School of Historical Defense Arts Group

The School of Historical Defense Arts Group (SHDAG) is a group of Brisbane-based historical fencing organisations which study and practice European martial arts in a variety of weapons and styles.

The core philosophy of the schools in the SHDAG is to take instruction and theory from historical manuscripts and make them practical, effective and applicable in actual fencing combat situations. SHDAG has three schools in the group:

  • Brisbane Swords, Monday and Tuesday Nights
  • Brisbane School of Iberian Swordsmanship
  • Australis Scherma Scuola di Spada e Sciabola

For more details on these schools see below.


Brisbane Swords – Monday Nights

Weapons & style

Brisbane Swords teaches Italian medieval longsword in the style of Fiore and Vadi, and early German sword and buckler from the i33 Tower Fechtbuch. Other weapons include unarmed, dagger, single sword, spear and polearms.

Historical period

Medieval, early 1300s to late 1400s.

Source texts

  • Fiore Furlano dei Liberi’s Flower of Battle, circa 1409
  • Philippo di Vadi of Pisa’s Art of Swordsmanship, circa 1485
  • MS i33 Tower Fechtbuch (Walpurgis manuscript), circa 1320

Brisbane Swords – Tuesday Nights

Weapons & style

SHDA teaches Italian Renaissance and Elizabethan rapier, working through the skills of rapier alone and a variety of companion items including dagger, buckler, gauntlet, cloak, rotella (shield), and 2nd rapier. SHDA also helps students to specialise in individual styles from historical masters including smallsword, basket hilt broadsword and others.

Historical period

Renaissance to Georgian, late 1500s through to mid 1700s.

Source texts

  • Giacomo di Grassi’s True Arte of Defence, 1594 (original Italian 1570)
  • Vincentio Saviolo’s Practice in Two Books, 1595
  • Ridolfo Capo Ferro’s Art and Use of Fencing, 1610
  • Salvator Fabris’ Scienza D’Arme, 1606

Brisbane School of Iberian Swordsmanship

Us 😊


 Australis Scherma Scuola di Spada e Sciabola.

ASSSS studies 19th century Italian sabre, based on the Roman tradition and Neapolitan spada/rapier (Italian duelling sword) based on Parise’s work, as well as teaching 16th century sword and buckler, and two-handed sword. Our personal lessons to help teach distance, timing, footwork and tactical decision making, based on an individual’s ability to extend success.

Historical period

1500s, 1800s, 1900s.

Source texts

Masaniello Parise’s Trattato della Scherma di Spada e Sciabola, 1883
Salvatoree Pecoraro & Carlo Pessina’s La Sciabola, 1910
Leon Bertrand’s Cut and Thrust – The Subtlety of the Sabre, 1927
Roger Crosnier’s Fencing with Epee, 1958