Schola St. George studies historical martial arts
Swords clash as armored opponents spar in a combative dance choreographed hundreds of years ago. Joggers stop to watch the action unfolding in Hampton Park’s sunny gazebo: it’s the weekly practice for Schola St. George Charleston, one of eight chapters of a nonprofit school devoted to historical European/Western martial arts fighting systems.
“Chapters must be led by instructors who have completed rigorous testing, but there are also study groups scattered all over the world—in Brazil, Norway, Russia...” notes JC Conway, who founded the local organization in 2008.
Schola St. George bases its curriculum on the work of Fiore dei Liberi, a 14th-century Italian knight who wrote a treatise about how, exactly, the chivalric martial arts were conducted using weapons such as the Italian medieval sword and other methods, like grappling.
Eight to 10 students (who pay $35 a year for access to training materials, insurance, and more) join in most Saturdays. “Starting with flexible swords, they advance to stiffer nylon and feder swords, which are used for competing in tournaments,” says Conway, noting that loaner gear is on hand for novices itching to take a stab at the sport (find them on Facebook).