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Aisle O’var Backswording Clubbe

Training with the AOBC

Our training is based on the principles of the true fight as laid down by George Silver in his works ‘Paradoxes of Defence’ and ‘A Brief Instruction upon my Paradoxes of Defence’. We strive to find perfection in the true fight.

“Unfortunately, wild swings, jumbled footwork and aggressive posturing are more the signs of ineptitude than expertise in swordplay”

Peter Buzzsaw Holland, Scholar in the Ancient and Noble Science of Defence


We start from the foundation of  all martial combat – stance, body position/mechanics and footwork. Without these any martial art is flawed.

Line work

Through line work, static and in motion you will learn guards, wards, cuts, thrusts and footwork and start to apply and understand the grounds, governors and the true and false times of the true fight you will start to appreciate that in training slowly you learn fast and that if you train fast you learn not only slowly but bad form, bad habits and bad muscle memory.

Drill work

Drilling is fundamentally important in learning correct form and understanding how to apply techniques correctly and expeditiously both in armed combat using a variety of weapons and close/unarmed combat. It is through drilling that we learn all defensive and offensive techniques, break them down and practice them over and over to not only develop muscle memory and perfect form but to gain the understanding of how and when to use them in fight.

Fitness training is to develop stamina and endurance. It should be a personal goal of all

TE-MA students to strive for personal improvement in their fitness which in turn brings all the accompanying benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Loose play

This gives the students the opportunity to get to grips with the assault prior to bouting and apply techniques they have learnt and the principles of the true fight.


Bouting is when students get to apply what they have learned in open loose play. This is where we find that English Country Backswording is the perfect medium for students to start to develop perfection in fight. Bouting however is bound by rules of engagement depending on the combat style being practised. For example English Country Backswording has its own unique set of tournament rules as does Pugilism, Steel on Steel swordplay, Wrestling and so on.

Free Play

Free play is when there are no set rules and anything goes (within the remit of safety) which is how a real fight would be armed or unarmed or going from armed to unarmed.

Safety first!

It is at this point that the definition between actual martial combat skills learned in drilling need to be separated from open free play. For example in any form of unarmed combat you will learn such deadly strikes both armed and unarmed as to the throat, eyes, nose, joints and cods. However although a student may know these techniques and how to implement them, in tournament/competition they are not used and for good reason.

Fitness in Training

Grading Syllabus

It is generally accepted that in the English Schools of Fence it took a minimum of 12 years to go from a novice to a Maister (Master). In modern Eastern Martial Arts the time to go from novice to black belt is around 4 years. At the AOBC we have a structured initial 8 level grading system to comply with the requirements laid down by our National Governing Body  the AMA.

Shield levels

These grading's are to be taken over a minimum 4 year  training period.







Black (Scholar)

The next is taken a minimum of 1 year later

Black/Gold - Master at Arms Level 1(Free Scholar)

Then at 2 yearly intervals you move on to:

Gold - Master at Arms Level 2 (Provost)

Gold/Black - Master at Arms Level 3 (Master)

Gold/Red - Master at Arms Level 4 (Master)

Gold/Green -  Master at Arms Level 5 (Master)

Gold/White - Master at Arms Level 6 (Master)

White/Gold - Ancient Master at Arms

The ‘Ancient Master’ being the oldest Master present at any given meeting, tournament, workshop, etc.

Fighting Styles

English Steel Backsword/Broadsword


Great Stick

English Quarterstaff


Indigenous English Wrestling Styles

Sword and Buckler

Sword and Dagger


European Longsword