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Sword School only fencing school in West Texas

The Sword School has been around since 2018 and teaches students historical fencing from eras as old as the 1300s.

MIDLAND, Texas — The clanging of swords is what most people hear when they enter the basement of the Momentum Bank Tower in Downtown Midland.

That’s because a fencing school is in session.

The Sword School is a place where we do historical fencing,” Skye Hilton, owner and main trainer of the school said. “And that constitutes any kind of blade work primarily from Western Europe, from the early medieval times, like early 1300s, all the way up to the early 20th century. And also, besides that we dabble in some frontier arts like bowie knife, tomahawk, stick fighting pretty much anything that is prior to contemporary blade work or weapon based martial arts.”

Hilton cut the ribbon of the school with a sword, six years ago.

“We started the school in 2018 when I first moved here from California,” Hilton said. “Mainly because there wasn’t one and I was so involved in it there. I just could not live without it. So, I’m like, ‘we’re just going to start one here guys.'”

And now six years later, Hilton teaches about 40 students as young as eight years old all the way to 75 years old.

And with all the different fighting styles ranging over a course of almost 800 years, there’s a whole lot more that goes into it than just swinging a sword.

“When we think about medieval swordsmanship a lot of times we envision the knight in shining armor on his horse,” Hilton said. “And one of their primary weapons that we teach with is going to be the European long sword. And it doesn’t act anything like you see on TV. It’s a weapon that is designed to not only cut, [but] it can also thrust because a lot of people did wear armor and if you just banged on somebody with a sharp piece of metal, it’s not going to do anything to the armor.”

Hilton has been doing this for a number of years, so she knows what she’s doing with a dangerous weapon.

She even competed on a show called “Forged with Fire: Knife or Death” on the History Channel in 2018.

But if you have no experience with a sword, never mind competing on a competition show; luckily, you don’t have to be an expert to learn.

The same thing happened with the other founder and instructor Jacob Ulmer, who’s self-taught.

“For me, I’ve always really enjoyed physical activity,” Ulmer said. “There’s also a big mental aspect of this to where, you know, you kind of enjoy fantasy from fantasy books and things like that. So, it’s got that appeal. But putting it all together for me was just, this is my opportunity to move and experience my body. Really feel the different motions in a fight. Feel that adrenaline and that that heightened sense of awareness that comes from a fight because getting hit with these guys really can hurt, so you want to pay good attention and make sure you have good defense and all that.”

But what he loves even more than swinging the sword is teaching the sword.

“[Teaching] it is more enriching than the fighting experience I was talking about before,” Ulmer said. “I don’t think I’ve ever put a weapon in somebody’s hand like any of these and not seen a smile. People love it. They really do. And especially with new students. You go from watching them understand pretty much nothing and doing all these goofy things to very rapidly cutting along the right lines, taking the right steps, the growth from new students is just mind boggling sometimes.”

And they see growth not just on the mat.

“I’ve seen people come in and just build really big confidence from just learning how to use the sword,” Hilton said. “Because it’s not a thing of ‘I can use a sword, I can kill people’ it’s ‘I’ve discovered things about myself I didn’t know before’ because in learning fencing, you learn how to move, you learn body dynamics, you learn ‘how far can I take this? How far can I push myself?'”

And the students learn quickly that they can push themselves far.

Because with or without a sword in their hands, that confidence instilled during these lessons should last a lifetime.

According to Hilton, the Sword School is the only sword fencing school in West Texas. 

To learn more about the school, visit their website.

RELATED: Midland Sword School teaching HEMA fencing to students

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