Training in European medieval martial arts consists of far more than training with a sword. It is essential that one include training that enhances ones physical stamina, strength and endurance. The medieval martial arts training is a large component of overall training, however, it is important to include other physical training to facilitate and enhance the ability to withstand competition and tournament situations. It is clear that there are three main weapons in any arsenal: a) endurance, b) skill and c) cunning. Augmentation of this martial arts training will address the first of the arsenal. It is important enough that Giacomo DiGrassi stated :

"Therefore let every man that is desirous to practice this Art, endeavor himself to get strength and agility of body, assuring himself, that judgment without this activity and force, avails little or nothing."

There are two fundamentally different types of endurance: muscular and cardiovascular. Muscular endurance is the ability of muscle to engage a large number fibres during sword training such that you can do numerous drills and reihenfolgen without taking long breaks for recovery. For example, while doing a series of phase 3 drills, you fatigue your arms and legs that if you want to get through an entire repeating set you need to be able to bring many additional fibres into play. Cardiovascular endurance is the ability of the heart, lungs and circulatory system to deliver oxygen to the muscles to fuel further drills engagement.

Weight Training

If this is your first foray into weight training, you must set a clear goal in mind. Why begin weight training? Health? (true, this will enhance your health). To improve martial arts capabilities? (true, this will enhance your abilities). This will help in determining your training program. If your objective is body building, then you should not read this manuscript any furtheryou are in the wrong activity. However, if your focus is to enhance your strength, flexibility and endurance for medieval martial arts training, read on.

The weight training program described below, is known as the "vegetable soup" program. It is a general weight training program that address most areas of the body. Your genetic disposition will also have a lot to do with how you will respond to training. For some, it may take many weeks or months before anything noticeble is achieved, however, some will take only a few weeks. My preference to weight training is free weights (barbells, dumbbells, etc.) rather than machines. Free weights place greater demand on your body, and yet allow your joints and limbs to move in their natural planes, often not possible with the exercise machines available. It is important that wielding a sword, requires great amount of flexibility and movement along natural planes. However, if free weights are not available, machines is obviously the way to go.

When you are about to embark on weight training, appropriate gear is important. These include footwear (flat soled training shoes), weight-lifting gloves, weight belt to help support the muscles of the lower back when lifting heavy weights, head straps which will allow you to do progressive-resistance exercises for the neck (after all, you will be wearing heavy helmets, coif and or aventail). Another point to consider, is that one is never too old to begin training. See your doctor if you're unsure.

The general principle of weight training is if you can perform the specific exercise of 8 reps/set, 3 sets/workout and 3 workouts in a row, you should increase the load by about 10%. The training session is a personal thing, however, the "straw man" below will provide an idea of what a training program should contain. Determine what you maximum weight is before you start your training program. To determine the weights to use per set, target 3 sets of 8 repetitions each. Initially, you may appear to be progressing quickly, however, once the proper weight is achieved, you may be able to do 8 on the first set, 6 on the second, and 4 on the third. This is where you want to be. From here, you continue training until you can achieve 3 sets of 8, 3 training sessions in a row. The sequence is not important, however, the following appears to work for my program.

The program outlined below also assumes that you are familiar with weight training. If you are about to begin a program of weight training and have not done this before, there are excellent resources available in the library and online. It is recommended that you begin by joining a local fitness club to receive instruction in person.

  1. Warm-up, stretching, loosening up the muscles
  2. Bench-press
  1. Arm curls
  1. wrist curls
  1. seated leg tucks (abs)
  1. parallel dips (pecs & triceps)
  1. squats (legs)
  1. neck curls
  1. power arms

Copyright © 2000 Academy of European Medieval Martial Arts  (AEMMA)
Released: November 1, 2000 / Last modified: October 17, 2009