The sport bringing back England’s martial heritage

A beginners class in the ancient art of backswording begins in Arlesey in September
A beginners class in the ancient art of backswording begins in Arlesey in September

An Arlesey martial arts instructor is holding beginner’s classes in the ancient art of backswording.

Pete ‘Buzzsaw’ Holland of the Aisle O’var Backswording Clubbe said: “We thought it was time there was an opportunity for more people from the local area to learn the art of real sworsmanship.”

His son Zak won the UK Steel Backsword Championships last year, run by the British Federation for Historical Swordplay.

Pete has been teaching TE-MA (Traditional English Martial Arts) for more than 15 years and is a fitness instructor as well as being a film and TV artist.

The first class is free of charge and takes place at Arlesey Village Hall on Wednesday, September 23, from 8.15pm to 9.45pm.

He said: “Our primary aim is to promote the practice and research of traditional English martial arts by bringing the ancient and noble science of defence in to the public arena.

“We hope to help towards educating the general public about Britain and Europe’s own ancient martial history – generally known as HEMA, Historical European Martial Arts – so that in time these indigenous martial art systems become as well known, practised and understood in their own right as are Eastern styles of martial arts in today’s society.”

Country backswording was a sport played at events such as fayres, revels and wakes and stems from a martial background.

Two players would fight each other using wooden backswording cudgels. There were traditional rules to prevent rough play, especially if the opponents were getting aggressive towards each other, and keep it from turning into a wrestling match.

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