Bladeworks

Bladeworks is our annual HEMA event, consisting of workshops by a variety of instructors, some ‘fechtschule’ style tournaments, and general socialising with some excellent people. Keep an eye on the Bladeworks Event Page and main Medieval Combat Group facebook page for updates.

Bladeworks is a residential historical fencing event focussed on technical skills development. With classes and workshops in the day-time and food, socialising, and board games in the evening. The event caters for all levels of historical fencer; from those who have just started to those who have been training for years. 

The aim is to facilitate serious training with a light-hearted atmosphere; where everyone should feel happy to train. 

The event is hosted by Medieval Combat Group based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the event is not far outside Belfast, past Millisle on the Ards Peninsula. We are Northern Ireland’s only HEMA club – so please, please come and visit us!

What’s on

The core of the programme are the technical classes/workshops; these will mostly be focused on the Saturday although there will be a few running on the Sunday. On the Sunday we will hold a series of Fechtschule – unranked tournaments that invite your most technical fencing. The winner of the Fechtschule will be chosen by the participants to encourage both quality fencing but also an atmosphere of mutual respect. On the Friday and Saturday evenings, as the event is residential and we have several large common areas, there’ll be food and socialising. Generally this descends into a mix of people talking about various things, some playing board games, others just relaxing – we find it’s nice to have a chance to just relax and socialise with other HEMA people without having to worry about venues, closing times, transport back home or similar.

What if I haven’t been doing HEMA for that long? 

A series of core workshops are programmed for anyone new to fencing as introductions to systems they may not have had the opportunity to train before. 

What if I’m not interested in the classes? 

We will keep areas and times available throughout the event for free sparring; allowing you to train with members from other clubs and put into practice what you have learned in the technical classes. 

Workshops

At Bladeworks we always strive to provide a good mix of workshops for our visiting HEMA practitioners, allowing us to accomodate a range of skill levels and interests, whilst keeping everything fun and enjoyable.

For 2024 we’re delighted to have Arto Fama of Zwaard & Steen as our keynote instructor and he’ll be teaching three sessions at Bladeworks.

We’re also very happy to be joined by Lauren Ireland and Christopher Halpin, both from York School of Defence, who will each be teaching at Bladeworks. From HEMA Ireland we’re happy have Helen Gallagher teaching, and we have a few more instructors yet to announce.

We’ll be announcing the details of the various sessions in due course, along with any equipment requirements and whether its something we have loaner gear available for.

Fechtschule

On the Sunday of Bladeworks, across the late morning/early afternoon, we’ll be running a range of Fechtschule style tournaments.

  1. There are no pools, so entry to each Fechtschule is organised on the Sunday morning.
  2. All fencers for the Fechtschule will line up in the area designated in the main hall.  We’ll have a quick kit check to make sure all is safe (please ensure your steels have no burrs on the blades and that masks are sound etc).
  3. Depending on numbers in the Fechtschule we’ll have one, or two sparring areas.  The first two in the line-up head into the first, next two into the second.  Fights are to a single exchange, winner stays on, losers head to the back of the line and a new opponent comes on. If it’s a double, both head off. Staff are there purely to ensure the flow of fencers continues – outcome of any exchange is to the agreement of the two fencers. If you feel you’ve been in the middle for a long time, step back out and let others fence.  There are no points here, no eliminations; your entire purpose is to fence as many different people as humanly possible within the fechtschule, as many times as possible, and showcase your nicest fencing.  Think of all of these as exhibition matches.
  4. After each Fechtschule, all the participants of that Fechtschule will have a single vote to cast for the fencer they thought was the most technical, the most skilled, the most enjoyable to fence, whatever virtue they want to recognise.  We want to see everyone’s most beautiful technical fencing; if you’ve learned something really cool in the workshops on the Saturday – this is the time for it! But most of all, have fun!
  5. Whoever gets the most votes gets their choice of the awesome prizes below. (As we’ve said before, we firmly believe in having Bladeworks as an event that’s about getting in some excellent training, and showcasing some excellent fencing, catching up with friends, and enjoying the arts that have brought us all together.  We choose our Fechtschule prizes in the spirit of that sense of fun.)
  6. There will be NO takedowns/throws in any of the fechtschule.  We have a range of people from a range of clubs, with a range of experience. Not everyone will be able to breakfall safely or throw safely. Controlling their blade or arms with your offhand or similar, that’s fine, but nothing that’ll end up on the ground.