is a quick spar against two of our instructors. The only thing we're looking for here is that the student is trying to use some of the material from the course, and is showing enough control of themselves and their weapon to be safe/


After completing the beginners course you'll be able to attend our regular weekly classes in longsword (Monday nights) and messer (Wednesday nights) and any special training days or events that we run or that take place elsewhere on the island/abroad that we might be heading to. The regular classes are generally £5 per class for a 2hr class, although this may vary by venue if venue prices change.

Conduct Policy

Whilst this is elsewhere on the site, we believe it's always worth repeating and as it applies to all of our classes, beginners courses, events, and otherwise. We're lucky to have a good group of people training with us and the atmosphere in the class has always been good, and we want to keep it that way. Medieval Combat Group operates a zero tolerance policy with regards to aggressive, violent, intimidating, harassing, or abusive behaviour, or unwanted attention or advances, towards any of our members or anyone in attendance at any of our classes or events, whether in person or online.

  • Harassment, defined as any behaviour which is directed at an individual or group which is non-consensual. This includes sexual harassment such as cat-calling, groping or stalking.
  • Abuse, covering both verbal and physical abuse, including sexual assault, which results in an individual or group feel intimidated or unsafe.
  • Discrimination, including verbal and physical expressions of discrimination, based on any characteristics.
  • Violence, defined as any act of physical intimidation or aggression, including threats of violence.

All students, instructors, and visitors to the group are accountable for their own conduct and must refrain from all of the behaviours listed above. Medieval Combat Group reserves the right to, and will, expel offenders from any event or class, or online discussion etc. and remove membership of the group where applicable/possible.