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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Schola Saint George?

  • See our About Us page. In a nutshell, we're a 501(c).3 educational non-profit that researches and teaches classes in the chivalric arts of the later middle ages, which includes HEMA-type fight-books.  


When was the SSG established?

  • Planning started at the end of 1999, and the first classes were held in 2000, so we've been around a little while. 


What is “Chivalric” Martial Arts?

  • We have a longer essay on this topic, but while we recover it from the lost site, "chivalric" martial arts are those arts that we believe were practiced by knights and men-at-arms in central and Western Europea in the period roughly corresponding with the Hundred Years' War (1337-1453). Thus, military combative style swordsmanship, on foot and on horseback, in and out of armour, is the focus of the art. While we are anchored in the surviving works of Fiore dei Liberi, we also look to other sources, such as in literature, chronicles, iconography, physical culture, and other historical records to enhance our understanding of medieval combatives and the systematized "martial arts" that came out of this rich period. 



Tell me about the SSG’s “structured curriculum”

  • We do have an evolving, but structured curriculum based on Fiore dei Liberi's l'arte d'armizare, literally the "art of the use of arms." We've worked hard to decipher, transcribe, translate, and interpret the principles that we believe underlay Fiore's art, and formed them into a five-level curriculum. Each level in the curriculum is tested before students move on to the later levels with a mix of knowledge and practical skills. Our foundational "ellefante" course, usually studied over 12-15 weeks, instills fundamentals of stability and kinesthetics that include fighting poste (positions or guards), footwork, power generations, blow delivery and six distilled "plays" that show methods of control over the opponent's weapon. Later levels focus on tactics, skill integration, zogho stretto or close play; and advanced graduate-style "directed studies" on aspects of the chivalric arts interesting to the student. We include both teaching and coaching within the curriculum, using methods drawn from modern kinesiology. The result gives students a rapid foundation in the skills needed to spar and compete in tournaments, within the SSG or outside. See also our CURRICULUM pages for more details. 



What is all this about belts & ranking?

  • We get this question a lot! Initially, we didn't plan to have any recognition of ranking. And really, we still don't. But early on, students expressed a desire to have some kind of marker to show their progress through the curriculum. Many HEMA schools were and have adopted the English Schools of Defense system, which recognizes "scholars" "Free Scholars" "Provosts" and so on. But inasmuch as this represents a civilian approach, and because the Schola focuses on the military or "chivalric" martial arts, that approach didn't fit. In recognition of our fellowship with other martial arts, we elected to go with the use of colored belts. The system is both familiar to Western societies and enables us to signal our solidarity with others who strive to improve themselves by exercising in arms. The resulting system recognizes student progress through the SSG's structured curriculum--it does NOT signify levels of prowess. As progress is made, the levels become increasingly demanding, requiring students to earn renown through performance, research and teaching/coaching. For details on our levels, see the CURRICULUM pages.


How does the SSG certify its instructors?


  • Our first instructors were not certified, for the sole reason that no body existed (nor does it exist today) to certify instructors for what we do. Over considerable time the Schola has established a system of recognition whereby instructor-candidates signal their desire to become official instructors, which conveys the ability to test students at levels in the curriculum two levels below their own. Instructors have the sponsorship of an already-certified instructor; have taught students who have achieved at least the first two curriculum levels, and go through an intensive two to three hour oral test conducted by a panel of Schola instructors. Many of our instructors also have additional qualifications--see our INSTRUCTORS page for more info! 


Is the Schola Saint George a HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) group?

  • Yes, though we're different than many groups in that we focus not on the German school of swordsmanship, nor exslusively on the works of Fiore dei Liberi, though we are anchored in his art. Our study of Fiore's treatises begins our students' study, but it does not end it; instead, they also look at other fechtbucher (fight-books), art, literature, chronicle, aspects of physical culture (such as arms and armour), military and medieval history more broadly. Some of our groups engage almost exclusively with the HEMA community and HEMA-style tournaments. However, the Schola began as a splinter of the first American Tournament Company, the Company of Saint George. We continue to encourage our students to equipm themselves in the clothing and armour from the period corresponding roughly to the Hundred Years' War, because we believe the clothing and armour informs both the technique and the chivalric atmosphere. 



Is the Schola Saint George an SCA, LARP, ACL/BOTN or Historical Re-enactment group?


  •  No, but the SSG is "application agnostic," meaning that our members are encouraged to apply the l'arte d'armizare to other forms of combat as practiced in the groups above. We have members that do all of the above, and we try to build positive relationships with local groups like these in the area.

  • The founding members, Brian R. Price & Robert Holland, have long experience within the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), as do many SSG members. The Schola does not do any of the functions of the social/tournament groups like the SCA, Adrian Empire, etc.--such as knighting--though we often extend the courtesy of titles. The SCA's full contact rattan art is something like a medieval behourd, and nowhere can battles on the scale of the SCA's be found within the United States. 

  • A few members also participate in Live-Action Role-Playing (LARP) groups, though the sharp differences in combat conventions tends to limit overlap. The Schola does not confer ranks, nor have kings or any of that kind of thing.

  • A number of our members do participate in the American Combat League (ACL) / Battle of Nations style of group combat popular in Europe and growing throughout the United States. The ACL's full contact approach to tournaments, while different from the Schola's pas d'armes style feats of arms, does resonate in a chivalric sense with our organization's culture. 

  • Nor is the Schola a re-enactment group, though we do strongly encourage the use of authentic clothing and harness. Because we came from the American Company of Saint George, the practice of medieval-style feats of arms is the pinnacle upon which we encourage our students to exercise themselves in arms within the group. The Company of Saint George, as a confraternity of chivalric combatants, focused on historical forms of the medieval tournament, and enjoyed the membership of no less than five armourer and a number of talented tailors, which encouraged ever-improving field appearance. This tradition remains within the SSG today, more prevalent in some groups than others. See our Arms & Armour pages for more on our medieval gear!



Where are Schola Saint George groups located?

  • Our GROUPS pages show where we are these days. Other groups have ebbed over time. 



What is the difference between a Study Group and a Branch?


  • A "Branch" is a group of at least 8-10 regular, paid members and a certified instructor. Groups usually operate in conjunction with a community center, school or other organization, though this isn't required

  • A "Study group" is at least three paid members. Each study group has a leader responsible usually for setting the study agenda, managing the group's practice space, etc. Many groups are small and meet in a public park or in the yard of a private home. As they grow, however, many seek indoor space. 


What does it cost? 

  • Annual dues are currently set at $35/yr. Local branches or study groups often have floor fees or tuition, necessary to cover the rent of the space, etc. Combatants are responsible for their own equipment. Beginner gear is generally acquired for less than $500. Like any sport or martial art, your investment choices are up to you, but the SSG is a very cost-effective art with low costs. 


How do I join?


  • We were hoping you'd ask that! To participate, you need a complete waiver (available for download on the MEMBERSHIP page), and a paid membership for the annual $35 dues. See our MEMBERSHIP page to get started!

What do I need to get started?


  • Really, just interest! Come to one of our training sessions from one of our branches or study groups listed on the GROUPS pages. We are a very welcoming bunch. Most students first acquire a training sword and protective gloves, though some groups encourage the use of medieval style shoes (it dramatically affects how you move!). Next a reinforced mask and padded jacket. None of this is required to start, though! 


Do I need armour?


  • It is not required. However, armour protects far better than HEMA-style gear; it allows your opponents to fully exercise good technique by striking with force and it helps to built the chivalric atmosphere we expect at our feats of arms and practices. 


What if there’s no group near me | How do I start a Study Group?

  • Just get two friends together, join as members, and we'll send you a lot more info. Study groups are mentored by an Instructor, and members have access to a good amount of training material. 


Our Study Group doesn't have an Instructor--or I'm an Independent Scholar--how can I test?

  • Technology has evolved a long way. Video testing is effective--or, one can test at one of our Symposia. Guest instructors can be brought out to teach the foundational material and/or test. 


I have a new Study Group. How do I get started?

  • Soon we'll do a while section of the site for this. But in the meantime, 1) find a structure for your classes (we have several templates available); 2) find a venue--park community centers work very well (we are a registered 501(c).3 and our insurance can cover the site), or just a public park; 3) grab something to train with--in a pinch, sticks work; and 4) advertise! We found that Craigslist, the aforementioned Community Centers and such work well. 

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