All classes take place at the Melbourne Centre on Escrick Street near Fishergate, York, YO10 4AW.

Tuesday 20:00 - 22:30
European medieval fencing and sword work, with a smattering of dagger and unarmed.

Wednesday 20:30 - 22:30
Historical wrestling systems, with a new class studying Victorian cane fighting and unarmed combatives in 2018.

Thursday 20:30 - 22:30 (Class currently full)
Catch-as-catch-can wrestling.


The York School of Defence is a martial arts group (please note, we do not engage in re-enactment, live action roleplay or stage combat!) We have classes on medieval sword work, dagger combatives and wrestling, as well as Victorian antagonistics and stick fighting, catch-as-catch-can wrestling and other historical grappling systems along with classical pugilism. Beginners with no previous martial experience are most welcome.

We utilise a variety of training methods including partner drill, solo work, as well as non-cooperative drill and freeplay at varying speeds, both with full protection and with minimal safety equipment to realistically capture the movements and feel of actual combat. Senior students are also encouraged to train solo drill and some partner work with sharp weapons to help fully understand the binding mechanics of sharp swords.

The York School of Defence is home to the Art That Adorns You series of workshops. These focus on the more esoteric, unusual and less studied aspects of Western Martial Arts and take place throughout the year featuring a host of guest instructors As well as single day workshops we also run a fully featured weekend showcasing some of the best instructors from the UK and abroad allowing them to present their research, talents and martial knowledge to a wider audience.

York School of Defence members have instructed at a variety of events including Kings of the North, FightCamp, SWASH, the BFHS Autumn and Spring Exchanges, the Cutting Edge, Quadrohemia, and the Noble Science. We have also instructed for other martial arts groups around Europe for both one day and full weekend workshops. Our tutors and instructors have a variety of eclectic research interests including practical self defence, general martial principles, grappling and unarmed martial arts, sword and buckler, quarterstaff, pollaxe and much more.