Weapon Spotlight: The Gladius

Read the full article to receive your discount code for our training Gladius.

One of the most essential characters you learn on the Warrior Masterclass is the Gladiator, which is fitting as Chief Instructor Andreas was the fight arranger on the Oscar-winning film of the same name from 2000.  The Gladiator’s weapon of choice was, of course, was the Gladius. This Ancient Roman weapon was not just the choice weapon for the Colosseum, it was also the go-to sword for the Roman Army in hand to hand combat.

At one point it was thought that Gladius was just the word for sword, but it is now accepted that the Gladius was a specific type of sword of which there were different variants.

The origin of the Gladius is much debated, mainly because there have been so few examples found, and most of these come from Germany and were used during the Germanic Wars between 113BC and 596AD. We do know that the Roman word for the sword was the Gladius Hispaniensis, as the sword was based upon a similar Celtic design that they had encountered in their conquest of Hispania, now known as Spain, and that before then they would have used swords of Greek origin.

With a blade length between 50-60cm, the Gladius was mainly used as a short stabbing weapon. In the heat of battle, Roman soldiers would remain in their blocks, all standing shoulder to shoulder, a huge heavy shield, the Roman scutum, in their left hand, and the Gladius in their right. It was vital for them to stay in formation, and therefore all soldiers were required to fight right-handed (on our courses everyone is asked to fight right-handed as this is more historically correct), and any left-handed soldiers were made to train with their left hand tied behind their back.

The Roman lines would wait until the enemy was almost on top of them before taking a step forward and smashing their shields into their opponents, and when they lost their balance, the Roman soldier would withdraw their shield and stab horizontally with the Gladius aiming to go in-between the ribs and pierce the vital organs. This was almost always fatal. Soldiers were also trained to swipe at the enemies knees from the under the shield whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Most people would think that the Gladius would be worn on the left side, allowing the soldier to draw the sword across their body, but in fact the sword was worn on the right side, which meant that when being drawn it didn’t impact on the holding of the shield, or on the soldier standing next to them. Centurions were the exception to this, as to show their status they were allowed to wear their swords on the left.

The sword was made of steel and would feature an ornate capulus (hilt). The higher your rank, the more decorative and ornate the capulus would be. This hilt would also have four finger moulds for a firmer grip on the sword. It was primarily sheathed in a wooden scabbard, covered in leather and strengthened by brass or iron. The Gladius was replaced midway through the 1st Century AD by the Spatha.

Of course on the Warrior Masterclass, we don’t let you fight with a real Gladius, but our training Gladius’ are made from the heaviest grade polypropylene, which is virtually unbreakable, and will still hurt if you were to take a whack. They’re the perfect weapon to train with for both single sword and sword and shield routines.

We would like to offer you a special limited time only discount in our shop using the code GLADIUS01 you can purchase your own one HERE

If you want to unleash your inner Gladiator and learn how to fight with a Gladius you can find out more about our Warrior Masterclass HERE


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