General Information

No prospective member, current member, or former member will be discriminated against due to race, religion, gender, sex, age, or creed. Membership qualification and acceptance is solely at the discretion of the instructors.


Before attending training sessions, new SVSOD members are required to obtain HEMA Alliance membership in order to carry Martial Arts Liability Insurance. HEMA Alliance membership costs $52 per year and includes a range of other benefits. See for more details (please inquire before joining).


All training sessions are offered to members at the discretion of the instructors. Each session is 60-90 minutes in length, and includes training with blunt and sharp weapons, solo and partner drills and forms, attribute and skill training, pressure-testing, free-fencing, and test-cutting targets. Contributions towards the procurement of shared equipment and other resources is greatly encouraged among participating members.


Upon beginning their training with the SVSOD, all members are required to obtain certain equipment for personal use. This required equipment consists of:

  • A Uniform - A Shenandoah Valley School of Defence shirt and plain black pants or plain black knickers and socks (please inquire before purchasing).

  • A Short Sword - An approved blunt steel or wooden training sword of appropriate size and make (please inquire before purchasing a sword).

  • A Fencing Mask - An approved 3 weapon fencing mask of appropriate make (please inquire before purchasing a mask).


For more information on training sessions, including our current schedule, approved equipment, and how to register, please email

Disciplines Studied

Print of Silver with short sword and dagger from "Paradoxes of Defence", 1599.

Short Sword - Short Sword and Dagger

(Basket-Hilted Backsword, or Broadsword) - (Sword and Dagger, or Sword and Buckler)

"The short sword, and sword and dagger, are perfect good weapons, and especially in service of the prince. What a brave weapon is a short sharp light sword, to carry, to draw, to be nimble withal, to strike, to cut, to thrust both strong and quick. And what a good defence is a strong single hilt, when men are clustering and hurling together, especially where variety of weapons are, in their motions to defend the hand, head, face, and bodies, from blows, that shall be given sometimes with swords, sometimes with two handed swords, battle axes, halberds, or black bills, and sometimes men shall be so near together, they shall have no space, scarce to use the blades of their swords below their waist, then their hilts (their hands being aloft) defend from the blows their hands, arms, heads, faces and bodies. Then they lay on, having the use of blows and grips, by force of their arms with their hilts, strong blows, at the head, face, arms, bodies, and shoulders, and many times hurling together, scope is given to turn down their points, with violent thrusts at the faces and bodies, by reason of the shortness of their blades, to the mighty annoyance, discomfort, and great destruction of their enemies. "

"...a full blow upon the head or face with a short sharp sword, is most commonly death. A full blow upon the neck, shoulder, arm, or leg, endangers life, cuts off the veins, muscles, and sinews, perishes the bones... A blow cuts off the hand, the arm, the leg, and sometimes the head. "

- George Silver

Print of Richard Peeke with a short staff from "Three to One: Being an English-Spanish Combat", 1626

Short Staff - Billhook

(Two Hand Sword, Quarterstaff, or Half-Pike) - (Forest Bill, Welsh Hook, Partisan, or Glaive)

"The two handed sword has the vantage against the sword and target, the sword and buckler, the sword and dagger, or rapier and poniard. "

"The short staff or half pike, forest bill, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of perfect length, have the advantage against the battle axe, the halberd, the black bill, the two hand sword, the sword and target; and are too hard for two swords and daggers, or two rapier and poniards with gauntlets, and for the long staff and morris pike."

-George Silver

Print of man with a pike, from the English version of Giacomo di Grassi's "His True Arte of Defence", 1594


(Morris Pike, Long Staff, or Javelin)

"The long staff, morris pike, or javelin, or such like weapons above the perfect length, have advantage against all manner of weapons, the short staff, the Welch hook, partisan, or glaive, or such like weapons of vantage excepted, yet are too weak for two swords and daggers or two sword and bucklers, or two rapiers and poniards with gauntlets, because they are too long to thrust, strike, and turn speedily. And by reason of the large distance, one of the sword and dagger-men will get behind him."

- George Silver

Print of dagger combat from "Holinshed's Chronicles of England", 1577


(Dagger, Hanger, Falchion, Woodknife, or Skean)

"...all manner of weapons under the just length of the short sword, as falchions, skaines, or hangers, woodknives, daggers, and such like short weapons of imperfect lengths, the longest has the advantage, because the fight of these weapons consist within the half or quarter sword, wherein by the swift motions of their hands, their eyes are deceived, and in those weapons, commonly for their hands lie no defence."

- George Silver