About Us

Medieval Combat Group is a Historic European Martial Arts (HEMA) group based in Belfast, training medieval martial arts using techniques from surviving 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. For an idea of the culture and atmosphere of HEMA on the island in general, check out our recent video. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram.

We also run an annual residental HEMA event, Bladeworks, and founded and help organise the Morrigan’s Melee event to support women’s historical fencing on the island.

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.

Though tournaments are not the primary focus of training at Medieval Combat Group, instructors and fencers from Medieval Combat Group have and do compete in tournaments (primarily longsword), and all training and sparring is entirely applicable to HEMA tournament fencing.

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.


Medieval Combat Group was founded in late 2011 by our head instructor Matthew Malcolm after receiving his instructor qualification from the British Federation for Historical Swordplay. The group initially focused exclusively on 15th century longsword fencing.

In 2013/14 one of the senior students, Ross Bailey, developed a messer (short single edged sword/long knife) syllabus for the group and gained his instructor qualification from the newly formed HEMA Ireland in early 2014.

Since 2014, Medieval Combat Group has focused on teaching both longsword and messer, with particular emphasis on the overlapping principles and techniques across the two weapons, occasionally supplemented by other weapons such as staff, dagger, and sword and buckler.

Over the years Medieval Combat Group has added other instructors; Oliver Barker (currently active), Harold Turner (on sabbatical), Katja Poppenhaeger (moved to Germany), and Francis McCaughan (no longer teaching). We also have to Assistant Instructors, two of our Free Scholar senior students: Kelly Anderton, who has guest taught workshops on the messer at several HEMA events and who acts as an assistant instructor for longsword and messer, and Ross McKane, who acts as an assistant instructor for longsword.

Current Committee & Active Instructors

Chairperson & Head Instructor – Matthew Malcolm

Vice-chairperson & Instructor – Ross Bailey

Treasurer & Assistant Instructor – Kelly Anderton

Secretary & Assistant Instructor – Ross McKane

Instructor – Oliver Barker