Gathering of Wolves 2024

The Gathering of Wolves 2024

23rd & 24th March 2024, 9.30am – 6.00pm
Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Glantaf, Bridge Road, Cardiff, CF14 2JL

The third Gathering of Wolves is the largest event of its kind in Wales. Once again, a two-day workshop focused HEMA event.

This year we see more instructors including familiar faces and new attendees from the UK and abroad; more workshops covering techniques from the 14th century through to the 20th century; more vendors providing all of the weapons, protective equipment and books you could possibly need; and more space for you to practice your newly learned techniques in friendly sparring!



“He who is ignorant of the Play of the sword of two hands can protect his hand in a suitable way, or his leg and head, unless he knows plays with the poleaxe” – Collectenea, Book II, Cap LXII. Get to grips with the poleaxe, mighty battlefield weapon of the renaissance! As a general and Master at Arms, the primary weapon that Monte teaches is poleaxe. He uses this as the basis for teaching all the ‘long’ weapons, including the roncha/bill, partisan, halberd and spetum, as well as various types of lance/spear and the staff. As quoted above, Monte also sees the play as a useful way to build skills used with the sword.

This workshop will focus on Monte’s recently rediscovered fundamental techniques for training with the weapons as used in the court of Milan in the late 15th Century – The Levata of the poleaxe.

Requirements: A pole or shaft of timber or rattan, approximately as high as you can reach with your arm above your head, or a little longer, typically between 7-71/2’/2.1 – 2.4m (no metal heads for the partner drills, please!), fencing mask and padded gloves.

Recommended equipment: Gorget and rigid chest protector.

Learn the fundamentals of Italian Renaissance two-handed sword as taught by Pietro Monte in Milan during the 1490’s. A general and master of arms, Monte taught fighting skills to nobles and men-at-arms at the court of Sforzas and elsewhere in Northern Italy, and is referenced and an authority by both Castiglione and Leonardo da Vinci. What is particularly interesting is how he lays out the “beginning teachings” of the sword, which he calls the Levata (to raise up).

In this workshop you will learn these ‘first blows which we begin to teach or to learn,’ as well as some of Monte’s fundamental principles and tactics for fighting. Monte’s sword is the basis for all ‘short weapons’ and so his teachings apply to longsword and single-handed swords as well. This workshop is open to all levels of experience.

Requirements: Spadone, Montante or longsword simulator, fencing mask, and padded gloves.

Recommended equipment: Gorget and chest protector.

The “Second part of the new, art-rich method of fencing” is a superb and very colourful fencing treatise from 1591. What makes it just so interesting is a German fencing method that seems totally unrelated to the Liechtenauer tradition; it uses a different pedagogical method, it uses different terminology, it is juts different throughout! The dussack section in particular seems to consist of very simple plays that focus on the development of one’s physicality. Since we know that youths often learned dussack in fencing guilds before learning the longsword, I think using dussack to improve our physicality for fencing is both sensible and based in history.

Requirements: You are welcome to use any single-handed sword with a relatively simple hilt (messers and arming swords and fine, and even sideswords and sabres with simpler hilts are fine). The session is suitable for both beginners and experienced practitioners - just be prepared to put in some physical effort! You will need a fencing mask. Light or padded gloves are recommended, and some kind of forearm protection might make your life more comfortable.

Following on from the dussack lesson, the longsword treatise within the same source is similarly athletic and gives us an excellent opportunity to look at some simple fencing ideas from the twin perspectives of technical detail and applying the body helpfully.

Requirements: You will need a longsword and a fencing mask. Gloves are recommended, and some kind of forearm protection might make your life more comfortable.

A class examining the use of the short polearms such as the halberd, glaive, spetum, and bill as battlefield weapons. The emphasis will be on the use of the weapon in formation and enmass, rather than one-on-one. The class will be based upon material from Meyer (1570), Exercise of Armes (1607), Tactics of Aelianus (2nd century A.D.), and the Strategikon of Maurice (6th Century A.D.)

The class will be divided into two components.

  • Personal Training – Drill, guards and strikes
  • Infantry Formation Training - This will include movement, formations, and fighting

Requirements: Mask and gloves, and polearm. A staff would work such as a bo staff, ideally a polearm(with flexible head). A small number will be available to use.

Optional: Armour - If you have armour suitable for HEMA then bring it along for the training.

“HAUST DU MICH SO STICH ICH DICH” “If you cut me, I’ll stab you”

This workshop will explore the paradoxical simplicity and complexity of violence involving the Messer within the lowest social classes in German-speaking parts of the Holy Roman Empire during the mid-15th Century. Working with several key primary sources, it will cover the fundamental uses of Messer, most importantly within the established framework of social and moral norms of the period.

All students will be taught a systematic approach to early Messer fighting, drawn from common messer sources found within Southern Germany before 1478, including Von Baumann, Paulus Kal, Hans Talhoffer, and Anonymous Glasgow.

As well as exploring ethical considerations, the workshop will present the Instructor’s own method for making swift tactical choices and eliminating uncertainty in situations of extreme violence.

Requirements: Messer or arming sword, mask, light glove, forearm protector. Jacket or gambeson optional. NO HEAVY GAUNTLETS PERMITTED (Spes/Konig/Pro-Gauntlet etc).

Starting with late 18th century British military sources this class will build on the basics from the manuals and look at how to get the most from this deceptively simple weapon system.

Requirements - mask, glove + lead forearm protector, and a sabre or similar.

Applying Fiore's 3 turns to Dagger defence.

Using footwork and more dynamic movement to make Dagger defence techniques more effective than strength alone. And in general look more awesome.

Learn how to receive the technique, within our own individual limits so we help are training partners learn, while keeping ourselves safe. They'll be progressions for those who want to take in further into rolling and break falling.

Combat in the trenches was brutal and unforgiving. Knowing how to defend yourself from an enemy combatant was not about honour or glory, but savage efficiency. In this workshop, you will experiment with some of the techniques used by the soldiers on the front lines. This was not about winning a competition and taking home a floral wreath, but going home alive.

The sword and buckler is an incredibly potent weapon combination which was used both in a civilian context and by soldiers on the march and yet it is often woefully misunderstood. This workshop will draw from several early sources on sword and buckler such as Talhoffer, Lignizer and I-33 so that we can not only apply them to general fencing practice, but to also broaden our understanding of how the sword and buckler can be applied to suppressing and defeating opponents who might be better armed.

Requirements: You will need an arming sword and buckler, a fencing mask, padded gloves and a fencing jacket or chest protection.



Please note these schedules are indicative only – they may still change slightly as we refine things.

Saturday 23rd March 2024

TimeMain HallSecond Hall
09:30 – 10:00 (30m)Registration and
T-Shirt Collection
10:00 – 10:30 (30m)Welcome and
Warm Up
10:30 – 12:00 (1h 30m)Mike Prendergast
Pietro Monte’s Levata with Poleaxe
Jo York
Dynamic Dagger
12:00 – 13:00 (1h)Lunch
13:00 – 14:30 (1h 30m)Free Sparring
Sue Kirk
Hand-to-hand Combat in the Trenches
14:30 – 15:00 (30m)Break
15:00 – 16:30 (1h 30m)Sam Ackroyd
Speculation on Sabre
Keith Farrell
Codex Guelf Dussack
16:30 – 16:45 (15m)Break
16:45 – 17:45 (1h)Group Combat with
Nick and Michael Thomas
17:45 – 18:00 (15m)Cool Down and
Pack Up

Sunday 24th March 2024

TimeMain HallSecond Hall
09:30 – 10:00 (30m)Arrival and
Warm Up
10:00 – 11:30 (1h 30m)Keith Farrell
Codex Guelf Longsword
Michael and Nick Thomas
Polearms on the Battlefield
11:30 – 13:00 (1h 30m)Free Sparring
Bob Brooks
If you cut me, I’ll stab you
13:00 – 14:00 (1h)Lunch
14:00 – 15:30 (1h 30m)Mike Prendergast
Pietro Monte’s Levata with Two handed Sword
Free Sparring
15:30 – 17:00 (1h 30m)Free SparringJordan Mock
Sword and Buckler vs. The World
17:00 – 17:45 (45m)Group Combat
17:45 – 18:00 (15m)Cool Down and
Pack Up