Medieval Combat Group currently possesses two main instructors for the main class longsword and messer content, Matthew Malcolm, and Ross Bailey, and three additional instructors for other content – Oliver Barker, Harold Turner, and Katja Poppenhaeger.
Matthew Malcolm is the founder of Medieval Combat Group and was a founding member of HEMA Ireland, acting as its Health and Safety Officer in its first 2 years. He has practiced HEMA since 2011 and has been teaching since 2012. His area of interest is the German Longsword from 14th and 15th Century sources: particularly Sigmund Ringeck and the Nuremburg Hausbuch. Matthew also has interests in the messer and sword and buckler.
Matthew has received the British Federation for Historical Swordplay’s Instructor Level 1 qualification and was instrumental in the development and implementation of HEMA Ireland’s instructor certificates. Matthew has taught at Feile na Gaiscigh 2014, presented HEMA at Borderlines XIX and XXII conferences at Queen’s University, and successfully competed at SWASH 2013, FightCamp’s Eggleton Cup 2012, and the Irish Historical Fencing League 2016, coming first in three out of the four tournaments of the league, taking the overall League Champion prize, and several of the technical prizes for the individual tournaments as well.
Ross Bailey was amongst the first of those assessed during HEMA Ireland’s inaugural basic level instructor assessment in early 2014. He came to HEMA after nine years of traditional Chinese martial arts, including several years as an assistant instructor, preceded by five years of sport fencing and assorted other martial arts training. Whilst he assists in the teaching of Early Liechtenauer tradition longsword at Medieval Combat Group in Belfast, and occasionally competes with the longsword, his primary focus is the langes messer (‘long knife’, similar to the weapon known in later centuries as a hunting sword), particularly the 15th century techniques of Johannes Lecküchner incorporating bladework with various ringen techniques.
Ross has taught workshops on the langes messer at Feile na Gaiscigh 2014, 2015, and 2016, Belfast Bladeworks 2015, and presented and demonstrated HEMA for Queen’s University, Belfast at the Borderlines XIX and XXII conferences. Ross has also competed with the longsword in the Irish Historical Fencing League 2016, reaching the final group in each of the two tournaments he has entered.
Oliver Barker’s original background in swordplay comes from Olympic-style epée fencing, in which he represented the University of York in the men’s first team from 1998 to 2001, serving as team captain from 2000 to 2001. He first began experimenting with HEMA in 1999, following the publication of Terry Brown’s “English Martial Arts”, and began more formal study in 2004 with The School of the Sword, focusing on 17th Century Italian rapier sources (primarily Francesco Alfieri and Salvatore Fabris) and the Bolognese School (Achille Marozzo, Antonio Manciolino and Giovanni dall’Agocchie, amongst others). He has taught, presented and/or competed at numerous events, including Swordfish, HEMAC Dijon, FightCamp, SWASH, SENI and the International Rapier Seminar. He has studied the longsword and langes messer since moving to Northern Ireland in 2013.
Harold Turner started training in HEMA with Medieval Combat Group late in the Summer of 2013, and whilst he trains in longsword and messer, his main contributions to the class are an in-depth understanding of body mechanics and an increasing amount of research into Medieval staff and polearm texts. Harold possesses several decades of training in traditional Chinese martial arts, predominantly Xingyiquan and Tai Chi, and currently teaches them at Yellow Crane Tai Chi in Belfast.
Katja Poppenhaeger became interested in HEMA in early 2015 and started studying the longsword, with a bit of dagger and wrestling sprinkled in, at Athena School of Arms near Boston. Her first tournament was the Iron Gate Exhibition in 2015. She moved to Belfast later that year and has been training with MCG since then. She now studies the longsword and the messer, and complements her HEMA training with weight lifting. Katja became a Provost at MCG in late 2016 and passed her HEMA Ireland Level 1 Instructor assessment in late 2017 As a native speaker of German, she will gleefully provide correct pronunciations for any technique from the German manuscripts. Katja has demonstrated HEMA at the Borderlines XXII conferences at Queen’s University, and later in 2018 will be teaching a workshop as a guest instructor at Tremonia Fechtschule 2018 in Dortmund.