Historical European Martial Arts in Northern Ireland
We provide classes, group lessons, and private tuition in 15th century medieval swordcraft and martial arts.
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Medieval Combat Group is a Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA) group based in Belfast, training medieval martial arts using techniques from surviving 14th to 15th century manuscripts. We train as a martial arts class, not living history, roleplay, or SCA, and use modern safety equipment to allow us to safely get as close as possible to the actual fighting techniques as they were intended to be used. As well as running our regular classes, are happy to provide displays, demonstrations, or workshops at events to increase awareness of HEMA. For more in-depth information, we run a small Wiki which has more detail on the history of the group, HEMA in general, and other information. You can also find us on Facebook. For an idea of the culture and atmosphere of HEMA on the island in general, check out our recent video. We also founded and help organise the Morrigan's Melee event to support women's historical fencing on the island.
At MCG we strive to run a group which strikes a balance between the discipline necessary for training in a weapons-based martial art, and an inclusive and welcoming atmosphere. As such, neither MCG instructors nor students will tolerate any unsafe behaviour, antisocial behaviour, sexism, racism, sectarianism, or any form of harrassment, bullying, or general misconduct. All students, instructors, and guests of the school are asked to follow our Code of Conduct.
Medieval Combat Group is a member of the British Martial Arts & Boxing Association (BMABA), and HEMA Ireland, and all active MCG instructors have been assessed through HEMA Ireland instructor assessments and carry teaching insurance through BMABA.
We offer regular classes & private tuition in medieval swordsmanship, along with workshops and demonstrations.
Beginners classes are quite heavily backlogged due to the gap in classes over COVID-19. If you're interested in joining us, please sign up to our Mailing List and we'll be in touch when we're running our next beginners course.
Our instructors run regular weekly classes in Belfast and occasional short runs of classes in Comber, both for intermediate level students.
Depending on Instructor and Venue availability, we can also offer private tuition, whether on the contents of our beginners courses, intermediate and advanced content, or geared towards a specific aim.
Our instructors have taught workshops on a variety of weapons at a variety of events. We have taught technical workshops at HEMA events such as The Art That Adorns You (York), Féile na Gaiscígh (Dublin), and Tremonia Fechten (Dusseldorf), along with smaller workshops and skills sharing sessions at a range of other events.
We have also taught taster workshops for conventions such as TitanCon (Belfast), Q-Con (Belfast), and European Heritage Open Days, as well as presented demonstrations of medieval fencing and manuscript interpretation at the Borderlines medieval history conference at Queen's University Belfast, and given sparring demonstrations during Culture Night Belfast over several years.
We're always happy to discuss other services we might supply for historical fencing and martial arts. Feel free to contact us with any queries.
The longsword is one of the two main weapons taught at Medieval Combat Group. It is the ubiquitous two-handed sword associated with medieval knights, and familiar through countless films, tv series, and books, through Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, to The Witcher and more. As well as bladework techniques, fencing with the longsword also involves other technical martial elements, most noticably 'ringen am schwert' - grappling at the sword.
The messer is the second main weapon taught at Medieval Combat Group. It is a short, single edged sword, rather like a large hunting knife, and is similar to weapons that were called hunting swords in later centuries. The messer (or similar 14th century weapons such as hangers and storta) was a very common sidearm across much of europe in the medieval period, and its techniques involve a large amount of locks and grapples as well as cuts and thrusts.
Sword & buckler (a small centre-grip shield) techniques are taught at Medieval Combat Group as an adjunct to the messer material. Drawing mostly from the short treatise by Andre Lignitzer in the 15th century, this material expands our messer techniques to cover the use of a buckler in the other hand at the same time. Whilst this reduces the opportunities for locking and grappling, it provides additional protection.
The group also supplements the teaching of longsword and messer with occasional material on quarterstaff, and dagger. These draw from similar period sources, and share a common set of principles and common terminology, allowing us to give students a look at underlying principles and tactics from the angle of a distinctly different weapon.
Click left and right through the navigation boxes above to view the different weapons taught at Medieval Combat Group.
A few highlights from the last few years of training, pre-COVID.