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Since 1999, the Chicago Swordplay Guild has offered students a chance to study historical European swordplay, grappling and armoured combat in an organized curriculum. Introductory classes run in an on-going rotation of 12 week sessions, at a variety of venues within and around the city, and on-going, in-depth training at the Guild’s official home, Forteza Fitness and Martial Arts, 4437 N. Ravenswood, Chicago IL. We also have a study group in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a branch school in Denver, Colorado.


Come find the class closest to you and see what you've been missing!

Who We Are

The Chicago Swordplay Guild (CSG) is a modern martial arts school dedicated to the study and practice of historical European swordsmanship and close quarter combat of the 14th - 17th centuries. We combine scholarship and research into the teachings of the historical Masters at Arms with the practical knowledge gained through solo drills, partnered exercises, test-cutting with sharp weapons, fencing with specially-designed, blunted weapons and wrestling.

The Tradition

The “Martial Arts” are literally, the “Arts of Mars”, the Roman god of war, so it should be no surprise that Europe boasts a complex martial culture that extends back into antiquity and continues to this day. The Chicago Swordplay Guild connects with this tradition of Western martial arts by training in the historical fighting arts of Medieval and Renaissance Italy (1350 – 1650)


Read more.

Wide and Close Play in Armizare, the Martial Tradition of Fiore dei Liberi  

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Gregory D. Mele, ©2014 [N.B: This article greatly expands and upon an earlier one "Understanding Wide and Close Play in the Martial Tradition of Fiore dei Liberi", first presented in 2008 and later published with photo interpretations in In the Service of Mars, Proceedings from the Western Martial Arts Workshop (1999 - 2009), Vol. I. In addition to […]

Dekoven School of Arms Class Roster

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We now have an (almost full) roster of classes for this September’s weekend celebration of Renaissance swordsmanship – the Dekoven School of Arms! Descriptions are given below, and a registration is open now, with details here. ITALIAN SWORDSMANSHIP THREE HOUR WORKSHOPS Agrippa’s Ball, or Rolling with the Rapier: On using the whole body and its […]

Giraffes with Swords: Join Us at Buccaneer Blast – March 7th

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Arrgh and Avast! The Guild has been asked to present demonstrations of Renaissance Swordsmanship at Brookfield Zoo’s “Buccaneer Blast at the Brig” on March 7th! We will be doing a series of late afternoon and evening demos at what looks to be a lighthearted, fun event aimed at everyone. The 3:00-6:00 PM scheduling is primarily […]

Dekoeven School of Arms Date Change

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Please note that the Dekoeven School of Arms event has moved two weeks earlier to September 5 – 7, 2014. Watch this space for event details!

Western Martial Arts Workshop 2013 – After Action Review

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  Whew! As is a decade-old tradition, eight days after it began, Sean Hayes was the last to board the plane, officially turning out the lights and locking the door on the Western Martial Arts Workshop. WMAW 2013 was our most packed event ever, not just in terms of classes, but with an armoured Deed […]

The DeKoven School of Arms: A Weekend of Renaissance Swordsmanship

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Mark your calendars for September 2014! The Chicago Swordplay Guild and the DeKoven Foundation – the same team that have brought you WMAW for over a decade – are please to present an event for students in the Noble Art and Science of Defense: The DeKoven School of Arms. After years of attendees decrying a […]

How Do You Tell a Friend Their Baby is Ugly – The Problem with the USFCA Program

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Answer: Sometimes you just say it. My last post was about the hullabaloo regarding the recently instituted Historical Fencing certification program being developed and promulgated by the United States Fencing Coaches’ Association (USFCA). I focused on a need to separate the character assassination of the members involved from a critique of the program itself (as […]

Bad Ideas and Worse Responses: Regarding the USFCA “Master of Historical Fencing” Program

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by Gregory Mele, CSG Founder and Curriculum Director In the 14 years since the Chicago Swordplay Guild was founded, I’ve sought to keep martial arts politics off of its website, even when I’ve been in the thick of things myself. When we redesigned the website to include a blog, we’ve focused on event notifications, reviews, […]

Borealis Swordplay Symposium and Pas d’Armes

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This past weekend I had the privilege to teach at the first Borealis Swordplay Symposium, accompanied by fellow Guilders Nicole Allen, Adam Schneider and Davis Vader. Borealis grew out of an annual cookout and celebratory pas d’armes held by our Ottawan sister-school, Les Maitres des Armes. The photos from last year’s event made it all […]

Sex, Lies, Swords and Video Tape – A Reconstruction of the Judicial Duel

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Earlier this month, the Guild had a chance to be part of a reconstruction of a judicial duel at the the  International Congress on Medieval Studies held at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, which went from Thursday, May 9th through Sunday May 12th. This is the largest medieval academic gathering in the world, and amidst a […]

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