Learn Traditional English martial arts
The purpose of the club is the study and practice of historical martial arts to promote health and well-being and to provide an enjoyable and friendly training environment for adults and young adults from all backgrounds.
Sword and dagger
Sword and buckler
Spear and shield
Formation battle techniques
Classic English Pugilism
Indigenous English Wrestling styles
WW2 combat tactics - empty hand and knife
All the above combine into the form known as TE-MA
We are also the primary club for the promotion and practice of that most excellent of sports:
Our teaching is based on several English and other treatises on swordsmanship, but the foundation of our system is
Brief Instructions Upon My Paradoxes of Defence
George Silver, c. 1599/61
Other masters studied or included are Henry Angelo, Roworth & Taylor, Joseph Swetnam, Zachary Wilde, Donald McBane, John Musgrave Waite and Alfred Hutton. We also present the Harleian and Ledlian MSS on the English Longsword and reference such works as i33 (The Tower Fight-book) and the Stockholm manual on Sabre fencing
Instructors also bring their personal experiences into class and teach techniques learned through hard application in tournament and life training.
We run an eight-step grading system as required by our national Governing Body, the Amateur Martial Association.
We aim for three gradings per year, based upon the number of modules that a student has completed, although there is a longer gap between gradings for senior students. Each completed module is awarded with a certificate, and every certificate earned goes toward the next grading. Successful students receive a sash which denotes their new grade and their licences are updated accordingly. This means that students may train at equal levels in all disciplines, and there is no set order in which the modules must be learned, keeping all classes fresh and lively.
We find that the sash system enables the instructors to immediately recognise what level any given student has achieved; and that it gives the student a series of milestones by which they can gauge their progress.
The sash was adopted in recognition of the bare-fist pugilists and prize-fighters of past centuries who would wear a sash about the waist
It also means that our syllabus can be geared to phased learning, as well as allowing us to introduce new elements fired by an instructor's or coach's personal interests.
The highest grade is the Maister, denoted by the wearing of a Gold Sash. Maisters can be further graded by another four levels.
The system allows for grades and categories of Maister - for example, in a session where more than one Maister is present, the oldest one is given the soubriquet 'Ancient Maister'. Progression through the Maister grades is available for those who stay the course.
We also run a coaching system in parallel with, but separate from, the syllabus, as well as first aid courses, tournament judging, and CaVA courses.
The Academy expects to hold classes in Sandy and Letchworth on Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Sandy club: 8:00pm -10:00pm, every Wednesday
Venue: Maple Tree School, Hawk Drive, Sandy SG19 2WA
Letchworth club 8:00pm - 10:00pm, every Friday
Venue: Fearnhill School, Icknield Way, Letchworth Garden City SG6 4BA
We also have an open-air venue in Sandy, currently used on Mondays, on Fallowfield (next to Maple Tree School).
All our instructors are experienced and insured.
New for 2023: Sparring in Tempsford 10am - 1pm, every 3rd Sunday*
Venue: Stuart Memorial Hall, Tempsford
Contact MaisterJed Pascoe to join in.
English Country Backswording
English Country Backswording (ECB), called Singlestick play by the Victorians, is an ancient sport which was played at country fairs and revels. The winner was the the first player ('Old Gamester') to draw an inch of blood from his opponent's scalp!Today, we play to a safer set of rules- none the less painful for the inexperienced- wherein the winner is the first to score three 'Bloods' (hits to the head above the brow line). Bouts can last minutes- or in the case of some finals, over an hour. The Aisle O'Var is a founder member of the English Country Backswording Association, formed to hold Backswording tournaments between clubs.
The Social side
It's not all hard work.
The club has a social side as well, and we try to hold at least a couple of evening dinners every year as well as fun days out together. Partners and, where appropriate, families, are invited to join in the fun - most of us enjoy dressing in period costume, but there's no pressure on anyone to get tooled up.
AOAA Members at Sandy Carnival. The theme was 'Space', so Jedi and Sith were the natural choice!
And we won the walking float trophy!